Since I am not able to go over to see the horses right now, I asked my friend Shawn Ivie if he would write up a report. Shawn was there last week. I know there are a lot of you (including myself) who would like to hear news about the horses. I will have several posts on his trip. This is the first.
Thanks so much Shawn!
Wednesday – Lower Sykes
I was anxious to get back to the Pryors, it had been a long time since I last visited, and I had 3 goals for my trip (besides just checking on all of the horses): 1 – Find Damsel, 2- Find Merlin, 3- See Mato(lower sykes) for the first time.
Knowing that the days in the mountains are short at this time of year, I camped in the lower Sykes area Tuesday night so I could search for Mato. As the sun came up, I made my way to one of my favorite look-out hills in the area. The first animals I spotted were actually deer, 10 in the group. While marching around the area throughout the morning I noticed that there was a lot of deer track, which was not evident during my summer hikes.
I did not see any horses in some of the usual areas, but it is easy for a horse to disappear in this area. As I searched a little further out, I finally found 3 horses and made my way toward them. I had expected to find either Sitting Bull’s band or Bristol and Kitalpha. As I made my way to the horses I noticed a grullo stallion and thought I must have found Bristol, but then I noticed the snip and a third horse would not make sense. I was more than a little surprised once I realized that it was Garcia, Greta and Millicent that I had found.
In the spring they were way over at the Burnt Timber Canyon guzzler. If this wide range is their usual pattern, it may explain why I have heard they aren’t the easiest to find, although I always seem to run into them. Garcia came over to the side of the draw I was on to investigate me, and finally passed on after I gently held up my hand to make sure he didn’t approach too close.
From the top of a nearby mound I was able to locate some horses back on the white hillsides on the other side of where I park and camp. I knew there was too many for it to be Sitting Bull, but I decided to jog back over and up to them. The first I was able to recognize was Jesse James. The greeters were shirking their duties at the gate. As if they knew they weren’t supposed to be there, they quickly moved down the hill and at least in the direction of their posts. I did not see them for the rest of the trip, so they must have been taking a vacation from their jobs, too.
Before descending, I decided to take advantage of my elevated status and see if I could find anyone else. Back a little to the North of where I started I could see 2 horses. A quick stop at the FJ to drop some gear, and I was making my way through the washes to where I had seen them. My heart sank a little as crested a hill and only saw Sitting Bull and Cecelia standing there. I had heard that Mato may have had a limp, and I was worried that something had happened to him. Looking at some of my pictures now, I can see that he was there on the ground behind Cecelia the whole time, but it caused me a few moments of anxiety that morning. I was still a ways off, so decided to scramble down the hillside.
By the time I had climbed out from the draw to the next finger of higher ground, all 3 horses were in sight. I was relieved to finally see Mato. I had witnessed his mother carrying him around throughout the summer, but I had not been able to find them the 1 time I was back on the range after he was born. It was also good to have accomplished one of my tasks with good news. It gave me hope that I would soon run across Merlin. After a check of Sykes Coulee and the Bad Pass Springs area with no horses, I decided to head up the mountain while the weather was nice.