June 11 & 12: Changes in the Dryhead (by Nancy)

Spring is definitely upon us with day-to-day changes in weather. For the past month or so, the wild horses in the Dryhead have been solitary stallions. Because of their social nature, it isn’t typical for wild horses to be alone except for stallions, both young and old. Kemmerer, Fiero, Merlin, and Seattle have been spotted grazing on the spring grass of Mustang Flats. Other than the Greeters at Crooked Creek Bay, sightings of bands just wasn’t happening.

Hightail is starting to show her age, but she maintains her position as one of the matriarchs at Crooked Creek Bay

Hightail is starting to show her age, but she maintains her position as one of the matriarchs at Crooked Creek Bay


On June 12, Hickok, Seneca, and Hightail were grazing on the south side of Crooked Creek Bay. Jesse James has not been with the group for a few days.

On June 12, Hickok, Seneca, and Hightail were grazing on the south side of Crooked Creek Bay. Jesse James has not been with the group for a few days.

Things began to change on Tuesday. At the Center we had received word from visitors of a large band on Mustang Flats. This was an exciting change after so many days without seeing band of horses past Crooked Creek Bay. In addition, to changes on the Dryhead, the Mustang Center has made some changes as well. John Nickle has taken on the post as director. He and his wife, Lynda, have taken the reins to operate the Center along with two high school interns, Sydney and Kassi. Former director, Lori Graham, and last year’s high school intern, Brianna, volunteer their time and expertise to get things up and running.

That afternoon I took Kassi up to the Dryhead to acquaint her with the horses and the land so she could accurately provide information to visitors based on firsthand knowledge. Kassi will be a senior at Lovell High School. Photography is one of her many interests and talents. Her photos capture the band we spotted on Mustang Flats on June 12. It is Hidalgo and his large band of mares and their offspring. Shawn Ivie recently reported news of Hidalgo’s band on his Wyoman Photography blog. It was exciting to meet Hidalgo’s new family that consists of his big sister Fresia (and colt Montana) and Corona & Waif’s three daughters Halo of the Sun, Icara (and her filly Morgana), and Jewel (and her filly Mercuria). Kassi’s pictures show the band as they quietly grazed and groomed.

Hidaldo, 2007 son of Durango and Buffalo Girl now heads up a band with seven mares and their offspring.

Hidaldo, 2007 son of Durango and Buffalo Girl now heads up a band with seven mares and their offspring.

Fresia and Montana

Fresia and Montana

Jewel's 2012 filly, Mercuria

Jewel’s 2012 filly, Mercuria

Icara and Morgana

Icara and Morgana

In the heat of the day, with swirling bugs, Hidalgo's band finds comfort together.

In the heat of the day, with swirling bugs, Hidalgo’s band finds comfort together.

The following day brought even more news of Dryhead changes. This was reported once again by visitors to the Center. The mention of Blizzard’s name sent me heading back to the Range. Sure enough as I scanned Mustang Flats with my binoculars Blizzard’s unmistakable golden coat was shining in the afternoon sun. A quick look-around showed four grulla horses with him. A short westward hike brought me into a good viewing range. Bakken was the sentinel who took the first look at the intruder.

Bakken watches me as I approach the band.

Bakken watches me as I approach the band.

I circle around the group, my eye on Blizzard. At the age of 12, he has acquired a band of impressive mares.

Blizzard against the backdrop of Big Horn Canyon.

Blizzard against the backdrop of Big Horn Canyon.

Cascade has a breathtaking elegance! Through the years I have seen her at this same spot with this same alert pose.

Cascade has a breathtaking elegance! Through the years I have seen her at this same spot with this same alert pose.

Sacajawea, a wise mare that maintains a shy "wildness" to her.

Sacajawea, a wise mare that maintains a shy “wildness” to her.

Strawberry is a grulla roan with a large star and small snip.

Strawberry is a grulla roan with a large star and small snip.

Blizzard's Band: June 12, 2013

Blizzard’s Band: June 12, 2013

The presence of the two bands on Mustang Flats is an exciting change. Hidalgo, at the young age of six has acquired a large band of young mares. Blizzard’s band is more established with the “grulla bunch.” The kinship of the mares is a fascinating subject for me and an observation I’ve made is that the dynamics of the harem bands isn’t always dependent solely on the stallion. Certain mares seem to have  bond that keeps them together despite the stallion. Broken Bow and Demure on Burnt Timber are the strongest example of this relationship. However, Bakken and Cascade have been together for years as part of Seattle’s band. The Corona/Waif daughters seem to find their way back to each other as well. Keep in mind, this is just my observation with no real science to back it.

Changes are just a natural part of life. The changes on the Dryhead and the changes at the Mustang Center are exciting! Only time will tell if Hidalgo and Blizzard’s bands will endure or if other bands will wander down onto the Dryhead in the next few days or weeks. We will definitely keep you informed throughout the summer.

Published in: on June 13, 2013 at 7:00 am  Comments (21)  

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21 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks Nancy!

  2. Reblogged this on Wild in the Pryors and commented:
    A Dryhead Update from Nancy. Thank you Nancy.

  3. Thanks Nancy! What an exciting & fun time for the Center! With the horses coming back into view, many visitors stopping in at the Center and Sydney & Kassi working for the Center!
    Great photo’s. It should be interesting to see if both Hidalgo & Blizzard can keep their harems together.

    • Thank you Lori! I really appreciate all the time, energy, and passion for the Center and the horses.

      • I didn’t quite finish that statement, did I? I really appreciate all the time, energy, and passion you have for the Center and the horses!!!

    • You are welcome Nancy! Those wild horses get in a person’s blood. It is the horses that are most important and need people like ourselves to watch out for them. It is nice to see your photos and hear your reports on the blog!

  4. Thanks for this very welcome update — things are indeed getting interesting. Love the Dryhead!

    And also thank you and welcome to John and Lynda Nickle and all the volunteers — the PMWMC is a great place for information on the Pryor horses. Hope to stop in next week 🙂

    Thanks again, Nancy

    • I also wanted to respond to your comment about the companionship of mares, which I agree with. It will be interesting to see how the addition of Sacajawea will affect these girls. Even though they have been together before, I don’t think Sacajawea and Cascade are real gal-pals 🙂

      • When I approached the group, Sacajawea was off a bit. But towards the end of my observation, she had drifted over to the group. It will be interesting to watch them through the summer. Hope to meet you when you stop in next week.

  5. Thanks for the update! I soak up tall he information that I can. Can’t wait to visit in August!

  6. Hidalgo’s band is all looking great. The three yearlings have really grown! How did Halo look to you? We’ve discussed on wild in the pryors and the wyoman photography blogs that we think she may be pregnant. I haven’t seen a picture of her since Shawn’s post so I was wondering how she looked to you. It will also be interesting to see how things will go with Hidalgo and Fools Crow. I was surprised Fools Crow added Hidalgo’s band to his own and then again when Hidalgo managed to take the whole band from Fools Crow a few months later. It will be interesting to see how it all ends up.

    • Kassi had this front-view picture of Halo (on the left) that I just added to the blog. I’m not a good judge on the pregnant condition of the mares unless they are very close to having the foal. We will definitely watch and see.

      I agree that it’s always interesting to watch the changes with the herd dynamics. I have come to the conclusion that it’s a bit like a tv show….plenty of drama and the suspense of wondering what will come next!!

      • Thanks!

  7. Thank you Nancy, for your report and for sharing your knowledge with the newer staff at the Center. With each new trip to the Range, their love for the horses will grow, I’m sure. It certainly has happened for me. 🙂

    And kudos to John and his wife for stepping in with the directorship—who better could there be for the position? 🙂

    I totally agree with you about how interesting the dynamics with the mares are. I remember you telling me about the grandma/granddaughter duo who went off by themselves for a very long time and then, eventually, showed up back with their stallion again, and reading on Matt’s blog about Brumby being stand-offish when Jackson gathered up another mare, and how Waif stayed far away from Corona and Merlin’s bunch on one day that I observed them when Corona was, apparently, looking after them when Merlin was injured. Interestingly, the very next day she was like she was stuck to him with glue the whole day. 🙂 And the antics of the youngsters—well, they’re more fun to watch than words can describe. Horses are not only beautiful, but their expressions and behaviors are fascinating.

    It is sooooo cool that those of us from far away can experience all these glimpses into their world that all the bloggers provide. THANKS to all.

    I’m really looking forward to my next visit—seeing the horses and all their important people. 🙂

    My experience thus far with the Dryhead/Mustang Flats has been that if I don’t see any horses the first time thru, if I go back a little later, I will. But, you sometimes do have to REALLY look hard to see them. They are extremely well camouflaged in their environment, and sometimes movement is the only clue. Witnessing wildlife is so rewarding, but there are no guarantees—you can’t turn it on and off. Just think, there are almost 40,000 acres they can be on at any one time! And because they are “wild”, they CAN be anywhere. 🙂

    • Hi Linda, So good to hear from you! I heard you might be coming out this summer? The grandma/granddaughter you are referring to was Broken Bow. She had been with her son, Jackson going into the winter. Gabrielle was heading into the first winter of her young life. As the winter passed, Jackson’s band was visible with no sign of Broken Bow or Gabrielle. Lo and behold, come spring, we see them together near the base of Burnt Timber. Well, that was back in 2006. Gabrielle is now with Cappuccino and her new foal. Broken Bow and daughter, Demure are with Doc.


      • She’s on her way, Nancy. Matter of fact, right now she’s probably trying to decide whether to stop for the night or keep going in order to get there sooner! That urge to get there can be pretty strong 😀

  8. This is a difficult post for me. On one hand I do respect the work you guys do, and bringing to life the horses which we love so much.

    But I have some serious reservations about the activities at the Center itself. Three years ago I had some problems and now I find out that Aubree suddenly quit. This directly affects me cause I had a tour set up for next week. I could’ve easily driven THREE days to get to you to be bitterly disappointed. Not kidding about three days.

    As a matter of business practicalities I think you should insist on some kind of contact info. This way MONTHS ago when I made that reservation–the next management would know to contact me. Since it doesn’t cost anything to email do it that way.

    Personally I’ve had it with the Center. I will wait for video and pics from others. But I cant and won’t support an organization who simply fails at the least common decency.

    Forget updating the blog. The first thing you should’ve done is put up a banner stating that ALL TOURS ARE CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Please call to double check on your reservation.

    The blog is dated over a year ago. Sometimes I don’t even bother to click on the link cause I figure it hasn’t been updated. Don’t bury this vital info within the blog. Between a banner and a personal email to each visitor you can reduce disappointment and bitterness.

    It’s is beyond doubtful that I will give the Center a third chance.

    • Hello Margaret, I wasn’t sure if I should make a comment in regards to your comment. But I decided to in hopes of helping you in regards to your planned tour.

      First, I just want to say that I am very much in support of the Center and all of the wonderful work they have done in the past and will do in the future for the Pryor Horses.

      Anyone that has been in business and have hired employees, knows that it does not always work out the way one hopes or plans. So I ask that you give the Center another chance and know that there are several people within the Center that do have the best interest of the horses at heart.

      In regards to your tour: I will be there giving tours next week. I do have an opening on Friday July 12th, if you are interested. Please contact me by phone at 1-406-244-0015 if you are interested in that spot.

      Sandy Elmore

    • Margaret, you have every right to be disappointed in the way your tour reservation has been handled. However, there is more to the story than what has been printed and I do hope you are eventually able to give the Center another chance. There are many good people there who do not deserve to be blamed for the problems caused by a specific individual.

      I am unsure of what could have happened three years ago, but you seem familiar with the Center and the blog. If so, then you must be aware of all the changes the Center has gone through, many which have not been simple. But still, it’s not the Center which matters, but the horse range which they support and the work which they continue to do. Hope you still get to visit the range. And when you do, I hope you will stop by the Center and see things for yourself.

  9. Unfortunately I didn’t check this post to see Margaret’s comment. I sincerely do apologize for the problems that were caused by our late notice for the tour cancellations. I’m sure there is nothing I can say right now to change your frustrations, Margaret. I do appreciate Sandy and Joy for their supportive and understanding comments. The Mustang Center has gone through some tumultuous changes in the past year. But we, at the Mustang Center, are committed to carry on the work to preserve and protect the Pryor Mountain Wld Horses. We value the network of individuals and groups around the nation that share this worthy goal. At this point…we can only move forward.

  10. […] June also brought some minor changes in the Dryhead.  The Dryhead would change like the wind this year, everyday seemed to bring about band changes.  You can read about those June changes by clicking on NANCY. […]

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