January 22, 2008 – Lower Sykes Ridge

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.

Sitting Bull family

Two horses came out from a drainage between Sitting Bull and Admiral. One was dark bay and one was grulla.

Custer and Flint

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.

Flint

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

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.

Corona

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.

Blizzard

I knew right away who it was though – Merlin’s former mare and colt foal.

Blizzard

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.

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Published in: on January 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm  Comments (3)  

The Spring Creek Basin Wild Horses

I think it is really interesting to see and learn about other wild horse herds. One I have learned a lot about recently is the Spring Creek Basin herd of Colorado. Every wild horse herd has its own unique stories to tell, and there is now a blog where you can go to read stories about this herd. I’d really recommend checking it out!

You can find it at http://springcreekwild.wordpress.com/.

Published in: on January 21, 2008 at 2:44 pm  Comments (1)  

January Snow

The basin got some snow yesterday and early today. This afternoon the clouds covering the Pryors moved off providing a glimpse of the fresh snow on the mountains. Here is a panoramic photograph I put together of them this afternoon.

Published in: on January 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

January 8, 2008 – Lower Sykes Ridge

I made a quick trip to lower Sykes this morning. It was chilly but nice and sunny. The overall quality of today’s photographs isn’t the best – The AF sensor on my camera went out, and so that, combined with the really cold wind, made it hard to keep my eyes clear for good manual focusing.

I saw a dun horse standing alone on a hill, and I thought it could possibly be Shaman. However, upon getting a little closer, I saw that it was Starbuck. He’s still a bachelor, and so this really makes me wonder where Merlin’s former family is. The Dryhead bachelors were also near him in the junipers.

Starbuck

I was really excited to see Corona’s family. The only time I’d seen them all year was through binoculars or a spotting scope as they are one of the most elusive families.

Corona’s family

Corona is a dark bay stallion with an unmistakable face marking. He is the son of Sam and Sorita, which makes him the full brother to the mare with Sitting Bull.

Corona

Corona was one of the first horses that I saw after I started seriously watching the horses. Back then he was a bachelor. Before I knew his “real” name, I always thought of him as Tornado as his face marking reminds me of a tornado. More often than not, Corona would be alone as a bachelor. We also seemed to find him in the most remote areas. I guess this personality is still reflected today in that he is so hard to find.

Corona

Corona’s mare has one of the more unique colors of Pryor horses.

Waif

I’ve typically seen her described as a bay. She does look like a normal bay; however, she has a dorsal stripe.

Waif

My first real horse interaction viewing took place with her. Driving through Bighorn Canyon, she came running down the road being chased by a young dun stallion named Cibeque. He had apparently taken her from another stallion. The sounds of their hooves on the road and their high pitched calls to each other were pretty memorable. As far as I know, no one else saw this happen as he only had her for a couple days. The BLM does not even have record of this happening. This makes me wonder what else happens that no one else ever knows about.

Their daughter was one of the first foals of 2007 born. She was born a red bay color with a big star on her head, and so she was named Halo of the Sun in honor of her star and her father’s name.

Halo is now a more complex color – She is looking a lot like her mother. I was also surprised how mature she is already.

Halo

She also seems to have a dorsal stripe like her mother.

Halo

Seeing Corona’s family was definitely a great experience. I am really looking forward to seeing how Halo turns out, but I also really hope that they always are elusive. I wish more horses were like them, where you only get a good look at them about once a year.

Published in: on January 8, 2008 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment