The northwest “meadow” is the new east pocket.
There’s grass. There’s water.
Horses are there.
Four beautiful bands … and Kreacher’s – and Duke – were just to my left.
Beautiful day. How could I have thought he wouldn’t still be there?
The northwest “meadow” is the new east pocket.
There’s grass. There’s water.
Horses are there.
Four beautiful bands … and Kreacher’s – and Duke – were just to my left.
Beautiful day. How could I have thought he wouldn’t still be there?
It occurred to me that I wouldn’t get any of these posted if I tried to do them in some kind of order – the always way of it these days – so here are some pix of some horses … Beautiful, all.
Houdini and Deniz.
I’ve been expecting the usual migration westward as the forage and water grows scarce back in the east. One of the two ponds back there is holding pretty steady, though, so several bands are (still) taking advantage of it. Grey/Traveler’s band, however, had made the trip, and I found them at afternoon water in the Wildcat Spring area. There’s enough water there this year – interestingly – that there are some stagnant pockets of it along the wash. I heard the girls (Terra, Gemma and Corona) playing in one such puddle, though I couldn’t get a clear look at them because of the obscuring greasewood on the banks. Mama and baby and Grey were above the arroyo. Deniz is going grey fast, like sister Gemma. She’s a big tall girl, eh?
Baby girls Briosa, left, and Eliana, with Bri’s mama Piedra in the background. Eli’s mama Mahogany was grazing down to the right (a pic is with the “Oppose sterilization” post of a few days ago). I wanted my wide-angle lens for, well, not the first time, I guess, to try to capture some of the beautiful background of the basin “behind” the fillies as they napped.
There’s some of it behind Hollywood, who was, I think, watching Aspen and Sundance, close-ish again. In the near background is part of the north side of the east-west hill, and in the far-ish background (not all the way back) is part of what I call Lizard Mesa.
Eli gives Bri a little post-nap nuzzle. They’re now at the age to be interested in each other. Bri, not quite a month older than Eli, is considerably bigger and stouter.
Sunny little Eliana is just a beautiful little princess of a filly.
Piedra was closest, and after she got up, Bri walked right over for a snack. Eli lingered, though, taking her sweet time walking down the slope, stopping, looking at mama, at stepdaddy (Sundance is Eliana’s sire), at me, back at Bri … before finally going on down for her own lunch. Bri’s a stout little girl, eh? Takes after daddy.
Speaking of daddies, here’s Varoujan with his daddy – Butch.
And with mama.
Kreacher’s band weren’t too far, and I waited for them, too, to mosey their way up to, across and off the road (it was like rush hour out there! ). This was a horizontally shot image I took through the passenger-side window and cropped into a vertical. I also took the image a post or so back of Apollo looking through his legs horizontally and cropped it vertically. I crop almost all my photos – some more than others.
Heading out of the basin for the evening: Hook’s band. I couldn’t decide between this one and …
… this one. Ponies gilded with light, those hills in the back! The near-ish hills are part of Spring Creek Basin, our northwest hills; the far-ish hills to the sky are outside the basin but still part of Disappointment Valley, basically, the far northeastern edge (the basin is tucked a little lower into the valley’s east-northeastern side). From left: black Sable and grey Twister, hanging with the band; almost yearling Fierro looking toward the camera and dark bay Pinon behind him; grey Ember, bay Hannah and Hook. Ember is due close to any time now.
A couple of “miscellaneous” and several from an evening.
Piedra and Briosa looking south … I think that vibrant green cottonwood makes the whole scene.
Ties of family are strong, blood or no. Liberty and her mother, Molly, spent time with Bounce’s band shortly before Molly died in the fall of 2009. Afterward, Liberty went back to the band … then ended up with Cinch in the fall of 2010. Gaia ended up with them over the winter (January 2011?). Gaia is 3 (Alegre’s daughter, Bounce’s stepdaughter), Liberty is 2 (Seven x Molly). It’s not a huge surprise these girls ended up back together.
Sundance and Hollywood in sync.
I ended up right on the road in a great position to watch some awesome dynamics playing out. From a distance, I had seen Sundance (recently separated from Mahogany, Eliana and Aspen) with Sage and Ze, two young (2 years old) bachelors. Hollywood’s were close – as were Hook’s band.
Double trouble on the bubble – Sage and Ze wisely kept their distance, but all the boys – and girls – were well aware of them.
Sisters Hannah (bay) and Ember
Part of the magnificent background of Spring Creek Basin – Knife Edge, McKenna Peak and the unnamed promontory …
Hook’s band – Brumley Point in the background …
Fierro, Hannah and Sable. Hollywood actually stole Hannah briefly when she was a yearling (by briefly, I mean around an hour or so). That was shortly before she followed sister Ember and half-brother Pinon to Hook’s band … followed shortly thereafter by Sable.
Hollywood about to greet Pinon …
Hollywood left Piedra and Briosa for quite a long while during this melee … He later chased Sundance far to the east, and Hook’s and Sage and Ze eventually followed, and Holls eventually went back to his girls.
What a day!
Still can’t get to the basin. Snow and rain and graupel, oh my! Moisture is good!
So it’s a good time to get caught up to a couple of youngsters whose birthdays have passed – not unnoticed but unremarked. To remedy!
Happy birthday, Pinon! May 13
Pinon is one I don’t often focus on, but he is a presence. His mother is Mahogany, and he and Ember (mother: Luna) are year mates – they’re 3 – and likely half-siblings (sire: Steeldust). Last winter, he stuck close to Ember, even as Hook began to stick close to Ember. At the time, Hook was a bachelor – and lowest bachelor on the shrinking Bachelor 7 totem pole. (Oddly, the highest ranking bachelor on that pole is the one still without his own band …) Eventually, Hook, Ember and Pinon split away from Steeldust’s band … then joined by Hannah … then joined by Sable. Ember’s little full sister is Hannah. Pinon’s little full sister is Sable. Are you following? Pinon has always been fairly low-key – a youngster. This spring, all that started to change. He’s now quite an aggressive mister. Hook has chased him, and every visit for weeks, I’ve expected to see Pinon in the ranks of bachelor boys, but it has not yet happened. On the day this photo was taken, Hollywood, Piedra and Briosa were in the area, as were Sundance – who had just been with Sage and Ze when I saw them from the east end of the valley. Sage and Ze wisely kept their distance. Pinon, though he’s not quite old enough, big enough and/or strong enough to take on Hollywood or Sundance (even a little wounded), it didn’t stop him from testing his mettle.
This must be what it’s like for a mama to realize her baby has grown up …
Do you recognize mama Mahogany and her foal’s “ahh, mom” look? That’s the little mister, just a wee coupla-few days old.
Just when DID he grow up into such a big strapping boy?!
He meant to snake Winona here, something Comanche immediately put a stop to in just a few more steps.
I couldn’t quite figure out why Mahogany looked different in this pic, then I realized – her mane is a lot shorter now.
Pinon and buddy Storm in September of their birth year. Though Storm was born two and a half months after Pinon, he caught up quickly.
His sisters (Hannah, back, and Sable) adore him.
Maybe I’m so surprised to see him suddenly so aggressive in the protection of “his” band because he’s always been such a laid-back, easy-going guy.
Can’t deny he has grown up into a handsome boy!
Happy birthday, tall, dark and handsome boy!
Happy birthday, Cuatro! May 16
Young Mr. Cuatro was a surprise. He’s his mama’s firstborn, and she was just 2 when she had him. I had no idea she was even pregnant. I found him toward the end of the day – the day of that year’s 4CBCH wild horse count. So I asked the members if they’d name him – and they came up with Cuatro, in honor of his stockings and socks. His sire is either Grey/Traveler or Twister, who I’m sure is a son of Grey’s, so either way, this youngster is a descendant of basin royalty. Since he was about a yearling, he’s been out in the bachelor scene WITH Twister, so daddy-or-big-brother is showing him the ropes. Every now and then, they’re joined by elder Duke, so they have his good influence, too.
Cute little guy! He’s also Houdini’s grandson.
Flashy trot to match his flashy legs!
Showing off his love of snow.
He was a great big brother to Hayden.
You might remember this as “February” for the calendar.
Cuatro with little brother Rio … Rio’s daddy also could be either Twister or Grey/Traveler. Mama Two Boots was pregnant by the time Chrome stole her the previous fall.
Cuatro and Twister
Happy birthday, little prince!
Happy birthday, Rio! May 20
Rio’s birthday is tomorrow, but I’m on a roll, so I’m including him here – plus, as Cuatro’s brother, he fits right in!
Prince’s plume always says “spring” to me in the basin, and the little mister was born right in the heart of it.
Sweetheart – like all of them.
Mama’s little lovebug.
Horse as bird whisperer
How many ways can I say it?
Let the magic speak for itself!
Mahogany’s, left, and Hook’s. This is taken from almost as far east as you can get in the basin – below the eastern ridges – looking west-northwest. They had been napping earlier … and later ended up separated again.
Pretty darn beautiful, eh?
A scattering of pix in this post … mostly it struck me how intent Fierro was on the goings-on, despite his family – and Steeldust – keeping him safely out of the fray.
The little guy with auntie Hannah (mama Ember’s little sister).
With other auntie Sable (mama’s little half-sister).
With Uncle Pinon (mama’s half-brother). I’m not at all sure why Pinon didn’t join the games … I suspect it has a little to do with the little mister and possibly a little more to do with the girls. He’s very attached to Ember – year-mates. Probably the only reason Hook tolerates him in the family … and I wonder, too, how long that will last … and until Pinon finds himself with Twister and Co. (or?) …
Hook and Fierro, Hannah, Sable and Ember below. Fierro had earlier tried to snuggle up to Hook, but Hook wasn’t having any of it at the time. Here, Hook walked up to Fierro, who is now looking back at stepdaddy’s attention.
Luna and Alpha trying their best to catch some shut-eye with all the goings-on (across the arroyo to the left). This was just after Butch had rejoined Luna after his little foray with the boys. Luna looks decent for a girl who has had multiple foals in a row (this will be her fifth foal since I’ve known her (Kestrel, Ember, Hannah, Gideon). I’d love to give her a rest … She should stay, not only because of her outside genetics (she and two others came from Sand Wash Basin in 2001) but because of her wise alpha-mare status (like Alpha above her).
Some of the boys’ roughhousing brought them down into the arroyo and up the hill a bit, and Steeldust charged down in warning – you can maybe see a little of the dust obscuring the saltbush below him. I found it so interesting that he didn’t need to wade in – knew it was play – and he had his own role – protecting Alpha. What a dynamic this little band has. How long will it be before Storm leaves mama? Will Steeldust and Alpha and Butch and Luna stay together? Mahogany and Sundance and Aspen left … at whose instigation? Will Butch eventually challenge Steeldust for Alpha, too? Steeldust backed down to him last spring … but Butch was focused on Luna and never challenged for Alpha. And with Butch’s “must-be-at-her-side-always” style, how many mares does he think he can care for? I think Alpha will stay with Luna as long as possible.
When Storm and Twister resumed their play after their intermission and greeting of baby Gideon – and Mouse stepped in – Gideon retreated to mama. Check out his body language. Doesn’t it scream “little brother sent home”? Patience, little.
Clearly still finding comfort with mama, who has just as clearly weaned him and wasn’t in the mood to baby him. He sought a snuggle, and she pinned her ears at him for his efforts. Though she didn’t mind his nearness – nor Butch’s, immediately on her other side. (I’m not sure I’d be less grumpy with a baby in the belly.)
Fierro was looking for somebody to “practice” on, and Sable seemed to fit the bill – at least briefly.
Twister and Cuatro walking up away from the arroyo. Storm followed closely – Duke and Mouse stayed below (grazing). They paused at a stud pile – which Twister contributed to, which prompted yet another “discussion.”
Hook eventually chased his group away over the ridge and to the next ridge – which led to them going the opposite direction as the others ended up going. But that little Fierro just couldn’t get enough!
And Hook couldn’t resist a last look, either.
As I go through the images from the other day, I just want to share them all NOW. It takes longer to tell the stories that go with them … and the stories are what I most love to share. Oh, the dilemma.
Here are some that don’t have a particular story … almost between stories, if you will … just lovely.
Hook’s had been moseying along the top of the arroyo where the boys’ play was happening, and when mama Luna led the way away, Hook’s meandered on away, too. Another band was beyond not too far, so I moseyed along after Hook’s as the trail led – they diverged low, and I continued on the trail high up the spine of the ridge. The other horses are behind me, but there’s something that always gets me about a horse looking – somewhere, at some thing beyond your vision or ken to notice … The cloud was still over us, but stray sheets of light were randomly hitting the far hills. You can’t tell at all, but it was another windy day.
Taken about the same time. Most of the horses were grazing with their butts to me. Fierro was broadside, gorgeous lit Knife Edge providing a stunning backdrop to his handsome little self.
Looking back as I went on up the trail … Hannah, looking at me, framed by half-siblings Pinon (left) and Hannah – who are (likely) full siblings.
Share now or wait till the play discussion? Hmm. When I came back from visiting the other band (all in good time), Hook’s had wandered lower from the trail that took me back to my destination. Little Fierro, who had watched the play with great interest but not been allowed to join in – by protector Steeldust and then right away by stepdaddy Hook – was practicing his moves with his best bud-”big brother”-favorite Uncle Pinon. I wish I’d been close enough for pix of THAT! Cuter ‘n heck! Such a progression … baby to colt to stallion … so much he has to learn.
As I jump from subject to subject, bear with me. It was a full, full, full day!
Hook’s is an interesting tale (that I know) … young bachelor, bottom of the totem pole, following after his pals and Steeldust’s band. Last spring – early, probably at least this time of year – I started to notice Ember and Pinon together, at the edge of the band, Hook always nearby. And then they were together – separate from the band. Shortly, Hannah joined them … then Sable. Both fillies – both yearlings – left their family band before their mothers had even had that year’s foals (Mahogany lost hers; Luna’s Gideon is quite robust). Hook is an admirable band stallion, much more cautious of me now that he has a family to protect … except that all these youngsters have known me since the day they were born (Sable) or soon after, and the mother of two of them (Luna, dam of Ember and Hannah) is the most patient and tolerant mare in the basin, and in fact, was the first to use me to shed her pesky stallion. So Hook keeps a watchful eye, and the girls and Pinon treat my presence as acceptable.
Hollywood also has an interesting tale (OK, who doesn’t!). When I first started documenting the horses, the day Grey/Traveler was brought back to the basin after the roundup and his trip to Canon City and his three weeks in quarantine, Hollywood and Jif were the first other horses I found – close to Steeldust’s band, as they would be until Grey somehow managed to steal Jif right out from under the noses of Steeldust’s band and the closely-following Bachelor 7 the next April. Maybe Hollywood already had his eye on Piedra … in any case, rather than follow Jif (in Grey’s smaller band), he stayed with Steeldust’s bigger band (and still followed by the Bachelor 7 at that time) and wooed Piedra (yes, he really did), and eventually they broke off together into their own little band … followed shortly by Baylee, daughter of Mahogany (and Pinon’s elder sister). I have speculated that Piedra may be Baylee’s elder sister, and that’s why she followed … and that idea seemed strengthened by what happened with the siblings following into Hook’s band … but something has always nagged at me about Piedra’s more graceful appearance than Baylee or Pinon or Sable … and this year, particularly, I really start to doubt a blood-bond there. (Though they do share those ears!)
Ember had Fierro last July – already pregnant before she joined Hook’s band (likely sire, Mouse, though I can’t confirm). Shortly before Hannah left Steeldust’s band for Hook’s (sister Ember’s?), she managed to “stray” into Hollywood’s band. I was visiting Bounce’s (the calendar’s April photo was taken during that visit) and watched the chaos while they ignored it all (or seemed to). Hannah was frantic to get back to her mother’s family; Holls was just as adamant that she stay with him. As young as she was (yearling), I knew what that meant … I don’t know how she ended up with Holls, and I don’t know how long she was with him – running the whole time I watched at least – half an hour? An hour? – but she made it back to mama Luna. Very shortly after that, as I remember, she was with Hook and his little band. And now what do you see in the photo above? Like her sister Ember, she’ll be a mama at 2.
Switching back to Hollywood’s band, although coming-3-year-old Iya looks pregnant at a glance …
coming-4-year-old Baylee (elder sister of Pinon and Sable) seems still girlishly slim:
But Kestrel, who had Winona last year as a 3-year-old and elder sister of Ember and Hannah, kept her “condition” quiet until close before she foaled, so that’s just observation at this point.
Normal? Symptom of our small herd size – which is bigger now? Coming-4-year-old Reya’s condition is unknown. Her coming-3-year-old sister, Spook, lost her foal last year … Just something to make us go “hmm”?
Fierro and Ember, Pinon and Hook
Baylee, Iya and Hollywood. I liked that I could see all their eyes. Bayles took another couple of steps that made an even better composition, but then she closed her eyes!
Iya and Holls
Mama Piedra and her youngest, Tenaz
How toasty warm he must be in that fuzzy coat!
Tenaz and daddy Hollywood
This one is meant to show a comparison between Iya’s and Baylee’s bellies … Round Top at right, Brumley Point straight back – Tenaz at far right.
Brumley Point. To get your bearings, McKenna Peak and the unnamed promontory are to the left. The far background rimrock hills are outside the herd area.
We’ve talked about how wonderful it is to enjoy horses in their quiet moments. I am incredibly fortunate to spend such time with these horses that I can witness those moments. But they’re wild and ever watchful. Spooks do happen.
Hollywood initiated a “charge” of maybe 30-50 yards? From in front of me to up the hill a little to my right, into the light …
So unfortunately out of focus …
They didn’t go far …
Calm again. Holls and Bayles … love that light illuminating his eye! Another of my favorite images of the day.
They are wild … sensitive to movement and sounds – and that darn mud made it hard to move in steady motion.
Piedra and Sage
Hollywood and Sage … I just liked their shapes in the sunlight.
And bidding farewell when everything was back to calm. Love the little hitch to his nostril.
Of the pix of Holls and his band running – like or dislike? Why? Does it matter that you know “the rest of the story”? It happens … with or without my presence … It’s part of the story thread of the basin …
I still had a decent trek to the Jeep, in the mud … I didn’t know at this point what was waiting for me at the bend … But I knew I was deliriously happy, right then, right in those splendid moments in the wild American outback. Give and take. Still and in motion. Light and shadow. Questions and wonder and mystery. How much will we know? How much do we want – need – to know?
Life got in the way of me posting yesterday (though I started one), so I didn’t quite make good on my promise to post every day for a week. The snow-weather that prevented weekend visits has given way to warm and wet (melting) weather now, so a visit to the basin this week may not be in my cards. The good news is I have a lot more photos from last week’s visit!
Here are some random images from the day that don’t necessarily fit into a “category” … they just are as they are.
Tenaz checks out some tasty morsel mama Piedra seems to have found.
Kestrel protested mildly, but Winona finally got her way.
Comanche – Kestrel and Winona were just up the hill to the right.
What a … stud! Isn’t he just wonderfully handsome?
Scenery interlude: All the near foreground is within Spring Creek Basin. The La Sal Mountains in the background are in Utah.
What caught my eye was that through-the-clouds spotlight on the mountains. A long lens is essential for photographing wildlife, and it’s also perfect for isolating parts of landscapes. The first two “layers” in the foreground are in Spring Creek Basin – the hills in front and the hills rising up behind. Then the next couple of layers are outside the basin, in Disappointment Valley. And the mountains beyond.
The entire foreground here is Spring Creek Basin.
Layers and layers of beauty
Fierro catches a snack surrounded by family – Sable just out of sight to the right.
More coming …
Tenaz and his daddy, Hollywood
Hook (it was very windy!)
Pinon, Fierro and Hook
Sage in a rare moment of looking at me long enough to set, focus and fire my camera!
Tenaz (check out the mud splattered on his face – such a little boy!) – I see you, peek-a-boo boy!
Hollywood – I love that light illuminating his eye.
Kreacher. I loved that light enveloping the horses. He’s right at the edge of the road … Raven, Corona and Kootenai are to the left. They’ve found a bit of snow, and they’re getting their fill like kids at the neighborhood ice cream truck. Kreach stood here so quietly … he never moved a step from when I first saw him from the Jeep. Talk about a passive leader (I think I mentioned him in an earlier post where I was referring to Beautiful Mustang’s recent posts) … so calm. So confident. So young (still relatively dark).
Just as the sun slipped over the edge of the world, the girls were finishing their snow and making their way toward him. That was his cue – was he just waiting for them that whole time? – and he started off up the road. Stopped once to leave a pile, which the girls investigated thoroughly (?), then on up the road and finally up the hill at the next bend. They grazed not far off the road when I slipped past them … the basin covered in shadow – light just on the upper ridges of the eastern boundary, McKenna’s point, the promontory’s rocky face. Kreacher does lead … and his girls do follow him.
All these boys … so amazing.