It has been many months since I have been to the mountain. Many of you have been contacting me and asking if I was okay. I have gone through some major changes in my life over the last 10 months, but I am great, very happy and looking forward to watching a new chapter in my life unfold.
As I watched the sunset out my window at the Monster Lake Ranch, I found myself becoming impatient for the next day to come. I would be heading up Burnt Timber early the next morning. Even though I had been away from the mountain since late August, 2014, I still felt very connected to the mountain and the horses. They are deep in my heart and soul, and all I need to do is think of them and I am on the mountain. They have helped me through many things in life, and I am grateful to them.
The next morning, my friend Meg and I would be there with them. I know I have said this in previous posts for this time of year, but I never head up the mountain hoping to see any particular horse or band. I don’t spend my days searching for one horse, I simply let the day unfold how it was meant to be, and take in the beauty of each and every horse that decides to show themselves to me.
We were about 3.5 miles up Burnt Timber around 8 am that morning. We had not seen any horses yet. Something caught my eye to the left. There were several horses quite aways away. I looked through my binoculars and realize it was Jackson’s band. But I could not spot Jackson. Then my heart sunk as I spotted the stallion Doc with them.
Doc had taken Jackson band last spring at this time, but I had learned that Jackson had gotten them back again, over the winter. But it was now obvious, that Doc had once again taken his band, and I felt sad once again, for Jackson, and hoped he was doing okay.
We continued heading up the mountain. Just as we entered into what is known as “Cheyenne Flats”, we were presented with Galaxy and his band. I quickly noticed that Maia and her colt Odyssey were not with them. I emailed Ryan at the BLM and he informed me that they are with Jupiter over on Sykes Ridge. Odyssey is Galaxy’s first and only foal, and I hope they are able to stay safe away from this magnificent stallions careful watch. Galaxy has had this band since he took them from Prince in the spring of 2012. Since that time, I have watched with admiration and amazement at how great of a band stallion he has become. But not too surprised, as he is the son of Lakota, who was one of the best on the mountain. He has inherited Lakota’s caring and strong characteristics.
I am going to apologize right now, but I did not get many photos of the band members that were still with him: Hera, Ireland, Limerick and Pococeno. For I was so taken with Galaxy’s incredible beauty and the striking poses he gave to us. The light was incredible and the surrounding beauty that surrounded us only made these photos more beautiful.
Galaxy’s focus became intent past us and to the left. I have been watching these horses for several years, and immediately recognized that he was probably looking at some other horse or horses nearby. I turned in the direction of his gaze and saw Jackson walk out of the trees. He was thinner than he looked a month or so ago when I saw him in a photo with his band. He also had a nasty looking wound on his upper left leg. It will most likely heal fine, I have seen worse then have. There are no flies to bother it this time of year, which should make healing easier. It looked to me like Doc had taken a nasty bite out of his leg. He did not seem to be limping. That night I emailed both Ryan and Jared about his wound so they could keep an eye on him.
Galaxy hurried over to greet Jackson, but there was no kicking or biting, only a greeting of respect, for this band stallion icon. Similar to what I witnessed several years ago with Jackson and Lakota.
Hundreds of Galaxy pictures later, we decided to continue up the mountain. Our next group was the band who I named Fleetwood Mac. This band consisted of one mare, Nimbus and two to three stallions: Knight, Inali and sometimes London. London was not with the group, but today they had added yet another band member, Malstrom. He was clearly part of the group, very much accepted. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts.
The one thing that I really noticed was how much Knight had matured. He has grown into a handsome stallion, built very much like his father Cappuccino. His story reminds us of how strong these wild ones are. Orphaned at 6 months, survived and now is a band stallion. I am at awe with his story, and so very proud of him.
My SD carded ran out of space (too many Galaxy photos??!), and I had to do a small hike back up the road to get another. I was disappointed, but this crew had galloped into the woods, clearly just running because they could. They had made it through the winter looking good and were simply enjoying life on the mountain.
As luck would have it, once I replaced my card, I caught a horse running in the trees to my right. It was just a flash, but I was sure it was Tecumseh. He was chasing Fleetwood Mac, and behind him were Galadrial and her foal Oceana. I had not seen Oceana yet, she was born in late September. It was so good to finally meet her!
I was really pleased to see how healthy Tecumseh looked. He had no open wounds and his weight was good. He looked better than I had seen him since Gringo took his band from him in June 2012. He also was clearly a good band stallion again. Very protective and watchful.
Gringo was down to just one mare now, Beulah. He seemed content with this, and while he approached and grazed near and with Tecumseh and band, there was only one brief encounter. It was Tecumseh who initiated the move. The did some brief boxing and then returned to their grazing. Little miss Oceana marched right up with her daddy and watched the boxing. She is a very outgoing and fun little girl. I look forward to watching her grow up on the mountain.
Continuing up the mountain just a short way was Mescalaro and his band, with a new member, Feldspar. She was part of the band, which included her mother, Rosarita and sister Half Moon. Half Moon looks to be pregnant, I hope I am right, she has only one offspring on the mountain right now, Missoula, it would be good for her to have another.
And just as fast as they exited a short way down the road, the Fleetwood Mac band barged into this area. This band very much reminds me of how the Odd Couple (Horizon, Fiesta and Juniper) were when they first formed their band. Then the wise and beautiful mare Tonapah joined them and showed them the way of the mountain, and peace and stability took over for them. I wonder if an older mare will step in to help this band as well.
Nimbus does not look pregnant to me, but she is so tiny, she may be. If she foaled, I am not sure how that would unfold. She is a very young inexperience young mare with 3 stallions. I hope I am right and she is not.
Missoula has grown into a confident young stallion, he is three this year, and as I watched him, I wondered why Mescalero had not kicked him out. If Mescalero does not kick him out soon, he may have trouble doing so in another year. Right now, Mescalero has easy authority over him, but give him another year, and he will have a hard time telling this young stallion what to do.
I watched Missoula go over to spar with the Fleetwood Mac boys, he was allowed to do this for a while, but then Mescalero stepped in and reminded him where his place was.
It started to snow again, as we traveled further up the road. I wasn’t sure if I would see another band up this high, we were past the old horse trap area and about 2 miles from the top. I looked ahead and saw some fresh horse manure in the road, and at about the same time, I saw some horses to the right of me in the woods. It was Jasper with his new band!
Last summer, I wrote that I watched Jasper “taking notes”. I felt this young stallion would be trying for a band soon. I was right, but his collection of mares was one he clearly worked on, and did it well. He did not step in and take over just one band, he collected mares from 3 different bands. They all seemed to be adjusting well with the change. His band consisted of: Millicent (Garcia’s band), Lariet and Oklahoma (last seen with Horizon’s band) and Ketchikan and her foal Okiotak (from Gringo’s band).
Lariat looked extremely thin, but she has looked very thin for a year now. While he seemed small, her little colt Oklahoma seemed to be doing just fine. Another testament to the extreme will to survive with these wild horses. Hope the summer is good to them both and they can put on some much-needed weight.
Milicent was the most watchful of the group. Her father, Garcia is one of the wildest on the Pryors. He taught her well to be cautious and observing of her surroundings.
Ketchikan and little Okiotak looked good. Was Ketchikan pregnant again? She is one that I am never sure of. I hope she is not. Okiotak was born in October, and unless she was bred immediately, that means she would have another late foal.
We left them to sleep in the sun that was now shinning. I began to wonder if I would make it to the top of the mountain. My answer was waiting just a short way up the road. I was about 1/2 mile from the top when I ran into a huge drift in the road. It would be the end of the road for this day. I parked Ophelia and hiked around to take in the beauty that surrounded me.
I don’t usually bring a dog with me to the mountain, but this time I had to include my corgi, Dover. He did well, and he was so small, it did not even seem to interest the horses one bit. Dover is also used to being around horses, and he did not give them a second glance either.
We turned around and started back down the mountain, passing a sleeping Jasper band along the way.
Stopping to have a look around, I spotted Hernando and his band. He was down one member from last fall. Malestrom was no longer with them. But Phoenix, Warbonnet and Niobrara were still there. They all seemed to be doing well.
Back down on Cheyenne Flats, I saw Doc with Jackson’s band. They had traveled a few miles up the mountain since I had seen them in the early morning of this day. It was nice to see them up closer.
Teceumseh and his band was there along with a much smaller Duke band. Duke was now down to 4 members, he had with him, Aurora, Helenium and Outlawlass. Outlawlass went over to visit with Oceana. The stayed by each other grazing. There was a peacefulness to this open area, I inhaled it deeply. It was good to be back on the mountain.
We left the horses and made our way back down the mountain. Heading up the road early this morning, I had no idea what I would see, but we had seen over 50 horses (some spotted over on Sykes). I felt grateful for those that had shown themselves to me.
I am looking forward to my summer here on the mountain. Introducing people from all over the world to this special herd of horses. I feel very fortunate to be able to do this.