Any month now …
Alpha with Steeldust, Luna, Butch and Ember
Hey, check it out – automatic captions now below the pix. Cool.
So there’s the big girl, looking like she could hold out until August (hopefully not!).
As the Fourth of July approached, I was hoping, hoping, hoping Alpha would do us all the honor of foaling on or near Independence Day. I’ve already – just recently – named her foal … though if it turns out she’s really just monstrously fat, the joke will be on me. I’m going to keep you waiting on that name.
When I first got out to the band Saturday, three things hit me in quick succession, in the space of about three seconds: Where are the bachelors? Where’s Sundance? Where’s Hollywood?
But before I could panic unnecessarily, Hollywood strolled up out of a nearby draw, which contained, you guessed it, Sundance hanging out with the bachelors – minus Mouse, who followed hot on Hollywood’s heels, and minus Chrome and Hook, who were still hanging out close to Wildcat Spring, off to the east. I wondered if Sundance had been kicked out of the band or if he had wandered over to the boy band of his own accord … but there will be plenty of time to speculate about the young man because when I saw the band later – after I had gone partially around the loop, he was back and secure with the family band.
Let me go off on a partially related tangent: Butch was hanging out close to Luna, but he and Sundance hang out – at various times – close to all the other horses. I’ve tried to pay attention and see if I noticed them hanging out more with Luna or Mahogany, but they’re family. Even Pinon and Ember don’t stick right to their mothers’ sides anymore. In the past, I’ve wondered if Luna and Mahogany were the mothers of Butch and/or Sundance. It seemed weird that two mares would produce such twin-type colts in one year. But how about this for a new working theory: What if Sundance is 3, Butch is 2 (they’re almost identical in size), Kestrel is 1 (she really is), and Ember, of course, is the baby. What if both Sundance and Butch are Luna’s? Maybe they were born sorrel – like Ember.
It was partly sunny – mostly sunny – when I got out to them, around noon, which becomes important to the story later.
Home sweet home on the range. The above photo was taken from the road just up from the dugout intersection, looking eastish.
Jif is still with Traveler’s band … I suppose I’ll keep looking for her for a while, given her recent disappearance. She walked slowly, but she didn’t seem to be limping.
Alegre and Gaia
Gaia stamped a foot just as I took this photo. The gnats are still buzzing, but they seem to be *less.* I stamped and swatted and fidgeted, too, but I was never driven so insane that I had to go for the head net.
Bounce, trotting after Alegre and Gaia. When I first saw them as I was driving, Alegre and Gaia trotted away, so I stopped, turned off the Jeep and made some notes about Steeldust’s and Grey’s bands and Chrome and Hook. Then I drove on, where, just around the next curve, there they were. She must like me; she used to go a lot farther than that! I snapped the above pic of her and Gaia and drove on to the split where the doubletrack goes back to the water hole. I checked it – totally dry – then drove on south. But when I looked back, I saw Bounce leading Alegre and Gaia toward the water hole. Didn’t he know it was dry? The horses – all the northern bands – had been in the area, but they had seemed to move on in the past couple of weeks as the pond became a stinky puddle. As I watched, Bounce led the little procession, then stopped, dropped and rolled on his right side, got up, dropped and rolled on his left side, then got up and TROTTED to the dry pond! Oh, mister. He obviously didn’t know it was dry and was anticipating a drink. If there’s so much as a puddle of water in any of the arroyos that cut through there just south of that pond, I certainly don’t know about them. I wondered if he (or Alegre) knows about Wildcat Spring … I’ve never seen him up in that area, but Steeldust’s, Grey’s, Seven’s and the bachelors know it’s there because they’ve been frequenting that area recently. When I went back past that area later, they were gone. I hope they found water. The pond below the roller-coaster ridge road is the only *pond* now with water.
Not too far away, guess who found me? My boy Roach and company. I was happy to see them because I hadn’t for a few visits. But my happiness at seeing them turned into concern. Poco managed to find himself a prickly pear patch, and I guess they had a close encounter. I’m sure the cactus got the better end of that deal – it left at least three spines in Poco’s face (including one directly below his right eye) and a small cluster under his right jaw. ARGH. Didn’t his mama teach him about cacti!?
Poco and Bones
This photo may be too small to pick out the spine under his eye. Of all the pricklers he’s stuck with, that one’s the longest – naturally. When he’d shake his head to ward off the gnats, he’d do so gently, so I know it was bothering him. I haven’t seen them for a while, so I have no idea how long he’s been stuck. And I have no idea how he’s going to rid himself of the spines. Too bad I can’t just walk right up and help him out!
Dear, sweet boy Roach snuck up on me behind a tree (in front of me) while I was photographing Poco’s spines, then casually came out from behind it, just grazing. He never seemed surprised, and even though I was stamping and swatting, he never spooked. He went around the tree, and I thought he was heading back to Poco and Bones, who had gone back to grazing, but then he turned around broadside and decided to take a nap under the tree. Guess he’s not too worried … or he figured now that he’d successfully snuck up on me, he was in perfect position to keep a close eye on me. He’s one of my favorites; personality plus.
Thunder was rumbling, and I was about as far away from the basin entrance as possible at that point, so I bid farewell to the boys and girl – I hope Poco sheds those spines soon?! – and headed back around. This is a good time to note that the basin has been getting rain, somewhere between enough to dampen the dust and enough to change a bit of geography in the first major arroyo crossing (Spring Creek) before the first intersection. If it rained, I didn’t want to be on the interior side of that arroyo. (And here’s an interesting side-note to this note: The horses don’t seem to be down in that area at all for water – it’s there, however thin a trickle.)
Bounce, Alegre and Gaia were gone from the dry pond when I passed … Grey was still hanging out near the road with his family. Twister must have rolled in the spring just before I saw them the first time because he was as dark as Two Boots, but when I came back around, he had dried into his (muddy) rosy grey color again. Chrome and Hook were still guarding the trail to the spring.
When I got back around to where Steeldust’s band and the other bachelors had been, they weren’t anywhere to be found. I walked off the road in both directions in case they were just below the drops – nope. I had been gone for about three hours, so I figured they might have gone to water … but where? The spring or the arroyo?
The sky didn’t look terribly threatening (but it was completely cloudy by then), and I hadn’t been on the middle part of the loop road in a while since the horses had been back in the east, so I decided to go that way and see what I could see.
Note to self: Voice of intuition not always right. As I drove, I kept thinking, they’re not down here; no way they’re down here. Damned if they didn’t show up on top of the finger hills almost directly across from me! They grazed their way up from an unseen-to-me draw in the hilltop and into the open, then gradually made their way to the top and over. The skies didn’t look threatening, remember, so I wasn’t too worried. Besides, I was still pretty close to the intersection. I hung out there for a while, actually enjoying the wind that kept the gnats away, then went back to the intersection and north. The horses were at the base of the northeast side of the hill and not very visible. I decided it might be OK to call it a day and head back across Spring Creek for the evening.
It started sprinkling. Nothing to worry about.
The sprinkling got steady. I crossed the arroyo and headed – slowly – toward the entrance, trying to decide whether to just stop somewhere and wait it out or call it a day.
Another note to self: Voice of intuition not always loud but sometimes right on the money. I kept going, and about halfway out on the road through private land, my tires started kicking up mud. Uh oh. By the time I got to the curve by the dilapidated cattle corral, I could barely steer, and braking wasn’t much better. I made it around that curve and put it in four-wheel-low. The Jeep doesn’t like it when I don’t come to a complete stop before putting it in low, but I didn’t dare stop. My heart has pounded that hard during mountain bike races but never while sitting still.
Note to readers: If it starts to sprinkle in the basin, get out. Now.
I’ve never been so happy to make it to the county road – an all-weather, graveled road. I came home via the highway, and when I got to the highway, the rain had stopped there, but behind me, the basin was a single curtain of grey shroud. I couldn’t see so much as a single landform.
Gotta be happy about that – for the ponies’ sake!
(Other horses: I also saw three of the “southside boys”: David, Cinch and Mesa. They were just inside the herd area from the county road. And a couple of days ago, I saw Seven’s band by the spring.)