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.
As always, I woke up just as the sky was starting to turn pink from the rising sun. I could see several horses. It was good to see them. They were not out the day before. I wondered what horses had slept by us.
I decided to grab my camera and walk a short way to see some of the bands. I saw Doc, Coronado, and Baja bands. Then, something happened that I found very unusual. When Kiva from Cornado’s band saw me, she whinnied and started trotting towards me. I wasn’t sure what to think. She continued a few more steps and then stopped. I wondered if for a few seconds she saw my motion and thought maybe I was her missing foal. That is the only thing I could think of. She continued to keep a close eye on my while the rest of her band ate.
I am extremely sad about Kiva’s removal. I have watched her grow from a little filly into a young mother. It will be really hard not to see her out on the range.
Of course I will miss every horse that was removed, but there are a few who will especially leave an empty space, and she is one of them.
I watched as the band walked past me and continued on.
I looked back and saw Broken Bow and Malpais grooming each other. It was another peaceful morning. I watched the other bands for a few minutes before I turned back. It was so peaceful, I felt out-of-place, so I decided to leave them and let them continue their morning without me disturbing it.
Shortly after I got back to our camp, I saw Grijala and his band. The three Special K’s and Quelle Colour. He would loss one more K later that day, Kalahari.
I wondered if he would try to win Ketchikan from Gringo.
We decided to go to the pond. Doc and Grijala had beat us there.
Everything was pretty peaceful, until Doc decided that he did not want Grijala anywhere near his band. He took off after them and chased them down the hill towards the pond.
After a brief exchange, Grijala took his band and went to the other side of the pond.
Then Doc and his band went to the pond to drink. This was where I really noticed the closeness that Doc and Jenny had developed.
For what ever reason, Doc was in the lead. I think perhaps he felt the pressure from Grijala, still on the other side of the pond. Usually it is the lead mare that leads and the stallion stays in the back.
We waited a while, it was quiet. We decided to go back to camp and pack up. We did not want to be here for another day of removals. It was just too hard.
As we packed up and ate lunch, we saw our new friend, Booboo bear come over the ridge. I was able to get several shots of him. In fact, I was expecting him to come for a visit, he had for the last two days.
We headed down the road towards the pond, once more. Stopping to talk to some people and meet some others that were there. The Billings Gazette was there that day. You can read the article they wrote by, clicking PRYORS.
It had been a good trip. I got to know Lori so much better and consider her a very close friend. I also got to say goodbye to Lakota and goodbye to some horses that I will no longer see on the range. It was sad in many ways, but peaceful in others. As always, I will treasure my trip to the mountain.
My next trip to the mountain will be soon. I am taking my daughter Amber this time. Then I will be back for the adoption. I am hoping to be able to give one of the horses a special home with us. We will have to see how it all works out. But I am hoping for the best.
The next morning I would go to check on Cecelia. If you have not read that post click CECELIA. Matt emailed me this weekend and said she still had not foaled! Soon! I am sure!
The first night that Lori and I spent on the mountain was really quiet. No horses running around or whinnying.
Today, they would not be trapping the horses. Lori and I were looking forward to a quiet day.
The next morning, I headed down towards Krueger Pond. I saw several horses in the trees on my way. It is almost August now, and it seems the horses spend a lot of their days in the trees. They start to come out in the later afternoon.
I saw Chino, Topper One and Topper Too. I could almost see the Topper’s rolling their eyes. They looked at me in disgust as if to say “Great, a perfect morning, ruined”. Then turned their back ends towards me and stepped further in the woods. Chino stayed where he was, obviously used to their behavior. I looked to my right and saw Gringo and his band. They were out a little way from the trees eating. Grijala and his smaller group of Special K’s along with Quelle Colour were not too far away from them.
After a few minutes I returned to my camp site, sat and had a second cup of coffee and watched a bear run along the ridge, not too far from Lakota.
An hour later, Lori and I decided to head back down to the pond. We found Tecumseh in one of the pens, eating. Tecumseh looks a little rough. He seems to have some back-end/ hip problems. It is very apparent when he walks, especially going down a hill.
I looked past Tecumseh and saw Topper Too in a pen with Chino. This was as close as I had ever seen them before. She did not notice me right away. But when she did she quickly left the pen. I got the best photo of her ever. But as soon as she regained her composure she and Topper headed quickly down the hill to the pond. Chino continued to eat in the pen.
After a few minutes Chino ran to catch up with them. He is 21 this year, and looks amazing.
We only saw these 4 horses. I knew others were in the trees surrounding the pond. But I did not bother looking for them. I thought they deserved a quiet day too, and I did not want to disturb them. They would show themselves when they were ready.
On our way back down the road I saw Duke’s band tucked in the trees. Little Maverick was sleeping in the sun just out of the trees. We stopped and watched until he got up.
Lori headed back to camp and I continued on to spend some time with Lakota (bear spray in hand). I thought about how great Chino looked, one year older than Lakota was. I knew that if Lakota had not broken his leg, he would have looked just as great. But for whatever reason, it was Lakota’s time to go and I tried to accept it.
We ate lunch and headed back to the pond.
By now it was starting to get pretty active. We watched several bands coming down to drink and play in the pond.
Dove was lagging a bit behind the rest of the band. She looked huge, I thought she might be pregnant.
Several of the horses enjoyed a good roll in the dirt after playing in the pond.
Once they drank, they headed back into the trees.
Bolder’s band was hanging around the pens. Bolder was in one of them eating.
The next band to head down to the pond was Blue Moon’s and Mecalero’s.
Part of Bolder’s band got tired of waiting for him to get out of the pen and decided to head down for some water.
With Bolder no where to be seen, Mescalero decided to visit with the mares and Killian. Celt decided she would have none of that and quickly chased Mescalero off.
Bolder decided to finally head down to his mares and came running. They stopped half way to greet each other and then headed back to the pond.
By now Duke’s Band and Teton’s Band were coming down to the pond too. I got to get a closer look at Missoula. He sure is a beauty!
We saw Morning Star’s band and Doc’s band come down before it got quiet again.
I will miss Jenny, the next day she would be removed. It seemed like she was a bit of an outsider with this band for most of the spring and summer. Broken Bow was pretty hard on her, it seemed, and she always stood a bit off most of the time. In fact I got the feeling Jenny wanted to leave this band. The last time I was here in early July, Doc had to keep snaking her back into the band. But this day she seemed content and one of the band. I was happy for her.
We watched Tecumseh slowly make his way back up the hill from drinking.
As we headed up from the pond we saw White Cloud and his band come running in. In the three weeks since I had seen Mica, he had grown and changed so much. He ran next to his father, and then passed him.
Shortly before sunset that day Lori and I drove back down towards the pond. We saw 4 horses as we approached the fence. They were Two Boots, Jasper, Garay and Santa Fe.
I am happy that Jasper was not removed. He is the son of Galena and Jackson, Lakota’s grandson. He has been hanging out with Two Boots (his grandfather) for a few months now. I hope he continues to do so. Two Boots is 24 this year. He will be able to teach the three year old Jasper a lot.
Jasper was a “Tier Two A” removal. I am not sure why he was not removed. But if I was to take a guess, because Jasper was with Two Boots, I would bet that they never even saw them.
Jasper has a lot going for him, Jackson’s son, Lakota and Two Boot’s grandson, being shown the ropes by an old and wise stallion. I am looking forward to watching him grow old on the mountain.
That night Lori and I had a band of horses lie down right by our trucks. It was too dark to see who they were, but it was a comfort and a peace to have them there.
The first time I saw Doc was in August 2010. It was that crazy unsettled day that anyone who has followed the Pryor Horses know what I am taking about. For those of you who are new to these horses, I will explain. That was the day that there was a lot of interchange of bands, right before our eyes. I was camped out for the day at Krueger Pond. There were a few others besides myself there. It was a typical hot August day and within a 9 hour period, I was able to see most of the bands on the mountain top come to the pond at least once. That was the day that Blue Moon (Flint) lost his band to Ferdinand, after Blue Moon left his band to steal Ferdinand’s mare and foal (Genevieve and Knight). You get the idea, the whole day was filled with action. I had my video camera along with my little “point and shoot” camera.
At that time Doc had the mare Sequoyah and her foal, Kane (Uno). I had seen Sequoyah with Kane’s father ( Two Boots) in July when I was here, so I knew this was a recent change. According to Alex, Doc had just lost his mare Gold Rush (who he would regain again soon) to Baja. In fact I actually had taken video footage of this happening when I was there that day. I have posted the video below for you to watch and you can also read more on this in my post “Moving On.”
I will tell you more about my meetings with Doc later in the post. Now my blog partner Alex is going to share his thoughts on Doc and tell us a bit about his history.
Doc is one of my favorite stallions. He is a beautiful seal bay stallion with a long wavy mane.
He is a “D” boy, born in 2003. He is the only son of Winnamucca (at the age of 25, she is the oldest horse on the range). Doc’s father was the late Little Foot (Mateo), a seal bay stallion.
The thing that is great about wild horse families is that they never stay the same. you never know which interchanges you might see when you go visit the range.
These changes occur in the summer and very often in the winter as well. Contrary to what many people think, the interchange of mares and the victory and losses of stallions are key for the survival of the herd. The fact that a mare’s offspring are not all out of the same sire means that they still carry her genes, but if the cross-breed as adults, the chances of inbreeding is much lower than if the horses were full siblings.
Doc, along with his mother Winnamucca, were stolen by the bay stallion Santa Fe when Doc was just a yearling. That was the year that Little Foot (Mateo) lost his entire band.
Santa Fe tolerated Doc until his was 3. Then in 2006 Doc became a bachelor.
He won his first band of mares in March, 2009, stolen from the powerful coyote dun stallion Jackson! His new family consisted of the sorrel sabino mare Flicka, the grulla mare Fiasco (Felicity) and her yearling daughter Innocentes (Ingrid).
This new band of horses was not captured in the 2009 roundup. But in April of 2010, his mare Flicka died. That same spring he would lose the rest of his band to the grullo stallion Ferdinand.
He would not be alone long though. Later that spring he stole Cabaret’s full sister Gold Rush and her yearling Juneu from the stallion Two Boots. The following spring (2010) Doc would raise his first foal, Ketchikan (who is the daughter of Two Boots).
Ferdinand lost Fiasco in the summer of 2010 to the stallion Custer. In late July Fiasco would give birth to Doc’s first foal, a grullo colt with a big white star named Kaibob (Last). Also in Custer’s band at this time was Doc’s mother, Winnemucca, and Fiasco’s daughter, Innocentes.
In the spring of 2011, Doc had his second foal. He is the beautiful bay colt London. Alex
Doc and I have crossed paths many times over the last few years. After I saw him in August 2010 I saw him again in September. I guess I would have to say he is also one of my favorites.
My husband Bill and I had planned a camping trip to the Pryors in September 2010. It would be Bill’s first trip to the Pryors. The first horses that we saw when we arrived on top just before dark that September day was Doc and his little band. He still had the mare Sequoyah with him along with her colt, Kane. We shared dinner with them that night and watched the setting sun with them in background.
I saw Doc briefly when I was back in October, 2010. He was a lone then. Blue Moon (Flint) had taken Sequoyah and Kane.
My next trip would not be until July, 2011. I was on a search for Cabaret and Lakota, but Doc seemed to always be there. Sometimes in my search for the other stallions and their bands, I did not see Doc and his new band. They were in my photos though. Doc’s band now consisted of Gold Rush, Ketchikan and his new son, London.
Isn’t it odd how sometimes life can pass before your eyes and you are too busy thinking of something else, or in my case 2 horses (Lakota and Cabaret). I did not think I had seen Doc and his new son until August, 2011,(read my post “Moving On”) but as I looked through my photos these past few weeks, here they were. Not once, but several times, crossing through my life without me noticing. It was a little troubling for me to see this. It made me realize that life is about each moment and that I need to enjoy each one and soak in the beauty of it, not worry about who I don’t see, but appreciate who I do. Thank you Doc for making me realize this.
Early that first morning in July, as I watched Lakota fight for his band (read my post Lakota), Doc and his band passed quietly by me once again. Unnoticed until I saw them in my photos.
It was before sunrise, around 5:30, so the photos are a bit grainy, but somehow magical, so I decided to include them.