The Mighty Renegade

The story begins back in 2003 when Baja gained Washakie and her two-year old daughter, Bacardi, during a skirmish with Prince. Since that time, Baja and Washakie, have been inseparable. Fourteen years is a long time for a band to stay together in the Pryors, yet these two forged a strong and enduring bond. They were a striking matched dun pair. Baja was unmistakable with his  two-toned mane and tail and his strong, muscular build. Washakie shared Baja’s dun coloration and had soft, doe-like eyes. These two with Washakie’s blue roan daughter, Bacardi, became a fixture on the mountain. They were quite elusive and weren’t always seen, but when they were, there was no doubt to their identify.


This was one of the first photos that Nancy took of Baja’s band. This was in May 2005. Bacardi had her first foal, stripe-y little grullo foal named Freedom. He did not live much longer.

We entered into 2017 with a bit of trepidation as both band leaders were aging. Baja, at 21, still looked in great shape with his thick build that was only beginning to show signs of aging. Washakie was showing her age. But why wouldn’t she? She had already borne 17 foals since her first, Morning Star, was born in 1996 and was a 21-year old band stallion. Daughter, Quahneah, was now a yearling. And it wasn’t long before it became evident that Washakie would be having her 18th foal. In June 2017, Washakie somehow acquired an injury on her withers which oozed with infection. Puncture wounds aren’t uncommon as the horses frequently go underneath tree branches for protection from the weather. At first there was no cause for concern and despite her injury, she grew heavy with her foal.

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June 14: Washakie and Quahneah

On July 12, 2017, Washakie’s foal was born. It was a little dun colt with a blazed face. The name Renegade was chosen as a synonym for “rebel”. This young foal had so many obstacles to overcome that he needed a rebellious spirit in order to survive.

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July 13, 2017: Renegade and his mother, Washakie

Renegade’s band was all watchful for him. He had two older sisters, Bacardi and Quahneah that were never far from the young foal.


July 13, 2017: One of my favorite photos of Renegade with his mother and sister, Quahneah.


July 13, 2017: Another sweet photo…Renegade with his mom and big sister, Bacardi.

At the time of Renegade’s birth, Baja was looking strong.

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July 13, 2017: Baja confronts Grijala as the two bands pass each other.

His aging mother was slowing down. In addition, his big sister, Quahneah, had not been weaned. Washakie was having to provide milk for both her yearling daughter and her newborn son.

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July 17, 2017: Renegade nursing..note Quahneah’s legs on the other side as she nurses.


July 26, 2017: Nursing offspring

Both Baja and Bacardi tried to help by moving Quahneah away from Washakie. But Washakie, herself, didn’t have the strength to keep Quahneah from nursing. Despite all of this, Renegade seemed to thrive as he went about living the life of a Pryor foal.

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July 17, 2017: Bacardi positions herself between Quahneah and Washakie so Renegade can nurse alone.

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July 26: Baja snakes Quahneah away from Washakie.

Washakie’s injury kept plaguing the mare. It became apparent that her body weight was declining with the pressures of age, illness, and nursing two offspring. Many of us were concerned, including the BLM who was aware of the situation and monitored her onsite or through reports and photos from visitors.

Towards September Baja’s band became more and more elusive. They were occasionally seen moving quickly to and from watering holes. Washakie’s condition became even more concerning with her low body weight and the chronic oozing wound.

Near the end of September we got the first indication that something had happened. Bacardi and the yearling, Quahneah, were seen with London. By this time, London had matured into a strong, handsome stallion who had been keeping an eye on Baja’s band for over a year. Questions began as to the events that led up to the changing of the guard. Where was Baja? Where were Washakie and Renegade?

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This is how I will best remember Baja and Washakie….close together as a family.

On Tuesday, October 17, we were notified by the BLM that they were bringing Renegade off the mountain. Questions rushed through my head as we ran out to deliver some grass hay to the now three-month old foal. Renegade had been found with his sisters, Bacardi and Quahneah, there was no sign of Baja or Washakie. When the BLM discovered Renegade without his mother it seemed a good opportunity to intervene and possibly save his life.


October 17, 2017: Renegade at Britton Springs. Without his mom around, his chances of survival in the wild were minimal.

Renegade spent two nights in a large pen at Britton Springs. His body condition was poor as he showed signs of malnutrition. Almost immediately he seemed to understand that we were there to help. When Steve first saw him, he quietly walked up to him, laid a hand across his back and said, “So you are the Mighty Renegade.”


October 17, 2017: Renegade & Steve

The BLM quickly recognized that he needed more intensive care. In addition, horses are social animals and a young orphaned foal desperately needs companionship

On Wednesday, the BLM asked if we could bring Renegade to our place. The next day, Steve and Ryan loaded him up and brought him to his own special pen. We tried giving him some foal formula, but it was a battle.  He was much more interested in the grass hay that probably closely resembled the dry fall grasses he had been eating on the mountain.

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October 19, 2017: Renegade with Nancy

The next week, we signed adoption papers. Orphan foal adoptions are made possible in situations such as this. He was old enough to stand a chance for survival with specialized care. But he was not old enough to withstand the winter weather that will soon hit the Pryor Mountains.

Renegade, or the Mighty Renegade, as we have come to call him, still needs that strong spirit to fight the obstacles that have come into his young life. He is doing well with us, but you can still sense his loneliness for his family. You can still see the effects of limited nourishment. But you can also see the dun color from both parents. You can still see the two-tone mane and tail he got from his sire. And you can see those beautiful doe-like eyes of his mother. And in those eyes…you can see strength.

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Renegade…he has his mother’s eyes.

Neither Baja, nor Washakie have been seen since all these events happened. In all likelihood, Washakie is gone. Death would be the only explanation that would cause the separation of a mare so devoted to her foals. Baja’s status is uncertain and only time will reveal that answer.  I know there are so many of you who share the sadness of this news.  There is strength in knowing that Quahneah is there to carry on for Washakie and Baja, as well as the other generations that came from these two remarkable horses.

Please know that we would much rather watch Renegade growing up wild in his mountain home.  Though his life will be different here with us, you can be sure that Renegade will be given all that he needs to help him survive and serve as a reminder of Baja and Washakie’s great legacy. Our names may be on Renegade’s adoption papers, but he really belongs to all who watched and admired Baja and Washakie through their many years together on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range.

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October 28, 2017: The Mighty Renegade


Published in: on October 28, 2017 at 4:18 pm  Comments (31)  

Pryor Foal…Ryden

There is such excitement in the Pryors when a new foal is born. In 2017, this has been especially true as there have been only eight foals born and only five surviving thus far. All summer the question would come up, “Is Jasmine pregnant?” And we waited…and waited…until October 5 when Anh Nguyen sent this text, “Good morning Nancy, Jasmine has a foal. I am not sure if is a boy or girl. Looks just like her. But more black. This foal has a star exactly like hers.” This isn’t the first time Anh has been the first to see and report a Pryor foal. She generously devotes much of her time from her life in California observing and photographing the horses. A day later I got the next text from her, “This baby is a boy.”

Steve was able to see the foal the first day of his life, but it was two days later when I was able to go up to see him. It was a simple, quiet moment in his life, but very special for me. As I watched the newest of the Pryor foals, my thoughts turned to the importance each one of them brings to the bigger picture of their place in the Pryor world.


Jasmine watches around her to make sure all is well with her foal.

This colt has been named, Ryden. At the beginning of the summer Ginger Kathrens had expressed a desire to name a 2017 foal after Hope Ryden. In 1968 Hope had come to the Pryors for ABC to investigate the BLM’s proposed plan to remove the wild horses from the Pryors. Billings Gazette reporter, Allison Battdorf reported, “A group of Lovell townsfolk (led by Reverend Floyd Schwieger) bucked, saying the horses belonged there.”


Little Ryden show affection for his mother.

Hope came to Lovell  at that time to investigate, and thus began her lifelong interest in the Pryor horses. Battdorf spoke of Hope’s influence on the preservation of the Pryor horses, “The broadcast on the plight of the Pryor horses attracted the county’s attention.” Yes, Ryden is the perfect name for this foal who was born nearly 50 years from the time when a woman named, Hope Ryden, greatly contributed to the preservation of a wild horse herd in the Pryors.


Ryden and Jasmine share meal time together.

The excitement of Ryden’s birth was heightened because of the heritage of both his mother and father. This is Jasmine’s first foal. She is a beautiful blue roan mare and the daughter of Cloud and Aztec. You would never know it was her first foal because of her protective and tender care of the little one. She knows how to be a great mother…partly from instinct and partly from lessons learned in the last eight years of her life.


After his meal, Ryden did a little exploring…never far from his mother.

Jasmine’s father is legendary and well-known. Although Cloud is gone now, the mountain is full of family including his mother, Phoenix, who happened to be grazing right near Doc’s band.


Hernando and his two mares: Phoenix and War Bonnet grazed near Doc’s band.  Did Phoenix have any idea that the newest foal on the mountain is her great-grandson?

Jasmine’s mother, Aztec, was originally a Dryhead horse born to Beauty and Black Beauty. Aztec is the only living offspring of Beauty. Aztec has two daughters on the mountain, Jasmine and her older sister, Hailstorm.

Ryder’s sire is the stallion Doc. Doc’s lineage is a small one that goes back to the foundation mare numbered 72-204. That was from the identification system set up by Lynn Tayler of the BLM back in the early days of the horse range. Friend, Alex, calls her Black Star which is a pretty sweet connection with Ryder who right now is a little black horse with a big white star!

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Mare 72-204 is the paternal great-grandmother of little Ryden. Photo by Lynn Taylor

She had a daughter, Winnemucca who died in 2016 at the age of 28. Doc is Winnemucca’s only living offspring and the only living descendant of mare 72-204. This is yet another link to this new foal to the herd’s genetics.


Doc grazed near to Jasmine and the foal. His other mares were just up the hillside. Doc stayed attentive to his surroundings.

Doc is so striking with his good looks. He has a dark bay (or seal brown) color with a thick wavy mane and tail. Doc looks much like his sire, Littlefoot/Matteo. While it appears that the foal will carry on Jasmine’s blue roan color, he may be showing signs of his sire’s “waves.”


The little tail shows a hint of “waviness.”

Soon it was time for the foal to nap again. He dropped down into the dried October grass. Jasmine stops to take a look to ensure that things were safe for her napping son.


The other mares grazed nearby. Jasmine has a great support system with mares Brumby, Firestorm, and Heritage.


Jasmine resumes her grazing while Ryden rests. Jasmine’s half-sister, Firestorm, grazes nearby.


This is such a sweet moment between Jasmine and the foal.


As I prepared to leave, the foal was resting peacefully under the protective watch of his mother and the band.

Life in the wild certainly isn’t easy for the Pryor foals. In fact, this very night brought a change in weather. Morning dawned with it a fresh coat of snow for the mountain-top. Time will tell about the next days, weeks, months, years of this little one’s life. We will see whatever awaits….

Published in: on October 8, 2017 at 1:35 pm  Comments (10)