I haven’t made any new posts lately because I haven’t been out to the range due to the weather. We had received a good amount of snow, and it has been cold since then. On the night of the 21st, air temperatures went down to around -24. Lows have remained in the subzero temperatures while highs are in the low teens. I was curious about how the horses were doing, so I went out the the range on the afternoon of the 22nd.
In these weather conditions, care must be taken not to disturb wild horses, or any wildlife, as they must conserve as much energy as possible. Thus, I had to rely on my binoculars and camera for watching then. I found a hill to spot from, and I was able to see a lot of horses. I right away saw the families of Sitting Bull (pictured below), Admiral, Bristol, and Coronado. Exhiliration was also in the area.
Two horses came out from a drainage between Sitting Bull and Admiral. One was dark bay and one was grulla.
The dark bay looked a lot like Santa Fe to me. His mane fell to the right, and he had a star. However, this didn’t make sense unless Santa Fe had lost his family and found a grulla friend. The grulla wasn’t his grulla mare, this was a stallion. The two were moving pretty quickly, I would guess they didn’t want to be in between Sitting Bull and Admiral. I only had a few minutes of time to watch them and photograph them before they went into another drainage. I later tried to find them, but they had disappeared.
Upon looking at my pictures, I noticed that the grulla had a left falling mane, a star, and had a distinct conformation.
This description matches the bachelor Flint. He is grulla roan, but he had already been losing his roan when I last saw him in the fall. Knowing this, it was easy to realize who his friend was.
Custer is a bay roan with a right falling mane and a star. I’d never seen him in the winter, so I didn’t know how much he lost his roan. These two had been up on Sykes Ridge, and had apparently come down with the bad weather. It makes me wonder if any other horses moved down from there and just weren’t visible that day. This also really shows how hard it can be to identify roans in the winter!
Scanning further up, I saw Corona and his family. This is how I most often see them – As a dark horse with two brown looking horses.
East of them, I saw another elusive stallion – the apricot dun Blizzard. With him were two grullas, and one was a foal. This isn’t what you would expect to see with him as he had previously just had a grulla roan mare.
I knew right away who it was though – Merlin’s former mare and colt foal.
I was happy to have solved the mystery of where Merlin’s former family had gone. It was interesting that I didn’t see his original mare, but she could have easily been on the other side of the hill as the family ended up moving there after a while.
Extreme winter weather is a natural selector for the Pryor horses. However, we have had mild weather prior to this, and so the horses were able to get good and fat. It doesn’t surprise me that I didn’t find any missing horses, though, as these horses are in a good area to winter in. It will be interesting to see some of the horses who winter further up the mountain.