Other duties this weekend kept me out of the basin until Sunday, and when I finally got there, I still had to wait to see horses, not finding ANYBODY until I got all the way around to the northeast, near a section I call “north park.” It hasn’t taken me that long to find horses any time I’ve been out this spring. But once I got there, voila, they were ALL there (except the bachelor band that includes the two pintos and the pinto family).
I saw Steeldust’s band first, but Seven and the girls were actually closer.
Molly, Seven and Roja were pretty close to the road, and I took these from right next to the Jeep. Usually this group does not like vehicles, but they were unusually calm, so I was able to stand there and take photos. I was close enough – and Molly has shed out enough – to see her “DC” brand very clearly now. She was gathered and released, and the brand indicates that she got the immunocontraceptive. I was also close enough to think I see a resemblance between Molly and Roja – could Roja be Molly’s daughter? It would help explain Molly’s protectiveness … but where was Roja when Molly was gathered? And I still think Molly is pregnant. Time will tell!
Next were Bounce, Alegre and Gaia, grazing in what looks like a dry pond (I’ve never seen water there, though). These guys were the only ones who acted normally – when Alegre saw the Jeep, she led the baby away into the trees.
But by the time I got around the curve and over the hill, Steeldust’s band was already on the move out of sight, and Grey/Traveler was about to follow.
Houdini and Iya
Two Boots and Twister. These guys are still shedding out. They may get rid of that itchy hair fast now, though; it was 86 degrees today! Definitely the first weekend you could really call “warm”!
Grey/Traveler and Jif. The family was all spread out. These guys were closest to the road, and they all trotted up to it and raised the dust trotting on down it, following Steeldust’s band.
A note about Steeldust’s band: Mesa, who is usually a member of the bachelor band that includes the two pintos, hooked up with the Bachelor 7 (minus Duke), who are dogging Steeldust, last weekend, but during the week, he must have gone back to his buddies. Also, Duke is still on his own, and although I did a couple of drive-bys of the north hills and did quite a bit of hiking in the Wildcat Spring area, I never found him.
I waited until the horses were out of sight and the dust had settled before I drove on. From the road near the double ponds, I spotted Poco and Bones. Then I just caught a glimpse of a red streak – Roach – galloping across the road to the west. After Grey? I never saw his band, and Roach disappeared, so I drove on until I was on a little rise where I thought I’d be able to see to the west – not a soul. I waited, and Roach came galloping back. He stopped just short of the road, looked at me, then galloped back across the road to his own family.
I want to take a moment to say that while the wildflowers are still out all over, the cheat grass is turning purple, and the water is still shrinking. There’s good water in the pond just below the roller-coaster ridge road, but dry, cracked ground is encroaching on the water. The pond just off the road to the trap site, just inside the herd area boundary, is toast.
These sego lilies are so beautiful! And lilies in the desert? Surprising, and that makes it even more worthwhile to stop and appreciate them!
The loco weed also is “podding.” How do you say that? Not everywhere, but from the blooms, pods are sprouting. I hate it, just for the threat of danger, though I think the horses stay away from it.
What else is blooming? Prince’s plume, larkspur, vetch, at least a couple different kinds of daisies, still the paintbrush, lots of globe mallow, the lilies and still some cacti.
When Grey and Steeldust took their bands to the road – unusual for both these stallions – my first thought was “Alpha must have had her foal, and it was her decision to go.” Alas. The girl still hasn’t foaled, so I’m not sure why they took off. Steeldust’s band, in particular, is always on the move these days with those pesky bachelors eternally hot on their heels. They ended up out in the open, northeast of the southern part of the loop road. I sat in the Jeep on the road and watched them through the binoculars, and still they kept moving. Over the course of about an hour, I watched them head west about halfway up that long east-west hill that runs out to the dugout intersection. When they came closer to the road, I walked out to get a closer look at Alpha.
Pretty girl Kestrel, napping right near the band, most of which are just to the right.
Hollywood, ever vigilant.
Butch, Mahogany, Pinon and Piedra. There was a shallow arroyo between me and the horses, which often helps them feel like they’re safe.
You’ve heard about “girl talk”; Hollywood, Comanche (center) and Mouse are having a little “boy talk” here.
Baby Pinon naps with Mama and Daddy (Mahogany and Steeldust). I’m pretty sure he’s a colt.
After a short walk back to the Jeep, I drove back up to the north hills to try to find Duke. But after another drive-by and a cool hike up a hill, across a hill and down to a boulder outcropping looking down on Wildcat Canyon, I still couldn’t find him. Pretty cool view down to the canyon, but the footing changes dramatically to a really volcanicky-rocky, pebbly, hard-to-walk-on surface. I walked down to where the old dam blew out downstream of the spring. It’s pretty mucky there, but there is a steady flow of clear water. There weren’t very many recent hoofprints or manure piles, so I’m not sure whether that’s where Duke is getting his water. I walked all around, but didn’t see him – or any recent sign of horses – at all. Knowing there’s nothing I can do for him doesn’t stop me worrying about him.
Didn’t see the other bachelor group or the pinto family, and I didn’t go looking for them. I was most interested in seeing Alpha! Vacation time is finally upon me, and I’m heading to Texas to visit my family and the horses and cows and dogs and barn cat. I don’t think I’ll make it back to the basin before I leave, so there will be at least a two-week lull on the blog. We could have two more beautiful babies by the time I get back!