It is time for the Third Annual Wild In The Pryors, “Name Game”! This is the post where any of you can suggest names for the 2015 foals born in the Pryors. Of course, like on all the previous years, I can not guarantee that they will be used, but it will be fun to list them, and I do know that every time I discovered a foal, I came to this post to look at all of the suggestions.
In 2000, the BLM started using a letter for each year of foals, starting with A. This year is the P year. So please feel free to list your ideas in the comment section of this post. To read more about this system and why we use names, please refer to my Name Game post that I did last in 2013. Click on Name Game to go there.
I am looking forward to reading all of your suggestions! If someone else has already posted your name idea, please list it again anyway. It will be fun to see what the most popular name suggestions are!
My friend and very devoted Pryor Mountain Wild horse observer, Laura Curtis, sent me a short report from her recent Dryhead trip (couple weeks ago) with her husband John.
Her are Laura’s photos and her summary. Thank you so much Laura!
We got to the Dryhead early Saturday morning.( 09-20-14) We saw Fiero with Sacajawea, Oregon and Strawberry near the road, so we had a long time with them.
Oregon has matured so much from when we saw her in July. Sacajawea is very thin. I am concerned for her going into winter so thin needing to provide for nursing Oregon. I love her beautiful two-tone mane, looks like Oregon may have that mane also. Fiero, Oregon and Strawberry looked good.
The big surprise for me was that Hickok now has a harem. Saturday morning he had Kitalpha, her yearling filly Nova, Seneca and Hightail. They were up the sandy draw behind the high ridge where the “greeters” hang out, so my view of them was very distant even after climbing up the ridge.
Sunday morning Hightail was off by herself with a good view in the area where the greeters are often seen even though she wasn’t close to the road. Considering her age each time I see her, I feel especially blessed.
We saw Hawk, Chief Joseph and Johnston each drive; they seemed happy together and healthy.
And I was overjoyed at the Center when they showed me a recent photo of Medicine Bow taken in the Dryhead and he looked great!! Such happy news!!
Thank you again for everything. Have a wonderful Fall. Laura
My last camping trip of the year was at the end of August. I would be on the mountain for my single longest trip to date, 7 days. I must admit, I was having a hard time thinking about coming off this mountain. It had been my home, pretty much, for the entire summer, and I worried how coming down would affect me.
It had been an incredible summer, great guests, some new, some returning, reconnecting with a dear friend from over 30 years ago, it seemed perfect in so many ways, and I found myself dreading the drive off the mountain in this final camping trip of the year.
But on this last trip up the mountain, I had with me a friend whom I had just met in June. Bonded by the wild horses, Meg has quickly become a very close friend. This trip was to also be with the University of Montana/ Western students, but Meg and I decided to head up the mountain a day early.
The air had a feeling of fall to it, and even though it was just August, I knew there could be some season changing weather ahead of us this week.
The 12 students arrived late the following afternoon. Meg and I eagerly pitched in to help them set up camp. accompanying them were 3 faculty members, including a vet. I knew that this group would be too large to camp in my normal spot. The horses frequented my campsite, and I did not want them to have to change their patterns for such a large group. I had them set up camp tucked in the trees towards Krueger Pond. Anyone that knows me, knows that first and foremost, above anything else, my concern is about the horses, and it did not take me long to realize, this was just going to be too big a group.
The students were wonderful, caring, kind, and their enthusiasm was a joy to be around. On one of the first days there, I grab one student and Meg and I took her to get a bit more of an up-close and personal experience with the horses. My plan was to do that several times a day, so that by the end of their 4 days on the mountain, they would each have that experience. But the weather did not co-operate with us, the rain came down hard and with that came the University’s decision to pull up stakes and head down the mountain a day early.
In the few days that the students were on the mountain, one interesting thing did occur. Heritage left Doc and went with Custer. Although I am not sure that is how it worked (maybe Custer took her). She did not seem happy with this new situation and was back with Doc after just a couple days. She continued to still look unhappy, (distancing herself from the band a little), even after she returned to Doc.
Despite the mud, rain and cold (the high was around 45 most days), Meg and I decided to stay. We were rewarded many times with the mountain to ourselves. It doesn’t get much better, being on the mountain top, with just the horses as company. And by the end of the week, we WERE the only people, both day and night.
Each night I crawled into my tent, which by now had a very distinct horse odor to it, and lied there listing to the rain hit it. Reflecting on how good life was up here on the mountain and how blessed I am to be able to be a part of these horses lives.
The horses were staying hidden on these rainy days, they were no longer hanging at the campsite, but tucked away deep in the trees to avoid the wet and cold.
Meg and I started each morning with a hot cup of coffee and some personal time to do some meditating. On my tour before this one, I had a guest ( thank you Julia) that showed me some meditating yoga moves and I loved starting out each day doing them. Most mornings I hiked a short way, usually to a rocky ridge. This view usually gave me a clear view of the range (and beyond) to reflect and also perhaps to see into my own soul. My own personal church.
Even in the pouring rain, Meg and I found the horses. The road was getting very difficult to drive, but we still slowly made our way down to where the horses might be. Most times we were lucky, and spent many hours watching, and just being in their presence .
One afternoon we watched Miss Olivia (Halcyon and Blue Moon) approach and “greet” Ohanzee. I am going to say she played with him, but rather just put him in his place and let him know who was the boss. Ohanzee wasn’t quite sure what to think of her bold and bossy ways. Olivia is an amazing and very self-assured filly. I look forward to watching her become her “own”. She seems to have the most bold personally that I have seen in a young filly.
Another afternoon we spent some personal close up time with Blue Moon’s band and Gringo’s band. Galadrial looked so close to foaling then, but as of today, I have not heard that she has foaled. These mares love to keep us guessing!
On our last night on the mountain, it poured rain all night. The temperature was 45 and the wind was blowing hard. I moved my bedroom into the truck that night (Meg was also in her jeep), and I was happy I had made that decision. The rain never stopped and the next morning the road was so muddy I could barely stand up on it.
There of course were no horses in sight. We made our coffee and drank it in the truck, hoping that maybe the sun would come out and the rain would stop. It didn’t. So we put on our rain gear, jumped in Meg’s jeep and slid down the muddy road in search of horses.
It was as if they were waiting for us that morning. Nine bands were lined up on the edge of the woods, protected by the rain, under trees. Even though it was pouring rain, Meg and I felt joy. Our love for these horses made any kind of weather tolerable and we found ourselves laughing with happiness. The mountain is special, no matter what the day.
We spent 6 undisturbed hours with these bands. No other people we on the mountain and no one wanted to come up that day. It was perfect actually.
Meg and I had planned to stay one more night. But when we drove back to our campsite, the wind was blowing 30-40 mph and starting to snow. I knew if we did not get out now, we might not get out for a few days. We packed up as fast as we could and were heading down the mountain. I took Sage Creek Road down, knowing Burnt Timber and Crooked Creek would be too unsafe. It was the scariest drive I have done on this mountain. Even going slowly, the mud made the final decision on which way to go, causing me to go a bit too close to the edge a few times. Heading through the Crow Reservation, the mud was easily 1 1/2 feet deep, I prayed I wouldn’t get stuck.
But just as I was about to exit the Crow Reservation Road, a Falcon appeared right on the side of my truck. It dove and soared right next to me for about 500 feet, escorting me off the Reservation. A took that as a very good sign, and I am pretty sure it was.
As the summer progressed, I found myself putting my camera down more and just savoring the horses and beauty of the mountain with just my heart and eyes. I still took plenty of photos, but 1000’s of photos shrunk to just a few hundred. The horses were settling into their summer routine with very little conflicts between the bands. There were still a few more foals to be born, but for most part, the foaling season was done by mid-July.
As with the post before this one, I am presenting you with many photos to look at, and along with that a few stories to explain what is going on, but mostly, I believe the photos tell their own stories.
Coronado gradually adjusted to the loss his band to Irial. For now anyway.
I was surprised to discover that Ohanzee had change colors while I was away for about a week. My prediction is that he will end up being a smokey black in color.
I saw Chino and Coronado hanging out several times together. Chino is one of those stallions that has excepted his band stallion retirement well. Except for a few “dogging” incidences this spring and summer, he seems content to be by himself, in the company of another older stallion, or teaching a young bachelor a thing or two.
As the single oldest stallion at the age of 21, he is doing well. Thin this past spring, but nice and fat this late summer. I hope I am blessed to continue seeing him. He is an incredible stallion.
This was the day of Obsidian’s death. A cold windy day that only got more windy after his passing.
The bachelors continued to entertain us. One of my favorite things to watch are the bachelors. I watch every detail of their movements. That being said, I will step out and say that I think Jasper may be the next to gain a mare. He seems ready in every way.
Grijala watches the “boys in training”. You can almost see the approval on his face.
Grijala smiling with approval at the progress Mica has made with his sparring skills. These two were together most of the summer. While they sometimes took a few days off from each other, they were together more often then not.
The dysfunctional Bolder band. Killian is still there and still being a handful. Still nursing his mother Celt and still trying to breed the mares.
During one trip, myself and guests hiked to the “little ice cave”. In 2012 while searching for the wounded Lakota, I spent some time talking with the “cavers” in this area. They informed me that shortly after the entrance to this cave, it dropped down 6 feet, requiring that to safetly enter this cave, you would need ropes and the proper lights. I don’t really like small, cold, slippery, dark areas with bats flying around, so I never plan to enter this cave.
More photos of the “Odd Couple.” Fiesta seems to be a bit further back and not as included as he seemed just a few months ago. I feel sorry for him. He so wants to be included in this band and takes his “Satellite Stallion” position very seriously.
Hernando is proving to be a very caring and stable stallion. Having two wise and older mares has certainly helped him achieve this goal faster than most. Both Phoenix and Warbonnet seem to have settled in to being with this young and handsome stallion.
Another new and favorite band of mine is Hamlet and his band. Consisting of Hamlet, Audubon and the yearling filly Niyaha. They went from an isolated spot past Penn’s cabin in June ( I labeled their band The Prisoners” for a short time) to joining all the bands by July. Many times grazing and walking past Audubon and Niyaha’s former band, Morning Star.
Garay and his band are doing great. I found it interesting that Quelle Colour (who died this past winter), was replaced by Jacinta, another chestnut, white blaze faced mare who has taken on the position of lead mare.
Every summer, I like to be up on the mountain for the full moon. The beauty and energy of it always takes my breath away. This summer was not a disappointment, and I enjoyed every full moon the summer had to offer.
Demure and Jupiter showing some affection to each other. Demure was in heat and Jupiter was very protective of her. In the photos below, you can see Knight trying to flirt with Demure, but Jupiter would stood his ground to protect her.
August brought the birth of the newest Baja band member, Ojai, a beautiful strong and healthy filly born to the 20-year-old mare, Washakie.
An afternoon hike in August, looking for horses and enjoying the beauty of the mountain.
In mid-July of this summer brought the new sign dedication in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Two of my photos are on the signs. The first one is at the pull off just as you enter the range, the other one is located at Mustang Flats and shares a space with my friend Linda Dombecks photo.
On the same morning that Obsidian died, Cedric, his family and I watched a long play/fight session performed by Cappuccino’s son McKeahnie and Blue Moon’s son Miocene. Both of these two year olds showed how strong they were becoming. Blue Moon and Cappuccino briefly joined in the sparring for a few minutes.
I am going to end this post with a photo sequence of some of Obsidians last moments. I hesitated to share anymore of Obsidian’s death, but while looking through those photos, I felt it would be important to share with you how the horses reacted when he passed. Although it was hard to re-live that day, it also touched my soul how the horses reacted at the time his death.
I am not going to caption the sequence of events, I will let the photos tell their own story.
Finally I am able to catch up on my thousands of photos that I took this summer while on the mountain. I spend hours going through them, editing and savoring each and every moment that I spent on the mountain. I never forget how lucky I am to be able to spend my summer on the mountain and share the horses with so many people. The mountain is special in many ways, even on the days when the horses don’t choose to show themselves. The healing power of the mountain, both physically and mentally is a gift, one that I will never take for lightly.
Below is just a taste of some of the many photos I took. This post starts with my June 21st trip and ends mid-July.
UPDATE: After reading Lola’s comment below about wishing I had told a few stories with the photos, I decided to add a few to these. Some photos tell there own stories, but some become better by knowing what is going on. So here you go!
Reaching the top of the mountain can be difficult anytime of the year, but this year was particular tough. The only access to the top until July the 3rd was up Burnt Timber Road. While that is my road of choice, it is not for many, which made the mountain even more quiet for the month of June.
We did however get a huge storm involving hail so thick it looked liked two inches of snow. The photo below is of Galaxy and his band just before that storm hit.
While on the mountain on July 9, a helicopter mapping out the fire remediation, startled the horses and those that remembered that sound from 2009 and before, immediately ran for the trees to avoid being rounded-up. While this made for some amazing photos, it made me sad that they would feel such panic with that sound. This is one of those photos.
June and July this year gave us all many opportunities to photograph the horses in the snow. The snow above Mystic pond was so deep and wide. The horses loved to come and stand on a warm day (65 degrees was warm this summer). I think the reflection of the sun warmed them, while the snow kept the temperature comfortable. The flies were not bad yet, so they weren’t there to avoid them.
The “Boys of Summer” (the bachelors) would occasionally just come charging through, for accomplishing nothing more than to stir up the many bands napping on the snow. Grijala especially seemed to enjoy bothering them.
All summer, I have said that Grijala is throughly enjoying life. Best of all worlds. The carefree life of a bachelor, doing whatever, whenever he chooses without the responsiblity of a family. But occasionally sneaking in and breeding a mare in heat that may have stood just a little bit away from her band. I joked that every band on the mountain may end up having a foal with a big “Grijala Star.”
Many have wondered how Broken Bow is doing in her new band, Mescalero’s. She seems to be just fine, enjoying life with them. Perhaps it was time for her to move on and be separated from her daughter Demure. Just like Topper and Topper Too, they each seem to be where they want to be at this time.
Cloud often came by our camp. He came through so much, I nic-named it: “Camp Cloud.”
Chino is another one that is enjoying his life. So wonderful to see him accepting his life without a band. I did see him dog a band or two, just for fun. But mostly he was either on his own or teaching a few young bachelors a thing or two.
Coronado lost his band to Irial during the helicopter appearance. For the first week, he took it very hard. Standing for hours without eating or drinking. I made a point of visiting him while he stood alone with his head down. Eventually he picked himself up and pushed on, joining his one time enemy Santa Fe. I watched them together alot. I do believe they may be planning a take over of the band. But Irial is very tough and vigilant and the mares seem to be settling in and accepting the change.
Galaxy was convinced that the best grass was on this side of the fence around Penn’s Cabin, and he easily either walked or jumped over the falling fence.
The wildflowers this year were more incredible than I ever expected, lasting even into the end of August. There was a big rain storm every single time I was on the mountain for a trip. Meaning about every 3-5 days the mountain received a good drenching.
After a day of horses, my June group did a short but incredible hike to a special place I share with only a few.
Everyone can rest assured, that Jackson is doing just fine. To me he seems to be enjoying the break. He never looks sad, but instead looks content, fatter than I have seen him look for many years. Often he is alone, but sometimes he joins the other bachelors.
While taking a special hike with a good friend, we discovered Jackson along with 3 other bachelors (Grijala, Mandan and Moorcroft) way up on the Skyline Meadow. A meadow seldom used by any of the horses.
Surprisingly, the horses chose to hide in the trees one early July day. Giving us the opportunity to find them in another part of the range. I love days like this, different backgrounds for our photos.
While hiking on the range a couple of weeks ago, I got a frantic text from my assistant. It read: “We have 3 black cows in our camp and I don’t know who to call”.
I had to read this twice. Cows are not allowed on the Pryor Mountain Range, one of the things that make this range even more special. I wasn’t too alarmed about this discovery. With the price of beef right now, I figured the owner would be up to claim them pretty fast.
By the time I got back to camp, the cows were gone. They had moved down the road towards Mystic.
I learned real fast who NOT to call when there are cows on the range. Given the limited phone numbers and lack of choices, before I returned to camp, my assistant had called 911. For future reference everyone, DON’T DO THIS!!
I do need to add, the day before the cows came to camp, we had a very nice FWP guy stop by to chat with us. He informed us then, that if we ever had any trouble up here to call 911. So Jeanne, given those instructions and your current situation without me there, I do not fault you for your decision! 🙂
Apparently this call did cause quite a stir with the law enforcement in Cody. (where the 911 dispatch was). They contacted Jim Sparks (BLM) and the next day when I got down the mountain, I had a rather long message (followed by a phone call) from Jim on why this is not a 911 emergency! HA
Sorry Jim and thank you for understanding.
The ranchers did come up looking for the 2 cows and calve, but were unable to find them. I got their name and number and promised them I would call if I saw them.
I did not see them again until August 19. They were at Mystic enjoying a drink. It was amusing and interesting to see Custer and his band see them for the first time. Remember, no cows are allowed on this range, so these horses most likely have never seen a cow.
Custer and his band not knowing the cows were there, walked towards Mystic for their evening drink. The cows and the horses saw each other for the first time, not sure who was more startled, but it was interesting to witness their reactions to each other. The cows, being cows, settled down more quickly. It took the horses a bit longer, but I was surprised and relieved that they did figure it out quickly and went down to the water’s edge. On the opposite side and keeping a close eye on these intruders, but they did stay and drink.
I called the rancher to let him know that I had seen his cows and for the next few days, I tracked their patterns so when he arrived, I could tell him where they were. They were very much creatures of habit and I did not have to spend much time to figure out where they would be at any given time of the day.
During that time, probably the most entertaining of horse/cow interaction that I saw was early the following morning. Jackson, being the strong, confident stallion that I knew he was, had the cows “put in their place” all on his own. (See photo at top) Who says Mustangs can’t be good cow horses? Not sure if any of my domestic horses would have done that on their own. After keeping them where he wanted them for a while, he calmly turned and continued on his way.
A couple days later the rancher came up looking for his cows. The cows of course, were no where in sight. I told him they were in the trees behind Penn’s Cabin. He was on foot (another person was in an ATV that stayed on the road). Once he located the cows were unwilling to co-operate. As I watched the cows sprint towards Mystic, I jumped out of my truck and ran on foot to assist him. We were able to push the cows up on the road, where he then continued to take them off the range.
Cows are now off the range. Not sure how they got there, but the horses now have the range to themselves again.
Pryor Foal number 15 was born yesterday to the mare Moenkopi and the stallion Cappuccino.
Moenkopi is the 2012 daughter of Galena and Jackson. Cappuccino is the 2002 son of Rosarita and Starbuck.
I saw this band the afternoon of July 12th. Moenkopi looked to be bagging up at that time. I just had a feeling it may be that night. As luck would have it, we discovered them late in the afternoon of July 13, 2014. Blanca was busy keeping everyone away from Moenkopi, including Cappuccino.
We were able to locate this band again this morning in a remote area of the mountain, away from all the other bands. It was then that we were able to confirm that Moenkopi’s foal is a colt. Both look to be doing well and Cappuccino was allowed back into the band.
Following in the tradition of the meaning of Moenkopi and Galena, which are rocks and/or minerals. My group and I decided we would name the foal Obsidian. Which is a black volcanic rock. Even though he is not black, it seemed fitting, as this rock is found on the Pryor Mountains. Obsidian is also called an Iceland Agate, making this even more fitting, as one of my guests came all the way from Iceland to see the Pryor Horses.
This will be my second year giving camping tours. I no longer give day trips, but the PMWMC is, so contact them if you would like to go on a day trip.
This year I decided to give back. I feel so fortunate to be able to share my passion with others. My goal this year, was to give a trip to a young person who could carry on their passion and share it with others their age. This year, I awarded those trips to two people. Jonathan S. and Brianna H. Brianna just recently graduated from High School and Jonathan is in High School. I hope by doing this, these two will carry on the torch (so to speak) and encourage others their age to become aware of not only the Pryor Horses, but all the other wild horses in the US.
I am calling this award, “Lakota’s gift” and I think he would approve. It is hard to believe that it has been two years since his death.
If you are interested in being the recipient of next summers gift, contact me on why and how your feel this way. Here is the deal: you must pay for your own transportation to Lovell, Wyoming. After that, your mountain top trip will be a gift. It may be a 3 or 4 day trip and includes camping gear if needed and all your food and mountain top transport with me. (value: $800- $1,100 ). I of course can provide references if needed. You can email me at: email@example.com.