A New Year…Changes

Looking for wild horses is far different in the winter than in the summer. In the summer, it is possible to see most every horse by visiting the top of the Pryors and the Dryhead area. But in the winter, the horses are scarce. They scatter out across the mid- and lower elevations of the horse range to find suitable food and shelter in the harsh days of winter. This winter the area has been hit hard with some bitter cold weather. I (Nancy) took advantage of a blue sky day to head out onto Turkey Flats, an area frequently used by the wild horses in winter.

Winter brings change and change has happened. My goal, through the blog, is simply to report what is seen. Winter’s changes are an example of natural management, and sometimes there are unanswered questions as a result.  We will keep an eye on the range and provide updates as we continue to venture out on the Range throughout the winter.

Near the red hills, it was a dun and a grullo, possibly Sitting Bull and Bristol. The grullo was sleeping in the warm, winter sun and the pair was left undisturbed. The picture also shows the amount of snow in the area.

Two horses on a far slope. May be Sitting Bull and Bristol

           Look closely to find two horses…one on the left, the other is laying down on the right side of the photo.

The last time I had seen Sitting Bull he was with his son, Inniq. Today Inniq was by himself farther out on the Flats.


Just beyond Inniq was a band of horses. It was Garcia’s band. They caught sight of the “intruder” and watched as I drew nearer. In the winter, I take extra precautions to not cause the horses to change their behaviors with my actions. I kept my distance as I walked around the band. Orlando, the 2014 colt, was standing near his mother, Greta. She is very shy and kept an eye on me.

Orlando (left) and his mother, Greta, watch me approach

Orlando (left) and his mother, Greta, watch me approach

Norma Jean was standing just beyond her mom and brother. Garcia was a short distance from her. There was one missing, Millicent, the 2012 dun filly was not with the band today. She definitely is of the age when she could have left her birth band. This is one example of this winter’s changes.

IMG_2589 Garcia's Band

                                                                                      Garcia’s Band

I left Garcia’s band and continued west towards the mouth of Big Coulee. This area is well-protected and provides good forage in the winter. Sure enough, there were many horses in the area. The first band I saw revealed more change. Horizon’s band caught sight of me and showed great curiosity. Leading the way was Dove and her daughter, Manuelita, also known as Mourning Dove. Wait a minute…they don’t belong with this band. They had been with Coronado’s band even after it was taken by Irial. But there is no mistaking the dark buckskin color of this mother/daughter pair.

IMG_2597 Dove and Manualita

The band drew nearer to me and are seen from left to right: Juniper, Tonapah, Dove, Manuelita, Horizon and the ever-faithful Fiesta. But wait…two are missing…Lariat and Oklahoma. I kept scoping the area, just hoping they may be hidden somewhere. But they were no where to be found with the band.

IMG_2598 Horizon's Band

                                                                                    Horizon’s Band

More horses could be seen north of Horizon’s Band up in Big Coulee.

IMG_2606 Big Coulee

                                                                         Horses in Big Coulee

It was hard to identify the horses, so I moved closer. Even then it took awhile to realize this was Irial. His blue roan coat had turned to a dark winter color.

IMG_2603 Irial

  Irial/Indigo Kid

Other than Dove and Manuelita, his band was all there.

Irial and Adona

                                                                      Irial and Adona

LaBrava and Blue Sioux

                                                                        LaBrava and Blue Sioux

Fool's Gold

                                                                                   Fool’s Gold



Three more horses were just beyond Irial’s band. It was Bolder!



He was with two of his dark mares. I was still quite a distance from them and could only identify Celt because of her very distinct face marks.

Bolder's Mares

                                                                                   Bolder’s Mares

The horses were getting a bit restless and Bolder moved his mares deeper into the Coulee. I chose not to follow them any farther. Unfortunately I did not see if the rest of Bolder’s band was up ahead of Bolder and the mares. This will have to wait for another day. It was a good three and a half mile hike back to my vehicle and darkness comes early. It was time to head back.

Published in: on January 2, 2015 at 10:12 pm  Comments (19)  

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  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful day Nancy. I am happy for you!!!

    • I loved sharing my day with you!!!

  2. It’s great to see all these horses, and most of them looking very well, altho Irial seems to be showing the rigors of being a band stallion taking it’s toll on his weight. Thank you so much for sharing your day. Wish I could have been there with you. It sure will be interesting to see if, come spring, maybe Killian has been able to convince Sapo to be “his”. And to know where Lariat and Oklahoma have ended up. There are always so many questions, and so often the answers are just hidden behind a rock, a bush, over a hill or down in a ravine. 🙂 It’s one of the things I love best about the Range–the mystery. Ty again for sharing.

    • You are so welcome, Linda! And I agree that the mystery is one of the best things about the Range. I wish you could have been with me too!

  3. What a great trip this time of year! Im actually happy to see Dove and M’lita with Horizon’s band. Theres so much relation between M’lita and Irial that I hoped she would end up in a different band. Horizon must have a thing for buckskins as he seems to have decided he has to have all three 😉 I thought some of Coronado/Irial’s band might get dispersed over the winter. It was a big group for a first time band stallion. And Irial still has a band of five which is still impressive. Although I guess we’ll have to wait and see if these changes last. Hopefully Lariat and Oklahoma have just been displaced and are with someone else. I look forward to seeing who Millicent is with and solving the mystery with Bolder’s band. Looks like we will be seeing foals from Greta and Fools Gold this year. Thank you for sharing!! 🙂

    • Hi Sarah, I always enjoy your insights on the horses…funny about Horizon and the buckskins!

  4. What a joy it is to see the horses, decked out in their winter woolies, with the backdrop of their winter range. It is so interesting to see the outcome of “musical bands,” the ever-constant switching of partners. Thanks for sharing the photos! One can only hope that they survive the winter in good health, ready to perpetuate their herds with offspring. Happy, A Healthy New Year, to Nancy, Sandy, and the rest of the Pryor Herd followers! 🙂

  5. Thank you Nancy for venturing out and sharing your day with us, it was a wonderful surprise to wake up to. Looking forward to hearing more!

    • Hi Brigitte, We will certainly try to get out there as often as possible. This has been one tough winter so far, not so much snow, but so cold and windy!

  6. Thanks for the exciting news! I wonder if Lariat went back to Garay and if Dove disliked Irial enough to leave, leading her new band away from him; and good for her! And I wonder where Millicent ended up, either in a Dryhead band or a Mountain band. Glad to see Fool’s Gold appears to be in foal to Coronado, he has far too few offspring on the range. And it appears she may be one of the first to foal this year along with Greta 🙂 I hope La Brava finds another band to avoid inbreeding with her cousin Irial, even though she’ll be away from her mother. I imagine if Celt was still with Bolder, Killian shouldn’t be far. We all seem to think she’ll never leave or be parted from her son 🙂

    • And I find it interesting how the roans start out winter very dark colored and then leave winter very pale before shedding out into their summer coats. 🙂

      • I love the roans too…I call them the coats of many colors!

  7. Thank you so much for this update-and the ones on Facebook! Glad to see Dove and Manuelita together with Horizon-it seems like that could be a good fit for them. Happy to see Tonopah looking warm and fuzzy too! I hope Lariat and Oklahoma are safe and sound elsewhere. Still wondering about Oceana, Galadriel and Tecumseh-I really hope all three of them are together! I, too, love to see all the horses in their winter coats-it’s amazing how different some of them look. And I would be super excited for another Fool’s Gold foal (if it’s a filly she should totally be called Penny 🙂 ) Poor Coronado, I had hoped he would have regained some of his band by now. Not that I don’t wish Irial all the best of course 🙂

  8. I can only imagine how cold that hike was – – we all appreciate your (and Steve’s) commitment to monitoring the horses and keeping us updated!

    • Thanks Chris! It was a little chilly, however, it was easy to work up enough of a sweat to take off layers!

      • Has anyone seen Millicent since the last report that she was away from her natal band? I was also wondering if you had any new thoughts on where Demure may be?

  9. Each one of these reports is treasured for a variety of reasons. The interchanges at this time of year are always exciting and good for the different bands. Thanks so much for the photos and the report 🙂

  10. I don’t think I have ever seen a photo of Fiesta in the winter — he is gorgeous. Look how his socks stand out with that dark coat! 🙂

  11. Thanks for the update Nancy, and the effort to get out on the range in this brutally cold winter. These special horses are so strong and are survivors. It is good to see them looking healthy at this time of year!
    thanks for sharing the beautiful photo’s that you take!!!

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