May 1, 2011 – Dryhead Updates

Lately, many people have had some really great trips out to Bighorn Canyon – There are a surprising number of horses out there. From what I have seen, and from what others have seen and told me about, nearly all of the Dryhead horses have been easily seen from the highway at one time or another during the past few weeks.

Blizzard’s harem seems to be the most often seen right now.


As was the case last spring, the harem was a little dynamic there for a while. Toward the end of March, Sacajawea and her 2010 foal Kemmerer became more visible, and this seemed to have created tension as Blizzard tried to get them to be with his harem of Cascade, Johnston, Bakken, and Joseph.



These two mostly stayed alone together through the winter, and they were hard to find when they were doing this. It is nice to be able to see them more frequently again. Blizzard’s harem isn’t as dynamic now; it has remained about the same since around the middle of April. One afternoon while out there, I found the harem with a nice group of bighorn sheep.

The young male Johnston in the harem has had an injury on his back left leg for a few weeks now. It does seem to be healing, though.

April 13, 2011

April 28, 2011

The most exciting news with this harem is that Cascade had a foal last week. Last week, the Park Service called to let me know about the new foal; and so I went out to document it that day. When they had seen them earlier, Cascade, her new foal, and Johnston were alone together. It is very possible that Cascade and Johnston left the harem temporarily while the foal was being born. When I saw them in the afternoon, Blizzard had joined them. I didn’t see where Bakken, Joseph, Sacajawea, and Kemmerer were, though.

The foal is a very pretty grullo colt with a star very similar to his mother’s. This is the “L” year for foal names, and I am leaning toward naming him Lewis after the explorer. This colt is the first that I have seen in 2011. However, I think there are a couple more out there that I just haven’t had a chance to actually see yet given the very round appearance of some mares. This year was the first where a population effect from PZP could be seen, and so this may be the explanation for why there aren’t more foals out now.

Last year at this time, there were already a number of foals born. On the 20th of April in 2010, one of the new foals I saw was Halo’s filly Kaelia. I was able to see her almost exactly one year later, and she has really grown up.

April 20, 2010 - Kaelia

April 23, 2011 - Kaelia

Back behind Kaelia is Icara, who is Kaelia’s mother’s sister. Icara has been with Merlin’s harem for a while this spring. Like Exhilaration, she had been getting onto adjacent private land; and the BLM was having a very difficult time keeping her on the Range. Fortunately, she hasn’t gotten back off the Range since the last time she was relocated. Icara had been looking very pregnant while off of the Range, but she isn’t looking like that as much anymore.

Another young horse that has been spending time off of the Range is Seattle and Bakken’s 2008 colt Issaquah. He’d been just off of the Range in Bighorn Canyon around the Ewing-Snell Ranch. He was relocated successfully, and I’ve seen him with Tony a few times since then. The other Dryhead bachelors have been drifting in and out of the area, but the only ones that are fairly consistently seen are Issaquah and Tony as well as Seattle and Hidatsa.

Issaquah and Tony

The past few days haven’t been the most fun here. It snowed in the lowlands and mountains Friday and Saturday, and it snowed again in the mountains last night and at times today. As has been usual this winter and early spring, it has also been pretty windy. We are all looking forward to being done with the cold weather so that we can get into some more pleasant spring weather. The weather looks like it will be better next weekend, so I will be sure to share some of the things I see then.

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm  Comments (19)  

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  1. Great Report! Thanks! If that pic of Blizzard is from now, he sure looks like he’s lost a lot of the winter hair. Hope it warms up soon. We’re tired of the cold here in Wis., too. It was very windy today, and even snowed for a while. Fri. it was sunny and warm enough to be out in a T-shirt. Weird : )!

    • We are having some warm days; but when we are thinking warm weather is here, it gets cold and snowy. Today was pretty warm; the snow really melted off the mountains a lot.

  2. Thank you for the update,so sad that Icara lost her foal

    • Yes, it is sad; but it will probably be better in the end as it will allow her to grow up herself before having young ones.

  3. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the update! Any sightings of my gal Brumby? I hope she4’s ok!

    • When I was with Jackson’s harem last, Brumby and her two daughters weren’t there. As we’ve learned, this isn’t too uncommon for her this time of year! I’ll definitely post when things settle down with that.

  4. Have you seen Cloud’s mare Velvet(Scarlett) anywhere on the mountain top? Im very worried about her and I wonder where she is

    • Well, the last times I’ve seen her she’s still been with Bolder. I’ll be sure to post any changes to this that I see, though!

  5. Johnston’s wound sure looks painful, even tho it does show improvement. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have that much skin (hide) pulled loose and exposed to the cold air, etc. It is probably better to have happened in the cold and snow, tho, with less bugs, dirt, and warmth to promote growth of germs. Amazing what these horses can endure and overcome. My thoughts are with him.

  6. Any sightings of Exhilaration? Is he staying where he is supposed to be? What a wonderful boy! I think of him often and wonder if he has a mare of his own yet.

    • Last I heard Exhiliration wouldn’t stay away from his favorite little mares off the Pryors. He was adopted out off the range, I belive by Matt’s Father…(if this is incorrect Matt let me know)? The new director talked about it in the last entry before this one.

      There was some post talk that they should consider him to be the ambassador for the Pryor’s Center.

      • Yes, this is correct. He was removed and then adopted out at a little event just for him. It was my stepfather who ended up adopting him. He and my mom are working with him and getting to know him. They have talked about having him be a good ambassador for the herd; he could stay down in the Center field during the warm months. From what I understand, he will also be visited by some students as part of an upcoming field trip to the Range.

  7. Can you tell me the names of the mares that you think could be pregnant

  8. Hi Matt, Thanks for the update. It is especially good to see Sacajawea. Looking forward to coming over there soon. Hope we can meet up on one of those trips.

    • Yes, definitely! Just let me know your schedule, and I’ll see what I can do. (If anyone else happens to be around in the future and wants to meet up, just let me know too!)

  9. Hi, Matt. I though Cascade was with Seattle in 2009-10 and now she is with Blizzard. When and how did that happen? Who would be the probable father of her new foal, Lewis?

    • They had been with Seattle. It happened in spring 2010 though they have been with Seattle on and off since then a few times. I’m thinking that Seattle is probably the sire of Lewis.

  10. I’m sorry, but I just Can NOT Understand! several phrases [& Intents]:…(1)to accomplish this they are to be “CONSIDERED ‘IN’ in the area where presently FOUND, as integral part of natural system of the public lands.”
    Matt said, “Considered in area where presently found”= key part, AND
    (2)”interpreted 2 mean: managers supposed to CONSIDER these areas FOR horses, but that doesN’T mean they are REQUIRED 2 use ENTIRE area for horses. Many wild horse areas have HERD AREAS…much LARGER than Herd Management Areas that horses actually live in (Pryor’s has a LITTLE bit of HMA out of HA)”…*WHY*?
    (3)”PMWHR=combination of agency +private rangelands AUTHORIZED FOR USE by wild horses…Not to be CONFUSED with Wild Horse RANGE which=special designation which only BLM portion of PMWHR has status.”
    (4) “Forest Service’s planning documents for the Pryor’s ONLY ALLOW for management of HORSES in Area Q up there…”
    –OK, if “Herd Areas”=the Areas where Horses WERE found 1971, then WHY are Wild Horses NOT “authorized to Use”…ANY & ALL of such areas??
    –WHY would a HMA or RANGE ever EXCLUDE any of such “legally entitled land area”?? (& PM Horses may USE ONLY a LITTLE bit of their HA)?…this just makes absolutely *No sense to me! The so-called ‘managers’ of this law-given land were chosen to be the BLM; so
    –WHY/HOW could any Mgr. only ‘consider, but not Allow’ protected wild Horses to HAVE ACCESS to every inch of that land which IS legally-set aside FOR them?? HOW do they ‘consider’ any personal Opinion as ABOVE the federal Law??
    –same for the ‘Forest Svc’ (other Employees of tax-payers)…I don’t CARE if the FS or NPS have subsequently ‘planned’, for any Reason, to give wild Horses ACCESS to ONLY a tiny portion called ‘Area Q’ up there!! WHY are they also ABOVE the Law??
    –When the 1971 law was enacted; every bush, rock, soil space, hiking trail, road, water source, or initials carved into a tree…that WERE WITHIN the HERD Area where HORSES were Found…was legally designated *Primarily* FOR their Use (& Only *secondarily* FOR any other purpose)! So, I do NOT understand
    –WHY it would be Differently interpreted for land area that was historically or subsequently said to ‘belong’ to a (especially PUBLIC-‘owned’/entitled area) Forest Service, or to a Park Service, or to a local Neighborhood Watch area, or Public garden space..!! the Law stated That specific land/soil/water area WAS to BE managed FOR wild horses! &
    –if I or You had already, or later, ‘planned’ to use Any of it (land, tree, rock) for some other purpose of our own…then We SHOULD Not & Would Not be allowed to DO so…If such ‘other plan use’ would EXCLUDE, in any way, concurrent & primary USE by the wild horses!! i.e. we would be ‘S- out-of-luck’ 😉 & expected to come up with a Different plan..?!
    –Why would the *Forest Service* (& similarly in other areas, a *National REFUGE area*), or even *Aunt Bea’s Quilting Club* NOT be REQUIRED to comply with the law?? It should just be ‘too bad’ for their *other plans*, as well!
    –even though subsequent laws talk about Allowing for “multiple-USEs”; such Extra dreamed-up Uses.. should also NOT be allowed to Change the Primary use ??! If they can *non-intrusively Co-Exist* with the Horses’ USE…fine! IF Not…come up with a different Plan…
    [I am assuming here, the Intent of Multiple-uses was mainly FOR/so Public citizens could also Use such land…like for hiking, camping, skiing, singing, meditation, swimming..]–but such use could not include ‘Owning or Destroying or PERMANENTLY Changing’ that area for oneself, at the EXPENSE of the primary Use-rs (Wild Horses/Burros)…Please explain–WHY this is not Correct ??
    –[last question, i swear]: Exactly & Precisely, WHAT ARE these ‘multiple uses’ planned for the Pryor Mountain HORSE AREA??, the HMA??,
    the Nat’l Park??, &
    the Custer National Forest ???
    WHAT exactly DO they wish to USE this land FOR—that necessitates Excluding legally-protected ACCESS to the Wild Horses there ???
    –truly sorry if I’m just too dense to read & understand the Intent of U.S. Law? (having earned a doctorate degree…1 might conclude that I Should be able to logically understand Laws as written?)…Maybe *Every One ELSE GETS it*!? & I’m just idiot citizen…but, I DON’T THINK SO! ??

    • Hello! I’ll try to answer these to the best of my ability. Managers on BLM and Forest Service lands are apparently only needing to consider the wild horses where they were found in 1971. I have seen this taken to mean that wild horses can be managed on these lands. However, they can only be managed in areas where there were wild horses found in 1971, and there is no requirement to manage horses in these areas. There are different reasons for herds that have lost a lot or all of their original herd areas. That sliver of closed HA on the south end of the PMWHR is called the Administrative Pastures; it was basically closed so that it could be used as an extended trapping/pasture area of sorts in the days of horseback gathering. This decision was made in a Resource Management Plan; these are big and long-lived planning documents in the BLM. This particular RMP, like many others in the West, is currently being redone. The PMWHR is a “Range” in the true definition. The private land up there is only about 600 acres; it is very small compared to the larger area of the Range on public lands. The private land is leased by the BLM for use by the herd.

      The creation of the PMWHR did change some major activities on the Range: There were livestock allotments that were closed. Mineral resources were withdrawn. Large portions of the Range were made wilderness study areas.

      The situation with horses being allowed on any FS lands beyond the Area Q triangle is something that has existed for about as long as the Range. There are conflicting reports of whether or not there was extensive use of the other areas by the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses. Planning processes in the past led to the current boundary following Lost Water Canyon and the BLM-FS boundary. Further, there are currently stakeholders who do not want to see horses out in these areas. The PMWHR itself was set aside for the horses, but multiple use still is a governing factor up there in the bigger picture of the Pryor Mountains. On the FS lands this includes wilderness lands, hunting, a little livestock grazing, and other forms of recreation. This all again especially pertains to the lands adjacent to, but not part of, the current Range. (I’m not bringing the NPS into this too much as the 1971 Act isn’t really something that is affecting the portion of PMWHR that is in Bighorn Canyon NRA.) I guess to summarize, there are people who believe that the horses do not belong off of the Range just as much as others may believe that the horses do belong there or that other multiple use activities have no place on the Range. Everyone wants their piece of the pie; and everyone has some pie, but there is some disagreement over the sizes and types of pie everyone received.

      It really is confusing. There is a jumbled mess of national law, local-level planning documents, a diversity of uses and stakeholders, and a small amount of real estate in a relatively harsh environment. Let me know if I didn’t answer your questions and we’ll talk about this some more!

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