Epic: Cloud’s Battle

Epic: Very great or large and usually difficult or impressive.

The word, epic, truly defines the series of events on Sunday, May 4, 2014.  One of the goals of the PryorWild blog is to capture the historical events of the Wild Horse Range. This is one such event.

Upon arriving at Chino’s Corner. Horses were visible to the east of the water guzzler, grazing on the side of the hill. It’s not hard to identify a band with the easy visibility of Cloud and Nimbus’ light coloration. A dark horse was standing guard just to the west of Cloud’s band. Drawing closer, Cappuccino’s band appeared north of Cloud’s band.

Cappuccino and band

Cappuccino and band

The dark horse and Cappuccino called out and walked towards each other. At this point it became clear that the dark horse was Doc. There was no sign of Demure.

Cappuccino walks towards Doc

Cappuccino walks towards Doc

Doc walks towards Cappuccino

Doc walks towards Cappuccino

The meeting between the two stallions was brief.  There was more noise than action.

A brief scuffle

A brief scuffle

The face off

Followed by a face off

The two parted.

Doc departs.

Doc departs.

Doc trotted around the bottom of the hill coming closer to Cloud. As Cloud gave chase, Doc ran away and circled back up the hill. He did not seem eager to confront Cloud.

Cloud keeps Doc away.

Cloud keeps Doc away.

Cloud returns to his band.

Cloud returns to his band.

Cappuccino continued to hang near Cloud’s band. Mica came down to check him out. There was no aggression on Caps part. Mica showed his respect with the teeth clattering of the young.

Cappuccino and Mica, Cloud and Feldspar's 2-year old colt.

Cappuccino and Mica, Cloud and Feldspar’s 2-year old colt.

The two remained together for a period of time until Doc drifted back down for another round of squealing and kicking.

Cappuccino and Doc again...

Cappuccino and Doc again…

Jackson’s band grazed a short distance away. What a large band! Upon hearing the stallion sounds below him, Jackson trotted out. He stopped, took a look, and then returned to his band and their quiet grazing.

Jackson

Jackson

Cloud’s band had all moved to the top of the hill. Doc was standing to the west. Cappuccino moved up the hill to the east. He and Mica resumed a brief greeting.

Cloud's band in the center. Cappuccino to the left. Doc (not visible) just to the right.

Cloud’s band in the center. Cappuccino to the left. Doc (not visible) just to the right.

Cloud sensed the pressure on both sides of him. He quickly moved toward Doc. Both stallions headed down the rocky hill. And in an instant they engaged in a battle. It wasn’t the rearing up kind of battle. It was intense; down and low.

Doc heads down the hill with Cloud in pursuit.

Doc heads down the hill with Cloud in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Cappuccino seized the opportunity and circled around the band of mares Innocentes and Feldspar and Feldspar’s young, Mica and Nimbus.

Cappuccino comes around the band.

Cappuccino looks as if he might join in the fight.

Cappuccino comes around the band.

Cappuccino comes around the band.

Cap heads the band up over the hill and out of sight.

Cap heads the band up over the hill and out of sight.

Cloud and Doc continued their battle. This was most definitely a battle of epic proportions. Pictures show the action better than words.

IMG_8376 Attack 1

IMG_8385 Attack 2

IMG_8388 Attack 3

It was only halted when Cappuccino came back over the hill.

Cappuccino came back over the hill.

Cappuccino came back over the hill.

At that point, Doc went back up the hill with a limping Cloud in pursuit. Cloud held his left hind leg off the ground as he ran back up the hill.

The battle breaks up.

The battle breaks up.

Cloud and Doc run up the hill.

Cloud and Doc run up the hill.

Doc went immediately for Cappuccino. The two young stallions engaged in some aggressive action.

Doc and Cappuccino

Doc and Cappuccino

More intensity.

More intensity.

Doc ended the action and moved in the direction of Cloud’s band. Cloud and Cappuccino then had a brief altercation which ended when Cloud became aware of Doc’s advancement on the band. Cappuccino ran off towards his band.

Cappuccino

Cappuccino

Cloud goes after Cappuccino.

Cloud goes after Cappuccino.

Looks like there might be more action.

Looks like there might be more action.

Cloud notices Doc with the band.

Cloud notices Doc with the band.

Cloud runs to the rescue.

Cloud runs to the rescue.

It didn’t take long for Cloud to re-appear with his band. Doc was back to his place of just circling and watching Cloud and his band. And that’s how the afternoon ended. Cloud had managed to hold onto his band one more day.

Doc with Cloud and Nimbus.

Doc with Cloud and Nimbus.

Watching today’s events was emotional. Cloud’s powerful presence on the mountain has been impressive throughout the years. This year he has a new fragility to him.  As Joy Vancos said of this event, “This is an integral part of wild horse life on the range.”  One day the outcome will be different for Cloud.  But we can’t be sad for Cloud. He’s led the perfect Pryor life: a life of freedom in his Pryor Mountain home.

 

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Published in: on May 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm  Comments (18)  

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  1. Your words describe this battle perfectly — explosive, intense and very serious. They’ve battled plenty of times before, but all participants must have sensed that change was in the air. Transition…

    Thanks for sharing the experience.

    • Joy…thanks for your words that I used at the end of the post. They defined the theme of that paragraph so well. And your comment about transition is so good. As I watched, The phrase, “changing of the guard” came to mind.

  2. What an experience to witness such a battle! And to have those great pics of the whole thing! Thank you for sharing it with us. I can’t help but think about how many of these battles are being waged every day out there, and how they affect many of the horses’ lives, from stallions who are victorious, or who are defeated and perhaps injured, sometimes fatally, to mares who must adapt to a new leader’s personality and young horses who may be injured in the fracas, or forced to become independent when a new stallion takes over. Nature is fascinating, even tho sometimes very cruel. On one hand, Cloud’s age is going to cause him difficulty, physically, but on the other hand, the experience that comes with that age is one reason he still had his band intact at the end of that battle. It could be that he will have to settle for a smaller band, and what would be wrong with that? Eventually, he will probably lose them all, or die trying to keep them—it’s Nature’s way. I’m hoping he’ll be able to accept change as it must be, and that his amazing story will include many years of him being an “old man on the mountain” as a retired bachelor. Doc and Cappucino, and all the others, are beautiful and amazing stallions, too, and deserve their time as main players in the saga of the Pryor Mountain Mustangs. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Mica’s story unfolds. I think he’s going to be very beautiful as he matures. I’m looking forward to any and all posts giving me a glimpse into their wonderful world. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Linda. Your comments are the very questions that drive us to keep going back. Watching the wild ones does carry with it burdens like this…of seeing horses like Cloud lose their bands. But your reminder that this is the time when the young ones can assume the power is an important one. It all comes back to the amazing circle of life.

  3. Wow, epic is the right word. Your photos tell the story very well! What a day to be on the mountain! Thank you for sharing your exciting day with us!

    • You are very welcome, Brigitte! I stood there with my camera snapping away and saying to myself, “I can’t believe this is happening!”

  4. I think epic is the perfect word to describe this post. Hopefully Cloud’s back left leg was just stung a little bit and it’s not going to become a bad injury. In the other pictures after that of him and Cappuccino he doesn’t seem to be favoring it much, but it’s hard to tell from pictures. What did you think? I hope Cloud will continue to be a band stallion through this summer. I think with the weight he’s lost some of the other stallions are looking to see if there’s vulnerability. I hope he will continue to show them that he is not ready to retire yet. I think having a smaller band will work in his favor. Hopefully with all of the new grass coming in he will be fat and sleek again. It seems like most of the Burnt Timber stallions aren’t looking their best coming out of this winter. Another question. Was Mica trying to head off Cappuccino a bit when he was trying to move the band? In the pictures it seems like he placed himself between Cappuccino and the band. But he could have also just happened to be standing there. I agree with Linda about how age will affect them physically, but then it also gives them experience. And Cloud has luckily aged gracefully. Not every stallion has been that lucky. And I agree that he has had a powerful presence on the mountain and left an impressive legacy. And I also hope like Linda said hopefully when the time comes that he is retired he will hopefully have many years as the “old man on the mountain.” I think it would be nice to see him and his brothers reunited in their retired bachelor days.

    • Hi Sarah. Good call on Cloud’s back leg. As I watched him, he didn’t seem to favor it at all. As for Mica. I don’t think he was positioning himself on purpose. He seemed to enjoy Cap’s company and didn’t seem to have any aggression towards him at all. I agree that some of the other stallions are thin too. Jackson is definitely showing some ribs. I watched Santa Fe dogging Cloud last week and he is thin also. But I do think we’ll see them fatten up soon with all the grass this spring moisture should bring.

      • Thanks for answering my questions. Sandy had said that while Chino and Santa Fe were dogging Cloud’s band that Mica didn’t seem to want to be involved. So that makes sense that he wasn’t really here either. I was just wondering since he seemed to be in that position. Chino is pretty thin himself. I’m not sure if you saw the picture of him that Sandy made the cover photo of her Wild in the Pryors facebook page. I’m glad though that they all seem to be in good spirits even with being thin. I think we’ll see them start to fatten up soon. I know one day we will have to watch Cloud lose the battle for his band in a permanent way, but I hope there is still some time before then. I hope the recent events are just an unfortunate coincidence to be happening all around the same time. And that this summer while he may not remain the most dominant band stallion, that he will still remain a band stallion. I feel that there is going to be a lot of transition this year and the next. Cloud is 19 this year. Diamond/Teton is 20 this year and lost his band this past winter (although I know I would love to see him come out of this spring strong and maybe get Pheonix back.). Baja, Red Raven/Coronado, Custer, Duke, and Morning Star are 17 this year. I do hope we’ll see more of the tradition style of bachelor stallions taking a mare or two from these stallions rather than taking their whole bands like some of what we’ve seen recently. Like Linda said, there’s nothing wrong with settling for a smaller band. And that may actually allow some of these stallions to remain band stallions longer. I hope we don’t see a lot of bad injuries during this time of transition. And that many stallions chose to enjoy their retired years. I wish they could all age as gracefully as Two Boots did and that they could keep the positive attitude that Bigfoot had.

  5. EPIC IS RIGHT!! I have Never seen such an impressive sequence of photos! Wow. Felt like I was right there! Thank You for Sharing!!! Oh, Clouds Birthday is the same as mine, so I find him Pretty Special!!!

    • And to think I have a whole bunch of other photos that I didn’t include….just had to have a limit to an already long post. I’m glad you shared the experience with me!

  6. Thank you Nancy for such a good documentation of life in the wild. Sometimes it’s difficult to see, but at least they are doing it on their terms and we are just bystanders.

    • What an insightful comment. We really are the bystanders. Thanks!

  7. Nancy, Your post are awesome Thank You.

    • Thank you so much Susan! This one was a hard one to write.

  8. This sequence of events is truly a chapter in the epic tale of the Pryor wild horses! What amazed me was Cloud’s ability to hold off two young, strong stallions. Your photo sequence allowed us to witness this epic chapter and I am so appreciative!

  9. I saw on Ginger’s story that she referred to Doc as a former band stallion right before he stole Cloud’s family. And you also mentioned that there was no sign of Demure right before the epic battle. Has anyone seen Demure since?

  10. Doc, Demure, Broken Bow and Malpais/Mandan were such a nice family the last time I was there. I was sad to hear that they were broken up. I, like Chris, am wondering about those mares, and also Mandan. Hope someone sees them all OK one of these days.


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