After the nights rain, we woke to an almost cloud free sky. I knew the roads would be wet, so we waited a little while longer this morning before heading up Burnt Timber again. We were heading up by 8:30. It was a cold, windy but very sunny day. I was hoping to locate the Mystery Horses from the day before. At this point I had not even had a chance to look at those photos and figure out who it might be.
Not far up the road we encountered Cappuccino and his band, down a hill on our right.
We continued on and once again, I stopped to glass back towards the guzzlers. There were no horses at either one. We continued up to the mine. Down below us was a very protected valley. I commented that if I was a horse I would be down there in the sun and out of the wind.
I spent a couple of minutes looking around the area with my binoculars and then snapped this photo of Anh.
Anh then wanted a photo of me. While she was adjusting her camera a very light horse came up almost where I was standing, from far below. He pretty much just popped up right before my eyes! It was Cloud and he was alone!
I managed to get a quick blurry photo of him before he headed down the hill.
He was in a hurry to get where ever he was going, so we followed quickly behind him. We looked down and saw the rest of his band just below us down the hill.
I concluded that he must have been chasing someone off, but we could not see anyone. We decided to walk down the road a bit closer to them and get some good photos of them.
The scene was peaceful. I figured Cloud had been successful in chasing off whomever had been bothering them. Then I saw Cloud turn and look up.
I knew just by the way he was looking that it was probably the horse or horses that he had the encounter with before we arrived. I expected to see Hernando, maybe Hamlet, Irial or Garay. But when I turned to look in the same direction I saw a grullo horse. But this one had both ears, so I knew right away it could not be Garay. He also looked younger to me.
From where I was right then, I could not see his big star and race on his face. When he turned his head towards us more, I realized who it was. Jupiter! I could not believe how grown up he looked. He had really filled out since the last time I saw him late last summer. He must have stood there for 5 minutes or more before Cloud decided he better go up and have another conversation with him.
There was no kicking, hardly any squeals. It all was very quite. Then Cloud turned his head again, while Jupiter kept staring at Cloud’s mares below. (Feldspar is Jupiter’s mother). I do believe he was most interested in Aztec, as she appeared to be in heat.
I am always fascinated by the stallion interaction. I never get tired of watching the exchanges between them. Cloud then started to make his actions a little more aggressive and I saw the reason why. Santa Fe’s head appeared behind Jupiter.
After several minutes of just standing with Jupiter and Santa Fe, Cloud’s focus turned back to his band and he decided to rejoin them. The conversation with the boys must have been successful.
The mood was very quite and peaceful in Cloud’s band. The mares seemed relaxed and really acted unaware of the two bachelors lurking above.
Juniper continued to stare down at the band.
With what seemed to be a peaceful lull in the action, I decided it would be a good time for us to walk back up to the ATV. I did not feel comfortable with our position incase the action go intense. I wanted to be on the uphill side of things. That and I only had 150 shots left in my card and if something started to happen, I was afraid I would run out of shots.
Once we were a comfortable distance past them, we turned to watch again. Jupiter never broke his focus from the band below him. It was hard to believe he was only four years old. His actions seemed older.
Santa Fe was his back-up it appeared to me, as he was focused, but not as intensely and further back.
The mares started to get up from their nap, and that was when Jupiter nickered at them. That was all Cloud needed. He was coming back up for some more discussion.
It was faster and a bit more intense this time. As soon as he finished with Jupiter, he came up further to find Santa Fe.
It did not take long for Santa Fe to retreat. It seemed he did not want the conflict. So with no physical contact between the two, Santa Fe left quickly.
Cloud then returned to his band below and the boys wandered off in the opposite direction.
I told Anh that this would be the time that he should move the band and get out of that area. It wasn’t long and Cloud decided to do that.
It was almost lunch time by now. We had watched this for several hours. It was hard to believe, the time just stood still for me. As I changed my card in my camera. Jupiter decided to come up and pass close by us. He is such a beautiful stallion. I am looking forward to seeing him gather a band of his own.
Santa Fe also passed close by us. I found myself feeling sorry for Santa Fe. I hope that he will be able to win another mare back this year. Even though he is 18 (same age as Cloud), he still has time to get a mare. It was by no fault of his that he lost Judith last summer. He worked very hard last year to keep her, only to lose her to the removal.
They could have chosen to go much further from us, but I found it interesting that they chose to take the closer route.
We stayed for a while longer, just in case the action would continue, but Cloud was now out of sight and this boys appeared to be more intent on eating. So we continued up the road.
I spotted Mescalero and band near Cheyenne Flats. They were not comfortable with us being near them, so we quickly left them.
We moved on just enough to make them comfortable. I then spent some time again glassing around from Burnt Timber to Sykes. And again, just like the day before, we hiked down to the water catchment. Not seeing anyone there, we continued up the road until we hit snow.
The wind was starting to pick up. The weather was calling for snow today, so I kept an eye to the sky. Nothing looked to threatening at this point. We turned around and started heading slowly down, stopping and hiking here and there.
In the same place as the day before, was Chino and Topper Too. I did not stop this time, I wanted to give Topper Too some peace and we had gotten our photos of them the day before.
I came over a hill and instantly saw Jackson and his band to my right. They were close by the road. Remembering how they acted just the day before, I chose to continue driving slowly past time and up another small hill before stopping. Jackson looked our way once, but continued grazing. They were comfortable with us there today. They were about a mile from where I had seen them the day before.
Yesterday Nye (the new foal) seemed to be stiff in her back legs, but today, she was walking much better and already seemed so much stronger.
We spent a little while with this band, but I did not want to wear out our welcome, so we continued down the road after a few minutes.
After continuing down the road a ways, I stopped to take a look at the two water catchments. Cloud and band was at the one to the right of me. There was a lone grulla or grullo to my left at the other water catchment. I wondered who it was. Could it be Jupiter going down to dog Cloud’s band? We had passed Santa Fe up about where we had left him a couple of hours before, but we had not seen Jupiter.
It did not take me long to figure out that it was not a stallion, but a mare. While I was looking through the binoculars, Anh snapped these photos. I have uploaded them full size, so you can click on them and make them bigger. There was no other stallion or band in sight.
I watched Blanca go up to her and clearly let her know who was boss. This mare seemed to want to join the band. At times she would turn away, but for the most part she wanted to be there. It seemed very clear to me. Blanca did not want her close, so she would turn away, only to have Cappuccino and his yearling son McKenhnie snake her back closer again. It was so interesting to watch McKenhnie snake with his father. He was doing a pretty good job for just a yearling. They made a good team. We decided we should hurry down there and hike back so we could watch this closer.
It probably took us a total of 20 minutes to drive down there and hike back to the guzzler. I saw Doc (his band was in front of him and I was unable to see them all) heading to the left. He glanced my way, but kept going. When we arrived at the water catchment, there was no one there. I hurried up a nearby hill to look around, nothing. They were gone. I could now see the snow storm heading towards us from on top of the mountain. It was probably at the place we had seen Jackson and band. While we stood there trying to figure out what to do, Doc came running back. Screaming. It was more than a whinny. It was a frantic scream. The rest of his band was right behind him. Wait, one was missing. Demure. It all made sense to me now. The grulla we had seen was Demure. What was going on? It was as if Doc had not realized she was not there, until just then. Had Demure left Doc? It appeared to be the case.
Why did she do that? She was so close to foaling. Had she been leaving to foal and just got taken by Cappuccino? I was unsure of the answer. It was extremely painful to watch Doc screaming and running around looking for her. Little Mandan look confused and sad. Broken Bow was not in a panic, she almost seemed indifferent to the situation. They followed Doc and then begin whinny for her too.
The storm was getting even closer now. I did not know what to do. It seemed every time I made a move, Doc would turn and whinny at me. It was as if he hoped I was Demure. I felt the best thing for us to do was to leave them alone. I did not want to cause him any false hope or interrupt his search for her. So we left them. I turned back a couple of times before they were out of sight and every time I did, Doc was watching and whinnying after me.
I wondered how Demure could have slipped away without Doc, Mandan or Broken Bow noticing. Where had they been?
We reluctantly left the mountain and headed for town. I had a text from Lori asking if we were off the mountain. “There is a big storm coming.” she said. I was happy to have Lori making sure I was down safety. I am lucky to have such a good friend close by the mountain that will make sure of that. Thanks Lori!
Later that evening, I decided I should text Matt and let him know about Demure. I was really worried for her and my heart ached for Doc and little Mandan (Demure is his mother).
Matt got back to me and said that these random things happen quite often. But that Demure is a very strong mare and she has done this before. He told me she leaves and chooses the stallion she wants to be with. So she left Doc for Cappuccino.
It was hard for me to believe that anyone would want to leave Doc. However, Cappuccino is one really great stallion too. I wished I had another day to go up there and find out how it was all playing out. But I had to leave to come home the next morning.
The Mystery Horses from the day before would continue to remain a Mystery. It is going to be a long wait until my next trip.