April 1, 2010 – Mountain Update

I apologize for my delay in doing any big updates lately. I have been able to continue my weekly trips to the range, and the horses are doing quite well. On Wednesday I went up into the Burnt Timber area.

Jackson’s harem was down in a small valley. Jackson and the young mare Heritage were eating snow while the others were just above them.

You’ll notice that Jackson’s harem consists of Heritage, Firestorm, Galena, and Galena’s upcoming yearling Jasper. The grulla mare Brumby and her daughter Jenny have actually been with Doc for the past while. Doc tends to spend time on the western parts of the Burnt Timber area, though he sometimes drifts closer to the road. Typically, a view of him looks something like this:

From left to right, that is Inocentes, Fiasco, Brumby, Flicka, Doc, and Jenny. This type of view is really all that is needed to keep track of the horses. It is definitely interesting to see them up close, though. Sometimes the horses that are most often seen through spotting scopes do come closer. This happened on Wednesday with White Cloud. He and his harem have been in the lower areas of Sykes Ridge this winter. However, on Wednesday they were over on Burnt Timber.

Here is the upcoming three year old Hailstorm with younger sister Jasmine. Also there is harem-mate Damsel.

Grulla mare Aztec is the mother of Hailstorm and Jasmine above.

Blue roan mare Scarlett and black mare Baileys are the other two members of the harem.

There was also a coyote with the harem when I arrived, but it ran away before I could get a photograph of it with them.

Recall that the above blue roan mare Damsel had been relocated from this harem to the harem of the dun stallion Cappuccino. In a previous post, I talked about Damsel returning back to White Cloud. This left Cappuccino with his original mare Guinevere along with another relocated mare, Duke’s daughter Galadriel.

These three have been fairly visible in Burnt Timber recently. As of this week, Cappuccino has also lost Galadriel.

I found her, as well as grulla Iliana from Santa Fe, with Starman.

Iliana had been with Starman earlier this winter for a week or so. It will be interesting to see if Starman is able to keep these two new additions to his harem.

Sometimes bighorn sheep are visible in the Burnt Timber area, and it’s a nice surprise to see them. Recently, I was coming down the mountain in the afternoon and saw these sheep run across the road just below the mines.

We’ve been having storms move through the area, but it’s still pretty dry in the parts of the range where most of the horses are. As you can see in the photos, the horses are getting their water primarily from the small patches of snow that haven’t melted yet. Today the Pryors are covered in clouds, so hopefully those clouds bring some moisture. In talking with the Billings Field Office, it sounds as though the new water developments and other range improvements will be a priority for this summer. This is definitely something we are all very excited about here, and I will definitely talk more about these when they are installed.

Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 4:38 pm  Comments (10)  

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  1. Matt, thank you for the update! it is good to see the horses in good condition after the winter; it’s interesting that the horses sort things out themselves as to how they want things to be.
    take care, hope it storms soon, we can use some rain also. Glad to hear water projects are on the agenda for the Pryors,
    take care,

  2. Matt, thanks so much for the updated information about the horses. The pictures make it so easy to identify each horse. I’m anxious to read further updates and see more pitures of the horses. You are doing a great job on your updates. Also, Karla says hi. Take care and Happy Easter!


  3. Hi Matt,
    Do you think the relocating of the mares from one band to another has anything to do with PCP injections? Is it possible the mares are feeling a sense of “job loss” as their role of reproducing has been taken away from them. They of course have no idea why they are not getting pregnant, so maybe they are relocating to different bands in the hope that another stud will be able to get them pregnant.
    Did all the captured mares receive pcp?
    Thanks & Happy Easter,

    • Donna,
      It is difficult to attribute all of the interchange I observe to PZP. First, there are horses involved in interchange that are untreated. Second, studying behavior is difficult and out of my realm of understanding. During the gather, nearly all mares, ages two and up, that were released were treated with PZP.
      Thanks for the message!

  4. Thanks for the pictures! We enjoyed sitting and watching Doc and his little band last summer for quite a while. Great to see that he is expanding his family. Does there seem to be a lot of excess movement of mares now that there are fewer animals? It seems like that has been the case at Little Book Cliffs, more instability in family units and more movement between bands.

    • Linda,
      It’s hard to say whether there is more interchange now than there was before the gather. The gather mainly affected the Forest Service horses. About 51% of the removed horses were from the Forest Service. The types of interchange I have seen with the Burnt Timber and Sykes horses this winter/early spring have been reminiscent of those I saw last year in these subherds. However, the records and accounts of past events when there were many horses removed from the herd, such as the winter of 1977-1978, seem to show that the herd’s social structure was heavily disrupted and took a little while to come back to some sort of equilibrium.

  5. You read my mind Matt. I was just thinking the other day about the guzzler situation and wondering how it was going. We are still experiencing extrememly dry conditions in our area. We didn’t have a LOT of snow this winter, it all melted away by mid-March and we only got about .5 of an inch of moisture in March. A guy hit the nail on the head the other day when he said we are in the 12th year of a 7-year drought….
    One area flowage is said to be down 15 ft. and that’s pretty typical for the area.

    Sorry to hear about the mare relocations to prevent inbreeding that have not worked. Hopefully, those mares did get PZP and will find new mates before it wears off. Behavior learned young can be very hard to alter. These young mares may be reluctant to leave the perceived “safety” of the herd they’re familiar with. Pardon my lack of knowledge, but both Damsel and Galadriel are young, are they not?

    It is the herd stallion whose job it is to establish that separation, isn’t it? Or does that only happen with the young males? It sure does seem like there should be enough interesting young males around to lure the females away from their sires, either way. It’s so interesting to observe the behavior of animal societies. You just never know what you’ll run across next.

    If you get a chance sometime, could you list some of the female offspring of Sam?

    Thanks for keeping us posted. Linda D

  6. Matt:

    One of the young horses in your latest blog is named Jasper – – but isn’t Blue Moon’s foal from last season named Jasper? Thanks for the update – – we are always appreciative of news from the range. I can’t wait to get back there in June.


    • Hey Chris,
      This is where it can sometimes get confusing – Some different horses share names from different people. We called Jackson’s foal Jasper, and he was one of the first foals born. This is why it stuck with us. The “other” Jasper was born just about one month later. I actually called him Jupiter.
      Well, thanks for the message! I’ll be seeing you in a couple months!

  7. Matt,
    I love all of our horses, but I harbor some favoritism towards Fools Crow. I know you are busy, but an update would be welcome. I plan another trip out there in August and am looking forward to seeing you and the horses that we love.I assume that our horses are doing fine, or you would have shared your apprehesions with those of us who care.

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