Below are the available Tour Dates for 2016. For questions and reservations: Contact Sandy At: Phone: 406-360-8959. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wild in the Pryors is permitted by the Bureau of Land Management to conduct small group tours within the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range from January to December. Wild in the Pryors is one of a handful of businesses that have the federal permits necessary to guide clients onto this federal property.
Wild In The Pryors is also licensed to give tours within the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
Sandy has been coming to the Pryors Range for several years, spending weeks at a time camping with the horses.
Whether you bring a professional camera, or just a cell phone to take photos, Sandy goes out of her way to make sure you leave the mountain with cherished memories of your once in a life-time camping trip.
The stories she shares about the horses and the range, make this trip more than just a chance to view them, she makes this a trip more about knowing the horses, giving you a brief glance into the life of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses.
All tours may include light to moderate hiking.
You will be camping at 8,500 feet, under the Big Montana Sky, with wild horses.
4 Day Camping Trips: $ 1998.00
These trips will be 4 days/3 nights on the mountain top, and also included is a two night stay at Monster Lake Ranch in Cody, Wy. (night before and night after). Also included is: transportation up and down the mountain, all food, snacks, tents, and expert personal guiding. (last night dinner is on your own once we return to Cody). Pick up at the Cody Airport can be arrange with for a small fee.
All payments are considered non-refundable. Refunds may be made when cancellations can be filled. Here is a link to travel insurance purchase. This insurance is not through Wild In The Pryors. Please explore this or another travel insurance company for your trip. TRIP INSURANCE
Camping trips will be limited to 4-5 guests. Sandy will have an assistant with her who will do the camp cooking and help you with any camping needs. Sandy will personally be doing all of the guiding.
For reservations: Contact Sandy
This trip may be a bit colder than the others, but to be some of the first people to see the horses reach the mountain top for the summer, makes it all worth it.
1. June 21-24. 4 Day/3 Night closed
2. June 26-29. 4 Day/3 Night closed
This month is the most popular and also the prime wildflower season.
1. July 1-July 4. 4 Day/3 Night closed
2. July 6-9. 4 Day/3 Night 1 opening
3. July 11-14. 4 Day/3 Night closed
All trips leave from Cody, Wyoming (unless other arrangements are made). Airports nearby: Billings, Montana. Cody, Wyoming. Arrangements can be made for pick-up at the Cody Airport.
A 50% down payment is required upon booking with the remainder due one month prior to your trip.
All payments are considered non-refundable. Refunds may be made when cancellations can be filled.
Anyone interested in a trip will be asked to complete a Pre-Screening Health Questionnaire, and those who book a trip will be required to sign an Acknowledgement of Responsiblity and Assumption of Risk document, as per Montana State Law.
Be sure if you book a trip with someone, that they have the proper permits in place. This is required by law for anyone giving tours on Public Lands. Please click on PERMITS to read my blog post about this.
Reviews: Go to my past camping date posts to read more reviews. Click on the year to go there. 2013,2014
The absolute best adventure I have ever had in my life. We loved every minute of it and I will have the memories of the beauty in my head forever! Thank you Sandy, Wild In The Pryors is the Best of its kind, hands down!
Laura O., Chicago, Ill.
If you find yourself in Montana near the Pryor Mountains and you want to see these horses, go with Sandy Palen. I cannot say enough good things about her. She knows the range like the back of her hand and she is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to this herd.
Because she spends so much time on the range, she knows all of the approximately 170 horses by name and can recognize them by sight. From what I understand, she has been visiting the Pryors since 2009 but to me it feels like she has known these horses her whole life.
She understands the dynamics and connections between these horses so well. She doesn’t mind repeating for the millionth time which horses you are looking at or explaining how they are related. She knows how to approach the horses and will make sure you are at a safe distance, respecting the horses’ need for space. And even when all the horses seem to have vanished into thin air, she knows where they like to hide and is really good at spotting them.
Last year was the first year that I award a free camping trip with me to a young person who could carry on their passion of the wild horses and share it with others their age. I named it “Lakota’s Gift” to honor my favorite wild horse who died in the summer of 2012. Lakota gave so much to me in such a short time, that I felt I needed to give back to another person who had never seen these horses before. You can read about who those who were chosen last year by clicking on GIFT 1.
This year the free camping trip goes to Abbie Branchflower. I asked Abbie to write a bit about herself so below is her story.
I am looking forward to meeting you Abbie, and congratulations. If anyone is interested in apply for the summer of 2016, please send me you application (about why I should choose you), to email@example.com.
“Hi, my name is Abbie and I’m ecstatic to have been given the opportunity to see the Pryor Mustangs in person this summer! I graduated magna cum laude from Delaware Valley College in May 2014 with a major in Equine Science and a minor in English Literature. I currently work at a local animal hospital and will be pursuing a Masters or PhD in the field of Equine Health.
I was born in the U.K. across from Ascot Racecourse so my parents have always said that horses were probably the first thing I smelled! My family moved first to Canada (where I became bilingual in French), and then ten years later, to Connecticut. I have always had a passion for horses in every form and have experience working at stables, volunteering at riding for the disabled organizations and foaling out mares. At age sixteen I got my own horse and love caring for him! In high school I co-founded and ran C.A.N.T.E.R. (Charitable Acts in Newtown Towards Equine Rescue) and was honored to receive the Humane Society’s Shaw-Worth Scholarship in my senior year. Naturally, I went to college to pursue my passion for horses. In my junior year I was selected as 1 of 2 Equine Science students to attend a semester at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, England where I interned at the Equine Therapy Centre. In my senior year of college I was presented with the Equine Science Award.
I am a big believer in protecting and preserving America’s mustangs and am interested in research into preserving bloodlines for the long-term health of the herds, especially a herd as unique as the Pryors. I have engaged in many campaigns to protect the mustangs, including writing letters, making presentations and designing shirts for sale to benefit the Pryor Mustangs. As an Equine Science major I focused on the effects of PZP on isolated populations of mustangs and spent hours reading all the information I could get my hands on.
I love photography and am very excited to try my hand at photographing the gorgeous Pryor mustangs. I follow any and all information on the herd, and though I haven’t seem them (yet!) in person, I feel deeply connected to these horses. Some of the mustangs I have felt particularly drawn to through following the herd (not including this year’s foals!) include: Firestorm, Feldspar, Jupiter, Demure, Hailstorm, Mica, Fool’s Gold, Medicine Bow, Fiesta, Horizon and Juniper.”
When I started this blog in February, 2012, I was planning, every once in a while, to post a blog on just one horse. Touch base with their history and share what experiences I have had with them.
Somehow, besides just a few, I have not followed through with that. 2015 is a new year, and I vowed I would once more highlight a horse. I won’t be able to do this in the summer months (as I will be camping for most all of it on the top of the mountain), but I will give you these stories during the winter months.
I am going to start with a horse, that in 2011, took the band from my favorite wild horse, Lakota. I never thought I would want to highlight this horse or turn a focus on him, he was after all the one that I felt contribuated to the death of Lakota. But as all things in life, time heals wounds, and I find myself thinking a lot about Grijala, I even felt a pull towards him this last summer. I can’t explain why, but each and every time I saw him, I felt a smile come to my face. For whatever reason, he has been especially on my mind this winter, and so I decided to share with you Grijala’s story like I know it.
I first came to know Grijala in 2010. I had heard about him during the 2009 roundup, but never saw him then, which was good, because every horse that called the Custer National Forest their home, was rounded up and taken off their land. There were a few that escaped that gather. Grijala was one of those.
Born in 2006 to Conquistador and Cavalitta (both removed in 2009), Grijalla lived and thrived in the Custer Forest. He is bigger than many of the other stallions, and part of me wonders if this is due to the fact that he did reside in the National Forest, where there is an abundance of forage.
The first time I saw Grijala, he was with his brother Hernando, just about 1/4 mile from the Big Ice Cave. It was in October. I remember that day well, it was the day that they finished the new fence that would lock out the horses from the Custer Forest. But as I headed down the mountain that day with tears in my eyes, I saw these two still on the land that they were ban from.
I am not quite sure how they got them back on the range, but the next time I saw Grijala, was in July 2011, and he very much on the existing horse range, right by my tent in fact, fighting with Lakota to claim his band.
I watched this story unfold for several days while I was there. I was concerned for the wounds that both these horses had (I later learned this is where Garay lost part of his ear, he was one of the horses that was challenging Lakota). These fights weren’t for fun, their wounds were deep and oozing.
Grijala started to collect several mares, when I saw him in March 2012, he had one more with him, Kachina. But, Jenny was now gone, with the stallion Doc, I believe. Knight, the young orphaned colt, was still with him as well, but shortly after this, Grijala kicked him out.
Here is a video I did with footage from 2010-2011. Grijala is in it with Lakota, filmed in 2011.
By May 2012, Grijala had added several more to his band. Oddly enough, the mares had names that all began with the letter “K”. I labeled his band members, “The Special K’s”. With him now, were: Kachina, Katrina, Kohl and Quelle Colour (which sounds like it begins with “K”.)
Just before I arrived in June for my first camping trip of the year, I learned that Lakota was dogging and challenging Grijala for his band. By the time I arrived, Lakota had broken his front right leg, and Grijala had acquired a few more “K”s. Now, not only did Grijala have the other K’s I saw in May, but he had added a couple more, Kindra and Kalahari. Now his band consisted of: Kindra, Kalahari, Kohl, Kachina, Katrina and Quelle Colour.
Life went on for Grijala and his band, in July 2012, but life ended for Lakota in this month. Grijala did not know it, but in the following month, his life would change too.
The last removal operated by the BLM in Billings, MT was in the summer of 2012. It started on the mountain top in late July. I watched in the last few days of July and the first few in August, the removal of several horses. It was a painful thing to watch, family bands being stripped apart.
Grijala’s band would be one that would take a hard hit, with the removal of several of his “Special K’s”. He would lose Kachina, Katrina and Kalahari.
The removal was handled well, I respected Jared and Ryan with how they handled the horses. One of the things they did was to quietly capture each band at a time. This was a bait trap removal, which meant that several pens were set up and the horses were captured by placing “bait” or treats of hay and mineral blocks in the pens. From there, the horses were taken according to a well thought out removal process, based on history and lineage, which horses would be removed.
However, Grijala was in a panic as he watched his band members captured. He was unaware that he would be getting some back. But at this minute in time, he thought he was losing them all. I watched him go from calmly standing guard by the pen they were in, to frantically racing around as they loaded some in the trailers.
At the end of that day, he would be left with Kohl, Quelle Colour, and Kalahari. But Kalahari would be removed the next day. Kindra had been stolen by Garay in all the confusion. His band of Special K’s were now down to just Kohl and Quelle Colour.
The horses all adapted to the changes of the removal. When I came back in September, I was surprised at how life just seemed to go on. It was so odd to see Grijala and his now very small band of just mother and daughter (Quelle Colour and Kohl).
But, I was even more surprised when I saw Grijala in June 2013, back to being a bachelor. Quelle Colour and Kohl were now with Garay, but in the winter of 2012-13, Kindra had somehow disappeared. Most members of the Special K mares were now gone. (Kalahari lives in Virginia with the other Pryor 8, Katrina and Kachina, both giving birth to Grijala offspring in the spring of 2013, live in Montana).
I didn’t expect Grijala to remain a bachelor for long. He had worked so hard at being a band stallion. But he seemed content to just “hang with the boys”. Maybe the responsibility of being a band stallion was just to much for him, I don’t know the answer, but I was sure it would not continue for long.
The summer of 2013 moved on, but still, Grijala was on his own, most often spotted with some other bachelors. He seemed content.
Grijala was still with the bachelors, when I spotted him in late October. Although he looked a bit different now. He was heavier than I had seen him since 2010. Bachelorhood was agreeing with him.
I returned to the mountain in Mid-February, 2014. As I was heading down the dirt road towards Burnt Timber, I looked towards the mountain. I thought I saw movement, so I stopped the truck and glassed towards the mountain. I could see two horses trotting at a steady pace right along the fence line of the range. I hurried to Burnt Timber and unload Ophelia (my UTV) and headed up the snow-covered road. My timing was perfect, just as I reached the entry to the range, I saw the two horses, still going at a pretty steady pace. It was Jasper and Grijala. They both looked like healthy fuzzy ponies.
They seemed to be on a mission, and I immediately thought perhaps they were planning on working together to gain some mares from another band stallion.
I would see them often on this trip, watching Cappuccino’s band. I was sure that when I returned in April that I would see Grijala with some mares again.
When I got to the mountain top in June 2014, I expected to find Grijala with some mares, but again, I was surprised to still see him without any. He was still with the bachelors. It appeared he was taking the time to train some new ones.
It impressed me that he was taking the time to take these recently “kicked out” two-year olds under his careful guidance. Even though Grijala is only 8, he has a lot to teach and share with these young stallions.
I continued to see Grijala stay with the boys, I don’t believe I ever saw him alone. It seemed like he really enjoyed harassing the other band stallions. I often saw him just running through and around a band with his “gang” of boys. It humored me to watch him do this simply for the thrill of it, as if to see how far he could push the band stallions, very much like a teenage boy pushing the boundaries with his parents.
I spotted Grijala and some boys up on the Skyline meadow, one mid-August day. I was hiking with a friend. Coming out of a group of trees, we almost bumped into him as he stepped out of the dark woods.
This is the meadow that the BLM installed a water guzzler in 2010, (and also where the horse Big Foot lived for his last few years) with the intent to try to encourage the horses to go up there and graze this meadow. I made a post about this meadow in February, 2012. If you would like to read more about it, you can click on MEADOW to go there.
Needless to say, seeing him along with 3 other horses up there, was very encouraging. Hopefully we can get a new generation of horses using this area again.
And so, the summer of 2014 came to a close and Grijala still continued to be a bachelor. However, I did start to notice something interesting. There are a few foals and young horses (under 2) that have that “Grijala Star”. Two of them belong in Garcia’s band, and since I saw Garcia try to mount his yearling “daughter” several times this summer, it made me think, that perhaps she IS Grijala’s, not Garcia’s. Just my own personal observation, I have no documentation to proof if I am right…. But it does explain Grijala’s contentment. Does he have the best of both worlds? A carefree bachelor life along with a few “flings” on the mountain to keep him happy? It certainly is something to think about..and watch.
Regardless, I am looking forward to seeing what happens with this amazing stallion in the upcoming year and years ahead. He is a strong force on the mountain, that will no doubt have an impact on the future generations of Pryor Mountain Wild Horses.
2014 has flown by. It is hard to believe that it is already time for my “year in review” post, another year on the mountain coming to a close.
This year, (as every year that I have spent in the Pryors) has been filled with both joy, excitement and tears. Just part of life when you become closely involved with this magical herd of horses. These horses have a way of showing me life in a way they thing I should see it, I found that when I listened, my life changed, for the best. There is not a day that goes by, that I am not grateful for all they give me.
2014 was my 2nd year of camping tours. This year exceeded my expectations with the bookings and the guests. I made many new lifelong friends. Next summer is almost completely booked, so if you are thinking of taking a trip, I suggest contact me as soon as possible. Click on CAMPING
to see the available dates for 2015.
So let’s take a look at what happened on the mountain in 2014.
There were no reports from anyone on the mountain in January. With the late birth of Nawah (Washakie and Baja) in late September 2013, many of us were thinking and hoping for some news. Like everyday, I found myself checking the weather report for Lovell, constantly. By checking on Lovell’s weather, it gives me a fairly good idea of what may be happening on the mountain.
Ginger (TCF) was there just a few days before I was ( February 8-12). You can read about there trip by clicking on GINGER
I was glad that they were there. The snow was deep on Burnt Timber road, their UTV tracks were a great help to me when I arrived with my friend Anh and the famous photographer Kimerlee Curyl, a few days later.
It was Kimerlee’s first time to the Pryors and we quickly became life long friends. Her photography is amazing, please click on her name above and take a look at her amazing work.
For the next 4 days, we took Ophelia (my UTV) up and down the mountain in search of horses. The snow was deep in spots, but despite that we were able to find several bands.
This February trip would hold some “last” things for me. The last time I would see the amazing stallion Teton and one of the last times that I would see the incredible stallion Jackson with his band.
Teton had recently lost his band to both Doc and Hernando, and I caught a glimpse of him on my last few minutes on the mountain. He was high on a hill above the Mines, with his head turned over his shoulder to look at us. My heart ached for him. It was difficult to leave the mountain and his solitary sorrow.
On this trip, we also spent several hours with Jackson and his band, which continued to affirm my love for this stallion. Not only is he beautiful, but he is a kind and very fair band stallion.
Right now he seems content to be on his own, hanging with different young bachelors and teaching them all he can. I hope they all are taking notes, and will use the knowledge they learn from him.
The Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, did a post last February too. You can read that post by clicking on PMWMC
Ginger was back up the mountain in March. You can read about her trip by clicking on Ginger.
I did not go to the mountain in March, but there were a couple of note worthy posts that I published.
1. The first Pryor Mountain Foal was born in Europe. You can read Cedric’s post by clicking on PRYOR FOAL.
2. My post on Permits. Read it, by clicking on PERMIT.
April brought the first report of a new foal on the mountain. Waif and Corona were there first to give birth to Orion, followed by the first of two more, Orlando and Oregon.
Returning to the mountain in late April, I was greeted by many changes. Several of the stallions looked thin, and it would be the last time I would see Cloud’s band all together. Mica and Nimbus would be taken from their family band, never to return.
I love this time of year on the mountain. The quiet awakening of a winter mountain, with the promise of spring in the air. Unfortunately, this month can be one of the most difficult for the horses. With their deprived and stressed systems, the new green forage can proof to be deadly to those horses that are the weakest. I have heard that April can be the most deadly month of the year for them.
Probably the most noteworthy happenings on the mountain this month, was the very thin Cloud, being dogged by not only Santa Fe, but the also the aging Chino.
You can read all of my April/May posts by clicking on the Archive link on the right and selecting April, 2014.
May brought the birth of Oracle, Ogala, Morgan’s foal, (who was discovered by NPS, but then died shortly afer), and Oak, Omaha (deceased), Outlawlass, Ohanzee and Okomi.
May would bring a lot of trama and stress on the mountain top this year. Cloud would lose his band and disappear for a short time. Jackson would lose his band, with most of his harem going to the band stallion Doc.
Ginger made a post, click on TCF to view it. The PMWMC made a few as well, you can go to their website to view those.
Ahh, June, one of most exciting and beautiful months to me on the mountain. Not for the fair weathered, this month can be beautiful, but also cold and snowy. But being one of the first people to witness the horses arriving on the mountain top for the summer months, can make up for a little inconvenient coldness.
June 2014, proofed to be one of the best. The snow only allowed the bravest and most determined people to have access to it. The only road open until just before the 4th of July was Burnt Timber Road, and it is not for street cars. Even in my truck, I had a few difficult moments getting up the road the first time. But the effort proofed to be worth it, giving myself and my guests, experiences and photos of a lifetime.
June would bring the birth of two more foals: Odakota and Odessey (Oro), but the absence of four horses was painfully apparent. The winter claimed: Quelle Colour, Topper, Teton and Madonna. These horses will be missed, all very much matriarchs of their bands.
Hamlet would acquire a small band, consisting of Audubon and Niyaha. Hernando was seen with part of Jackson’s band and Teton’s band. His new band consisted of: Warbonnet, Phoenix, and the look a like sister and brother, Niobrara and Maelstrom.
The wildflowers this year were amazing, the best in years. I saw them all summer long, but July was the peak, with them blanketing the mountain like a magical carpet of color.
July would bring the birth of Obsidian and Oklahoma, bringing the total foals born to 16. Little Obsidian (born to Moenkopi and Cappuccino) would only live a little over a week, and with his death, took a small piece of my heart with him. I knew the chances were against him from the start (born to a 2-year-old), but I had hoped he would make it. I was there on the day of his birth and death. I won’t dwell on this on this post, you can read about it by going to my July 2014 archives.
A positive note for this month, was the dedication to the new signs in the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area. Two of my photos, along with several of my friends were chosen to be permanent displays for thousands to see.
Many wonderful guests shared the mountain with me this month, and I was touched by each one.
August would bring the birth of another Washakie, Baja foal, Ojai. Washakie, although 20 years old, still gives birth to some of the most healthy foals on the mountain, and this year would be no exception to that.
The horses move into the trees on most days of this month, but with it, brings the challenge of finding them. I know their hiding places, so it has become easier. Being one of the few people camping on the mountain, I have many day trip people stop by and ask me where the horses may be. I love to talk to all the visitors on the mountain, so always feel free to stop me and ask questions. I am always more than willing to share what I know and help identify horses for you.
I love to hike this mountain, discovering new and hidden areas, and the early mornings of August, give me the chance to do this.
The last part of August, I spent a week on the mountain with one of my assistants, Meg. We hosted the University of Montana/Western for a few days, and then spent the rest of the days with the horses. Most days it was just us with them, a great way to bring the summer to a close.
Please go to my August archives to read my posts on this month.
September brought the birth of another foal: Galadrial, foal, Oceana. Galadrial kept us all waiting, but gave birth to a healthy foal the end of this month. The sire could either be Tecumseh or Gringo.
Although the end of August was snowy, the month of September was warm and sunny for the most part, giving the horses a chance to fatten up even more before the winter begins.
Two foals were born this month, very late in the year for them. Orielle, born to Cloud and Innocentes. and Okiotak, born to Ketchikan and Tecumseh or Gringo. I pray these little ones, born so late in the year, will survive the winter.
Ginger was on the mountain in this cold month. You can read her post, by clicking on GINGER.
It looks like (from this report and also from Ryan at the BLM), that Demure has once again changed bands. I loved the combination of Demure and Jupiter, I was hoping that would stick. Another example of the effects of PZP. Demure, now permanently on PZP (birth control), lost her last two foals to unknown reasons, and seems to be seeking out a stallion that may breed her successfully.
And here we are in December, the months passing quickly. Death and Birth on the mountain, new people being touched by the mountain. My heart, soul and life, once again touched with so much that words can not possibly do them justice.
Looking ahead to 2015 and the long summer months. I will be camping on the mountain for more than 50 days this year. I do have a limited amount space left for a few camping trips, it has amazed me how fast they have filled, as I write these last words, I booked two more guests. Click on CAMPING to see what is still available. It is a once in a lifetime experience, and it has been brought to my attention that I am one of the few people in the world to offer such an experience. I feel very fortunate and very, very blessed.
Thank you all for following this blog, joining me on the mountain and being my friends. I am looking forward to 2015, meeting new friends and sharing my experiences with these amazing horses, who have changed my life.