Sykes Secrets

Sykes Ridge is a place I don’t get to often. I would love to say it is just because I am too busy going up Burnt Timber Ridge Road, but in all honestly, Sykes Ridge downright scares me to drive! But thankfully, there are those brave souls that not only have the courage to go up, they also take amazing photographs and share those with the rest of us.

During the spring of 2017, there were some big changes with the bands of horses who use Sykes Ridge during that time of year. I would like to thank the wild horse friends for sharing their stories and photos that capture the changes on Sykes. While some of the secrets will never be revealed, these eyes on the mountain tell some of the story.  The events are interwoven and reveal the beginning of new bands and the ending of others.

We begin with Hamlet’s band…

The first hint of change with Hamlet’s band came with the change in Jesse James’ band. He and Cecelia live remote in the lower Sykes/Turkey Flats areas. On January 29. 2017, Dennis McCollough wrote an email that simply said, “Here are some shots of Jesse and Cecelia + one.” The “one” turned out to be young Penn, the 2015 daughter of Hamlet and Audubon. The untold secret was how this coming two year old was separated from her parents’ band and came to be with this particular band.

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Young Penn with Jesse James’ long time mare, Cecelia.

Move forward to March 2017. Jack Sterling reported seeing Johnston with an extra mare which turned out to be Niobrara. This young mare had been with Hamlet and Audubon through the past couple of years. Here we were with yet another mare separated this band.

Johnston's Band

Niobrara (left) joined Johnston’s band which includes Morgana, Phantom, and Icara.

Unfortunately, there are still secrets concerning Hamlet and Audubon. We know that their 2016 grullo colt, Quicksilver, died in October 2016. His death seemed to trigger a series of events leading to the separation of the Penn and Niobrara. But it still remains a secret as to the status of Hamlet and Audubon. They simply have not been seen.

Along comes Issaquah…

Back in February 2017, Dennis reported the “Mystery Horse.” This was a solid black stallion that showed up with a couple other stallions. Through lots of conversations and the process of elimination, we came to the conclusion that the mystery horse was Issaquah. It was a crazy thought as this horse had been declared as deceased. His whereabouts in the past few years have been a secret… but here he was, alive and well, and looking amazing!


Mystery Horse..Issaquah

On April 20, Jack Sterling took some beautiful photos of Issaquah. The mysterious black stallion was no longer a bachelor. He was with a grulla mare that was identified as Sapo. This mare had been the object of Killian/Echo’s intense desire for a couple of years. He finally succeeded in gaining Sapo as his own, only to lose her to Issaquah.

103_1938 Issaquah

Issaquah is just stunning in this photo.

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Sapo/Cedar with Issaquah

Fast forward to May 14, 2017 when Dennis chances upon a scene that shows the brutal reality of life for the Pryor stallions. Issaquah had somehow managed to take Jupiter’s mare, Maia, into his fold. Now he was a band of three with himself, Sapo, and now Maia.


Issaquah and mares Maia and Sapo/Cedar.


Issaquah’s shiny black coat has taken on a new set of battle scars compared to the photo taken by Jack Sterling in April.

IMG_2481 Battle Scars


On this day, there was plenty of action. Issaquah. It is poignant looking at the photos of Issaquah chasing off Maia’s son, Oro. The younger stallion has since been seen over on Burnt Timber Ridge.

IMG_2652 Chasing Oro

It isn’t unusual for a new band stallion to chase off the male offspring of the mares. At the age of three, Oro is fully ready to head into the bachelor world.

Issaquah also had to work to fend off Jupiter who was not far from the band.

IMG_2469 Jupiter

Jupiter is the beautiful grullo son of Flint and Feldspar. He is not giving up Maia easily.

IMG_2659 Chasing Jupiter and Oro

Issaquah chases off Jupiter while Oro steps out of the way.

IMG_2544 Jupiter

Jupiter sticks close.

IMG_2667 Chasing Jupiter

Issaquah is relentless.

Towards the end of May, Issaquah moved the band up to the top of the mountain. Most likely wise mare, Sapo, moved the band to an area that is fairly new to Issaquah. All of a sudden this mystery horse is now quite visible.

IMG_9845 Issaquah

Issaquah and his mares on top of the mountain in early June.

Issaquah's Band 2

Issaquah moves his band across the mountain meadows with the ever present Jupiter dogging close behind.

More to Tell…

So now one secret is, “Where is Niyaha?” Niyaha is the 2013 daughter of Audubon and Morning Star. Niyaha and her mom were with Hamlet’s band for awhile. Then she moved off into the next stage of her life to Jupiter. What a sight to see these two look-alike dun mares with the handsome Jupiter!

Jupiter's Band 6.4.16

Jupiter and his band in 2016. It was only possible to tell Niyaha and Maia apart by Maia’s faint star. Young Oro follows close behind.

We now know Jupiter is alone. We saw how Issaquah overpowered Jupiter to gain Maia. And in the process he kicked Oro out of the band.  Like Maia, Niyaha has moved onto a new life with an elusive Sykes Ridge stallion. The beautiful dun, Johan, is rarely seen. Yet in late May, Anh, traveled to Sykes and was able to see Johan with his new mare, Niyaha.


Johan and Niyaha….a striking pair!

This reveals some of the secrets held tightly by Sykes Ridge. We still have unanswered questions with the biggest one the status of Hamlet and Audubon. Through the watchful eyes of a network of people, we do have a fairly good understanding of the changes of Jupiter’s band and the rising of Issaquah and Johan.

Written by Nancy Cerroni

Thanks to:

  • Dennis & Toots McCollough
  • Jack Sterling
  • Kristen Collett
  • Dawn Ness
  • Anh Nguyen
  • Steve Cerroni
Published in: on June 12, 2017 at 6:22 am  Comments (6)