It was a privilege to go to Sykes Ridge with Ginger Kathrens and Ann Evans on the last day of April 2016. The day started out with horses in the distance. Medicine Bow and Jemez were grazing up on a high meadow on the face of Sykes. That set the stage for the rest of the day!
As we continued up the mountain and up to the mid-meadows we ran into friend, Dennis McCollough, who was scanning the area with binoculars. He pointed out several more bands including Kemmerer & Waif and Hidatsa & Belle Star.
Kemmerer had just chased Hidatsa and Belle Starr off as they were a little too close for comfort. Waif and Kemmerer are near the trees to the left.
At that same point we could also see Bolder’s band, Irial’s band, and Hamlet’s bands. We continued up the road with the knowledge that we could get much closer.
We found a good spot to look for horses and were not disappointed. We was the first “near” horses which gave us a wonderful treat!! Ginger was excited (as we all were) to see the beautiful stallion, Mica/MatoSka. He is the 2012 son of Cloud and Feldspar.For me, this sighting was incredible because of Johan. Since his birth in 2009, I had never seen Johan. And there is was!!! There was a third young bachelor stallion with the other two. It took us a minute until we realized it was Nickle. This was the first time we had seen Nickle away from his mother, Fool’s Gold, in Irial’s band.
It was easy to recognize Mica/MatoSka. But who is that dun behind him???
Oh man! It is Johan!! As we drove up the rocky road of Sykes, I mentioned that my day’s goal was to see Johan. And there he was. He is a beauty…reminds me much of his sire, Starbuck.
It was the dun roan color and the left hind white leg that led us to identify Nickle…now a young stallion entering a new chapter of his life.
The three young stallions ran down into some trees and had a brief, harmless scuffle.
The blaze on that blue roan face…Mica/MatoSka is one handsome horse!
The three horses took off running and disappeared. We walked up the hill to see if we could spot them again. But…no…they were gone! From that vantage point, though, another band was spotted to the west. It was Bolder’s band.Bolder’s band has had a major change this year. Scarlett/Velvet disappeared from the band earlier this spring. Jack Sterling had reported the band was one horse short, but we weren’t certain which one was missing. Scarlett/Velvet turned 20 last year. We’ll keep an eye out for her in case she somehow wound up in a different band. The rest of the band is accounted for including: Bolder, Sapo/Cedar, Baileys/The Black, Celt/Cascade, Lobo, and the ever persistent, Killian/Echo.
Bolder on the left. Killian/Echo on the right.
From the same lookout point, Hamlet’s band could be seen to the southeast. Hamlet has mare, Audobon and her 2016 filly, Penn. He also has Niobrara who joined the band earlier in the year. The band was resting quietly.
Hamlet is out of the picture just to the left of the band. The three horses from left to right are: Niobrara, Penn, and Audobon.
After we turned around to head back down, it wasn’t long until we saw a horse off in the distance. We were able to quickly identify Jupiter’s band of roans.
A single horse caught our attention against the backdrop of the snowy Big Pryor.
A short hike brought us much nearer to this beautiful band. During 2015, Jupiter/Jasper had mare, Maia, and her colt Oro. During late winter or early spring, he acquired one more dun roan mare, Niyaha. Niyaha had been with her mom, Audobon, and stallion, Hamlet in 2015.
Look-Alike Mares: This is such a fun photo that shows Jupiter’s mares.
At first Jupiter grazed quietly a short distance from the mares. What a beauty! He is just unmistakable with his funnel shape face marking.
Jupiter grazes contentedly on the spring grasses.
Oro has grown into a very handsome bay roan. He was born in 2014 to Maia and stallion, Galaxy.
Something caught Jupiter’s attention and he gave us this beautiful stallion pose.
We continued on down the mountain and enjoyed the rugged beauty of the land. Sykes gives such an amazing view of Bighorn Canyon to the east. That alone is worth the trip. We got all the way to the bottom into Cougar Canyon when we saw our next “up-close” horses. This little one walked across the road in front of us.
The age and color…hmm…followed by…
A horse of this color…Hidalgo!
The two males walked across the road and took us to the rest of the band.
Fresia and Parry at the top. Morgana, Oglala, and Oak in the foreground. Fresia has the wild shyness of her mom, Buffalo Girl, and she kept her distance.
Little Parry is such a Hidalgo look-alike! It looks like he is a regular dun with the black primitive marks.
Hidalgo is a red dun with a dark mane and tail. He has light red primitive marks which indicate the red dun coloration.
Morgana and Oglala. When Oglala was first born in 2016, there was another foal born into Fools Crows band. We called that one Osage, who died soon after birth. We do not know for certain who is Oglala’s birth mom, Morgana or Icara.
Morgana is just striking! She is the daughter of Icara, born into Merlin’s band.
Oglala is a solid dark bay. He was very curious about the visitors.
We left the band and continued out of Cougar Canyon. We took the high road leading out of Sykes. This gave us the opportunity to view a few more horses from a distance. The use of a spotting scope revealed a lone horse standing high on Sykes Ridge. Persistence led us to identify the white socks and the classic face marking that could only be…Corona!
Corona has been on his own since summer 2015. He turns 19 this year. He is definitely a favorite…leading a very elusive life in the harsh country of lower Sykes.
More scoping showed us the two horses we started the day with….Medicine Bow and Jemez.
The “orange” color of both Medicine Bow and Jemez makes them fairly easy to spot from a distance.
And that was our day with horses near and far. We drove out of Sykes without seeing any other horses. But what a day! Many thanks to Ginger and Ann for letting me share this unforgettable trip to Sykes with them.