Wow!! It is hard to believe that another year has slipped away! Thank you all for supporting my blog and facebook page. I truly feel blessed in so many ways.
2014 looks to be a great year and I am looking forward to spending many 24/7 days with the wild ones. In July alone of this next year, I will be spending 23 of 30 days on the mountain. While it will be hard to leave my family, it will be incredible to spend that many days with the horses and share them with people that have never seen them before.
In August, beside my camping tours, I will be guiding a trip for some Natural Horsemanship Students from U OF M Dillion, MT. What a joy that will be, to share these horses with like-minded people. I can’t wait, and I feel so privileged to have been asked to do this.
There are a few camping spaces available for next summer click on CAMPING TOURS, to see those.
So let’s take a look at some of the things that occurred on the mountain in 2013.
I did not go to the mountain in January of 2013. Brianna did a great report on the Dryhead horses for then. you can click on BRIANNA to go there. The report gave us some information on the Dryhead horses. Those bands seem to change day to day, even in the summer. You just never know what you will see.
Shawn gave a couple reports, one for New Years day. There was a bit of a change there. Garcia had Kitalpha then. It was great to see photos of her. You can click on SHAWN if you would like to read that report.
January is the month where I do posts on “Who will have Foals this Year”, so stay tuned for that. I also do a post called the “Name Game” where I ask everyone to suggest names for the new foals. This year will be an “O” year. Starting in 2000, the BLM started using the alphabet to name the foals. It is an easy way to figure out how old a horse is simply by seeing what letter their name begins with. So start thinking of those names. We try to keep it somehow related to the mother or band stallion in some way, that way it is easy to remember what family they came from. It doesn’t always work out that way, but for the most part, we try to stay on a theme.
I could not wait to get back to the mountain and made my first trip of the year in mid-February with my friend Anh.
The Pryors had received a lot of snow from top to bottom and even on the very lowest of parts of the range, the snow was 1-2 feet deep.
The snow made our travel difficult, but I was determined to find horses. The snow was too deep to drive very far up Burnt Timber Road, so we hiked for miles looking for horses. We were able to find a few bands, including Jackson and Cloud’s band. Jackson had an injury and I left the mountain worrying about him. These horses very easily have worked their way into my heart, so I do worry about them. In the past I have tried to remind myself that they are wild, and have taken care of themselves for many years, but it doesn’t make it any easier NOT to worry. That is just the person I am. I have quite trying to change that.
I got my last look at Two Boots, age 25. He was last seen in April.
Our day on Lower Sykes was all hiking. The road had drifted shut and we could not drive up it at all.
March brought another trip to the mountain for me. This time I was able to make it almost to Cheyenne Flats with the ATV. The bands seemed to be staying the same for the most part. There were a few temporary switches here and there. Santa Fe had Firestorm for a brief time, then he had Cloud’s son, Mica for a short while. While I was there in March, I worried that Mescalero was trying to take Teton’s band. I was glad I was wrong on that one. But Teton will be 20 this next year, so it is bound to happen, a day I dread to see, as he is one of those stallions that I don’t think will take the loss of his band very well.
April came with the new discovery of the first foal of the year (first found anyway), Noble. Daughter of Helenium and Duke. She was discovered by the NPS. She has grown into a stunning filly and I look forward to watching her grow. You can read about all of the foals born in 2013, but clicking on 2013 FOALS
My trip in April came at the end of the month, where along with my friend Anh, we discovered 3 new foals. Nodin, Norte and Nye. I never set out to actually find new foals, they just seem to present themselves to me, and each one is a wonderful experience. A bit hard to put into words.
Anh and I braved the Sykes Ridge Road trip, to see two of those foals and several other horses I had not seen since the fall before. One of those bands was Hidalgo, who had recently acquired all of Fool’s Crows band. It was very much worth the tense drive, you can read more about that trip by clicking on SYKES.
Anh and I also witnessed a frantic Doc, when Cappuccinno took her just a few weeks before she was to foal. It was heart breaking to hear his cries for her.
Cloud was dogged by Santa Fe and the young bachelor, Jupiter. Nothing was accomplished that day or this past year, but with Cloud turning 19 this year, it will be happening soon. Another one that will not take retirement lightly, I am sure.
The month of May brought the birth of six new foals: Nimbus, Niyaha, Nirvana, Naara, Niobrara and Naive (decreased). Bringing the total number of foals born to ten, with nine of those still living.
Lori gave us several great updates of the Dryhead horses, with one of the highlights being the sighting of Medicine Bow, who has become very elusive this year. You can read about her updates by clicking on LORI, and DRYHEAD.
June brought the births of three more foals: Norma Jean, Nickel and Naolin. Bringing the foal count to 13.
June is also one of the most active and exciting months of the year on the mountain. Weather dependent, most of the mountain horses have traveled to the top of the mountain and with it brings conflict and love.
It is breeding season, which brings about constant action, between the band stallions and the bachelor stallions. The light of the day is long in June, giving plenty of opportunity to take hundreds of action shots. The wildflowers are just starting to show their faces, but depending on the weather, will be showing them soon and fast. It is a magical time to be on the mountain and I look forward to my first camping trip of the season this month.
Over the winter or spring, Garay had acquired Grijala’s band ( Kohl and Quelle Colour), Santa Fe was now dogging Coronado and poor Tecumseh was still dogging the band he had lost in June 2012, now Gringo’s.
June also brought some minor changes in the Dryhead. The Dryhead would change like the wind this year, everyday seemed to bring about band changes. You can read about those June changes by clicking on NANCY.
Lori also gave us a great update on Seattle, Merlin and Fiero. Click on LORI to read that. It is a rare sight to see father and son together in one photo. Thank you Lori for that!
July brought the discovery of two more foals: Nacer (deceased) and Nova. Bringing the total count to 15 with 13 of those living.
Nacer’s brief life has a very deep meaning to me. Born near my tent in the early morning of July 9, I will always think of her each and every time I am there. You can read more about her by clicking on NACER.
July also brought the one year anniversary of Lakota’s death. It is hard to believe that it has been a year. I still miss seeing him and know I always will.
There was a rumor that Starman’s remains had been found. But after I and Nancy searched the area throughly, it was not true, but ended up still being the remains of Cabaret and his band from 2011. However Starman has not been seen, and so we must admit, that this great stallion has died, another tragic loss to the mountain top.
The remains of Damsel were discovered this month. She will also be missed.
A few note worthy observations this month were: Lariat joined Garay’s band for several days (only in the daylight hours), I spotted Seattle and also Corona and his band ( Dryhead Horses) up on top for about a week.
July is another busy month for the mountain. A few more births, a lot of sparring and a bunch of bachelor antics!
I was fortunate to be able to spend many days on the mountain and Dryhead in July. The peacefulness of the mountain after the day trip crowds leave, are amazing and something I will never grow tired of. I met several new people, many of those have become good friends.
No foals were born in the month of August this year. Instead of new foals, August brought lots of flies. They never really bothered me, but they plagued the horses, driving them into the trees for a good portion of the day, coming out for drinks at the pond and in the evenings.
It did give me a good chance to really get to know the range and all of the possible hiding places the horses may be. I enjoyed many hikes and discovered things I had never seen before.
The days were becoming shorter, but the sunsets even more spectacular. Each month in the Pryors has its own special feature. Even though the horses were not visible all day long, there was still plenty of opportunity to spend hours with them each day. But this is not always the case each year. My August trips in 2012 showed me horses all day long. Each year can be different.
During one of my days in August, the stallion Santa Fe would decide it was time to stop dogging Coronado. My heart aches a bit of Santa Fe, I hope he can gain a mare again soon.
I also explored the Dryhead and Lower Sykes, discovering new things about both of those areas.
September brought the birth of one more foal, Nawah, bringing the 2012 foal count to 16 (14 living). My friend Anh discovered him on September 18. No-one to my knowledge has seen Nawah again since then, I pray he is still alive.
September also brings the most incredible lighting. The range has become dry, but the light throws an amazing gold color, making the range look like spun gold. The blue hour photos become more intense, the sunsets a deeper pink. The days are shorter yet, making the daylight hours even more special.
A noteworthy discovery that I made this month, was seeing several bachelors up on the high meadow (Skyline Meadow). This is an area seldom used by the horses and it would be great if they were starting to utilize this part of the range again.
The weather can quickly change during this month, so keeping a watch on the weather report is essential. Late in September this year, a snow storm came.
I spent several evening on my trip in September with the horses near-by. They felt comfortable to be near-by and graze and play, many bands intermingling with one another. Many of them would remain outside my tent during the night, and I would lie awake hearing the sounds of their crunching.
Below are some of the great photos that my friend Anh took late in September.
I would spend one day in the Dryhead this trip, seeing several bands including Bristol, Blizzard and the very pregnant Bakken.
October brought the last-known foal of the year. Niña. She was discovered the NPS, October 24. She brought the final foal count of 2013 to 17, with 15 known survivors.
Bakken and Niña continue to be seen and are doing well.
I returned to the Pryors late in October, just a few days after Niña was discovered. I never know what horses I will see this time of year. The mountain horses have left the mountain top and are scattered down the mountain, either on the Burnt Timber side or the Sykes side. I always feel fortunate to be able to see anyone and my friend Jeannie and I were able to see over 50 horses.
I rented a wide-angle lens this trip and had a lot of fun capturing the vast landscape of the Pryors.
I did not go to the Pryors in November. There were a few updates from Ginger (Click on GINGER) to go to that post. Nancy also had one update as well. Click on NANCY to go there.
And now here we are in December. I did not go to the Pryors this month. Shawn had one update this month. Click on Shawn to go there.
So that is 2013 in the Pryors. I want to end this post acknowledging those horses that are missing or dead.
1. Starman, last recorded sighting: October 2012. Remains not found. Born in 1989.
2. Prince. Last recorded sighting, November, 2012. Remains not found. Born in 1993.
3. Kindra. Last seen, early spring, 2013. Remains not found. Born in 2010.
4. Meadowlark, last seen March, 2013. Remains not found. Born in 2012.
5. Two Boots. Last seen in April, 2013. Remains not found. Born in 1988.
6. Damsel. Last seen in September 2012. Remains found in July. Born in 2003.
Thank you all for reading my blog. If you want to read more about 2013, click on the Archives tab to the right. I am looking forward to 2014 in the Pryors, I hope to see some of you there!
During the night, we heard several stallion screams. I say screams, because there is a difference between the squeals that stallions make when greeting one another or of the screams that bachelors make when sparring.
The last time I heard screams this loud and long, was during the time when Grijala and Lakota were fighting. They both ended up with some pretty good wounds, and in the end, Grijala took Lakota’s band from him. It seemed to me that something was starting to happen on the mountain, something big. Change would be coming. I am betting it will be one of the former Forest Service bachelors taking a band. If it doesn’t happen this fall, it will probably happen during the winter. I hope no one gets injured badly. I wondered if that was part of the reason we had seen Cloud and Cappuccino running with them yesterday. Were they proving how difficult it would be for any of them to take their bands?
I was eager for the day to start so I could find out what was going on.
By the time it got light, the mountain was quiet again. Not a horse in sight. We went down to Krueger Pond just as the sun was rising. Finding no one there, we hiked to the top of the hill above the pond. I saw Duke’s band. We hiked over and spent some time with them before they decided to move on.
They were heading to the pond, so we did too. We were able to watch several bands coming for their morning drink.
We decided to follow the horses. They appeared to be heading for the north woods. We took their path a few minutes after the last horse left the pond. There was no one in sight. They had vanished into the trees. I could see them here and there in the woods, but for the most part they were out of sight.
The woods here are very tightly woven with trees. We decided to just let them be and sit outside the clumps of trees waiting for them to come out, like they had done in July. They did not come out. We sat there for several hours before deciding to head back to camp for a while. It was the hot of the afternoon, and with the amount of flies around, I knew they would be staying in the trees for a while.
We returned to this area again at 5:00 pm. I could see a few bands had come out of the trees, so we sat and watched them grazing in the slightly cool breeze of the late afternoon.
It was just a few minutes later, when we heard thundering hoofs running our way. I turned my camera just in time to get a few quick shots of the bands running by us. We watched several bands run by and straight into the woods.
From there I looked up the steep hill and saw a beautiful sight! All of the horses were coming out of the woods and trotting along the ridge. It was so incredible! The photos just can’t come close to capturing the feeling and sight of more than 60 horses running out of the woods single file.
For the most part, it was peaceful. Except when Bolder tried to breed Sequoyah.
We stayed there for a long while, enjoying the amazement of the scene. We left only when some annoying people with 2 loose dogs came and disturbed the otherwise natural setting.
Later that evening, just before sunset, we came back down to the pond. There were just a couple of bands there tonight. Most had watered an hour or so before and were in the north woods where we had left them.
It was almost dark now. It would be a full moon tonight. As we headed back down towards our campsite, I saw a horse walking towards us.
It was Irial. The scene reminded me so much of when I saw Lakota walking towards me, in the same place, just two years before. Had it really only been two years ago? It seemed so much longer.
Irial took his time walking by us. He never left the road, until he was well past the truck that was in his path.
There was a sadness to him, or was it me feeling the sadness? Just as he left the road to take a trail that lead to the pond, he turned and looked back at me. It was as if he was trying to tell me something, or maybe offer some comfort to the feelings he knew I was having at that moment. Whatever it was, I realized, it had been a long while since I had felt that closeness from a wild horse.
And to make the evening more special, we were witnesses to an amazing sunset that night and then behind the clouds a full moon was shown to us for just a few minutes.
Each day had been different on the mountain this time. The horses were showing some different patterns. They were making themselves more invisible, harder to find. My heart had been touched by a beautiful blue roan stallion. I wondered what the next day would bring. I couldn’t wait for it to get here.
I finally made it out to the Dry Head last Wednesday after visiting with Liesl & Kaibab at Diane’s. They are doing great and seem very happy in their new home with their new family! They look better than I have ever seen them look, so apparently this change was the best thing for them. We are working with them and I think soon we will be able to get their halter’s on.
Most of the Dry Head horses are out on Mustang Flats.
First I saw Fools Crow with his band of the dark bay’s, and of course Mercuria.
It seems that Hidalgo could not hold onto all of his ladies. Fools Crow has Jewel with Mercuria, Halo, Icara and Morgana. They all seemed perfectly content and this group was quite a ways from Hidalgo and his little band.
Hidalgo had Fresia and Montana with him. Just nearby on the hill were the bachelor boy’s intently watching Hidalgo and his little band. I watched as Hidalgo chased the bachelor boys away. Apparently they were a little too close for comfort. He sure is keeping his band close with an eye on the bachelor’s.
I hiked out to see who the bachelor boy’s were that were watching Hidalgo and his band.
It was Hawk, Issaquah, Johnston and Kemmerer. Chief Joseph was alone but near the boy’s!
Then I spotted Blizzard and hiked down to see who was with him. It was Cascade and they were quite a ways from the others. Blizzard was keeping some distance from the rest and did not really like me taking their photo’s. After I did take a few pictures he moved into the brush and I hiked back to my car.
That is when I spotted Merlin and he was headed towards Hidalgo and his band.
Hidalgo saw him and took off in a full gallop across the dessert to chase him away. There was no confrontation, just chasing. After he felt Merlin was far enough away he turned and galloped back to his band.
Merlin stopped and just kept on watching Hidalgo. I think he will be dogging Hidalgo and possibly Fools Crow too. I will have to make another trip out there this week to see if there are any more changes.
I decided to head back down and see if I could find anyone else.
I did spot Hickok and his girls out on one of the “hills” towards the south end of the range.
It was a good day and I look forward to another exciting trip soon!
Thank you Lori! Merlin really looks good. It is so good to see Fools Crow with a band again.
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.