Happy New Year

I was finally able to get out and camp a little over Christmas break, and visit both the Pryor horse range and Yellowstone. While I did not see any horses on my first pass through the Bighorn Canyon NRA, when I stopped by the pull-out for Sullivan’s Knob the second time I was greeted by Fiero on the hill and Oregon right near the parking.  I did not see any other horses the first time there, but when I came back to check quite a while later I was able to find the rest of the band down the hill.

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The other area I was around in between visits to Sullivan’s knob and trips out to mustangs flat was the overlook.  I saw tracks but no horses until eventually Jemez, Montana and Medicine Bow were on the hillside.  It is always good to see an older horse like Medicine Bow and know that they are making ti through the winter.

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The only horses that I saw out on Mustang Flats we in the brush to the left, and I didn’t hike out to them.  My guess is bachelors, but that is based solely on the fact that every time I do hike out in that area it seems to be bachelors.  Can’t tell much from the picture, but there are 3 in it.  My bet would be Issaquah was 1 black and maybe the grulla/grullo (toward left) is Johnston. I also saw quite a few deer, but no big bucks.

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The longest hike I took was down to some horses from the “Spirited Mustangs” signs to a band of 6 I could see at the bottom of the draws near the fence.

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After hiking back to the FJ, I saw one last group on the way out.

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From there I made my way around to Gardiner and into Yellowstone.  I did not get any great pictures, but enjoyed my time there.  I did see an elk with drop tines near Lava Creek, which I think is the first time I have seen a live elk with drops.  On Thursday night, Malaki and I listened to some wolves calling nearby in the Yellowstone River picnic area.  We heard more in 2 areas on Friday, and I was able to watch some move along a ridge at one point.  I would love to run across some close for photos, but it is always fun to listen to them.

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May 31st – Pryors

Considering how late after the date this is, I can’ find the motivation to write much about my last trip to the Pryors.  All of the “news” is old and as Rachel Anne Reeves pointed out, the Pryors blogs are more like a “celebrity gossip rag”.  I did finally go through the pictures and edit some, though; so you are basically going to get an almost all photo blog.  Most of you know who each of these horses is, and if not and you really wanted to know you could ask.  At the time of this trip, Isadorra was with Morning Star, although Ginger saw her get back with Blue Moon (Flint) not long after.  I don’t think the situation has changed much, but Nimbus looks better now.  These are the first photos I have of all the foals that you see in this set.  The only other foal I have seen this year in the Pryors was when I found Orlando.  I have seen a lot of foals on other hma’s though, and hope to get to all of those photos soon. I may have spent longer in the Pryors on this trip, but a storm was moving in and I barely beat the rain down (which will be evident on the dryhead pictures). My plan was then to spend the next day in fifteenmile, but water was flowing down some of the washes and the saturated soil was not something I wanted to try and cross and get stuck in.

The pictures are not all grouped by band, just in the order I took them.

 

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While this may not look like a lot of water, and fairly solid

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just the weight of my shoe caused me to sink ina few inches.  I imagine a full FJ might sink enough to get stuck.

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July 8 – Pryor bookends

I actually started for the Pryor Mountains Sunday afternoon.  I planned on having a little time before dark to see what was going on and set up camp.  Once I got to Lovell I started to realize it had rained in a way I had not seen there before.  The main roads had mud across them, but it wasn’t so bad I couldn’t drive through it.

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So maybe I would be able to go up Burnt Timber like usual.

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Negative Ghost Rider, the puddle is full.  I next tried Crooked Creek, which I don’t know too well.  I had to turn around on it and go all the way around to use Sage Creek.  The last 2 miles were the only really bad spots on it, but I didn’t get to my camp until around midnight.

I spent a decent chunk of Monday with the Pryor horses.  From my usual camping area I could see some horses down in the woods below Penn’s Cabin.  This is where I would usually expect them after a storm.  I will say now that I didn’t take a super-heavy dose of pictures in the Pryors this trip, mostly just ones of things new or interesting to me.  I have a lot of portrait shots already, and there have been a lot of visitors recently so it is not a time of the year where people have not been able to keep up with what is going on.

The first band I did find in the trees was Duke’s, so I started with some pictures of a foal I had only read about.

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Bonus Madonna shot

As a result of the shadow, Aurora’s belly looks really round.  It is big, but it looks even more so.

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I also saw Custer and Teton in the area, but the next new situation to me was Horizon’s.  I had missed the news that he had picked up Tonopah.

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I saw Tecumseh for the first time since his injuries, and he is looking fine. He is still following Gringo, but except for a minor reminder here or there, they seem ok with the situation-for now.

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Beautiful

As I hiked around checking out various groups, I got distracted by some birds.

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On my way back up the hill ( I had hiked from the Burnt Timber side to let things dry), I talked to Kim Michels a little and then made my way to Coronado’s band  above Mystic to see the second new foal I had heard of but not seen. I mentioned that Gringo-Tecumseh seemed pretty relaxed, but that is not the case with Santa Fe and Coronado.

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While I wanted to see the foal it was sleeping, and I had been watching my favorite band way off in the distance.   I could tell they were going to come down in to Mystic.  I made it down to the rocks above the pond to watch them come in.  I love this group.

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Even though I was not close and on the hill, Greta seemed disgusted by the paparazzi not leaving their private group alone.

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I made my way back up the draw to Coronado’s band.  I had to wait quite a while for the foal, I think called Nickle but I am not sure of the spelling, to get up and stretch.

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Before the band could move very far, Coronado had to chase Santa Fe off again.

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In that time, the foal decided to sleep again.  After a while, Coronado got impatient and decided it was time to move.  The colt seemed to say “Come on dad, I don’t want to!”

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“Well, as long as I am up, is there anything to eat around here?”

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The tension between Santa Fe and Coronado may be a large factor in the drama that played out with La Brava over the next few days.

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After talking to Sandy, I continued to watch them.  I happened to look down and notice something in the grass.

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I was a little surprised as this was the first snake I have seen on the top of the mountain, but it gave me something new to photograph for the Pryors.

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Longer than I thought when it got into the open

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I made a check of BT, where Cappy and Garay were keeping their bands away from the rest.

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Before I left back down Sage Creek, I did see Baja’s.  I wanted to put up a picture of Topper Too, because she did look a little round to me.  Apparently I only took ones of the round Washakie.  I thought TT might be, but others have seen her recently and don’t.   Maybe I just looked at Washakie a lot and confused her with TT, never giving TT a really good look.  You will have to wait for a picture to judge for yourself, but I am usually wrong.

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On my way home from my trip on Wednesday, I stopped in lower Sykes with every intention of finding Bristol.  I tried views from a lot of different ridges and knobs, but did not see him.  I did not see Sitting Bull either but I am sure he was out there, so Bristol may have just been hidden from sight.  The only group I saw out there was Hidatsa and Belle Star.

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I decided to see if BT was passable, which it was with only a few places being worse than before, and I am glad I did.  I was able to see Nacer briefly.  He was hanging out at the sign so I grabbed 4 quick photos and went down to find Coronado’s band.  They were at Mystic. By the time I got back to the sign Jared had taken Nacer down to the vet.  Image

I am not sure exactly what to say about Nacer.  It is sad, but not the first foal lost this year.  It is part of the natural process on the mountain.  Is it because of La Brava’s young age, like Kiva the year before?  Is it because Santa Fe was dogging the group so hard.  I know how bad it feels, having seen Demure’s and then it ending up gone.  At the same time, I realize that if the amount that are born and the amount that are lost ( I fear a  few older horses are no longer with us either) balances out, then the herd will maintain its size and there will not be a need for a future removal.  We grow so attached to each of these horses that hearing about the loss or injury to any of them sucks, but watching the ones we loved be removed last year was not much easier . It is partly eased knowing some of them have great homes, but they were still leaving their native home .  At least when they pass away on the mountain, they have lived their whole life knowing the freedom of the wild horse.  At times harsh and not always an easy life, but a free one.

Dryhead dilema (or not)

Some of what went through my head as I thought about this on the range has been altered with recent sightings, but it will be interesting to see how things turn out.  What I was thinking about Tuesday as I left the range is “What if most of the horses start going to other areas besides the dryhead?”  The dryhead and park are where the most people can have access to the horses and where they will bring the most publicity to the herd outside of the people that follow the various blogs.  It is also the most dangerous place since there are vehicles moving through, not always at the proper speed.  I know some say the speed limit needs lowered, and it would be nice for driving and looking, but I don’t think it would change most people.  I just spent Wednesday in Yellowstone where the speed limit is already higher and people were still not following the speed limit there.  I was actually thinking that just like work zones have double fines, maybe national parks should have double or triple fines.  I guess that would eb another, more political discussion.

You may wonder why I would be thinking the horses were leaving the dryhead.  On my last trip, I had seen Hidalgo and his 7 up near the arch guzzler, so that was on my mind.  Since then, I have learned he is back down on the flats, which is good news.  At the time it seemed that most of the dryhead horses were somewhere else, and why wouldn’t they be?  The ratio on the DH has to be close to 1 stallion per mare,  so why not hide away you mares if you could find a place?

Not knowing he was back down, this trip I saw a lot of other DH horses not on the DH and thought he might still be up too.  As I reached the guzzler flat, I saw 2 horses in the trees.ImageThat almost looks like…Belle Star and Hidatsa?

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I went past them to see if anyone was at the guzzler, but they decided to get a drink and passed me on the way to it.

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ImageAfter a (pleasant) distraction I will write about later, I found Corona was still up on the top right before the arch.

ImageYou can see a picture of Norte avoiding the camera in my post from earlier today.  Here was another small band up on top, but at least it meant that there was some mixing as it added a “mountain” horse in Topper into a DH band.  Just across from them on the other side of the arch I could see 4 of the bachelors that I expected to remain on bachelor flats and not be up top.  Maybe they were looking for the mares, and maybe Hidalgo watched them coming up and snuck down a different route.   You can see the star on Hawk and the little star on Kemmerer.  They were also acting like young bachelors.

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As I left the top of the range Tuesday just before lunch, i ran out to lower sykes to glass out to TF and some other areas where I might see Bristol and Kitalpha.  As I scanned, I picked up Blizzard, and a grulla.  I thought they were heading out further, so drove back down and started out toward where they were heading, except I ran into them quicker than I thought as they were coming my way and I think on to Cottonwood Springs.

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Blizzard didn’t just have the 1 grulla I saw from up higher, he had 3 more.

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Again, here were horses that I had always encountered out toward Mustang Flats and they were now back where not many would see them.  Since then, they have now been seen out toward the park where they are more visible.

Last year was the first year I started driving from the top down to the arch, and I didn’t see many there in the summer.  I also just discovered the hidden areas of lower sykes later last summer, and only saw SB and Bristol’s bands.  Maybe this year is not abnormal to see all of the other horses in these places, maybe last year was the out-of-the-ordinary.  It could also be that they are exploring new places until things get settled with mares, although I am not sure if things on the dryhead are ever settled.  

I suppose that as long as the horses keep making appearances on the park portion so that people can see them, it doesn’t matter if they wander around in between.  Maybe this explains why I could go through the park some times last year and not find anyone.  There are plenty of hiding places down low, but maybe they were heading up high or out into the desert.  

Since horses are turning up lately (Seattle this week, too), hopefully someone will find Bristol and Kitalpha with all the people visiting soon.  Fool’s Crow, too.

Foal me once…

shame on you; foal me twice, shame on me.

The title pretty much tells you what this post will be about.  First will be the adorable little foals I saw on the last trip, and probably some still-cute-but-becoming-gangly yearlings.  At the end I will post some photos of mares so you can take your guess and see how many you are correct on.  It is probably less than 100% unless you are Maria.  Some of these mares should be, but some of the others that probably won’t look just as round so it might just be full bellies fooling us.

I was finally able to see Nodin on this trip.

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What a handsome father, too

Right near them I was also able to see Halcyon’s for the first time, too.

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Of course you can’t go to the mountain without seeing this little white fluffball-

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Nye and Niobrara are doing well.

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As mentioned yesterday, Audubon and Niyaha are back with Morning Star.

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I did see Norte, but didn’t get a great photo again.  While Corona and Waif were out in the open, Topper ( or Topper Too – they are still one horse to me, even though they are separated) is teaching the way to avoid being photographed.

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Not a foal, but a cute little muffin-top-  I never saw Hailstorm this young, but it reminds me of her with the orange tips from when I did first encounter her.

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While I did see Duke’s Monday, I didn’t get better pictures of them until the next day.  Tuesday morning I spotted what looked like 2 Grulla/o and a dun down in the bottom, but while on my way down I stopped to see Gabrielle’s for a while.  it was still a little dark.

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If you went to the mountain for the first time and saw these 2 horses together, could some one convince you they weren’t siblings?

I made my way out the path to where I had seen the horses, and it was one of my favorite stallions.  I like him because he is one of the stallions that doesn’t follow the lead of other bands, he does his own thing. He wanders the range more than most other horses, and finds places to hide.  It makes him seem more “wild” in some ways.

The grass down bottom looks taller, and probably more nutritious, than what many of the horses were grazing on up top.  Using the lower grass which will dry out earlier in the year also lets the mountain forage grow more.  I wish more stallions would follow Garcia’s example.

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Just over the hill from him was Greta, Millicent and the new foal, unless I am mistaken a filly.  I think they are the ones I saw out below TF on my last trip, and when the sun is right it makes Millicent look like a dun.  Either way, here they were with a dark little girl with a huge star.

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With the good news comes some bad.  A while back I had heard that Demure was seen without a foal.  I tried to tell myself that it was just missed and sleeping, but I had been a little worried when I first saw it and it had diarrhea, so I also knew that it might have had something wrong.  Doc’s band was the 4th group I saw on CF Monday and there was no foal.  Tuesday they moved from CF early to the Lick mid-morning and it was almost as if Demure kept looking for her foal like a mother elk does even after a grizzly has taken her calf.  I looked and couldn’t find anything, but it looks like Mandan won’t have a little sister this year.

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I ran back up to the top and saw most of the horses were over in the Penn’s cabin water with the 2 guys from yesterday, so after checking the Red Hole again for bear I decided to head back down.  I did find Duke’s again and got some better pictures.  I will start with Noble and then transition to the mares that some have asked about, first in his band and then some others.

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I don’t think all of these are pregnant, but I gave some comparison shots or was asked about some specifically.  Now you can guess for yourself, because some of these horses burned me last year, so I won’t believe they are until a foal is on the ground.  I saw, but didn’t get pictures of Gringo’s ( dogged by Tecumseh) and no one had a foal.  If I had to pick a “next”, I would go with Graciana maybe.

See Irial

Instead of doing my usual chronological recap of my trip, I am going to do some smaller posts to get some things up.  Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals is also going to triple overtime, keeping me from doing much editing or writing ( and finally just finished 12 minutes into the third overtime)

See Irial

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See Irial run

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Run, Irial, Run!

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This was one of many times that Morning Star chased Irial around the mountain top in the morning.  Morning Star has his whole family back.

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In the afternoon, Irial tried to take out some aggression on Chino, who is probably none too happy himself.

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With all of the bands on the top, a chase started in the afternoon I originally thought was Gringo and Tecumseh, because Gringo had pushed him off a few times.  Then I actually looked closer and realized it was two “youngsters” – at heart.

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Watch out Santa Fe!  This didn’t make Mescalero happy.

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Great time to be on the mountain and watch the stallions sprinting as they vie for mares. I think the Gringo/Tecumseh situation will blow-up soon.  I am not sure if Coronado-Santa Fe was just a quick thing or something that will last.  Irial seems fired up and if he can’t best Morning Star I think his earlier success will lead him to go for some one else.

Spoiled, and loving it

After a rare Friday school day, Ahnya and I decided to run to Yellowstone for the weekend.  We camped Friday night at Big Game Campground and woke up early to make the drive to the park.  Somewhere before Elephant Head Lodge we ran across our first grizzly of the trip on the road.  It nonchalantly walked along until it decided to climb the hill on the North side. It was still a little dark, so the pictures are vibrant.

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In a way, that’s the story of the trip.  Various factors led to something just not being right each time, so I don’t think I got any good pictures in Yellowstone.  It was still early and dark.

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It was mid-day and the shadows were harsh.

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The sun was on the wrong side of the animal.  The sun would be on the right side, but with the haze from the heat the picture would still be soft at a distance.  The animal would be in the wrong position.  For the fox near the den at Yellowstone picnic area we probably could have waited a lot longer to get a better shot, but we stayed as long as Ahnya wanted and then got back to Malaki to move on.

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I actually didn’t even take many pictures considering how much we saw.  What was more important was the time we spent together and enjoying the experience.  I suppose if I lived far away and didn’t get to Yellowstone except once every couple of  years I would have taken more shots even if the conditions weren’t right, but we are spoiled and get to run over quite a few times each year.  While some people stop and see a bear or wolves and then move on, we can afford to sit and watch for hours if we want.

It has allowed me to learn a lot about the behavior of the animals, and how to use that to get in position for better shots at other times.  One example was the cow elk we saw in Haydn Valley.  I can not “know” for sure what had happened, but experience allows me to be fairly positive.  She was fairly near the road, so many people stopped and took a snapshot before moving on.  What they may not have noticed is her behavior.  I had seen it last year in Grand Teton.  She might move away at times, but she kept coming back to the same area, cautiously.  When we had first arrived there was a raven or 2 in that area. In all likelyhood this was a mother whose calf had been killed by a grizzly in the past day or so and her motherly instinct didn’t allow her to leave.

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We left Yellowstone about mid-day and decided to swing by the Pryors since 14A was open and about as quick as going to Greybull and up 14.  Sure, we might be a little spoiled that we can just stop by some of the places we do on a whim for a short time.

I didn’t see the main horses I wanted, mainly Demure or Greta.  Baja had moved all the way down from the top on the last trip to Cheyenne Flats now.

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Just above the flats we ran across some bachelors. It is still a while before they will be getting a harem of their own for most of them, but they are growing up.

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Garay had the most excitement of the horses I saw.  His little band was sort of sandwhiched between the bachelors as they moved down, Baja’s, Cloud’s, and Teton’s.  He was either moving to keep his mares away from the established stallions, playing in the mud puddles ( good to see they had some good rain) or chasing off the bachelors.

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Of course I had to take some pictures of Encore.

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I did find Jackson’s band, but they were in the brush so I couldn’t even see if everyone was there.  I didn’t see any new foals, but saw Nye and Niobrara move through gaps.

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The last horse I saw on BT was the poor, lonely Chino.  He has a bite mark right near his tail, but otherwise seems to be doing fine.

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I did some horses way out in the valley at the end of Turkey Flats.  If it had been just me, or on a day we weren’t heading home I would have trekked out to them.  I still wish I had, but I will be there again either after church tomorrow or on Monday with plenty of time to search around .Image