This day started out with windy gusts up to 50 mph and snow. We bravely tried to go out, but quickly realized that it was not a good idea.
By 3 in the afternoon, both Brigitte and I were getting cabin fever. The wind seemed to be dying down a bit, so we decided to brave it and head up the Dryhead. My biggest concern was the extra height the ATV added to the truck, so I added an extra strap to help with the strong wind gusts. We quickly realized that the wind was much calmer than it had been. We headed towards Bighorn Canyon.
Of course we were not disappointed. Because no matter what the weather, the ever faithful Greeters were there to welcome us to the range. I pulled over and we braved the wind and cold to snap a few quick shots of them and to thank them for being there.
We continued to drive down the paved road of the range. This area was great right now. The high mountains protected it from the gail force winds. It was good to be outside.
I had seen this trail that was being built, many times last summer. But it was closed while under construction and when it was open, I did not bother to stop. To busy in my quest to find horses. I did not even know what the trail was about. Somehow it seemed out of place and I avoided it. I was very wrong to do that.
Today offered the perfect opportunity to stop. We had seen no horses, and I doubted we would, given the time of year and the weather. So I changed my lens and we started down the trail. Click on the photo to view a larger size and be sure to read the words.
After we left this site, we headed down the road. We were about half way through the range when we spotted Johnston and Hidatsa. It had been a while since I had seen these two. We spent a few minutes with them before they decided to head off.
We left Bighorn Canyon and decided to give lower Sykes a try. We drove back past the big red hills and spent some time hiking around. We did not see any horses, but we did see some incredible scenery.
The end of the day was so different from the beginning. It showed us promise for a good day tomorrow.
From the beginning, I started this blog to not only share my experiences with the Pryor Horses, but I also had another intention in mind: To Be There For The Horses. To work with those involved with the horses for the better good of them.
I knew that some things that I would say or do would not “sit well” with some people or groups. But I pretty much say it like it is and how I feel. I have said it before and I will say it again: “I am here for the horses. I am not a BLM hater, nor am I a BLM lover.” Also: ” I do not belong to any one group, I am here for the horses.” I will work with everyone involved if they are good, HONEST people. I would like to be treated with respect and I also expect the same for my friends and family.
Let’s just say, I don’t mind ruffling a few feathers if it gets the job done.
So, it is with that mind set that I am publishing Lori’s story. I love Lori like a sister, and I stand behind her. We are a lot a like. Don’t back us in a corner, it won’t be pretty. But stand beside us, and we will fight to the end for you. (and bring you chocolate chip cookies). We don’t hesitate to state what is on our mind for the animals (and people) we intend to protect.
Because of my post in August: “Please Stop , Thank you” (click HERE to read that), my blog got the attention of some people in Washington, DC and caused quite a wave of trouble here in Montana and also for Lori in Wyoming. I don’t regret a thing. I would do everything the exact same way, except I guess I would let Jared know that it was coming.
Liesl and Lori’s Story
Since someone has asked a question about how Liesl injured herself, I thought I would answer this question as honestly as I can. I was not going to bring it up because I did not want the Center to appear “insensitive” or “irresponsible” to Liesl’s blindness, but since it has been brought up, I think it is only fair that everyone should know what happened. I will start from the beginning so that everyone will understand how and why Liesl got hurt.
When Kaibab & Liesl came to the Center, Diane Granger (board member) and I volunteered to be the care takers for them. Since that day both of us have been feeding them, cleaning out the Shelter, and spending time with them. Diane has a heart of gold and loves those two horses, and the ones who run wild and free!! She has been going to the range faithfully since 1993!
At this time there were other horses in the field outside of the corral, including Exhilaration. As time went on we were seeing bent & damaged panels on the corral.
I am sure that Liesl did some of the damage as she is BLIND and was frightened of the other horses poking their heads through nipping and kicking at her, but, one has to imagine not being able to see the threat that is real through Liesl’s eyes. Her reaction is to kick & run away from the threat of danger. This is normal behavior for a blind horse. Also, keep in mind that her whole life has been this way…picked on, kicked, bitten, and chased away, because she is blind. I found this information while researching about blind horses: You can read more on this website, by clicking BLIND.
Horses are herd animals with a social hierarchy and a well-defined pecking order. Usually the blind horse falls to the bottom of the pecking order. The others sense the blind horse’s vulnerability and take advantage of it. A blind horse will get beaten up, chased away from food, and run off from the group. It is not a pleasant life. Blind horses can get hurt in a herd environment because with their fight-or-flight instinct, blindness leaves them with only one choice: flight. And fleeing from a bully in the herd in a blind panic (literally) is when a blind horse will run into a fence or a tree and get hurt.
We’ve found that even in an otherwise easy-going small herd of four or five horses, it only takes one sighted horse to bully the blind one and you have a potential injury on your hands.
The answer is not to isolate your blind horse, but to give him or her a compatible pasture buddy to hang out with. Horses need company, and a lonely horse is an unhappy horse. So we keep our blind horses in pairs, or with a sighted pasture buddy (we call them our “seeing eye horses”), in separate pastures. The rest of our herd – elderly sighted horses – stay together as a group in a different pasture.
We’ve seen that even small groups of blind horses can create pecking order problems. A lot depends on the individual personalities of the horses and the ‘social chemistry’ when they’re together. You’ll quickly discover what works and doesn’t work for your blind horse in your situation.
Although there are exceptions, in general a herd is a bad place to be for a blind horse.
The decision was made (not sure exactly who made this decision) to take all of the other horses, except Exhilaration, home. They needed the corral to gather up the other horses and so Liesl & Kaibab were released out into the field while the other horses were rounded up into the corral and loaded up into a trailer.
After that Liesl & Kaibab were in the corral with the heated water tank, and Exhilaration was on the outside. Everyday someone had to let Exhilaration in to get water, and the little ones went out into the field. At night Liesl & Kaibab were locked into the corral, and Exhilaration was on the outside.
Still we were noticing panels being dented and actually one of the bars on a panel was broken in half. It was then that someone decided to bring Exhilaration home. The Center has replaced the two panels that were totally destroyed, and since then there is no more damage to the panels.
From the beginning Diane and I had reservations about letting Liesl out into the field as it is fenced with barbed wire and the fact that she is blind, for the most part.
Our fear of Liesl getting hurt on the barbed wire became reality on the 16th of January.
I was getting their food prepared (they eat pellet mare/foal & some hay) and Kaibab was already in the corral. Liesl was making her way around the fence and just walked right into the barbed wire fence. She bent a T- post and ripped a section of her shoulder. It was a pretty nasty wound, but since I have horses at home I usually have medicine for these types of injuries. I went home and got some Fura-zone salve and applied it to her wound for three days. I have been spraying Vetricyn on it since then. It is healing well. Diane asked our Veterinarian about antibiotics and she said to just keep a close eye on it and as long as it did not look infected it should heal up well. Thank goodness she is healing well and should be fine.
I am not placing the blame on anybody; I am only stating the facts.
I think that the Center is planning on replacing the fence with wood this coming spring/summer.
Since resigning from the Center I am now a volunteer for the care of Liesl and Kaibab, but am not the one making the decisions concerning them. I can only make suggestions.
This leads me to the rest of my story:
I have always had the horses first and foremost in my heart and that has always been and still is one of my main concerns. I am a very passionate person when it comes to what I believe to be right. I will not compromise my principles, and I will not back down from what I believe is the right thing to do.
For those of you who know me personally, you know that I never claimed to be “politically correct”, nor am I afraid to “make some noise” and stand up for what I believe in. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is an old English idiom. Sometimes it makes a difference and sometimes it does not. But to sit by and do nothing when I believe something needs to be said is not an option for me. It is not in my nature. I admit that I can be a bit outspoken and blunt at times, but it is never without conviction from my heart, and I never intend to hurt anyone on purpose.
With all of this said, this past August I questioned the BLM and the NPS (by telephone) as to why they were gathering more horses from the Dry Head part of the range. I thought it strange that they would remove more mares and foals as there are way more stallions than mares in the Dry Head.
I had also made a couple of “personal” comments, from my “personal computer” on Sandy’s blog stating my “personal opinion” on the continuing gather/removal. I did this from home, not at the Center and in my mind it had nothing to do with the Center or my job as Director.
I believed that I was doing the right thing by the horses, and that it was part of my job. I believed that it was my job to question those who are responsible for managing this herd when and if the need arose. Well I guess I believed wrong. . I suppose they did not want any “friction” from the Center and “how dare I” question the government!
The BLM certainly did not appreciate my questioning and they sent a letter to the Board concerning my “combative behavior” among other things. They never even mentioned all of the good things I had said about what a good job they were doing throughout the gather or what excellent care the horses that were removed were getting!
The majority of the Board did not stand behind me (although John Nickle did and I believe Diane Granger also) but the rest did not, and so I felt that there was only one choice for me, and that was to resign.
If I could not have a personal opinion, and I could not question what I thought was a legitimate cause for concern, then I could do better for the horses on my own and through other avenues. Also, I suppose the Center does not need someone as “feisty” and “outspoken” as me to be the Director.
I gave my heart and soul to the Center, and so did my most loyal and compassionate husband.
It is with great enthusiasm and passion for these beautiful horses that I will continue to observe, study and protect the Pryor Mountain Wild horses. I also have peace in knowing and believing that I did the right thing for the horses, my character intact!
I want to thank Sandy for allowing me to help with her blog, and also for doing this post!!
Thank you Sandy for your dedication, honesty, passion and generosity to and for the Pryor Mountain wild horses!
A couple of quotes that I like!
Character is higher than intellect. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current. ~Thomas Jefferson
Today’s post is written by my friend Brianna! Thank you so much Brianna! I am looking forward to more of these from you!
Saturday Lori and I met at the Center and drove out to the range. We hadn’t been having the best luck, but we decided we’d give it one more try.
We stayed in the Dryhead because we were limited on time that day. We slowed to look for the Greeters when we entered the range, but no luck there.
We crossed the state line and still no luck.
We had just been talking about waiting another month or two for our next trip since we still weren’t seeing anyone, and I Iooked down over a ridge and spotted a horse.
We were in the right place at just the right time, any sooner or later we wouldn’t have seen him. We pulled over and got out, and had to walk back a little ways. At first we couldn’t find him, and then we saw Fiero coming up the small hill into sight. He must not have seen or heard us at first, because he just kept walking closer, we were quite a ways away though, and when he finally did see us, he stopped and looked, then started eating. Not sure what he was eating, but he looked really good. Lori and I were almost surprised at how good he looked.
After taking a few pictures, we got back in the vehicle and continued to the end of the range, where we turned around and headed back. All the way back we didn’t see anyone.
We did see quite a few deer though.
Right by the turn to Crooked Creek Bay we were looking for the Greeters again, and there they were this time. They were probably there on our way in too, but we just couldn’t see them.
Jesse James was so well hidden that we thought he might have wandered off, but after walking up a hill we spotted him tucked away behind what I would call weeds.
We went back to the Center to visit Kaibab and Liesl. I’m doing a school project and I wanted to use a picture of Lori reading to them for it. Kaibab wasn’t too sure about the book, but Liesl loved it. She seems to really like new things, and just human interaction in general. Here’s a few of the pictures I got of them, and when I’m done with my project I’ll send Sandy a copy to share too.
And here is the finished project! Nice job Brianna!
Lori sent me this report and a few photos from her trip to the Dryhead on November 14th. I thought even though it is December that we would all still like to see these great photos and hear her report! Thank you Lori!
I also included some photos that Lori sent me of Kaibab, Liesl and Exhilaration in the snow taken yesterday! Enjoy!
I received a package in the mail last week. In the package were copies of records of the Pryor Horses, dating back to 1993. Some were in Reverend Schwieger’s handwriting. Thank you Ross for sharing this wonderful information with me. It is priceless. I will share more about this in a post soon.
On November 14th I decided to go out to the Dry Head and see if I could find any horses. I never know what to expect when I go out there, and since that day after finding Merlin, I realized that the four bachelors I saw on this day were in the same place that I spotted Merlin.
It is about halfway through the range and it is near that tree where I have been spotting horses. I am planning on hiking up over that ridge to see what it looks like on the other side.
Possibly on this day that I saw Hawk, Issaquah, Chief Joseph and Jemez, Merlin may have been right over on the other side of this ridge. Now I have another mission.
I spent some time watching the bachelors before the wind picked up and I decided to move on. I never saw anyone else as I drove through the rest of the range.
On my way out I did see the Greeters again and decided to take some photos since they were close enough to the road. It was really cold and the wind was picking up. Many of my photos were blurry (I did not bring my tripod) so I only ended up with a few good photos.
I always enjoy seeing the Greeters of the Dry Head and have learned to stop and see them because we never know what tomorrow will bring.
On Saturday December 1, Brianna and I headed out to the Lower Sykes Area and hiked all over. We found Hidatsa and Johnston. They were busy eating whatever they could find and did not seem to mind us taking lots of photos of them.
They both look to be in good shape and so that is a good thing as we are now going into the hardest months for the horses. I do love these pictures though as you can see the vastness of the range in this area. Unfortunately, we spent so much time hiking all around here that we did not get to go up Burnt Timber road. We are supposed to get some bad weather and so I don’t think I will be able to get up there for a while now. I also don’t want to go that road alone and it is difficult to find others who want to venture up into the Pryor’s. Wish you were here Sandy, I know you would go with me!
We then went out to Mustang Flats where we saw Issaquah, Hawk and Chief Joseph (I think) They were so far out that I could not tell for sure. Then we drove right by some deer and one posed just for me.
Wednesday seemed to be the lucky day for me for finding some of the horses that I have not seen in a while. Especially Merlin!
But the other group that I love to see was Seattle and his harem. Seattle does not like to be seen and always snakes his harem away from sight. This day was no different and I snapped these photos as Seattle & Co. were heading off to another hiding place.
As they were heading out into the vastness of the Flats, Kemmerer turned and posed for me! I just love him, and am so happy that he is still on the range!
I also thought I would include some updated photos of Liesl, Kaibab and Exhilaration that I took on December 1.
Thank you Lori for the photos and report! I wish I had been there too. Liesl and Kiabab look like they are thriving under your care! Liesl is getting so big!
I drove out to the Dry Head yesterday morning and had no luck finding Merlin, or Sitting Bull, Cecelia & Mato.
I just keep on going out there hoping to find one or the other, or both.
I also have not seen Fiero or Seattle on my last two trips.
Let’s keep up hope that they are all ok.
The weather has been good, with very little rain or snow. That is all supposed to change later this week with the weather calling for very cold temperatures and rain/snow showers.
If that does happen, I doubt that I will be able to get out to the lower Sykes area of the range for quite some time. We will just have to wait and see how the weather is.
I did see Hidalgo with his harem. They were quite a ways off and I hiked out towards them just to get these photos.
I did not see Halo at first, but then she appeared from behind a bush. I was happy to see her. I think Montana was near Hidalgo, and the “girls” were together a short distance from them.
Hidalgo seems to be a very strong and devoted stallion, and I do hope he can keep them all together through the winter and into spring.
I am happy to see him taking such good care of his family. I have watched him a few times as he got right behind Montana to make sure he kept up with the rest. He will not leave Montana behind, and that is a significant quality for a stallion to have. It will be interesting to see if he will have his own offspring next year.
I found a new lookout spot along the Dry Head road and from there I saw the “Greeters” and two black stallions with a grullo.
I believe it was Hawk, Issaquah and maybe Hidatsa. Hickok had to run over to check them out and let them know that they were to stay away from his harem. I don’t think there was any serious fighting going on, but from where I was I could hear some horse noises. I believe he was giving them a warning. Jesse James stayed behind with Hightail and Seneca, although they were curious as to what was going on.
After that I drove out to lower Sykes and only found Inniq. He looks to be in good shape going into the winter and was just grazing alone. He does have some battle scars and I wondered who he had been fighting with.
I decided to leave him to his peacefulness and drove back to the Center to visit with Liesl and Kaibab.
They were happy to see me and I spent some time with them. As you can tell they both look real good, especially Liesl who has put on some much-needed weight.
I hope my next trip to the range will be just as good as this one, and maybe if Brianna joins me we will see more horses as she is my “good luck charm”, but I was happy to have seen some of the horses.
Thanks Lori for the update. You never know who you will see when you go. That is part of the beauty of it!
Liesl looks so good. I decided to post the photo of her from July so we could all see how amazing she looks now. Of course Kaibab looks great too, but Liesl has had the biggest changes! It is all because of your great care. (and Diane’s too!)
Yes, winter is scheduled to make a grand appearance in the next couple days. We have a winter storm warning out for 10- 14 inches in the mountains over here in Western Montana. We will probably see about half of that where I live at 4,500 feet. It will make for some great winter photos of the horses.
I am glad that it warmed up again in the Pryors, after the recent snow and rain. Hopefully it was enough to regenerate some forage for the upcoming winter months.
Here are a few pictures from my trip Saturday and Sunday this past weekend.I am sad to report that I did not find Merlin as hard as I tried, he did not show his beautiful face. I can only hope that he is hiding out and healing from his battle wounds.Saturday, I did see Fiero with Bakken, Strawberry and I was surprised to see Cascade with them.They all look good, but Cascade does look thin as was reported by several others.
I just love Fiero and think he is a strong and majestic Stallion. He is special to me because he is the son of Sacajawea (one of my favorites on the Dry Head) and the fact that he has held his harem together for quite
some time now.
He has 3 of the 14 mares on the Dry Head and none of them will reproduce as they are on PZP.
This is sad to me because I believe Fiero should have more representation on the range.
I think Cascade seems a bit lost to me since they took Lewis away from her.
I believe that Blizzard is back to being a bachelor again although I did not see him either day while I was out there.
I could not get Fiero to look at me and did not want to disturb them any more than I did.
I also took a picture of Mustang Flats on this very cloudy day so everyone could see the vastness of it.
I believe there was still some smoke in the air as well and so the photos are not the best.
On my way out of the range I saw Jesse James, Hickok and
Seneca…I believe that Hightail was nearby but just not in view.
They were a very long ways off and I did not hike out to them.
Most every time I have been out to the range this past summer I see the devoted Jesse James with Seneca and Hightail. Sometimes Hickok is with them and sometimes he is not, so I am going to say that
Jesse James is the Harem Stallion and much more reliable. Hickok sometimes goes out with the bachelor boys and I have never seen Jesse James out with the bachelors.
They seemed to be just out grazing and taking it easy.
I wish that we had received more moisture this past spring & summer so that the horses would have more to eat, but it just did not happen.
Maybe this winter will bring some much needed moisture, but until then
I will worry about these horses finding enough food to sustain them through the winter months.
The next set of pictures are from my trip, again, to the Dry Head on Sunday morning. I thought maybe I would see more of the horses since it was earlier, but not to be. I still did not find Merlin.
I managed to get a few good shots of the Big Horn Sheep that were hanging around Devils Canyon Over Look.
I always enjoy seeing them.
Out on Mustang Flats I saw Seattle, Sacajawea and Kemmerer. They were way out there, but I was up for the hike.
I tried not to disturb them but they saw me coming from the distance.
Seattle looks thin, but he always looks that way. His injury from years past must be healed as he was not limping at all.
He is a beautiful and gallant Stallion and very protective.
Both Sacajawea and Kemmerer look real good and I am so happy that Kemmerer is still on the range, as he is one of my favorites. I have been watching him grow up and he has turned out to be a very robust bachelor. I hope someday he has his own harem and some offspring in the future.
Seattle thought I was getting too close so he started to move Sacajawea and Kemmerer.
I then left so that they could feel safe and I did not want to disturb them any more than I already had. I did thank them for allowing me to take their photos!
Maybe next trip to the range I will get to find Merlin and more of the horses, but I think they are going out to the Lower Sykes area, possibly because there is more for them to eat.
Brianna and I are planning a trip out there on Friday afternoon. Maybe Brianna will bring luck with her!
A new friend and Pryor Mountain Wild Horse lover, Laura Curtis, sent Lori and I these photos of Merlin. Laura gave me her permission to share them with you. Below is her description of Merlin and his injury.
It was difficult to see Merlin’s foot with the grass around it. I could not see it close enough to tell if there was an open wound. When he raised it, it looked as if the hoof area was not firmly attached to the leg.
I took them about 6:30 pm Friday evening, Sept 28. It was almost dark, misting rain and windy with a heavy rain coming in. Merlin was grazing in grass beside the road with a steep drop-off on his other side. I did not want to cause him to stop eating or need to take extra steps, so I did not get close in, and with the grass could not get a good shot of his hoof area without taking a chance on disturbing him causing him to try to move.
As we watched, he did take a few steps, limping very badly. I had to fight back tears just to watch.
On our Saturday morning drive-thru he had crossed the road and was about 20 feet from road up a small slope about 6 feet. It seemed he was putting some weight on the leg, but the hoof looked to be “dangling” when he lifted it. But I don’t think he could have gotten from where he was Friday evening to where he was Saturday morning without using that leg some. We did not see him Sunday morning when we made our last drive before heading back home.
It is difficult for me to see Merlin in this condition, but the will to survive in these wild horses is very high. I have to hold on to the hope that Merlin will heal and get healthy before winter comes. The thought of losing another great stallion this year is something I do not want to think about.
Please keep Merlin in your thoughts and prayers and send good healing energy his way.
Thank you so much Laura for sharing with us.
The below photo if from Linda Dombeck. She took this in June when Merlin was injured. It is the same leg that is injured now. Thanks Linda for the photo.
I emailed both the NPS and the BLM about Merlin this morning. NPS emailed back and said that they would be watching for him.
Lori and I have been worried about Merlin for about a week now. We both received reports that he was injured and that there were several bachelors trying to get his band. If you want to read about that click on Dryhead and it will take you to Lori’s report. She last saw him with the Greeters.
Here is Lori’s report from yesterday:
I went out to the Dryhead hoping to find Merlin.
I did not find Merlin, but his harem is now with Hidalgo. Let’s hope that Merlin is laying low somewhere and healing from his injury.
The last time he was injured, which was not too long ago, Corona and Waif took care of his harem for a little while, then Merlin eased himself back into his harem. Also, Hidalgo has not been the one fighting with Merlin. It was Medicine Bow, and Chief Joseph I believe; at least that is what I have been hearing from others visiting the range.
I also saw Hidatsa and Johnston on Mustang Flats. Off in the distance was Hawk and Issaquah.
On my way back I saw Jemez, Medicine Bow, Johan and Chief Joseph. They were not near Hidalgo and “harem” at all..so I really don’t know when this came about, but it has been since I was last out there last week.
I searched for Merlin a bit stopping all of the time and looking through my binoculars, but no Merlin.
I heard that someone saw Seattle, Sacajawea and Kemmerer today, and also Fiero, Strawberry and Bakken.
that is good news as I have not seen them for quite some time.
Thank you so much Lori for keeping us up to date on Merlin and spending the time to try and find him!
I have tried to stay calm, hoping for the best. Merlin is only 15 after all and should have many more years ahead of him.
I have a special feeling for Merlin. He is the father of my filly, Valerosa, who I adopted in 2009. Every time I go up the Dryhead I hoped to see him. I have seen him off in the distance with his band several times, but never up close until last May.
Bill and I felt very lucky to spend some time with this amazing stallion then. It was raining that day, but we covered our cameras and watched them. Merlin was every bit the stallion I imaged him to be. He was a good band stallion, watching closely over little Montana, and keeping his mares together.
I am holding on to hope that it will be a repeat of last spring when he was injured. He went off by himself for a while to heal and then returned to claim his band. Please Merlin, let’s see that happen again.