July 2, 2010 – Forest Service Horses

During the 2009 gather 29 of the 57 horses removed were from the Forest Service. Thus, most, but not all, of the horses living off of the Range were removed. Around ten horses were unable to be gathered, and these remained out there. Due to the fate of the horses that were gathered, I have been pretty worried about the future of the remaining Forest Service horses.

Last night, I was coming back from a trip to the mountaintop when I had two good surprises.

The first surprise was that I was able to see some of the Forest Service horses. I saw Cabaret’s harem, and the sorrel bachelor Fortunatas was dogging them.

Cabaret is a grullo stallion with distinctive face markings. Cabaret was originally a Burnt Timber horse that went out to the Forest Service – His dam is Sequoyah, Two Boots’ mare.

Cabaret has one mare, the solid black Duchess.

Duchess’ 2010 foal is a really pretty grulla.

Also in the harem is Duchess’ yearling Jericho. As you can see in the two pictures here, has grown up quite a lot since last year.

Lastly, the two year old colt Inali is also in the harem. Inali is the son of Eclipse and Inverness.

Following the disappearance of Inverness, Inali and his big sister Haley were taken in by Cabaret. Haley is currently absent from the harem.

Also, as I mentioned, Fortunatas was dogging them.

Cabaret definitely has a certain tolerance for Fortunatas, and he would let Fortunatas know when he got too close.

All in all, though, Fortunatas just followed them around without incident.

It really was good to see these horses. But the second surprise is even more meaningful to me. As you’ll notice in the above photograph, there is a road just past the horses. That is the Sykes Ridge Road. Thus, these horses were on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. In fact, there were some Burnt Timber and Sykes horses, such as Lakota, nearby. Seeing these horses where I did was a big relief for me.

Obviously, this is a big change for these horses to be away from the Forest Service. Still, though, I really hoping that they stay on the Range. Further, I am hoping that the remaining horses in the Forest Service lands will also come to the Range. I think that there may be some who wouldn’t agree with some of my above wishes. There will likely soon be a time when there will be reason to further discuss these issues, but that time isn’t now.

Also, onto a little different topic; one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “How many horses are out there?” In the past, I’ve touched a little on the way that we can think about population numbers: There are the horses we of course know are out there, but there are also horses that can be listed as missing. These missing horses typically aren’t counted as deceased until we haven’t seen them for a year or we find their remains. Because of this, it is often more appropriate to describe the population as a range, or to say that there are “at least this many horses”. It further gets complicated due to the fact that there are the Forest Service horses, and they aren’t technically on the Range. If the Forest Service horses are considered part of the whole population, then there are currently about 150 horses (ages 1 and up) known to be out there at this time. There are currently 6 horses listed as missing, but it isn’t too likely that all 6 of these horses are indeed alive but are alone and remaining hidden. Additionally, there are currently 25 known foals out there. This can make things confusing as well; many people count foals as part of the population. Again, though, that population figure of 150 horses only includes horses that are at least one year old. Due to all of this, the simple answer I give to the question of “How many horses are out there?” is “There are about 150 horses and 25 foals out there.

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Published in: on July 2, 2010 at 1:07 pm  Comments (22)  

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  1. Thanks Matt. he Forest service horses are still represented and I hope will continue to mix with the range horses. It was very nice to meet you briefly at the BLM Workshop in Denver. mar

  2. Thanks Matt. The Forest service horses are still represented and I hope will continue to mix with the range horses. It was a very nice surprise to meet you briefly at the BLM Workshop in Denver. mar

    • It was very nice to meet you too! I hope the same for these Forest Service horses!

  3. Matt, once again, thank you for all the updates, I’m glad these horses, on their own, moved back to the part of the range they are supposed to be on, I hope they stay there and the rest join them soon. They all look healthy and beautiful.

    • Thank you for your comment! I really hope they stay and that the rest will soon join them.

  4. Hi Matt, How nice to have an email today. I was looking earlier today to see when was the last time. I know you must be busy this time of year.
    The horses look wonderful and I love that grulla filly.
    I haven’t been on your website that long and forgive my ignorance but what are the Forest Service horses?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hello,
      Sorry for my delay in writing back here! I see you have had some answers here, but the Forest Service horses are sort of a subherd of horses that consist of the horses that left the Range and the descendants of these horses. They are not on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range anymore, and so their presence in the Forest lands is unauthorized. I’ll be doing a bit more on these horses in a post very soon.
      Thanks!

  5. Thanks Matt, Love the pictures and love to hear that the FS horses are migrating back to where they should be. I really hope we can get back there. It was a trip of my dreams. Now I am dreaming about coming back.

    • Hello,
      I hope you are able to come back! It’s good to hear from you!
      Thanks!

  6. Thank you for the update. I love the Pryor horses and your posts make me feel like I am a part of their lives like nothing else does. Thank you for your updates. All the very best to you,Betty

  7. One other thing, have you ever considered making a book from your wonderful photos? The books reach so many people and your narrative could help paint a picture of the wild horses, and maybe bring in dollars I know you and the center could use.

    • Hello,
      I actually do have plans for a book someday. It will focus primarily on the Dryhead horses.
      Thanks!

      • I am looking forward to that!

  8. I was happy to put a face with your name after the Denver workshop. Great photos, as always. I have some questions about the confusing history and establishment of the Pryor WH Range . When this was established, I understood that the horses were to be protected where they were living at that time–1968. Wouldn’t that include what is now called the Forest Service land? Under that determination, it would seem correct that the those horses should be protected on all of their original herd area, including the Forest Service land. Do you know when and why was this area was exempted from their range? For that reason, I didn’t understand why those horses needed to be removed–and I doubt that they’ll ever honor human barriers, (fences or abstract lines on maps) when they have lived on all the mtn. top for centuries. Being able to exist on their original range would seem to better protect their herd–genetics and numbers–in the future and have less of a need for removal.

    • Linda,
      It was very nice to meet you at Denver too! The 1968 PMWHR was a lot smaller than today’s. The expansion toward today’s area came as a result of the 1971 Act. It is highly probable that the Forest Service areas should have been in the PMWHR. However, here, like many other areas, there was inadequate surveying done to determine areas “where presently found” back then. The horses never had legal access to the Forest Service lands out there. I’ll piece together some of the relevant information in an upcoming post.
      Thanks!

  9. LINDA H: In case it’s a while before you hear back from Matt, I thought I’d mention that there is a very educational post by Matt on this site dated October 27, 2009, that you will find very interesting.

  10. Another fine family of mustangs! How I envy you your job, Matt, altho I know it’s not ALL as pleasant as your trips to the Range when you get to take your great photos. I am just sooo thankful that some of the wild horses in our country have advocates like the people in the Pryor Mt. Mustang Center organization, and that you provide us with this “window into their world”. If I’m unable to bring it in person, I will send my relatively small donation by mail to help support your work.

    Perhaps Cabaret’s memories of his early years “on the Range” will be he and his family’s salvation if there is further trouble for the Forest Service horses. Hopefully, others will follow his lead. And, is it possible that your fence removal project last year helped this migration to happen?

    Please let us know as soon as you can what it is you have alluded to in this post. I’ll also be watching the Lovell Chronicle, Billings Gazette, thecloudfoundation.org and the other websites, but YOUR point of view and insight are vital to my conclusions about these things.

    Thanks again for “being there”.

    • Thanks for your great support! The fence removal project, which will be getting finished up very soon, will definitely help the horses move more freely through the Burnt Timber area. This, combined with the new water developments out there, will basically open up more land for the horses to inhabit. I’ll definitely be covering this Forest Service horse issue more as we go through the summer.

  11. just curious, why did the fate of the other horses adopted from the forest service that maade you concerned you about these?

    • Well, those Forest Service horses removed last year were removed for being out there off of the Range. My concern with the remaining Forest Service horses is that I want them on the Range so they won’t get removed too. I feel that the message is pretty clear now; the Forest Service horses will no longer be tolerated.

      • Oops sorry. I mis understood and thought it was their fate after adoption that was a problem. I re read the earlier post and see where I didn’t read it closely enough. Bless your patience and the time you take to answer allthese quesiton.

  12. I was wondering about this small band when I saw them earlier this month. Lovely to know their history and names. Thank you.


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