I am a little late with this good news post. Foal # 9 for 2017 was born around November 8th, 2017. It is a filly who has been named Ruby. Ruby is the daughter of Juniper and Horizon.
Juniper is the 2009 daughter of Sapo and Bolder. Horizon is the 2007 son of Felina and Morning Star.
This was another birth that we were all looking forward to. This is also the band that the beloved Fiesta was in. I can’t help but think that he is looking down on this little one and watching out for her from above. I witnessed Fiesta with Joviana’s foal in 2012 (they were both removed in 2012), he was so in love with that little foal, it was really touching to watch him play with him.
Welcome to the world little Ruby, may you live a long and peaceful life on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range.
Thank you Jack Sterling for the use of your photos of Ruby!
Sandy has been camping in the Pryors for several years, spending weeks at a time with the horses. Abbie Branchflower will be joining Sandy for her fourth season as her assistant. Abbie has a vast knowledge of the horses as well. She will also be offering a photo book so you can make identification more easily once you are home. If you are interested in purchasing one of these, contact us and we will have it ready for you.
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 many stories that Sandy and her assistant share about the horses and the range, make this trip more than just a chance to view them, it makes this a trip more about knowing the horses, giving you a brief glance into the life of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses.
Experience living with the horses 24 hours a day and in doing so, this can give you a better understanding of what it is like to live wild on the range!
All tours may include light to moderate hiking.
Below are the tour dates for the summer of 2018:
1.June 18-21, 2018 Full
2. June 24-27, 2018 Full
3.June 29-July 2, 2018 Full
4. July 5-8, 2018 Full
5. July 10-13, 2018 1 Space available
Contact Sandy with any questions: 406-360-8959
These trips will be 4 days/3 nights on the mountain top. While on the mountain, we will be in Montana. This trip includes: 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).
There are many great hotels in Cody, you will be responsible for making your own arrangements before and after the trip. AirBnb is also a great source to find some lodging. I can pick you up at your hotel the morning of our first day, or you can meet me at my house in Cody.
All payments are considered non-refundable. Refunds may be made when cancellations can be filled. THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS, so please consider purchasing travel insurance on your own!! Here is a link to travel insurance purchase. This insurance is not through Wild In The Pryors. Please explore this link for cost comparisons of several companies. TRIP INSURANCE
Camping trips will be limited to 4 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 or click on the Paypal link to pay the deposit.
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.
Reviews from past guests:
My dream came true camping in the Pryor Mountains of Montana in July 2017.
I have always felt a pull to our American West, horses and the Native American culture and history. Sandy Palen (Wild in the Pryors) was recommended to me when I was seeking out information on how I could spend time with our wild horses. I could not have asked for a more perfect opportunity and guide.
I signed up for the July 15-18th , 2017 guided tour. How excited I was to be camping out in the beautiful Pryor Mountains with the gorgeous Pryor horses.
I was picked up in Cody by Sandy and her assistant Abbie. I truly did not know what to expect and was kind of a chatterbox I think asking questions on our way to the mountain. Sandy was so patient and attentive answering all my questions. There is much to seen on the ride up and it goes by quickly. And when we got there…..the horses and open country were awaiting. I couldn’t believe they were right there!
Finally, I was living a dream! Our campsite was in a fantastic location. We had horses walking by…..grazing nearby……and lots of wonderful viewing time just from the campsite.
The meals were amazing and the smell of fresh coffee in the morning so very welcoming. Everything was planned and thought out to make this an experience of a lifetime….and one to remember so fondly.
We would go out in the truck to search for some other bands and get different views. We took some great little hikes….to get different mountain views and search out other bands. The wildflowers were in bloom and some of the fields were just breathtaking.
There are no words to describe the fabulous scenes that are etched forever in my mind and heart. Sandy made sure that you get the photographs you are looking for and will go out of her way to make sure you are content with everything. Her knowledge (as well as Abbie) of the horses and the mountain is just amazing. It was just awesome to listen to them name the horses, their background and everything about that. I truly envied them that.
They truly do love their Pryor horses. We got to experience it all. From seeing a rainbow shining down on horses…..to seeing a one day old foal….gorgeous stallions standing on the hillside…..bachelors playing and strutting their stuff…..stallions protecting their mares…..gorgeous sunsets…..stormy skies…..unbelieveable views…and just experiencing what life is like in the day of our wild mustangs.
For me to finally be out in the open….in the mountains….24/7 with the Pryor horses, I got to live one of my wildest dreams. It meant the world to me. I highly recommend Sandy (Wild in the Pryors) if you are looking for that once in a lifetime experience of spending time with our wild mustangs. You will not be disappointed. It’s just the best!
Cathy Weeks, Albany, NY
Fields of Dreams
If you are searching for an adventure, if you’d love to see and photograph some of the oldest descendants in the founding of America, if you love horses, nature and the out of doors, consider a trip with Sandy Palen and “Wild In The Pryors”.
The road up to the mountain top is a bit rough, however, once you get up there it will take your breath away. Your first spotting of the horses will cause your heart to skip a beat. And it just gets better from there.
Sandy knows these horses like the back of her hands. She knows the details of the stallions, their bands, their mares and their foals. She knows their history. She has a sense of where they will be in the mornings and where they might be in the afternoons. And she loves them!
Along with being a great photographer, Sandy is an expert at camping and has everything so organized it makes camping easy. All someone has to do is show up. I had never camped nor slept in a tent and it was the most amazing thing. I wish I had that view from my tent every morning when I wake up. Sandy cooked delicious meals on top of that mountain; and a sandwich for lunch never tasted better than on that mountain. The views of the country side, the Bighorn Mountains and the Bighorn Canyon were unbelievable.You can see miles and miles of both Montana and Wyoming from up there.
The horses in the Pryor Mountains are descendants of the horses brought over to America in the 1600s. They came with the original explorers who came to America. It is beyond words to be a part of these incredible animals and to be able to bring home memorable photographs of them. Advocating for and helping to save the mustangs running free becomes very real to you.
I had attempted to make this trip for several years, however, was unable to. So when I was finally able to go this summer I left all my expectations at home. What I found up there was beyond my wildest dreams and more than anything I could have hoped for. We saw a foal only a few hours after she was born. We had almost every horse on the mountain walk or run by our camp sight two evenings in a row. I had the privilege of seeing the oldest horse on the mountain, a mare, still loving her band. Photographing the horses against the sunset two nights in a row is still a vision in my memory. I hope some day to return and hope these horses are still running free.
If you love horses and you are looking for the trip of a lifetime which includes them, you have found it!
I have been wondering how to write this post. It has been especially difficult for me to write the words that I don’t want to read. How could something so perfect and strong have a turn in their short life that makes them lose everything in just a few short minutes. A new life born to a 2-year-old inexperienced filly. She was able to nurse and receive the life-giving colostrum, cleaned up of the from the birth that surrounded her. Then somehow disrupted and displaced, torn from her mother and lost with a band she wasn’t meant to be with.
It was just 4 years ago that I had this exact story play out in front of me, and it seemed this was a re-run of a very bad movie that I did not want to see the ending of . What are the odds that this could be happening again? Read my post from 4 years ago NACER.
It started out like any beautiful morning on the mountain. My guests from this trip were down watching the horses just below where the camp was set up. I was cleaning up camp and enjoying a few minutes drinking my coffee and photographing Morning Star and his band. I had just returned to my truck when I looked down the road and saw Micheal Francis (a fellow long time Pryor photographer, he has been taking photos of the horses since the early 80’s, here is his website: FRANCIS) waving his arms at me. I quickly got back in my truck and drove towards him. He said “there’s a new foal down there”. “Who is it?”, I said. “I’m waiting for you to tell me that”, he said. I looked down the cliff. I immediately saw Doc’s band. Firestorm had a foal by her. This was surprising as I knew Firestorm was not pregnant this year. I then thought perhaps it could be Jasmine’s as many of us are hoping and think that she is pregnant. But she still looked round and it confused me even more.
Who did this precious new life belong to? It seemed it was no one in this band, and I was worried how this had happened. It seemed Firestorm wanted this little one (she had lost her last foal last fall). Her mothering instincts were in full gear. Whenever this little one tried to approach Doc, the band stallion, Firestorm would insert herself between them. But when the filly tried to nurse her, she would kick it away. We all watched from far above them, hoping that this scene would have a different ending to the one just four short years ago.
I immediately called and reported the birth to Jerrie at the BLM, Jerrie is the new Wild Horse Specialist at the Billing, Mt office. She replaced Jared Bybee. I had just met and talked to her the day before. I told her I would monitor the situation and report to her what was going on. I respected her decision to “let nature take its course”.
We watched the scene unfold below us. Irial’s band was near-by and their two-year old filly Pele (Penny) seemed overly interested in the new foal. Could it be hers? I remembered seeing a similar young filly 4 years ago show the same interest in Nacer. I was convinced she could be the mother of this little filly.
After a couple of hours, it was clear that Firestorm had her fill of this new foal. It was not hers, and she made it clear she wanted nothing more to do with it. It was painful to watch her kick, bite and shake this innocent life. It was then that I realized this story was not going to have a fairytale ending.
The Pryors are a wild, real life story. Whether we want to admit it or not, life here is not a fairy tale; it is hard, real and not always happy. We were witness to this just a few days ago.
The foal was clearly getting tired and weak. She needed nourishment, and none of the mares in this band could give it to her. I was sure that we might witness the end of her life before our eyes. It was then that the wind began blow and the rain and sleet began to fall. The horses all ran for cover in the trees quite a distance up hill. Little Ryden kept up with them, following into the trees. My heart sank as I was sure I wouldn’t be able to keep track of her now.
I left and came back a few hours later. I could still make out her tiny body in the trees next to who she thought was her mom. I checked one more time before the dark came, it would be the last time I saw her.
Abbie and I decided to name her after a woman who had just passed away this week. Hope Ryden. Hope was very instrumental in the passage of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act. Our wish is that this little one could have lived a full life on the range, in honor of this wonderful woman, but it was not to be. You can read more about Hope Ryden by clicking on HOPE
We may never know for sure who the mother was. But Abbie and I noticed a young coming 3-year-old filly looking especially thin last night.
Oceana, June 20, 2017. Photo by Abbie Branchflower
Please, if you notice a new foal, set aside your wish to capture the perfect photo and stay away. The mare and foal need time to bond, this is a very critical time. We never know what the impact of our actions could be on a new life.
Rest in Peace little Hope Ryden. I know you will be entertained by the silly and loving Fiesta, given wise advise by Lakota and held close by Winemucca.
Within the above post, there is also a link to a post that Matt Dillion from the Pryor Mountain Mustang Center did on this land back in 2009. I encourage you to read both of these posts.
And so, finally, part of the pasture is open to the horses. While the forage is not great (it a sparse desert area ), it still adds more forage for the horses to use, especially in the winter months when every little piece of forage counts. The remainder of the pasture will be open soon. Thank you Jim Sparks and all others involved for making this happen. Here is the official information that I received from Jim Sparks, BLM Billings:
“Adding the admin pastures back into the herd management area was one of the decisions in the 2015 Resource Management Plan. Although part of the herd area, those pastures were not part of the herd management area. They were used when we used to gather horses at Britton Springs and for other extra reasons which I am not entirely sure of. At any rate there was no reason to not include them in the HMA so we did.
Right now, the horses can only access the area from Britton Springs to the northwest. After we ensure that nothing can get out on the southeast side we will open the area from Britton Springs to the southeast.
About 2 miles of fence has been removed, and that nwest of BS area is about a section (600 or so acres) that was opened up. The southeast of BS area will open about 2000 acres up.
There is not much forage in the pastures, surely not enough to consider increasing herd size.
Ryan, Blair and Jerad Werning did most of the work from BLM, but had a lot of assistance from Montana Conservation Corps and our BLM veteran firefighting hand crew. The old materials were carried by hand to central spots that could be accessed by UTV. It took a long time.”
This is great news for the horses, and also a great example of how those involved with the horses can make good things happen. I am very grateful for the Billings, Montana Blm, and their willingness to work with all of us. Thank you again.
Below is a snapshot of my 2017 Calendar. You can order now, and be sure to have it before the beginning of the year. They are printed on premium satin card stock, not the light weight calendar paper that is usually used. It would be possible to even place them in a frame after the year is done! The calendars are $24.00 and includes domestic shipping costs. I have sent many calendars to other countries, contact me for an additional quote on that shipping price.
Horses in Photos:
January: Irial and Lobo
May: Custer and Winnemucca
June: Ireland and Quillian
July: Blue Moon and Custer
September: Doc’s Band, Tecumseh, and Mescalero’s band
October: Knight and Nimbus
text or email to place your order: 406-360-8959 or email@example.com
One of the first things I noticed this year when I arrived on the range, was how very dry it was up here. I could hear the grass “crunch” under my feet as I walked. It made me afraid that this could be a very high fire danger season. As I looked at the forecast for the next 10 days, there seemed to be no rain in sight, but every afternoon, it seemed as though that might change. Yesterday it did, and it rained for 3 hours, the horses running past us, seeking shelter from the storm. Knowing by the horses reaction, I knew that this would be a severe storm, and the horses were right, with the rain came a sufficient amount of thunder and lightning.
Whenever a storm with lightning strikes occur on the mountain, I gather my guests and we climb in the truck. I feel that is the safest place to be during a storm, especially with lightning striking around us. I then pull away from any near by trees. And that is where we sat for 3 hours yesterday, waiting out the storm and being thankful for the much-needed rain to the range. As I type this , the rain is again pouring down. So thankful for this moisture. Today is different, however, the horses are still visible, so I will take that as a sign that this storm will not be as bad as yesterday’s.
At about hour 2 1/2 of this storm, the sky seemed to be clearing, and I started to work my way back up the very muddy road to our campsite. It was then that we all witnessed a lightning strike hit a tree up near the Skyline Meadow, also known as Bigfoot’s Meadow. This area was about 1/2 mile from us. The lightning strike caused the tree to turn instantly bright red and as fast as the red dimmed, the smoke began.
My guests ( Barb and Dick) my assistant (Abbie) and myself decided we should let as many people know about this fire so we could as to get a quick response from someone..anyone. I immediately got on my phone and was relieved that I had enough service to make a call. The first call was to Jeff, the BLM law enforcement agent. After leaving a voice mail, I then dialed 911. And at the last-minute, I thought I should let Jim Sparks know, and left a voicemail for him as well. It was a bit unnerving to think what could occur if the fire was big enough and the wind strong enough. I tried to push that from my mind and focus on where we had seen this strike.
The rain was still coming down hard, and that in itself was comforting, knowing that it was hopefully putting the fire out. But by now we could not see the area of the strike, the fog had settled in, it was difficult to tell if it was smoke or fog. We all continued to watch the area of the strike as we waited for a response from our calls.
It was not long, probably just a few minutes ( but it seemed much longer) that I heard from Jeff. I spoke briefly with him, and he confirmed that the 911 dispatcher had already reached him. He indicated that they would send up a helicopter to try to spot the location, but they needed to wait for the fog to lift.
Once the fog lifted, much to our relief, we could not see any smoke. I called Jeff and let him know. (I was not looking forward to a helicopter, knowing how the horses would react, but we all agreed, a helicopter would be better than a range engulfed in flames). He said a ground crew of firefighters would be up to check on the fire. For those of you that have not been on the range, that would mean that it would take about 3 hours or more with a fire truck, to get to the top.
Once the firefighters reached the top, I directed then to the area of the strike. They were able to hike to the area and locate the tree. The lightening had traveled all the way down the tree and into the ground where there was a small area of smoldering matter. The firefighters worked on the area last night, then sat up camp so they could continue to work on it in the morning. This morning they were up working on the area for several hours. They informed us that a small smothering area can turn into a big fire in no time if the conditions are right, and told me that it was good that we had called it in. Abbie and I had just hiked that area a few days ago, so I know how thick and dense that area is with dead and downed trees. A fire that started here, would be eagerly fed with the food of this forest. We were grateful for their quick response.
I am writing this post so that others that travel up on the range can know that you can call 911 when on the range. After talking to my guests, I realized that many people to not think that there is reception on the range, but you can locate it in some areas. If you do call 911 you should know a few things. When on the top of the mountain, you are in Carbon County, also try to pin point the direction and area that you see a strike and smoke. So please call to report a fire. The horses depend on your fast response.
My guests and I would like to thank the BLM for their fast response and hard work. Thank you Jeff, LeRoy and the rest of the firefighting crew for your efforts. We very much appreciate it!
When we woke this morning, we were greeted by a glorious sunny sky and a very green range with lots of muddy puddles for silly horseplay!
Ireland and Galaxy have a new foal. Discovered yesterday. I had a feeling by the photos I had been seeing, and what I had witnessed last summer, that Ireland was very close. I had witnessed Galaxy breeding her about a week after she had little Pegasus last year.
Ireland is the 1997 daughter of Isabella and Raven. Galaxy is the 2006 son of Quelle Colour and Lakota.
This little one looks to be a filly. No word on a name yet. Pegasus love having a playmate!
Thank you Jack Sterling and Colleen Kilbane for allowing me to use your photos! I’ll be getting some of my own in just a few days!
The sixth 2016 Pryor Foal was born to Feldspar and Mescalero! It is a filly, and her name is to be Quintana.
Feldspar is the 2005 daughter of Rosarita and Starman. Mescalero is the 1996 son of Sitka and Shaman.
Thank you Kevin for allowing me to use your photo for this post! It is very much appreciated. Kevin and his girlfriend Trisha were on the mountain this past weekend. You can check out some of Kevin’s beautiful photos by clicking on 45 degrees. Trish is also an amazing artist, check out her work by clicking on TRISH.
I’ll be up on the mountain soon, and I am looking forward to seeing these little ones myself.
I’ve had a couple of cancellations for my camping trips. Contact me by text or call at: 406-360-8959 if you are interested.
Foal number 3 was discovered by Dennis McCollough from Billings, MT. Thank you Dennis for allowing me to use your photos!
Foal number 3, yet unnamed, was born to Garcia’s band, he or she is the offspring of Greta and Garcia. Greta is the 2006 daughter of Belle Starr and Chino, Garcia is the 2006 son of Topper and Tony.
The 4th 2016 foal was also discovered by Dennis. This foal was born to Duke’s band. No name has been chosen yet. He or she is the offspring of Helenium and Duke. Helenium is the 2007 daughter of Rosebud and Sandman. Duke is the 1996 son of Flicka and Bigfoot.
I will update this post as the names and sex of the foals are announced.
The second known Pryor foal born in 2016 was discovered by Dawn Ness and Danielle on April 9, 2016. Thank you Dawn for allowing me to use your beautiful photos!
The foal is a colt, and has been named Quanah. Quanah was a Comanche Chief. Quanah was born to the stallion Blue Moon and the mare Halcyon. Blue Moon is the 2001 son of Sitka and Shaman. Halcyon is the 2007 daughter of Coronado and Blue Sioux. They make beautiful foals, that seem to end up very identical! Welcome to the Pryors little one!
Below is Halcyon last born offspring, Olivia. I am pretty sure Quanah will have the same coloring when he matures, just like his brother Miocene and sister Nirvana.