New Life And A Guardian Angel

Chino, Jacinta and Patriot, July 4, 2015 Chino, Jacinta and Patriot, July 4, 2015

It was the evening of July 4,  just yesterday, that I witnessed a new life come to the Pryor Mountains.  And along with that new life came a guardian angel in the form of the oldest stallion on the mountain, Chino.  Chino was born in 1992, the son of Hightail and Hercules and he arrived on this day, just in time.

I was busy taking photos of little Pegasus, who I saw shortly after her birth the previous week.  When I looked up and saw my friend and assistant for this trip, Jeanne (who had gone to the truck), waving her hand at me to come over.  I immediately walked over, and that is when she told me a foal was being born.  No one there knew who it was, but when someone told me she had a blaze, I knew it was Jacinta.  I hurried over towards where they pointed.

Meriweather watches over Jacinta and Patriot Meriweather watches over Jacinta and Patriot

For those of you that have been on the range, it was in the “tiered” field to your right just as you enter the range from the Sage Creek Road.  There were over 100 horses around near that, and the first thought had been:

1.  how odd that she was foaling at 6 pm with so many horses around and

2.  I hope nothing happens to the foal with so many horses around.

It was just 2 years ago that I witnessed a similar birth at my campsite with LaBrava and it did not end well.  Please read my Nacer post if you want to learn more about that.   Since then, I admit, I have tried to look at the horses with more of a “watching a National Geographic special” sort of state of mind, when it comes to these intense happenings on the range, but so far my love and emotions have won out and I can’t quite capture the “don’t feel the pain” emotion.  I guess that is who I am, and I guess it is how I will always be, and I am not ashamed to say, I cry a lot on the range.

It wasn’t long after I arrived and spotted them, when “all hell broke loose”.  I am not  sure what set the horses off, but while Jacinta tried to encourage her filly to stand for the first time, 75-100 horses decided to race above them.  I do apologize for the quality of these shots.  The sun was setting and unfortunately in the wrong place for good photos.

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And as if a giant hand swooped down to pick them up, the next thing I knew was the other members of Garay’s band (where Jacinta belong), disappeared in the mist along with them.  This set Garay into a blind frenzy.  He wanted his other band members (Kohl, Peite Colur and Meriweather), but also wanted to be there for Jacinta and Patriot.


His desire for his other band members won out and he gallop off towards where they had run.  I wondered how he would sort them out of 100 horses and get them back.  It seemed liked an impossible task, and I doubted he would be able to do it.

And it was then, that I looked at Jacinta and watched her standing alone, with a new-born foal.  I found myself a bit angry that Garay had chosen to run away when she needed him the most.

Jacinta and Patriot Jacinta and Patriot

Then, I looked to the left and saw Chino, trotting right towards them.  I wasn’t sure this was a good thing, or if it would end well, but I barely had those thoughts when Jacinta took charge.

Chino makes his move towards Jacinta and Patriot Chino makes his move towards Jacinta and Patriot

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I held my breath as they danced dangerously close to the newborn foal.  But it was then that I looked in the opposite direction and saw 4 bachelors, (yes one was Jackson, and yes, he had the filly Nirvana for 24 hours but then lost  her)  running directly towards them.  I knew in my heart that this story would have a painful ending if a miracle did not happen.

IMG_8918 A small miracle did occur, 3 of the bachelors moved to the left, but London stayed behind.


IMG_8922 London, Jacinta and Patriot

And that is when little Patriot’s guardian angel appeared in the form of the oldest stallion on the range.


This old stallion has been through a lot in his life, the only stallion or horse for that matter that has ever lived on every part of the range.  He is a legend just by being himself to this point in his long wild life, but what I witnessed next, placed him even higher in my heart and soul.

I am sure he did not think about what could happen to his old self, all he cared about was saving Jacinta and Patriot, and watched it unfold before my eyes.

He charged at London like a stallion 1/3 his age and he never backed down.

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Jacinta also did her best to keep him away.  I have had two children, and I can’t imagine getting up and doing kick boxing minutes after their birth.  How do these horses do it?  The will to survive and protect what is theirs clearly wins out whatever pain she was feeling after the birth of her daughter.  And all the while that she was fighting London off, she was frantically trying to get her little one to stand for the first time.

Chino, London and Jacinta Chino, London and Jacinta

Chino decided that he needed to be even more aggressive to fight off London, and he gave it his all.

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I am normally a quiet observer on the range, and ask that my guests do the same, but I found myself crying out ” Please, don’t let this little one get hurt or die, please…”

Patriot was up now, and Jacinta was using her body to push her further away from the stallions.

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Finally London decided he had met his match, and he trotted away.  I wondered how Jacinta would react to Chino now.  She had fought him off earlier, would she do it again?  My answer was granted in just a few seconds, as I watched her gratefully accept what Chino had done for her and her new foal.

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Chino stood guard while the bachelors continued to circle, but never had the courage to come closer have his with Chino’s incredible show of courage and strength.

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But Chino’s guardian Angel role was short-lived, as Garay returned with the rest of his band.  (How did he do that,  gained his band members back among 100 horses??  That is story no human witnessed and can never be answered).

But with his return, Chino exited the scene as quickly has he had entered it.  With tearful eyes, I watched this amazing stallion gracefully conceded and walk away without a fight.  He had done the job he was asked to do and excepted it as if he did it everyday of his life.  I wondered how many more times he had stepped up and done the same without a human to witness and write about it.

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I found myself feeling sad for Chino, as he turned and looked over his shoulder towards Jacinta and her filly.  But he did not stay there long, he turned and walked towards me, and I told him out loud how wonderful I thought he was.

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He stopped and yawned, and continued on his way, because for Chino, it was  just a day in the life of a legend stallion.

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Logo designed by Amber Bushnell. Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted. Logo designed by Amber Bushnell. Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.

2015 Pryor Foal # 10

Nova with her new little filly, Prima.  Photo by Kassi Renner
Nova with her new little filly, Prima. Photo by Kassi Renner

The 10th known foal born this year was born to the mare Nova.  The foal is a filly and has been named Prima.

Although Nova is just two, she looks healthy, and I am confident with the help of the other experienced mares (Hightail, Seneca and her mom, Kitalpha), this little star will have a bright future!

I personally would have a hard time finding a better bloodline combination as great as this.  The father of this foal is most likely Hidatsa, I saw him Kitalpha and Nova in mid-July last year.

Nova is the daughter of Kitalpha and Bristol.  Hidatsa is the son of Merlin and Sacajewa.

Thank you to Kassi Renner for the use of her photos!!

Hickok with his band.  Photo by Kassi Renner.
Hickok with his band. Photo by Kassi Renner.
Hidatsa, April 2012
Hidatsa, April 2012
Nova, September 7, 2013
Nova, September 7, 2013
Kitalpha, March, 2012
Kitalpha, March, 2012
March, 2012
Bristol and Kitalpha, March, 2012
Merlin, May 18, 2012
Merlin, May 18, 2012
Sacajewa.  Photo by Laura Curtis.
Mares from back to front: Hightail, Seneca, Kitalpha, Nova and Prima. Photo by Kassi Renner.
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell.  Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell. Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.

2015 Pryor Foal # 7

Pride and Feldspar, May 31, 2015.  Photo by Jack Sterling
Pride and Feldspar, May 31, 2015. Photo by Jack Sterling
Feldspar and Pride, June 6, 2015
Feldspar and Pride, June 6, 2015

The 7th in reported order born this year is Pride.  Pride was born on May the 20th to the mare Feldspar and Cloud, and appears to be a colt.

Feldspar is the 2005 daughter of Rosarita and Starman.  Cloud is the 1995 son of Raven and Phoenix.  Feldspar is currently in Mescalero’s band.

Thank you Jack Sterling for sharing your photo with us, we all really appreciate your generosity in sharing your photos!  Jack has also given me some updated photos of the other foals born this year.  Click on those posts to see them!  Also thank you to 45 North Photography for the use of their photo!

I’ll be up there in 3 weeks for the summer to give you all updated photos and in person reports.


Cloud, October, 2011
Cloud, October, 2011
Feldspar, July, 2012
Feldspar, July, 2011
Starman and Rosarita, October, 2010
Starman and Rosarita, October, 2010
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell.  Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell. Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.

A Summer of Horses

Wild in the Pryors

What an incredible summer it has been, and it is not over.  I am down from the mountain to take guests to the airport in Cody, and then heading back up later today with a good friend.  Tomorrow will begin my 5 day class with the University of Montana, Western students.  I look forward to watching them get to know the beautiful horse souls that I have been able to share my summer with.

Mule Deer Buck at sunrise this week.
Mule Deer Buck at sunrise this week.

It is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced the mountain, just how special this place is.  Not only for the horses, but for the spiritual beauty and peace that this mountain is and what it has to offer to anyone that is willing to accept it and also to open their hearts and listen to what it tells you.

I for one have become more at peace with my own life and more excepting of what life gives me, and what I do with it.  Life is short, but very good and I cherish each day that I have.

I don’t have time for a long post of many photos, but I decided to just share a short story of one band that I have grown to love. The  Hamlets.

Niyaha, Hamlet and Audubon, August 16, 2014
Niayha, Hamlet and Audubon, August 16, 2014

These photos are not good.  The lighting is too bright, it was the middle of the day.  I apologize for that, but the story it tells far out weighs the quality of the photos.

I have been watching this band all summer.  In June, Hamlet kept them to himself at the far end of the range, past Penn’s Cabin.  But now, they freely mingle with the other bands.

Hamlet is an incredible band stallion.  I am amazed and have to remind myself that this is his first band.  He is everything I would want in a stallion.  Caring, kind, protective and fair.  I look forward to watching him for many years and seeing his offspring on the range.

The Hamlets.
The Hamlets.

Audubon seems very content with Hamlet.  I have seen them many times in close close to her former band (Morning Star).  I found it interesting to watch Morning Star’s mare try to make eye contact with Audubon.  She would not give them a glance.  I have to think about that and what the reason may be, but it is obvious that she is content and happy with her new life.  Niyaha on the other hand tries not only to make eye contact, but frequently tries to go up to her birth band.

Hamlet's band walks past Morning Star's band
Hamlet’s band walks past Morning Star’s band

Niyaha is beautiful young filly, full of life and energy.  When she takes off at a dead run towards Morning Star’s band, I can almost imagine the look on Hamlet’s face.  He would have to step in and bring her back, but not before receiving Morning Stars displeasure of the situation.  But Hamlet is wise and backs down fast.  He doesn’t want to risk losing his family.  He is wise beyond his years.

Wild in the Pryors

Niayha and Audobon
Niyaha and Audobon
Hamlets and Morning Stars
Hamlets and Morning Stars

Wild in the Pryors

Morning Star chases them off
Morning Star chases them off

Wild in the Pryors

And so, today, I head back up to the mountain top for my longest single stay on the mountain to date.  Six days.  I look forward and will treasure each moment.


PS:  After pushing the “publish” button, I realized that this was my 300th post!

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell.  Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell. Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.





I first met Lakota in October 2010.  I know that I had seen him before on a couple of my other trips, but this was the first time I actually knew who he was.  I was spending the day on the mountain with my friend Wendy H. from Billings and Matt Dillon from the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center.

We met Matt near the intersection of Burnt Timber Road and Sykes Ridge Road.   He immediately told us that Quelle Colour had her foal and wanted to check on her.  This was pretty late in the year to have a foal, I thought, and worried if she would make it through the winter.

Quelle Colour and Kole, October, 2010

When I saw Lakota in October of 2010 his band consisted of:  his lead mare Quelle Colour, Kole, Mariah, Kalispell (2010), Half Moon and Kiowa (New Moon) (2010), Heritage (High Noon) and Koda (Kootenai) (2010). Heritage and her foal were in the trees that day, so I was unable to get any photos of them.

Kiowa (New Moon), October 2010

Kiowa  is a solid dun.   Although she  was born with a hernia,  it has healed and is gone now.  She is a real beauty with the perfect Spanish looks,  the only foal out of Half Moon and Lakota.  She should be allowed to stay on the range and pass on her bloodline to future generations.

Kiowa, December 2011, photo by Lori Graham, PMWMC
Lakota and Half Moon, October 2010
Mariah and Kalispell, October 2010

I asked Matt if he thought Kole would make it through the winter.  He said he was pretty sure she would because Lakota was such a good stallion.  Lakota took very good care of his band and would know where the best place to go that winter to protect her.  I was instantly in love with this big beautiful grullo stallion.  He is one of my favorites, I have several favorites, but he is really up there on the list.  No one knew as we looked at little Kole that she would most likely be his last foal.

Kole, Kalispell and Mariah, October 2010

We will talk more about that later in this post.   But now, with the help of my blog partner Alex, we are going to go back to the year Lakota was born, 1992.

Lakota was born in 1992 to the mare Tonapah and the stallion Blacky.  Tonapah was stolen by the red roan stallion Jeronimo before or shortly after Lakota was born.  In 1993 Tonapah had another foal, War Bonnet, who was sired by Jeronimo.

Tonapah (1986), August 2011, she is currently in Duke's band.

In 1994 Lakota was gathered in a round-up with his band.   He became a bachelor upon his release.   Even as a two-year old he was much bigger and more muscular than other two-year old colts.  Not much is known about his bachelor years.  Approximately in the year 2000 he won his first mare Quelle Colour, who was the only chestnut mare on the range.  He obviously prefers red heads!

Quelle Colour, October, 2011

The following year (2001) Lakota, Quelle Colour and her black foal were captured in a round-up.  But once again they released Lakota and his little band with one surprise addition.  A beautiful Palomino mare named  Blanca(Mariah) was added to his band, because her band stallion was removed.

Blanca (Mariah), July 2011

So Lakota’s band grew by one and  in 2003 he acquired the mare War Bonnet (his chestnut roan half sister born when he was a yearling) from the band stallion Teton/Diamond.

Lakota had several foals during the years.  In 2005 he had three foals including a buckskin filly from Blanca (Mariah).  But that year both Blanca’s (Mariah) filly and War bonnets foal died.  Leaving only one foal, Quelle Colours black filly, but in 2006 he would lose that filly as well.  She was removed in the bait trap gather that year.

The spring of 2006 brought Lakota two more foals.  Blanca (Mariah) gave birth to a black filly named Galena and Quelle Colour gave birth to a black colt name Galaxy.

Galena, 2006.
Galena, October 2011
Part of Lakota's band, 2006
Lakota's Band, 2006
Dusty and Galaxy, 2006
Galaxy, July, 2011

In 2007 Lakota’s band had grown.  During the winter he had acquired 3 new members to his band.  The grulla mare Demure, her mother Broken Bow and the yearling Filly Gabrielle.

That year Lakota had two foals.  One was a dun colt out of Blanca (Mariah).  His name was Hunkpapa, but he was removed in the 2009 round-up as a two-year old bachelor.   The other foal was a roan foal named Heritage.  She is a reflection of her mother War Bonnet.

Heritage (High Noon), October 2011

In the spring of 2008 Lakota’s handsome son Galaxy (who is another one of my favorites) became a bachelor.  The winter of 2009-2010 Lakota lost his mare War Bonnet to the stallion Teton (Diamond).

So now we are back to the year 2010.  That winter (2010-2011) Lakota lost part of his band.  Half Moon and her beautiful filly, Kiowa (New Moon) were taken by the stallion Teton (Diamond).  The mare Blanca (Mariah) was taken by the handsome dun stallion Cappuccino.  In the process Blanca’s healthy dun colt Kalispell (pictured at the top of this post), mysteriously disappeared. Heritage (High Noon),was taken by the stallion Jackson.  Her colt Koda (Kootenai) was separated from her and now lives with Cappuccino’s band.  Even though Koda(Kootenai) is line-bred, he appears to be healthy.

Koda(Kootenai), July 2011
Kootenai, December, 2011, photo by Lori Graham, PMWMC

When I arrived on top of the mountain July 24th, 2011 I was hoping that I would see a lot of horses.  There were two bands that I really wanted to see.  The last two that I had seen last fall,  Cabaret’s and Lakota’s.  We know  that I would not be able to find Cabaret.

I was bringing 4 other woman, one of them my daughter Amber, all of whom had never been to the Pryor’s.  I was looking forward to  Amber seeing the horses and the Pryor’s.  I wanted her to know how special this place was.   We arrived late in the afternoon and set up camp.  We saw several bands that evening.  I knew it would be a good trip.

As Amber slept soundly on the other side of the tent, I lay awake.  The sounds of thundering hoofs, whinnies and stallion cries kept me awake.  There was some peace that night as the stallion cries quieted and I heard the quiet sound of the horses munching grass outside my tent.

When I awoke around 5 that morning, there was a little bit of light in the sky.  I love Montana with its long summer nights and early sunrises.  July was a perfect time to be there.  I lay there for a few minutes and then quietly unzipped the tent and went outside.  I was the first one up.

It was low light and I was not using a tripod, so most of my early morning shots before the sun rose are a bit blurry.  I thought I would share this one anyway.  It is of Lakota and Grijala running in the early light.

Lakota and Grijala, outside my tent in the early morning light of July, 2011

At the time I took that photo I did not realize that it was Lakota.  As I watched, they moved closer to my camp site.

Lakota outside my tent, July , 2011
Lakota, July 2011

I realized as I looked around me that this was Lakota’s new band.  He had lost some, but this strong stallion had helped his young filly Kole survive the worst winter in 50 years.  She had grown into a beautiful, soon to be yearling over the winter.

Kole, July 2011

Not only had Lakota helped his filly Kole to survive, but he had also taken in another yearling.  Young Knight was also with his band.  Knight is the son of Gunivere and Cappucino.  Gunivere (at age 21) did not look healthy the  summer of 2010 when I saw her,  and I don’t think any of us thought she would make it through the winter.  I believe she held on for Knight as long as she could.  Kind Lakota had taken him in and he looked wonderful!

As I looked around I also realized who the other stallion was.  He was the young bachelor stallion Grijala (2006).  He was trying to take Lakota’s band!  Both Lakota and Grijala had open wounds.

Lakota, July 2011

One minute they were grazing peacefully, the next fighting.

Grijala and Lakota, July 2011
Lakota and Grijala, July 2011

We all watched this for an hour or so, and then they moved on.

Lakota's New Band, July 2011

I saw Lakota once the end of August when I was there.  He was alone then, but I had heard that he had Jenny and Knight for a while before that.

I did not see him in September.

In the early part of October I was about to leave the mountain.  There was a storm approaching and I wanted to start back down before it hit.  Just as I was about to get into my truck and leave, I turned and saw a horse coming towards me.

Lakota, October, 2011

It was Lakota, and he was alone.  I had been watching Jackson’s band and they were still there in the meadow below the road.   I watched Lakota approach.  As he got closer to me I noticed the lifeless look to his eyes.

Lakota, October, 2011

He was still the beautiful stallion that I had fallen in love with a year ago, but his eyes lacked the spark that I remembered.  His outside wounds had healed, but it was clear his inside ones were still there.  He approached Jackson slowly.  I hoped that Jackson would not be too hard on him.  What I saw next really touched my soul.  These two stallions, Jackson (1998) and Lakota (1992) greeted each other tenderly.  I try not to humanize these horses, but sometimes it is hard to see clearly.  As I watched, Jackson gently touched Lakota.  For less than a minute they paused.  Then Lakota continued to walk on, alone.

Jackson and Lakota, October, 2011

I stood there for a few minutes and looked up.  There coming the same way that Lakota had come, were four more horses.  They were Quelle Colour, Grijala, Kole and Knight.  Jenny was missing, but I last heard she was with the stallion Santa Fe.

Quelle Colour, Kole, Grijala and Knight, October 2011

I watched the beautiful Sorral Red head mare follow her stallion that she had been with since 2000.  It was clear she was following him.  I knew they were on their way to Krueger Pond.

October, 2011

I got in my truck and headed to the pond.  I got out and ran towards the pond.  The only horse I saw was Lakota.

Lakota, October, 2011
Lakota, October, 2011

I waited, hoping that Quelle Colour was close behind.  She did not come and Lakota continued walking alone.  My heart broke as I watched him continue down the fence line of the range.  I hope I see you soon Lakota.  Remember how great you are and try to stay strong.

Lakota, October, 2011

Thank you Deb Little and Lori Graham for your photos!  Thank you Alex for Lakota’s history!  Don’t forget to click the photos to enlarge them.  Also you can push “follow” at the top of this page and you will get an email when my next post comes out!

Thank you!