Burnt Timber, Day Three. Cold and Windy

Wild in the Pryors

We did not know what to expect on this third day up Burnt Timber.  The weather forecast was not good:  high of 40 degrees with 20-30 mph winds and gusts to 40 mph.   I wondered if we would even see any horses today.

I dressed just like I did when I was there in February and even then, the wind cut through.  There were periods of snow falling as well, but there was also some sun.   Just enough sun to warm us and make us want to continue.

Our trip up the Dryhead was pretty successful considering the weather, so I was feeling a little more confident that we would see some horses up Burnt Timber.  I reminded myself that every day was a gift and every horse that showed itself to me was a gift.  I was having a great trip and thankful for those I did see.  No expectations, then you are never disappointed.

No one was at the first water guzzler, so we continued far enough up the road so that we could see where, and if there were horses anywhere to hike to.

We all wondered what was happening with Cloud and Santa Fe.  The day before we had spent on Sykes Ridge, so we had no idea if Santa Fe was still dogging Cloud.

I stopped in my favorite “scanning” place and looked around.  No horses.  Really not surprising.  They were all tucked away out of this wind and the snow that was now falling.

We continued up the road and that was when I spotted Tecumseh/Gringos to the left.  They were in a small protected area amongst some low-lying bushes.

Gringo/Tecumseh Band
Gringo/Tecumseh Band
Gringo
Gringo

I noticed right away, that Jacinta was still not with them.  Three days since I had last seen them.  I had hoped she would be back.  Perhaps she got taken by one of the bachelors.  I hope she is alright.

As we stood there and watched, I noticed that Tecumseh had some fresh wounds on him.  They may have been there 3 days ago, they looked like they were healing some.  Gringo had none.  Was it as peaceful as I had thought?  Was Tecumseh still keeping his role as Satellite bachelor, protecting and fighting off anyone who comes near?  I do believe it is the latter.  It still seemed that Gringo and Tecumseh were at peace.  Grazing near one-another with no conflict.

Gringo and Tecumseh
Gringo and Tecumseh
Galadrial
Galadrial
Beulah
Beulah
Ketchikan
Ketchikan
Ketchikan and Beulah
Ketchikan and Beulah

I continued to drive up to Cheyenne Flats.  No horses were visible over on Sykes today.  We all decided that it would be a good day to hike down to the water guzzler here.  It would be out of the wind and seemed like a perfect place for some horses to be.

We reached it and saw no one.  Not even any fresh tracks in the soft ground.

Cheyenne Flats, April 28, 2014
Cheyenne Flats, April 28, 2014

We had just returned to Ophelia when I spotted a horse in the trees not far away.  It was Mica, looking particularly handsome in a patch of white snow.

Wild in the Pryors

Mica
Mica

It did not take us long to hear some commotion coming from behind those trees.  It was Cloud and another horse.  Santa Fe must still be at it.  But when I saw the other horse, it was not Santa Fe.  It was 21-year-old Chino.

Chino, April 28, 2014
Chino, April 28, 2014

We followed and watched the scene unfold.  It appeared to me that Chino was more aggressive than Santa Fe had been.  Keeping Cloud and his band on the move.  We would later see them (about 1/2 hour later) about 5 miles down Burnt Timber.

The one thing I did notice, was that Cloud seemed to look ever so slightly better than when I had seen him two days before.  Not quite as thin.  I think that is most likely due to being able to hydrate.  I know that when a horse is very dehydrated, they look very “sucked in”.  What ever the reason, it was good to see him look a little better and I was glad that he may have had a break.

The rest of Cloud’s band just continued to graze unless Cloud snaked them further from Chino.

Chino
Chino
Chino
Chino
Chino
Chino
Chino
Chino
Charging towards them
Charging towards them
Chino
Chino
Clouds band just kept grazing unless Cloud snaked them.
Feldspar, Mica and Nimbus.

Wild in the Pryors

Chino
Chino
Cloud
Cloud
Cloud
Cloud

Wild in the Pryors Wild in the Pryors

Chino watching them drink
Chino watching them at the water guzzler.
Chino and Cloud and his band at the water guzzler, APril 28, 2014.
Chino and Cloud and his band at the water guzzler, APril 28, 2014.

We had hiked quite some distance following them.  They were clearly heading down the mountain, so we turned to go back and head down the road.

As I neared the lower water guzzler, I noticed a band there. It was Galaxy and his band.  We parked and started to unload.  It was then that I turned and saw all of Galaxy’s band looking in the distance, past the guzzler to the east.  I could see a lone dun horse running fast towards them.  It took me a minute to realize that is was MacKeahnie, Cappuccino and Gabrielle’s two-year old colt.

I think he was just thirsty and decided to run towards the water, not realizing that Galaxy was there.   He quickly learned the error of his way.

Galaxy and his Girls with MacKeahnie in the forground.
Galaxy and his Girls with MacKeahnie in the foreground.
MacKeahnie
MacKeahnie

Wild in the Pryors

Galaxy chased him off, but MacKeahnies thirst or perhaps it was his loneliness made him try a second time.  It appeared to me that MacKeahnie had been kicked out of his family band.  The first few months are hard for a young colt.  They no longer have the comfort of being in the protection of their family.  But hopefull in a short while, he will find some comfort in a new band.  A bachelor band.  They will become his new family, and in some ways, this can be a carefree time, until he reaches the age of wanting to start a band of his own.  Endless summer days of sparring and eating, sleeping and doing it all over again.  He will become a new “Boys of Summer”.  I am looking forward to watching MacKeahnie become one.

But on this day, it was impossible not to feel sorry for him.  He was alone.  Galaxy refused to give him any slack.  When MacKeahnie decided to try again, Galaxy chased him off yet again, but this time it was in a more aggressive way.

Wild in the Pryors

MacKeahnie and Galaxy, April 28, 2014
MacKeahnie and Galaxy, April 28, 2014

Wild in the Pryors

Galaxy heads back to his girls
Galaxy heads back to his girls

MacKeahnie next decision was to take some comfort by staying closer to us.  We sat by Ophelia and watched him work his way closer to us.  It seemed to give him comfort to be by ANYONE.  My heart hurt for him.  But other than being alone, he looked good.

Wild in the Pryors Wild in the Pryors Wild in the Pryors Wild in the Pryors Wild in the Pryors

He stayed by us for over an hour.  It was good to relax and just be in the moment.  We decided to stay until he chose to move on.  I was sure he had enough of horses leaving and rejecting him in the time that he had been kicked out of his family.  I did not want to be yet another that turned his back on him.   After an hour or so, he again (but this time gradually) made his way towards the guzzler.  I could see that Galaxy was beginning to move on and hoped that MacKeahnie would finally be able to get the drink he wanted.

Liz and Anh
Liz and Anh

We then drove the short way to park and hike back to the mineral lick.  But no horses were there.  It was time to head back down for the night.

It had been an amazing trip, we had seen 91 horse, many of those I had not seen since last fall.  No expectations, then you won’t be disappointed.  

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

Burnt Timber, Day Two.

A view of the range, from the Mines on Burnt Timber Road
A view of the range, from the Mines on Burnt Timber Road

I had initially thought I could do one last post with photos and stories from day 2 and 3 on Burnt Timber, but as I began to go through my photos, I decided it would be to large of post.  So I will have one more post after this one.

Jackson and band, April 27, 2014
Jackson and band, April 27, 2014

After our morning trip up the Dryhead, we unloaded Ophelia and headed up Burnt Timber Road.  This would be our second day on Burnt Timber this trip.  The weather said we may get some rain in the afternoon, but that did not bother me in the least.  I am very comfortable driving this road in most conditions now.

The first bands we came to were by the water guzzler.  It was Jackson’s band and Cloud’s band.  Clouds still being dogged by a very determined Santa Fe.  I thought they both looked even thinner, just in 24 hours.

Cloud and Jackson
Cloud and Jackson
Cloud and Jackson
Cloud and Jackson

It was good to see Jackson and band.  The last I had heard, Heritage was not with him, so I was glad to see her back with him again.  Also there were both Aztec and Jasmine, bringing Jackson’s band count to 11.

Jacksons
Jacksons
Jacksons
Jacksons
Jacksons
Jacksons
Jackson and Brumby
Jackson and Brumby

I was sorry that I was not able to get closer photos, but shortly after we arrived, Jackson decided to move his band further away from the Cloud/ Santa Fe conflict.

We stayed watching Cloud and Santa Fe chasing one another back and forth.  I have been asked a few times if Mica showed any interest in helping Cloud chase Santa Fe off.  No, none.  I believe that this particular aggression with Santa Fe (and the others that have continued to dog Cloud) mean business.  No place for a 2 year old inexperienced colt.  I am glad that Mica was not joining him, I think it is a wise decision on his part.

Cloud
Cloud
Santa Fe
Santa Fe
Santa Fe
Santa Fe
Santa Fe and Cloud with Clouds band and and exiting Jackson in the background.
Santa Fe and Cloud with Clouds band and and exiting Jackson in the background.
Santa Fe chasing Cloud
Santa Fe chasing Cloud
Cloud Chasing Santa Fe
Cloud Chasing Santa Fe
Wonder how they get some of those wounds?  Look at what they are running through!
Wonder how they get some of those wounds? Look at what they are running through!
Santa Fe
Santa Fe
Cloud
Cloud
Santa Fe goes again
Santa Fe goes again
Cloud
Cloud
Shocking to see how thin he was.
It was shocking to see how thin Cloud was.

After a while, we decided to make our way up the road and see what other horses we could find.  I was happy to see Hernando and his new band of Warbonnet and Phoenix.  Of course we constantly thought of Teton and scanned the range for him each and every day.  We never were able to locate him.  I hope someone sees him and let’s us all know.  I know there are many of us whose hearts ache for this older stallion.

Warbonnet, Phoenix and Hernando, April 27, 2014
Warbonnet and Phoenix, April 27, 2014
Hernando and his new band
Hernando and his new band

I continued up the road, stopping at Cheyenne Flats to have a look at what horses I could see over there.  I don’t have a spotting scope, so I am not 100% sure whose band that is.  I saw a total of 20 horses far over there, but was unable to confirm who they were.  If anyone wants to let me know who they think this is, I would appreciate it.  I was first thinking Morning Star, but I am not sure.

Band over on Sykes, from Cheyenne Flats
Band over on Sykes, from Cheyenne Flats
Wide Angle view of the same area.
Wide Angle view of the same area.
Burnt Timber Road at Cheyenne Flats
Burnt Timber Road at Cheyenne Flats

I wanted to see just how far I could get up the road, and we made it to almost the old horse trap area before we encountered two much snow.

On our way back down, Doc and Demure crossed the road in front of us.  Right in the exact area where Anh and I had spent hours with Jacksons band in February.  I am sure Demure has most likely had her foal by now.  I hope it is a healthy foal that survives this year.

Wide Angle View of Doc and Demure
Wide Angle View of Doc and Demure
Doc
Doc
A beautiful Demure
A beautiful Demure

I wanted to see what was over a hill, so I hiked up, and was just about face-to-face with Maia.  I knew I was way to close, so quickly turned and went back down.  We drove down the road a short way and hiked back towards them.  I knew we would be at a better distance this time.

Maia looks very pregnant to me.

Wide-Angle of Galaxy and Girls.
Wide-Angle of Galaxy and Girls.
Maia
Maia
Hera and Ireland
Hera and Ireland
Maia, April 27, 2014
Maia, April 27, 2014
Hera and Ireland
Hera and Ireland
Maia and Limerick
Maia and Limerick

When we reached the water guzzler where we had left Cloud earlier, we found him and Santa Fe still going at it.  Also there were Nancy and Matt from PMWMC.  It was good to stop and talk with them for a short time.  We both shared information about the horses, then went opposite directions.

We decided to head down and see if we could see more horses, leaving Santa Fe and Cloud.

As luck would have it, I spotted Cappuccino and his band again. They were grazing and then headed over to eat the minerals by the road.  Still no McKeahnie with them.  But Matt had told me that they had seen him.  He was alone he said, but looked to be just fine.   I hoped we would see him.  He is one of my favorite two-year olds.

Again, another two year old filly looks to be pregnant.  This time it is Moenkopi.  She is the 2012 daughter of Galena and Jackson.

Wild in the Pryors

Wide-Angle of Cappuccino band
Wide-Angle of Cappuccino band
Gabrielle and Naara
Gabrielle and Naara
Naara
Naara
Moenkopi
Moenkopi
Blanca
Blanca
Gabrielle
Gabrielle
Cappuccino
Cappuccino
Cappuccino and Gabrielle
Cappuccino and Gabrielle
Cappuccino
Cappuccino
Cappuccino
Cappuccino

Wild in the Pryors Wild in the Pryors

The wind was picking up, but still no rain, so we turned around and headed back up the road.  We thought we would end our day by seeing how Cloud and Santa Fe were doing.

They were still at it.  I found myself worried for both of them.  Neither is a young stallion.  Santa Fe was born the same year as Cloud, 1995.  Both stallions will be 19 this year.

Gorgous Mica!  Wow.
A gorgeous Mica! Wow.  He is really stunning this year.
Inoccentes
Inoccentes
Feldspar
Feldspar
Nimbus
Nimbus
Nimbus and Feldspar
Nimbus and Feldspar
Cloud and Santa Fe
Cloud and Santa Fe
Cloud and Santa Fe
Cloud and Santa Fe
Santa Fe and Cloud
Santa Fe and Cloud
Cloud
Cloud

The rain was starting to come down.  Sideways.  The wind was strong as we hurried to Ophelia and made our way back down the mountain.  Grateful for yet another fantastic day on the range.

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

February In The Pryors. Day 4. Peaceful

Burnt Timber area, 2-18-14
Burnt Timber area, 2-18-14

What is it about the Pryor Horses, or any wild horses for that matter?  They each give us a gift that if you take the time to listen and except it, it will change your life.  Forever.  Some people just want to go and see them, others want to feel their presence.  To me that is what it is all about.  Feel the horses and the land, it has much to offer.

On this trip I was given two very special people to share the horses with.  Ones that want to take the time to experience all that the horses have to offer.   People that don’t mind sitting for hours (in the snow!!) just watching and enjoying every little move or interaction.  Thank you Anh and Kimerlee for being there with me and sharing in my passion.

Firestorm, 2-18-14
Firestorm, 2-18-14

The morning of February 18 was clear and sunny.  The temperature was 25 as we left Lovell and headed towards Burnt Timber Road.  The expected high was to be 38 in Lovell.  A perfect day.  We were all looking forward to seeing more horses.

Along the way, we spotted another Bald Eagle perched in a tree.

American Bald Eagle
American Bald Eagle

We parked, unloaded Ophelia and loaded her back up with all of our camera equipment, lunches, water, shovels, emergency supplies and were headed up the frozen road by 9.  I was happy for the firm mud on the lower part of the road.   I also want to note and give thanks to Ginger for her tracks that she made in the snowy road just a few days before I got there.   For the most part they were still there, packed down, making our journey a bit easier.

I stopped where we had spotted Cappuccino and band and Jasper and Grijala the evening before.  Hiking over the hill, I only saw the two bachelors, still in the same area.  We decided to continue on.  My goal was to again get as far as the mine and park there where I would have a great view of the range.

We made it there with little trouble.  I do think that long red hill is a bit scary any time of the year (because of its narrowness), but in the winter, it can be a tad more-so.

I spent some time looking through my binoculars (wishing I had a scope!).  After a short time I suggested we leave Ophelia parked ( I knew the next part of the road was going to most likely be more difficult with very little room to turn around).  I love hiking and had a feeling that we may see Jackson and his band from where I had spotted them the afternoon before.

The hiking was pretty easy.  The road was packed down and we only sunk to our knees in the snow a couple of times.

Just a short way up the road, I caught a glimpse of some horses.  It was Phoenix, Warbonnet and Hernando.  Where was Half Moon and Missoula?  I thought perhaps they were ahead and I just missed seeing them.  Hernando had a very obvious limp.

Phoenix and Warbonnet, 2-18-14
Phoenix and Warbonnet, 2-18-14
Hernando
Hernando

I was hoping to see them again, once I got to the top of that hill.  Instead, I saw this:

Jacksons Band
Jacksons Band

While I was happy to see Jackson (always!!), I was also disappointed not to be able to get a closer look at Hernando and his new band.  I could see Jackson watching up the draw, so I assumed that Hernando was most likely down that way too.  I also heard a horse calling for others (Teton?)  and also the noise of a stallion trying to breed a mare.

Jackson watching something up the draw.
Jackson watching something up the draw.

We stopped in our tracks and let Jackson and his beautiful band get used to our presence before moving on.  I am especially careful in the winter months about my movements.  I do not want to be the cause of a horse expanding anymore energy than they normally would.  Patience is a great virtue to have with wild horses, especially in the winter.

Jacksons band lined up eating snow.
Jacksons band lined up eating snow.
Brumby and Galena
Brumby and Galena
Jackson and Maelstrom
Jackson and Maelstrom
Wide-anle look towards them.
Wide-anlge look towards them.
Heritage
Heritage
Heritage and Firestorm
Heritage and Firestorm
Moorcroft
Moorcroft
Moorcroft
Moorcroft

Once I saw them carrying on normally (grooming, grazing, not always focused on us), then and only then did we move pass them and away to a good place to “camp out”.

I was surprised and happy to see the bare ground and the amount of forage available to them in this area.  These horses don’t have open water from the guzzlers in this area.  The guzzlers are frozen in the winter months, so unless it is a warm day with some puddles, the snow is their only water source.  Amazing creatures, so strong with their will to survive.

I chose a big rock to sit and watch these amazing horses.  I love when they carry on as if we are not there.  It truly is a gift that they give us to see and I soaked up every minute of it.

Firestorm, wide-angle
Firestorm, wide-angle
Firestorm, Telephoto lens.
Firestorm, Telephoto lens.

I quickly spotted Hernando just below the hill from Jackson’s band.  He seemed nervous.  It was not the best place for him to be.  He kept looking up the hill every time a horse got closer to him.  But he could not see who it was, which added to his nervousness.  I still could not see Half Moon or Missoula and I found myself starting to worry about them.  I knew there was no way I could walk past Jackson and closer to them without disturbing them too much, so I stayed parked and waited.

Jackson Band.  Can you see Phoenix in this shot?
Jackson Band. Can you see Phoenix in this shot?
2-18-14
2-18-14
Hernando, Phoenix and Warbonnet
Hernando, Phoenix and Warbonnet
Phoenix, 2-18-14
Phoenix, 2-18-14
Jackson band
Jackson band

Brumby and Moorcoft were enjoying the slushy snow, which lead to some mutual grooming and then Moorcroft spent several minutes nursing.  That made me decide that Brumby was just round (as always) and not pregnant.  But of course I could be wrong.  We will just have to wait and see.

Brumby and Moorcroft
Brumby and Moorcroft
Brumby and Moorcroft
Brumby and Moorcroft
2-18-14
2-18-14
Brumby and Moorcroft
Brumby and Moorcroft
2-18-14
2-18-14
Brumby and Moorcroft
Brumby and Moorcroft
Firestorm
Firestorm
Maelstrom
Maelstrom
Nye and Malestrom
Nye and Malestrom
Nye and Maelstrom
Nye and Maelstrom
Niobrara
Niobrara
Firestorm
Firestorm
Wide-angle shot of the surrounding beauty.
Wide-angle shot of the surrounding beauty.
Looking the other direction.
Looking the other direction.

Hernando was getting even more nervous, as Heritage worked her way towards the hill directly above them.  Jackson sensed a change and went over to move his band back and check out the situation.

Hernando
Hernando

Wild in the Pryors

A very uneasy Hernando
A very uneasy Hernando
Hernando
Hernando

Wild in the Pryors

Wild in the Pryors
2-18-14 I love the look on Nye and Niobrara faces.
Hernando heads towards Jackson
Hernando heads towards Jackson
Hernando quickly retreats.
Hernando quickly retreats.
Jackson moves his band away from the ridge.
Jackson moves his band away from the ridge.

I could no longer see Hernando, Phoenix and Warbonnet and assumed they had worked their way further down.  Jackson stayed alert, but started to relax a bit more, appearing to nap in the warm sun, watching over Firestorm and Niobrara.

Jackson, Niobrara and Firestorm, 2-18-14
Jackson, Niobrara and Firestorm, 2-18-14
Moving over to watch Hernando
Moving over to watch Hernando
Jackson and Heritage watching Hernando.
Jackson and Heritage watching Hernando.

The band took Jackson que and began to move on over the ridge.

Niobrara and Firestorm
Niobrara and Firestorm
Firestorm
Firestorm
Firestorm
Firestorm

We waited until they were out of sight over the ridge before we decided to go up and see if we could see anything.  I snapped this photo of where Firestorm had been lying and where she had rolled.  I was surprised to see the imprint of the ribs and realized that she was still on the thin side this year, but better than the last.

Firestorm's snow imprint.
Firestorm’s snow imprint.

The horses were moving down the ridge.  I was a bit cautious on where we should go to look.  I knew that there was an avalanche warning in Western Montana on anything with more than a 30 degree slope.  Even though there was bare ground here, there was still plenty of deep snow around.  Those type of conditions could easily set off an avalanche.  Ice on top of snow with more snow on top of the ice.  Very unsettled layers.   I did not want to risk it.

We made our way a few feet down the road where I could just make out a place on the ridge that was bare.  I started to hike to it and got stuck, about 6 feet from the ridge.  With cameras and backpack, there was not way I could even attempt to “swim” up the rest of the way.  I turned around and snapped this photo of Kimerlee coming down.  I really thought it gave a good perspective.  You can see my tracks where I came down too.

2-18-14
2-18-14

We continued down the road looking for another place to the ridge.  I was concerned on the location of Jackson and did not want to risk disturbing them.  So we found a comfortable spot and sat and watched the location of everyone.  We could see the occasional head poke up on the ridge.

I still had not seen Half Moon and Missoula.  After several hours, I was beginning to think that they were not with Phoenix and Warbonnet.

Warbonnet and Phoenix
Warbonnet and Phoenix
Phoenix
Phoenix
Wide-angle of view of where we were now.
Wide-angle of view of where we were now.
Another wide-angle.
Another wide-angle.

At one point we watched Jackson run towards Hernando.  There was a very brief encounter between the two of them, then it was quiet.

While we sat there, we mapped out a possible way to get through the deep snow to the ridge.  We waited until we could not longer see Jackson.  It appeared they were moving back to the area where they were before.  We took this opportunity to slowly make our way up to the ridge.

As we approached the ridge, this is what I saw:  Heritage.  I have a soft spot for this beautiful mare.  She is the mother of my adopted Pryor, Kootenai.  I am so hoping that her plump shape means she is pregnant.  Heritage does not have any offspring on the range now.  A Heritage (daughter of Warbonnet and Lakota) would be a wonderful thing, not to mention that it would also be a Jackson offspring.

Heritage
Heritage
Heritage
Heritage
Heritage.  Her profile looks so much like Kootenais.
Heritage. Her profile looks so much like Kootenais.
Heritage and Jackson.
Heritage and Jackson.

The band did not seem to mind us being there.  We settled in the deep snow and watched them on the patch of bare ground,  enjoying their interaction with each other and soaking up their amazing presence.  It truly was a gift to be here and I treasured every second of it.

Jackson puts his ears back at Heritage
Jackson puts his ears back at Heritage
2-18-14
2-18-14
Jackson and Heritage
Jackson and Heritage
Jackson and Heritage
Jackson and Heritage

The young colt Maelstrom had grown into such a handsome boy.  Other than his color, he is beginning to look so much like Jackson.  He seems to be equally as confident as his father and will someday make an amazing band stallion.

Maelstrom and Jackson
Maelstrom and Jackson
2-18-14
2-18-14
Father and Son
Father and Son
Maelstrom and Jackson
Maelstrom and Jackson
2-18-14
2-18-14
Jackson
Jackson
Maelstrom
Maelstrom

Then they moved slightly up the ridge and gave us a blue sky background that seemed fake.   We all looked at each other in disbelief.  Was this really happening?

Kimerlee and I have birthdays soon, so we looked at each other and said ” Happy Birthday to us”!  I certainly do not need any more than what was given to me this day.

Jackson
Jackson
Jackson
Jackson
Jackson
Jackson
Jackson
Jackson
Maelstrom
Maelstrom
Maelstrom
Maelstrom

We watched the band slowly work their way off the ridge and to the other side of the road.  We took the opportunity to walk down the ridge a bit, but still did not see Hernando.

Kimerlee feeling the magic of the Pryors!
Kimerlee feeling the magic of the Pryors!
Kimerlee with Jacksons band in the background
Kimerlee with Jacksons band in the background
Anh making her way through the deep snow.
Anh making her way through the deep snow.
Jacksons Band
Jacksons Band
Jacksons band
Jacksons band

I left Kimerlee and Anh and hiked up a near-by hill to have a look around and snap some wide-angle shots.

2-18-14
2-18-14
High on Burnt Timber
High on Burnt Timber

I looked through my binoculars and  spotted some horses!  It was Doc and his band and with them were Half Moon and Missoula!!  I was relieved to see them and glad they were okay.

Demure looks to be pregnant.  I don’t think Half Moon is, but I hope I am wrong, if she is, it could very well be Teton’s last offspring.

Docs with Half Moon and Missoula
Docs with Half Moon and Missoula
Docs with Half Moon and Missoula
Docs with Half Moon and Missoula
Docs
Docs
Docs
Docs
Docs, 2-18-14
Docs, 2-18-14

Changes…my heart ached for Teton and hoped he was still okay.  It is the cycle of life for a band stallion to loss his band when he ages, but it did not make my heart ache any less.  I am happy for Hernando.  He is an amazing stallion.  Time will tell if he can hold on to what he now has.  The mountain changes by the day, and I wondered how things would shake out by spring.

I turned my focus back to Jackson’s band and watched them peacefully grazing.  What an amazing day we were having.

Jackson band
Jackson band
Anh and Kimerlee
Anh and Kimerlee

The day was turning late.  We needed to hike back to Ophelia and start to head down the mountain.  As we reached Ophelia, Anh spotted a lone horse way up on a hill.  I looked through the binoculars to get a better look.  It was Teton.  Could the rest of his band see him from where they were?  I think they could.  I certainly know from where Teton was he could most likely see them.

Wild in the Pryors

This day was filled with joy, sadness and peace.  We continued down the mountain, not seeing another horse, but feeling very full-filled.  We reached the bottom of the range, just as the sun was about to set.

2-18-14
2-18-14
Bighorn Mountains lit by the sunset.
Bighorn Mountains lit by the sunset.

Kimerlee Curyl is an amazing photographer and also a beautiful person inside and out.  I was happy to be able to share with her the Pryor Horses for the first time and look forward to many more meetings with her.  Anh has become a best friend and I was excited that she could join me on this trip.  Words can not express how great my time with these two amazing women were.

You can find out more about Kimerlee and see some of her gorgeous work by going to her website.  Click on Kimerlee to go there.

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

February In The Pryors, Day 3: Searching

View of Turkey Flats, looking back towards Twin Red Hills.
View of Turkey Flats, looking back towards Twin Red Hills.

Our third day we decided to spend hiking around Turkey Flats, with an early morning drive up the Dryhead first.

For the first time in a long time, I saw the Greeters in “proper” place.  Just a short distance after we entered the range.  Way up on a hillside.  This day was starting out very cloudy and we hoped it would clear enough to give us some good light for photos.

Kimerlee and Anh watching the Greeters.
Kimerlee and Anh watching the Greeters.

I was really pleased to see Hightail looking so good.  Born in 1990, Hightail will be 24 this year.  Both Seneca and Hickok looked good too.

Hickok, February 16, 2014
Hickok, February 17, 2014
Seneca and Hightail
Seneca and Hightail
Seneca and Hightail, 2-16-14
Seneca and Hightail, 2-17-14
Hightail
Hightail
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok

Wild in the Pryors

Hightail and Seneca
Hightail and Seneca
A view of where the Greeters were.
A wide-angle view of where the Greeters were.

We continued driving down the road to look for more horses.  I have never had much luck seeing horses in the Dryhead this time of year.  But so far this trip I had seen 4.

I turned to go to the Devil’s Lookout area and was surprised to see the river completely frozen over below.  The dark sky and the frozen water in the canyon made for some very forbidding photos.  This was the first time I had my wide-angle lens with me and I loved the images I was able to capture.  Like putting the canyon in my pocket and taking it home with me.

Wild in the Pryors
Sykes Ridge on the left.
Wild in the Pryors
2-17-14

Wild in the Pryors

Seeing no other horses in this part of the range, we headed towards the Range entrance at Lower Sykes.  Remembering what the road looked like the afternoon before, I wondered how it would be this morning.  It was 28 right now, so I was hoping it had firmed up.

We loaded my UTV (Ophelia ) up with our camera gear and supplies and headed up the red dirt road.  The beautiful of this area is breathtaking, no matter what time of year I come here.

Wild in the Pryors

I parked Ophelia  a couple of miles up the road and we got out to go search for horses.  I will admit, it seems that this time of year, I do not have much luck finding horses here.  First, let me say:  Turkey Flats is NOT flat.  Sure, there are areas that are flatter than the tall hills that surround them, but for the most part, it is made of ravines that dip in and out of a vast landscape.  I climbed a tall hill to look around with my binoculars.  Quickly locating Jesse James on a far-away butte.  I always snap a photo, just for record keeping, no matter the distance, just in case I am not able to locate them later if I am closer.  The photo below of Jesses James is when I was a bit closer, but still taken at 310 mm.

My view from the hill.
My view from the hill.
Jesse James
Jesse James

My luck would be no different today.  We hiked for hours.  I scampered up several hills and did see 3 horses moving off.  By the time I went back to get Anh and Kimerlee, they had vanished into the landscape.  If I was to guess, I would say it was Mica, Inocentes and Feldspar and from the location that Ginger had given us of where she saw Cloud just a few days before, I could be right.  But for the first time, I did not snap that photo and I will never really know for sure.

Turkey Flats
Turkey Flats
Turkey Flats
Turkey Flats

We continued hiking closer to Jesse James and I was pleased to see another horse with him, a black one. I could not make out if it was Issaquah or Joseph, but it was not Hawk.  I am leaning towards thinking it was Issaquah, but not being able to see the legs to determine if there was a right hind sock (Joseph), I can’t be 100%.

It always amazes me how steep of terrain these horses can graze on.  I hope these shots give you some feel of just how steep it really was.

Issaquah(?) and Jesse James. 2-16.14
Issaquah(?) and Jesse James. 2-17-14
Watching the boys.
Watching the boys.

Wild in the Pryors

Jesse James
Jesse James

It was almost 3 pm.  We made a group decision to give up on Turkey Flats for the day and head up Burnt Timber road for the rest of the afternoon.  We turned to hike back to the road.  It was a bit late in the day to head up BT, but the sky was clear and I knew I would not be going up too far.

View of red hills with my telephoto lens.
View of red hills with my telephoto lens.

With some luck and a little extra persuasion, Ophelia was able to climb up the road past where we had gotten stuck in the snow the day before.  My hope was to get to the mine area where I could have an excellent view of where there may be horses.  As we climbed up, I saw Jackson and band making their way over a ridge further up.  It was too late in the day to go up that far, so we stopped and turned our attention to what might lie below us.

I spotted 10 horses on a ridge far below us.  It was getting late, so we decided to head down and try to locate them.  We all mentally noted some landscape landmarks and hoped to be able locate them as we made our way back down the road.  Several miles back down the road, I pulled over, hoping my guess would be right.  I hiked up a ridge and there they were!  It was Cappuccino and band along with two new members: Aztec and Jasmine.  Grijala and Jasper were near by a bit further down the ridge.

It was a beautiful spot to stop, watch horses for a while and enjoy a sunset.  I knew I could safely make it down the rest of the way (only about 2 miles) without a problem, even in the fading light.  We had not seen many horses that day and wanted to just sit and soak up their beauty.

Everyone looked good.  Gabrielle is definitely pregnant and appears to look better than she did last year at this same time.  Cappuccino looked a bit thin, but Aztec was keeping him very busy breeding her.

Blanca
Blanca
Aztec and Cappuccino
Aztec and Cappuccino
Naara and Gabrielle
McKeahnie  and Gabrielle
Jasper and Grijala
Jasper and Grijala
Blanca
Blanca
McKeahnie and Gabrielle
McKeahnie and Gabrielle
Aztec
Aztec
Cappuccino
Cappuccino
Naara, Blanca and Jasmine
Naara, Blanca and Jasmine
Naara, Jasmine and Blanca
Naara, Jasmine and Blanca
Moenkopi
Moenkopi
Moenkopi
Moenkopi

 

Wild in the Pryors
A wide-angle view towards the horses.
Anh and Kimerlee
Anh and Kimerlee
Sandy and Kimerlee.  Photo taken by Anh.
Sandy and Kimerlee. Photo taken by Anh.
Another wide-angle shot of the Cappuccinos band over on the next ridge.
Another wide-angle shot of the Cappuccinos band over on the next ridge.
The horses and some people that love them.
The horses and some people that love them.
Wild in the Pryors
A wide-angle look the other way.
McKeahnie in the setting sun, February 16, 2014
McKeahnie in the setting sun, February 17, 2014

It was time to head down the road towards the truck.  We stopped several time to take photos of the beautiful landscape in the setting sun.

2-17-14
2-17-14
My favorite rock along BT Road!!
My favorite rock along BT Road!!
BT Road
BT Road
2-17-14
2-17-14
Almost down.
Almost down.

It had been a busy day of hiking and exploring the range.   I felt good about the horses I had seen.  There were areas where the snow was past our thighs, but also some bare areas where the horses were able to find forage. They all looked good and I hoped that winter would be kind to them for another couple months.  Our plan for the next day would be to head up Burnt Timber once again.

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

February In The Pryors, Day 1 and 2.

IMG_5316-1
A Bald Eagle put on a great display for us, just before we entered the range. February 16, 2014.

It had been too long since I had made my way to the Pryors.  October was my last trip and I felt that I could get out and run faster than my truck could carry me this time.  At times that may have been true, the road was not good over Homestake Pass, near Butte, Montana.   I was happy to get down the other side, where it was clear sailing the rest of the way.

Anh and Kimerlee would be joining me on this trip and we were all eager to see fuzzy horses in the snow.  The week before we arrived had been cold and snowing, but the forecast looked pretty good for the days we would be here.  A high of 40 seemed warm after experiencing -25 just a few short weeks ago.

Arriving in Lovell later than I liked yesterday, I immediately drove us to the Dryhead.  This time of year can be pretty problematic for seeing horses there, but I wanted to check anyway and knew we did not have time to unload and head up either Burnt Timber or Lower Sykes.

We immediately saw a horse on a hill as we entered.  Through binoculars, we determined it was Kememerer.  We made a group decision to continue on and see who else may be out.  We made our way slowly down the paved road, rewarded once more with the sighting of the handsome stallion Fiero, alone.  I have decided he enjoys being this way in the winter.  Perhaps he doesn’t want the extra burden of a band during the more trying months of the year.

Fiero, February 15, 2014
Fiero, February 15, 2014

I really love Fiero, he is the full brother to my Valerosa whom I adopted in 2009.  I would really love to see some Fiero offspring on the range.  He just needs to stay keep some mares long enough for that to happen!

IMG_5308-1-1 IMG_5291-1-1 IMG_5289-1-1

Fiero, February 15, 2014
Fiero, February 15, 2014

The next morning by 8, we were heading up Burnt Timber Road.  Since my last trip, I purchased a wide-angle lens and I was really looking forward to taking some photos of the landscape again.  It is almost like taking the mountain home with me.  I hope these photos can give you a sense of what this beautiful mountain holds.

One of the many views up Burnt Timber Road.  February 16, 2014
One of the many views up Burnt Timber Road. February 16, 2014

We were immediately rewarded as soon as we entered the range.  Grijala and Jasper passed right near us.  I had seen these two bachelors in October, and they still looked as healthy and fat as they had looked then.  I was happy to see this, especially for this time of year.

Jasper
Jasper
Grijala, Febuary 16, 2014
Grijala, Febuary 16, 2014
Jasper, February 16, 2014
Jasper, February 16, 2014
Grijala
Grijala
Jasper
Jasper

I wish we could have had more time with these boys, but the seemed to be on a mission, and kept moving.  So we did too.

Burnt Timber road did not have as much snow as I experienced last February, at least not this day.  I easily went past the spot where I had gotten stuck last year.   We were in my UTV, Ophelia (it is an O year after all) and she was making her way up the mountain easily.  We could see some horses ahead!  It was Jackson and his band, and as I turned and looked right, I could see Galaxy and his band.  Everyone was enjoying the warm sunlight hitting their thick fur, a welcome treat after the previous week.

Jackson
Jackson
Jackson, February, 2014
Jackson, February, 2014

Jackson seemed to be showing some wounds that had recently healed.  Jasmine was still absent from his band, and I wondered if maybe Jackson had received these wounds during that exchange.

Healing wounds on his side.
Healing wounds on his side.
Wounds on this face
Wounds on this face

I was pleased to see both Galena and Firestorm looking healthier and much fatter than last year at this time.  They both appear to be pregnant to me.  Brumby also looked round, but sometimes Brumby just looks that way.  Time will tell.

Galena
Galena
Galena
Galena
Jackson and Galena
Jackson and Galena
Heritage
Heritage
Brumby
Brumby
Brumby
Brumby
Brumby
Brumby
Brumby.  Photo by Anh.
Brumby. Photo by Anh.
Niobrara, Firestorm and Maelstorm
Niobrara, Firestorm and Maelstorm

IMG_5416-1

I especially noticed how much Moorcroft and Malestrom had grown.  Both Malestrom and Moorcroft are entering their second year.  I wondered if Jackson would kick them out this year, like he had done when Jasper turned 2.

Moorcroft
Moorcroft
Moorcroft
Moorcroft
Moorcroft
Moorcroft
Nye
Nye

IMG_6104-1

IMG_6157-1

IMG_6149-1

I watched Galaxy and his band rise from their naps slowly make their way over the ridge.  Galaxy is such a great band stallion and his mares seem very content.  Everyone look great.  I am not sure if we will see any new foals in this band this year.

Galaxy and band, February 16, 2014
Galaxy and band, February 16, 2014
Galaxy's
Galaxy’s
Galaxy
Galaxy
View looking down towards Turkey Flats.  I love the hoof prints in the foreground.
View looking down towards Turkey Flats. I love the hoof prints in the foreground.

The snow on the road was becoming the consistency of thick mash potatoes.  As Ophelia struggled to go further, we quickly realized that this warm day would not let us.  Looking towards  the sky, we could see some dark clouds coming in from all sides.  We decided to head down the road.  The melting snow and the slippery red dirt under it made for an interesting and exciting ride back down the mountain.

Threatening Clouds forming all around us.
Threatening Clouds forming all around us.

IMG_6176-1

Just as we went exited the horse range, the snow and rain fell on us.  We decided to drive to Lower Sykes and have alook.  The rain was still falling there and a creek had formed down the middle of the road.

IMG_6179-1
Looking up the road to Lower Sykes.

IMG_6180-1

We would have end our day and head back towards Lovell.  This time of year, I am always grateful to see any horses and today we saw several.  Tomorrow will be another day on the mountain, and I can’t wait for it to get here!

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

October in the Pryors. Part Two.

Bighorn Canyon, October 27, 2013
Bighorn Canyon, October 27, 2013

I knew Sunday would possibly be my last day to be on the range.  There was a snow storm predicted for the next day.  I wanted to get an early start.  We were heading up the Dryhead just as daylight came.

This was day two of my wide-angle lens.  After reviewing my photos from the day before, I realized I had several shots with some lens flare.  Today I would have to be more aware of where the sun was.

I was deeply in love with this lens, despite the challenge it seemed to be presenting to me.  The photos it took made me feel as if I was actually bringing the range home with me.

IMG_7002

We saw some horses right as we entered the range.  The Greeters.  But this morning it was only Seneca and Hightail.  I could not see Hickok anywhere.  I have seen Hickok missing from this band a couple of times over the last year.  I always thought he was just around a hill close by.  But this morning I would find him a few miles away.

We stayed for just a few minutes before we continued down the paved road of the Dryhead.

Seneca and Hightail, October 27, 2013
Seneca and Hightail, October 27, 2013

We saw Johnston and Hawk way out on Mustang Flats.  Since this day was most likely our last on the range, we decided not to spend the time hiking out to them.

We turned on the road that lead to the Devils Outlook parking lot.   I wanted to get some shots with the wide-angle lens.

IMG_6996 IMG_6997 IMG_7000

From the Dryhead, I headed to lower Sykes and unloaded the ATV.  After checking the water catchments in this lower area, I turned to head up the road towards the red hills.

IMG_7007

Just past the red hills I stopped.  I could see a dark horse heading our way.  It was Hickok!  He briefly stopped to look around and then continued right past us.

Hickok
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok
Me and My Shadow.  Hickok, October 27, 2013
Me and My Shadow. Hickok, October 27, 2013

IMG_4993 IMG_4995

Hickok
Hickok

Hickok seemed to be on a mission to get somewhere, and if I had to guess where, I would say most likely back to his mares, Seneca and Hightail, who were a couple of miles away.

After Hickok left, I parked the ATV.  We spent some time hiking and looking through the binoculars.

Lower Sykes
Lower Sykes

IMG_7004

Lower Sykes
Lower Sykes
Turkey Flats area
Turkey Flats area
Lower Sykes Area
Lower Sykes Area

IMG_7004

My plan for the day when I mapped it out before I realized there would be a storm, was to head up Sykes.  My perfect plan for this trip would have been: Day One on BT, Day Two on Sykes, Day 3 back to BT.

As I drove further up Sykes, I began to think about this plan.  I knew it could be  8-10 miles up this road before I saw horses.  I really wanted to see these horses, but with my luck from the day before, I hated to risk driving that far and not finding any.  I knew if I went back to Burnt Timber, I could find horses there AND see the horses on Sykes from a couple of areas on BT.  After spending a minute or two talking it over, we turned around and headed to Burnt Timber instead.

I really wanted to see Baja and check on their new foal Nahwa  who had just been born in September.

Again I headed up far enough to be able to get a good look around.  We saw Jackson’s band again where we left them the afternoon before.  We decided not to hike to them, but to continue on in search of other horses.

We reached Cheyene Flats, where I stopped to look over to Sykes through the binoculars.  I immediately saw several horses and concluded that it was Bolder’s Band and Coronado’s Band.  I have uploaded these photos in full size so you can click on them to have a closer look.   Please let me know if you think they are different horses than what I have concluded.

I also briefl