Blizzard…A Tribute

By Nancy Cerroni

Perhaps this should start with an apology; an apology to all who loved Blizzard and have, in all likelihood been wondering about the beautiful “orange” stallion of the Dryhead. It was mid-July when we got the word that Blizzard’s remains had been found in the Dryhead. Shortly after Christie Marcus and I headed out to find him. We both carried a heart full of memories of this very special horse. No, we weren’t surprised to hear of his passing. But death is never easy, even when somewhat expected. With the series of difficult events from that time to now, I held the story of Blizzard in my heart. So please forgive me for holding onto this for all these months. The memories of this wild horse will stay with me and will be used to pay tribute to one of the Pryor legends.

Blizzard – 2001

Blizzard was an amazing presence in the Dryhead area of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. He had this almost explosive apricot dun color that glowed like sunshine against the sagebrush background of his home. Blizzard was born to the stallion, Durango, and mare, Waif, in 2001. Using Reverend Schweiger’s photos, Pryor Horse historian, Alessandro tells the story. In 2000, Durango’s band included the mare, Waif, and yearling colt, Medicine Bow. Medicine Bow had been orphaned at this early age when his mother, Twiggy died. So in 2001 when Blizzard was born, he had his parents along with a big brother.

The location of Reverend Schweiger’s photos show the family on Mustang Flats, an area that would be Blizzard’s home for the rest of this life. The photos tell the story of Blizzard and Durango. Blizzard and Medicine Bow, and Waif gently guiding her orphan son, Medicine Bow across the desert land.

Blizzard and Durango – 6/26/2005

My earliest memories of Blizzard were when he was a bachelor stallion. One time, he came thundering down a hill towards my son, Matthew and me. This strong powerful animal came full speed at us and just wouldn’t stop or move until he drew closer to us. And then he stopped and just hung out near Matthew. It was like he needed a little bit of companionship in his lonely bachelor world.

Blizzard comes looking for companionship – 6/29/2005

Blizzard and his brother, Medicine Bow, would frequently join together in their bachelor lives. The pair was striking with Blizzard’s apricot dun and Medicine Bow’s unique red dun sabino. The two were never hard to spot with their bright orange colors. The pair is a great example of the strong bonds formed by wild horses.

Medicine Bow & Durango – 2006 photo by Matthew Dillon
Blizzard and Lone Wolf – 6/4/2006

Blizzard soon showed a courage and boldness to challenge for a band of his own. It was in 2006, when he went head to head with the grullo stallion, Lone Wolf. Lone Wolf was lean and experienced. Blizzard gave it a good try, but backed down.

It is ironic that Blizzard first found success as a band stallion when he acquired Strawberry and her foal, Gem, from Lone Wolf somewhere in 2006-2007. The young apricot dun stallion had an innate ability as a band stallion. In 2008, he had a nice band with mares Strawberry and Sacajawea, along with two of Sacajawea’s offspring, Hidatsa and Isolde.

Jemez greets his new brother Kokopelli
Photo by Matthew Dillon

In 2009, Blizzard and Strawberry had a beautiful colt who was named Jemez. The following year, Jemez had a brother, Kokopelli. Both these young sons of Blizzard shared his striking apricot dun color although each carried their mother’s roan gene. Kokopelli was removed as a yearling, but Jemez became another one of the “orange” boys of the Dryhead.

Blizzard, band stallion of the Dryhead

In time, Blizzard took on the monarch of the Dryhead, Seattle, and acquired his mares Cascade and Bakken. In 2013, Bakken gave birth to the lovely dun filly, La Nina. The mares bonded well with Blizzard and the band endured for many years. In June 2017, life as a band stallion pretty much came to an end for Blizzard. He first came up against the stallion, Hidalgo. The battle was difficult with Blizzard sustaining serious injuries which he possibly never recovered from. He was valiant and tried to recover his band, but soon joined the ranks of the bachelor stallions once again.

For the next years of his life, Blizzard seemed content in his life of solitude. He was a gentle soul that moved freely from the Sykes area to the Dryhead. This horse could literally disappear for a long period of time, only to reappear in his familiar spots on Mustang Flats.

Blizzard and Morgana

One sweet moment in early 2018 was when Blizzard was found on Mustang Flats with the mare, Morgana, and her brand new foal, Sorcerer. Sorcerer had been born during a brutal storm in February. The band not only endured harsh weather, they also endured turmoil as Johnston struggled to keep his band together. On this day, Blizzard, the mare, and the foal were grazing contentedly. Blizzard was so protective of the mare and foal and kept a watchful eye out for any challengers. No, Blizzard was not able to keep his little band, but for that moment in time, he once again showed his gentle, yet watchful nature as a band stallion.

In January 2019, Christie Marcus took the last photo of Blizzard that I have seen. He was so beautiful with his soft eyes, flaxen mane and tail, and that brilliant coat. He was on Mustang Flats, his home, in the spot very near his final resting place. It is very likely that Blizzard died soon after this photo was taken.

Soon after Christie and I walked out to pay our respect, Christie went home and wrote her own tribute to this great horse. It is with her permission that I share it with all of you.

In the last few years, Blizzard could disappear in all the secret places in his rugged home. We would frequently wonder if he had made it of not…made it through the cold winters…made it through the hot summers. And then we might catch a glimpse of his bright orange color. A part of me will still think of him out there someplace…living his life as a Pryor Mountain Wild Horse.