’06, Daddy’s Girl, White Lady and More

untitled-6422 Leader of the pack

It’s been awhile since I felt the want or need to sit down and write. I guess that’s a good thing actually………….in away. Or maybe it’s because of lack of time due to shifts in focus. The recent release of Nate Blakeslee’s book American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West seems to have reopened gaping wounds that still haven’t healed and to be honest, they most likely will not. A friend of mine posted on Facebook today suggesting that ’06 be returned home to her park, her home, to Yellowstone, and to all of us who loved her. I ‘liked’ the post and commented that no words from me were needed. Since then I’ve read the other comments that have been added to the post and some really stood out to me, some touched me and others reminded me of where we are today.

I haven’t read the book yet. Not because I don’t think it’s a great book, I wouldn’t have purchased it if that thought crossed my mind, but more because my heart can’t take it. I have video documentaries here of her and others and other books and to be honest I can’t read or watch them either. It hurts. All this hard work advocating for living beings that have feelings and emotions not unlike human’s is emotionally challenging and if you’re not careful, dangerous.

Several things came rushing to my mind reading the comments on the post but the most important one was the feeling of being overwhelmed and not seeming to make progress in the right direction. Those feelings have been weighing heavy on me the past couple years; the current issues with wild horses, grizzlies being delisted, managing of wolves being put back in the hands of irresponsible states and more. Then it occurred to me that we aren’t losing ground. We tend to focus so intently on what we want, and only that, without compromise, that we lose sight of everything else and the small victories.

One of the comments came from somebody I have a lot of respect for, it noted that originally there was great thought put into “buying” ’06 back and that after consideration it was decided it wasn’t a good idea. Not because the funds were not available (I think the wolf advocate community has proven without doubt that we can raise money) but because we are giving unethical, selfish, hateful and inconsiderate hunters and poacher’s reason to believe this would be a new source of revenue. In addition to that, I need to add, it also gives them what they want – a sense of CONTROL.

For several years now as an advocate for wolves, grizzlies and wild horses I’ve been called all sorts of horrible names and even been physically threatened and ran off the road. I’ve learned to roll with this and at times find some of it funny enough to laugh about. The best feeling however came when I decided not to sit and have senseless debates with uneducated, hateful and silly trolls and shift my energy and focus to educating those who wanted to learn more and who wanted help in living with, conserving and protecting the animals I am fighting so hard for. I’m the only one who can allow somebody else to control my emotions and if I walk away and not give them that ability, that control, then they will find somebody else to bully or attempt to control.

The past few years I have become great friends with many ethical hunters who have become a very important part of my life. I’ve always said that although I do not hunt I do believe in proper wildlife management; PZP, other forms of birth control, adoption, controlled hunts, hunting to put food on the table. I have come to value their opinions, have learned a lot from them and respect them. We have an understanding of when certain topics probably would be better discussed at later dates, they respect me and my opinions, and to be honest, I know these people would have my back at a moment’s notice because they are old school and value things like integrity, respect and honesty. We’ve had open and emotional discussions on the illegal poaching, baiting and killing of animals who are habituated to people and they all have said that what these trolls have done is given ethical and respectful hunters a horrible reputation and not something they agree with.

I have shared with them different sources to avoid depredation, how to live with the wildlife we have encroached on, the importance of carrying bear spray, what wolves and bears have done for our ecosystem and how if they would take the time to get to know and understand these animals they are not the vicious killers they’ve been led to believe. In return I have learned patience and better listening skills; you cannot change tens of years of traditions and beliefs overnight. I’ve learned more about their concerns so that I understand what they need to be done for them. I’ve learned the large difference between those with ethics and integrity compared to those who are simply unethical, uneducated and full of hate.

I have a lot to learn still but I can sit in a large town hall meeting full of ranchers, hunters and wildlife advocates and am happy to say that within a room of 50 maybe 10 are haters who have no intention of seeing how any good can come from a wolf reintroduction program and of those 10 by the time we leave we might have 4 that leave more open minded who want to learn more. This is possible because of what I have learned from my friends who are hunters and ranchers – who have taught me patience, taught me what they know, shared their concerns and given me the same respect and courtesy. These are small victories and yet massive.

My thoughts on ’06 and bringing her home…………………

Do I think that is where she belongs and should be? Yes. The fact she was called, unethically out of the park on purpose to be murdered by a selfish hater was wrong. Sadly I have yet to meet anyone like this so that I can honestly learn what “drives” them and so I can understand – I can only imagine what fuels so much hatred. But to knowingly and purposefully kill an animal that means so much to so many people, who has done nothing to harm anyone, just shows the lack of compassion, respect and integrity that this person has. Leopards don’t change their spots and if you think this person is going to suddenly change now and happily return ’06 to her home, I think you’re mistaken.

Daddy’s Girl, White Lady, ’06 and more were all loved by all of us. One may have been more special than another for different reasons, but the bottom line is they were all loved just as much. I don’t think many of these wolves if poached or unethically hunted have been returned “home.” My heart says they have never left, their remains may not be with us and in the park, but their spirits have never left and never will. I can say that for one of them, I know this to be true. For ’06, she shows us she is there on a daily basis; the small, black tenacious, lanky pup she left behind shows us that her mom did not raise and leave behind a weak and stupid daughter. Rather she left behind a daughter who is much like her mother; a fighter, survivor, leader and one who has managed to beat all odds. How many times have we thought she wouldn’t recover and yet she shows up a month or two later stronger than the last time we saw her?

When I drive through the park now, I often times have somebody that may have never visited the park before or who may not have known these wolves. As I drive through different areas I share with them where I saw Daddy’s Girl last, White Lady, 755M, Casanova and more. I tell them their stories, how they changed not only the park but the people who have met them. I share how important their lives were and why we fight as hard as we do for them now. I may never see their physical bodies again but their spirits are there helping to guide me to bring others to them.

Once again, this troll is controlling us; he has diverted our attention away from the ones who need us here with boots on the ground fighting for them the most. We might be able to bring their bodies back but at what cost? What distraction? And do we really gain anything from it? In a sad sort of way I’d rather think that ‘06’s physical body is watching that troll daily; reminding him what he did, what unethical hunting really looks like and that one day what goes around comes around. He has to live with it and if it doesn’t eat at his soul here, it will on the other side. I can hope this is true although he has already proven he has no heart.

Everyone that advocates for these animals fights and serves in a different way; none of these ways are necessarily wrong for the most part unless you overstep boundaries. Your feelings on different views and topics may be different than another’s and that’s okay. I have chosen not to spend too much time on trolls like this and giving them control. He hurt us once pretty badly, I’ve licked my wounds, I’ve learned and I’ll come back stronger and smarter – with the pack. I’ll use him as the perfect example to draw others in by sharing his lack of ethics and morals, others like him will eventually turn against him because of the negative attention he has drawn. I’ll use ’06, White Lady, Daddy’s Girl and other’s stories and lives to make more people aware of how amazing, important and special these animals are and how their lives ended due to lack of compassion, lack of education and hatred. Do I want her to be returned home? Yes. But I refuse to give this person anymore control over my emotions, my money or my time when there are wolves, bears and horses that need my attention more.

And something to think about; if you think that this troll won, think again. He murdered the most well known and loved wolf next to Romeo. His unethical actions has drawn a lot of attention; a FB page that has drawn together more advocates than ever before that has spilled over to other FB pages, her stories are known worldwide, she now has a book written about her and soon a movie will be made about her by Leonardo Dicaprio. He may have her physical body but her spirit has made the world aware of how wolves are horribly misunderstood and murdered. He may have taken her from us but he has united the pack and united we are smarter and far more powerful.

untitled-7062 I Am with you Still


Borrowing Without Permission

Borrowing Without Permission



            Seems innocent enough, no harm, no foul, you didn’t mean to and you had no idea that image you snapped a copy of with your cell phone or that you were able to copy and paste off the image hosting site or a website that is legally owned by the person who took that image you have just stolen.  However, if you didn’t actually purchase that image, regardless of how you acquired it, you have now just borrowed without the photographer’s permission, a gentler way to explain “stealing.”

Maybe you don’t know me, I see a lot of people at horse shows and some of you I have had a chance to meet, others of you I haven’t had that chance yet.  Some of you I’ve become good friends with, others of you we’ve barely exchanged smiles.  Regardless if I have met you or not, how well I know you, or if you have ever purchased an image from me before – every day I show up to a show I am there to give 200% and I give it all I’ve got to capture those special memories or moments that mean the most to you and that bring a smile to your face.  I show up regardless of the weather, I start when the first horse walks in the gate and I don’t leave until the last competitor walks out the gate for the day (or late at night and even right before the sun comes up the next day).

What many may not know is that for many of the associations I shoot for, I am not paid.  My parents taught me that if I work hard and put my all into something that eventually it will pay off so I continue working at being the best I can be.  So they make sure I’m fed and watered right?  No, not even that and often times at these shows we are on a tight schedule and breaks aren’t even an option.

Why can’t you see the images while we are at the show?  I pride myself in my work and I made a promise years ago not to post images that are embarrassing to you or to me.  I like going through the images to make sure that I like them, there is nothing harmful, to organize them, to look for things that I can do differently.  I want to edit each of your images when purchased; when I took that image I know what I was hoping for, if I were to hire somebody to do all this for me they wouldn’t know what I had in mind or why I did the things I did.  I also want to keep my prices affordable.  If I were to hire people to help me at the shows that do not pay me, I’d have to pay these people with the money made from the sales of images.  They could quite possibly starve to death.

I haven’t yet gotten to the cost of the equipment; the camera, the lens, the strobe lights, the remotes to control the strobe lights, the high speed memory cards, the backup memory hard drives, the computer and the printer.  I haven’t gotten to just paying for my time either; I use my vacation time from my company to shoot shows on weekdays, I put in 10+ hour days not just at the show but days after the show organizing, uploading and editing.  If I say I will be there, I’m there regardless if I feel good or not.  I shot one show 4 days after fracturing my skull in two places with bleeding on the brain in a horse related accident.  I can’t begin to describe the pain I was in those three days but I told them I’d be there and I keep my word.

I’m not telling you this to scare you or to make you feel sorry for me; I love horses and all animals and I love photography.  I wouldn’t be working this hard, giving up my time off, working for 35 days straight, if I didn’t love doing what I’m doing.  Not only am I there for you but I’m also there shooting for ME!  I’m trying to come up with different angles and images that really stand out and speak for themselves.  I think back to how all of this came about 8 years ago and that’s another story that is really for only my closest friends, but this “hobby” has actually saved my life.  I also own 3.25 horses of my own, I’ve shown everything from halter to pleasure to cutting to working cowhorses, I’ve even roped a bit – and it’s safe to say my heart is with the working horses!

So that image you like enough to borrow without permission, you can purchase for about $20 which is less than your entry fees for the day and maybe even the fuel you used to get to the show.  If you like the image that much that you want to use it for bragging rights, please have the respect to treat me like you want to be treated, with respect and courtesy, by actually purchasing that image.  I would never walk into your barn or your tack room and borrow a headstall or saddle blanket without your permission.  Your purchase lets me know I’m doing a great job and that you want me to come to the next show.  You’d be surprised how something that simple can be so uplifting, inspiring and encouraging.  And if you feel that my prices aren’t fair then I encourage you to visit other photographer’s websites to check out their prices, their copyright statements and please send them an email and ask them what they charge to even shoot your event and what that charge includes.  I think you’ll find that I’m actually pretty reasonable.

Thank you for taking a moment to read this, your purchase and for having me.  I really do enjoy what I’m doing and hope that it continues to grow.


Laura Tatum-Cowen

Performance Horse Photography




I Saw A Bear Today


I Saw A Bear Today


I saw a bear today.  Not exactly what I was hoping to see so I was disappointed.  I had come here to see wolves.  After a few moments I started to take in my surroundings and I realized if you chose, at any given moment you could clear the mere yards between us and explain this encounter was on your terms.  I was a trespasser in your home.  Instead you continued to graze and look for grubs.  I saw strength, forgiveness and understanding.


I saw a bear today.  I was standing by my car watching you, watching me.  Your gaze was intense, unwavering.  Then I heard the wrestling of brush behind me and within seconds a cub ran by.  When I didn’t think my heart could take much more, when I realized it wasn’t me you were watching but your cubs, the second one came from behind me.  I saw love, forgiveness, protectiveness and patience.


I saw a bear today.  I watched as you spent over an hour searching for voles and grubs.  I watched people crowd you and watched as you altered your direction to avoid them.  I saw patience, forgiveness, strength, perseverance and a will to survive.



I saw a bear today.  I watched as you carried your cub across a river too deep for her to swim.  I watched as you played with her and taught her lessons.  As she raced circles around you, causing you to stumble and stutter step; you reached out, grabbed her, pulled her close and sat on her.  I giggled and laughed.  I saw love, patience, intelligence and compassion.


I saw a bear today.  This was one of the first days you were out on your own, alone, without your mom to guide and protect you.  I wanted to cry and wished that I could hold you and tell you that you were going to be fine.  I saw fear and worry.


I saw a bear today.  You’re terrified and alone, so small, not sure which way to run or if you should hide.  You’re calling for your mom but sadly she can’t answer, her heart is silent due to the selfishness of one.  You’re hungry and worried about other big bears in the area but don’t want to leave where you last saw your mom.  I see fear, grief and uncertainty.


I saw a bear today.  You’ve never known fear like the fear you’ve known today.  You heard an explosion and your cubs fall motionless.  Your instinct told you to get to your cubs and protect them but your fear forced you away, to hide till it was safe.  You call to your cubs but they can’t answer, their hearts are silent because of a lack of intelligence, compassion, courage and selfishness of one.  I see love, grief, concern and uncertainty.

IMG_4103I saw a bear today.  I ask for your forgiveness.  I’m so sorry that some “humans” are unable to share the same compassion and understanding you have shared with me.  I’m sorry that they lack the intelligence to see that you are not much different from humans; that you hunt to provide food for your family, that you protect your children at the utmost cost, that you experience fear and love.  And most importantly………………..you grieve.

“Forgive them Father…………they know not what they do.”

Just Because It’s Legal Doesn’t Mean That It’s Right

They had a hunting license so it was legal. Marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado now too but it doesn’t mean you get as high as a kite and drive a vehicle. I believe drinking is also legal and we know how many people are killed by drunk drivers each year. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean that it’s right; how you chose to use that legal right is what makes it ethical or unethical.


I’m going to put my noted disclaimers here now because I know where this is going to go:

I’m against hunting; guess again. I believe in proper wildlife management and ethical hunting. We owned one of the largest sporting goods stores and sporting gun ranges in Southern California. My family hunts and hunted. My parents were expert marksmen and I’d be willing to bet I can out shoot most of you.

I was recently told I am against ranchers; nice try. I raise and have raised cattle (and sheep during temporary insanity) and horses. It’s been my whole life however it’s not where I intend to die.

I’ve been blessed to have photographed several bull moose and a few cows and calves in a recreational area close to home. When I found this place last year I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I never thought I’d be able to see so much wildlife nearly right in my backyard, I figured I’d still be missing Yellowstone and the Tetons constantly and wondered how long I’d last here. So when I found these moose I decided I would spend as much time as I possibly could with them. This area is a heavily trafficked area; full of hikers, fisherman, campers, walkers, bikers, dogs and kids! After dropping by two weekends in a row and finding out that the moose were smarter than I was I was about to give up. There were so many people there that during the day the moose stayed hidden. Obviously the photographers who had shared the information with me had been photoshopping images…………..and they were awesome at it!


I finally went up during the week after work one evening and was rewarded for being persistent. I photographed an older bull with his younger buddy for a couple of hours and each time I came back I was blessed to photograph them or other moose I found in the area. I’ve hiked around this area and can’t believe how gorgeous it is and now know why it’s not a secret to all the people who live here. One evening I met a man from Louisiana and when I asked him what brought him to Colorado he said he had come to hike the back country of the Rocky Mountain National Park for two weeks and to photograph these moose; he had heard a lot about them and we shared moose stories for over two hours. I later learned he was a lead biologist in New Hampshire studying moose a few years earlier, these moose here have made a reputation for themselves.

Moose season opened this past weekend. I had no idea; this recreational park and campground are still open and on the many bulletin boards throughout the park that tell you that moose and other wildlife are here and tell you what you can and can’t do around them never made mention that hunting season was open here. Not to mention it’s a public park, hundreds visit each day, who would want to hunt there thinking it would be a good idea. I hope you’re sitting down because they do exist and they are armed.

I’ve been up to this area now over 10 times and during those times I have encountered one park ranger (there are numerous park volunteers and hosts all the time to help and assist the people there). Every time I’ve been up there the parking lots are completely full and cars are placed in lower parking areas, it’s a busy place. On the morning I talked with the park ranger he was not in good spirits. People had crowded one of the larger bulls giving him no way to escape and rather than charge and trample people the bull opted to jump a car; he did so so gracefully no damage was done to the car or the moose. The park ranger was obviously upset for a good reason and explained to me he was seriously considering closing the park down for the rest of the season, this wasn’t the first time and he was afraid things might get worse.


I went up on Wednesday morning; spent some time with one of my favorite older bulls and a new one I hadn’t seen before. The rut is about to start and one of the bulls was losing velvet and was itchy and agitated. One person was constantly getting within 20 feet of this bull and regardless of being given the stink eye continued this behavior until the moose left the area; there was no aggression and it wasn’t in a hurry, he knew who was bigger and who had control and he had nothing to fear. These moose have become so accustomed to people, cameras, walking sticks, dogs and all the gear that follows that they have basically become accustomed to it all and since they own this forest they have accepted it all.

Saturday morning the normal groups of photographers, hikers and campers had gathered and the moose showed up on time. The only difference this time was a handful of Department of Wildlife (DOW) agents. Photographers took their photos while the other people observed and then a “hunter” lures one of the bulls a very short distance away and shoots him with an arrow, this does not kill an animal instantly and this wounded and scared bull turned and ran right back to the photographers and onlookers who are now in the middle of this whole incident unwillingly. Three other bull moose confused and scared are now running to their companion wondering what has happened and also into the people in the area. I’m wondering what sort of hunter’s safety course this person took because obviously just by looking around, knowing he was within limited feet of the road as well as people in a public area who were there to enjoy their weekend anyone could tell this wasn’t going to go well. Photographers and other onlookers were charged by the confused bull moose and children got to watch as this person gutted this moose in front of them. And those DOW agents – well, the guy had a license so it was legal.

There are a few things that should be pretty alarming here: hunting in a heavily populated, public area that was not closed or posted for hunting season, shooting and injuring an animal so close to a road knowing that crowds of people were yards away and the list can go on. I wonder why the park wasn’t closed during this “event” and the only answer so far is that it is a “multi use area” so technically that means photographers, hikers, bikers and more have every right to be there as well – only they aren’t armed with a deadly weapon. It’s obvious from the park ranger I spoke with weeks prior that the park could have been closed fairly easily. If a national park can be sued by a hiker’s family because a family member was killed in Glacier by an “introduced” mountain goat which was a horrible accident how many of these people who witnessed and were traumatized by this event can sue the agencies for allowing this to happen with visitors being so close by for an honest reason? I’m sure there is an attorney out there close by who would love this opportunity.

The hunter? In my opinion a lazy, unethical, cowardly trophy hunter. Now, now!! Remember my disclaimer above! I’m friends with a lot of hunters, handfuls of them live within 20 miles of me. They see and comment on my images and we talk about these gorgeous animals all the time. Some of them have dared to tell me they would love the chance to hunt one of them. What makes them different from this coward? I have offered to take these guys to show them these animals and they have declined; these animals are in a public area where too many things can go wrong, these animals are habituated to people so it’s like shooting the neighbors horse and they respect me and what I do like I respect them and what they do. There is a huge difference, these hunters are ethical and respectful. We may joke from time to time but there has never been a time that they have not been welcomed into my house and we can sit and respectfully talk to one another about wildlife, hunting and each other’s views without causing hard feelings. To be honest I think they may be afraid to go with me to see these animals because I might show them something they have never seen before and they may not want to hunt one after all. I can hope, this is my blog.

The moose…………………I find it ironic and horribly painful to think that they have become so trusting of people that even when he was shot, suffering and dying he ran to the only place he knew to run, a place he knew he had found trust before…………..to people. Away from the coward that mortally wounded him and to people. If you have any heart and any compassion at all, that should give you something to think about.

RIP handsome. Thank you for sharing your life with me. I am honored and blessed. If not for you and other wildlife like you bringing me through some really dark times of my life I wouldn’t be here now. You won’t be forgotten and I wish we would have done better by you and never allowed you to find trust in our kind.


Thank You For The Lessons


I’ve been so busy the past 7 to 8 months that I haven’t even had time to think about this blog that I started; the horse show photography has taken off, new adventures have come along, more animals have crashed my barn and so much more.  We are gearing up for another wonderful trip and really looking forward to the wildlife, the hiking, the friendships new and old and the adventures.

This has been a relatively hard week for me, it’s been a year now since you’ve been gone.  They say time heals but I’m not so sure that is true.  I think about you nearly every day, I share your stories and the wonderful things you taught me, I think of all the things that I’ve accomplished this year and I want to share them with you but I can’t.  On the other hand I know that you know all that has gone on and I know you’re proud – if not for you none of this would be possible.

I received a message about somebody commenting on my blog a couple weeks ago.  The things he said about wolves were far from nice but then again he’s entitled to his opinion.  I have to say I think it’s a bit funny.  For one thing, you know absolutely nothing about me or who I am.  And it’s people like you who continue to make finding a solution impossible; rather than being a real man and discussing things and seeing both sides you choose to make rude jabs.  For all you know I could be your neighbor, your neighbor’s girlfriend or wife, one of your friend’s girlfriend or wife or the person who saves your life one day.  Your quick to make your comments and run without even knowing anything about me and it’s funny, I’m not much different than you.  Well, I’m not rude or disrespectful and I’m not afraid to have a civilized conversation with “the other side” so with that we are totally different.

My grandparents who I spent a lot of time with owned a sporting goods store and gun range.  Oh my!!  Yes we not only supported hunters, but we also hunted.  We didn’t hunt for sport, the pure joy of killing or out of hatred – we hunted to put food on the table.  My parents taught me how to raise livestock and I still do.  Oh no!  I eat meat.  I can rope, ride and train colts.  I’m not afraid to grab a calf and push them into a chute and I have a great respect for that calf’s momma.  I’ve probably cleaned more pens and barns with my own two hands than most.

I’ve read the comments about how “city folk” don’t know crap about how you “real ranchers” live and need to quit interfering.  Well, I’m not a city slicker and I’m not a stranger to getting dirty and hard work.  I’ve been kicked at, kicked, stepped on, shoved aside, nearly ran over and bucked off with some of the best.  I didn’t go to college but I did finish high school and one of the things my dad taught me was is if I worked hard enough, treated people with respect, was honest and had integrity I’d climb my way to the top.  I’ve done that with 2 of my own businesses as well as the company I work for and call my “real job.”  And when I’m done there I still come home to the ranch and do my chores here.  I’ve stayed up with the sick ones and bottle fed the orphans while many walk away to let “nature take it’s course.”   Personally I think that’s an excuse for people to be lazy and not take responsibility.

I’d be willing to bet I can out shoot you with a revolver or a rifle any day, however I don’t shoot at live animals unless they have brought it upon themselves to harm my animals.  It’s a good thing that I take protective measures before I need to resort to this, that is called “ranch management.”  It’s not about tossing animals out onto green grass and hoping they reproduce, it’s about being responsible and foreseeing the future and what it takes to be profitable without assistance from the government.

My dad fought for your freedom and then came home and continued to “protect and serve” you.  That was another thing he taught me; when a person needs help regardless of who they are or how you feel about them you reach out to help them.  Might be something you might want to think about the next time your so quick to be rude and disrespectful to somebody you don’t know just because they support wolves and grizzlies being on the Endangered Species List and mustangs being left correctly managed on BLM land where they belong.  It would be horrible for one of us “city folk” to drive by you if your buddy shot you in the hip during one of your hunting trips on accident and waved as we drove on by just because we judged you as one of them “horrible, wolf hating ranchers” rather than a human being in need of emergency assistance.  I’m entitled to my opinion just as you’re entitled to yours; neither of them are any less important than the other.  I’m not that much different than you are sir.  I’ve busted my butt to get where I am today and to have the things I have.  I have seen and taken care of things that would make your stomach turn.  Thank God the people in my life have taught me about respect, courtesy and compassion not only for human beings but the animals we share this land with.  I was also taught to stand for the things I believe in and to do it in the right way and I will continue to do so.

So thank you for sharing your story by commenting on my blog the other day.  You have taught me even more very important lessons and I really appreciate it.  I’m more determined now to continue fighting for what I know is right.  The next time you are driving down the dirt road and you pass a white Dodge dually with a woman driving and she waves; that’s me telling you thank you!




The young black pup woke up and hazily looked around, stretched as long as the small den would allow her to and yawned big. She slowly turned around, wondering where everyone else was and poked her nose outside. She missed her little sister; she had disappeared a few weeks ago leaving her nobody to play with that was the same size she was. Her uncle did a great job trying to keep her entertained but it wasn’t the same.

The sun shined bright outside and made the colors of the trees seem to be a brighter green. She laid back down with her front feet crossed, her head up, taking in all the sights around her. Below in a stand of aspen trees stood a small herd of elk enjoying the mid day shade that the trees provided. She turned her head a bit to the side and lifted her ears higher; in the distance she could hear the small gurgle of a stream as the water rolled over the rocks, rolling some of the smaller ones farther down the hill. In a nearby pine tree there were a couple magpies squawking at each other and every now and then they would turn and watch the pup for a few seconds before they went back to bickering at each other.

All her senses had become much stronger the past couple of weeks and she had grown so much bigger and stronger – she wished that she could go with her parents and the other adults when they left her protected area. Her parents told her she was still too small but soon she’d be allowed. Until then she was not to leave this little meadow that was a safe haven, a meeting spot where they would return with whatever elk or bison meat they were able to take down in a hunt over the past few days. Her little tummy growled; somebody would surely be returning soon with lunch.


A chipmunk darted out from behind where the pup was laying and ran over to a fallen pine tree that was starting to become part of the earth it originally came from. She wasn’t allowed to leave the safe meadow but while she was waiting for the others to return she could explore and today she wanted to see if she could catch that chipmunk! She bounded out of the den, her legs longer and gangly didn’t always do what she wanted them to and she tripped a couple times as she ran to the log. Just as she reached the log the chipmunk dived down in a small hole on the other side of the log into the soft dirt and pine chips. The black pup quickly went to digging, determined not to let the chipmunk get away. After a few minutes the hole had been excavated but no chipmunk appeared so the pup walked to the other side of the log to see if there was another escape route.

Just below the ridge on the hillside across from the site sat a large black shadow blending in with the shadows of the rocks and trees. It was up wind so the pup couldn’t smell what casted the shadow that was watching her. The shadow belonged to her black uncle who had recently returned home to the valley he had grown up in with several other brothers and sisters. He had spent the past 6 months trying to find his mother who had disappeared when they had gone out on a hunt; when she didn’t return to the pack after a few days his sisters, brothers and father had spread out searching for her. He had found her scent at one point and spent so much time howling for her and hoping she would return. As each day passed without her return he became lonelier and decided to return home hoping to find the rest of his pack.

When he arrived back in the valley he was greeted with happy howls of his black and light grey sisters. There was also a new large grey in the valley now and the small pack was excited to welcome him back as there were two new pups to raise. Since his return one of the pups had disappeared causing them to be more watchful and protective over the remaining pup he was watching. He sunk down low when he heard a noise in the brush behind him; he knew better than not to be vigilant but had been so intent to

watch as the black pup explored and developed her hunting skills. The pup was smart and quick; she was growing every day and becoming more and more pretty. He quickly lay down and melted into the rocks and slowed his breathing, his lip curled as he could hear the padding of paws coming closer, unsure if it might be a bear that was after the pup or another who did not belong here that wanted to bring harm.

Over the top of the hill came another black figure at a nice long trot, in her mouth was the leg of a bison calf. As she got closer he realized it was his sister and he stood up, his head level with his shoulders and his tail wagging side to side. When she got to him she dropped the bison leg at his feet and greeted him, proud of what she was bringing back yet once again. For the past several months this young black female had been helping in the hunts and right after she would eat her fill she would grab a large remaining piece and run back over several miles back to the den to bring the pups food. For awhile it was mostly her running food back and forth while one of the parents watched over the pups, but when her brother returned home he took on the responsibility of pup sitting and training making it easier for the rest of the pack to leave to hunt. She worked hard for her size; she was smaller than the grey wolves in the pack and leaner. However nobody doubted her strength or her loyalty to the pack. She was every bit as strong and determined as her mother was to see to it that this family survived.

The male picked up the bison leg and headed down the hill, the female traveled right behind him only stopping for a moment to get a drink of water from the small creek. Below the site on the other side of the creek two grey shadows appeared and stopped for a moment as they saw the black male and female heading to the safe haven meadow as well. The female put her nose up and let out a long, low howl. The black pup stopped her chipmunk chase and suddenly looked around, excited that her family was coming home! Her tummy was growling and she wanted to play. Seeing her mother a little below the meadow at the base of the hill, her tail started swaying side to side very quickly and she let out the happiest, highest howl she could find………….


She’s the daughter of a grey daughter of ’06, the Queen of Lamar Valley.

She’s the niece of the black son and daughter of ’06; Spitfire and Prince, the son and daughter of ’06, the Queen of Lamar Valley.

She’s the hope for the people that love the wolves and the Queen of Lamar Valley.

She’s part of a Legacy, the Legacy of the Queen of Lamar Valley, ’06.

Hear the Legacy howl.

Mother Nature and Balance

Before leaving yesterday morning to take the horses out I quickly jumped online to see if there was any additional information concerning the death of 820F, the 2 year old, grey daughter of ’06 who we lost last year. I was stunned when I saw a post of a wolf that was murdered by a hunter in the Wyoming Bighorns. It wasn’t the post that stunned me; it was who was passing along the information that stunned me. Most of my friends are wolf advocates, wild horse advocates or both. If not then they are friends who love all animals, if they don’t agree with my passion for these animals they are respectful and have no desire to get into debates or arguments over them. We’re adults and can still be friends; out of respect we don’t bring up topics that rub each other the wrong way. A lot of my friends are also wildlife photographers who make money by photographing these animals.

So seeing this information being forwarded by a wildlife photographer I waited to see what the response would be to some of the responses that were coming in. He responded to one person who was obviously thinking the same thing I was; how could somebody who makes money photographing these animals share something like this? His response was that these animals do not belong in the Bighorns and if he saw one he would happily shoot it. That was all I needed to know to end the conversation however I was still included in it and just read in shock some of the ignorant comments made.

For people to “include” a well known ranch in supporting their hatred and opinions wasn’t a smart move. I actually have known the owners of this ranch they claim don’t want wolves there, for years. They have shared with me their sightings (or not) and how they have loved seeing wolves and wish them no harm. Whether or not the sightings on their ranch are true or not, they haven’t reported any problems, no loss of stock and absolutely no concern that they will have any losses. I’m happy to say they are not the only very well respected, very large ranch owners who feel the same way. I’ve actually been invited to two who would enjoy the opportunity to find some proof of wolves being there and both have said they are so allusive, rarely seen and have caused no harm and as long as there is no damage the wolves are welcome there. We’ve even sat and discussed ways to avoid issues and thinking ahead. So this is how hatred and ignorance is spread; like the group lied about PBR supporting them a few weeks ago these individuals are passing on false information to other’s and the fire spreads. Not all ranchers have the hated wolf mentality and for these people to lump these ranches into it isn’t right.

Although the false statements about the ranch noted above should have made me angry that wasn’t the statement that got to me. The winner for the most ignorant comment of the day went to “Get ‘em before they overrun the Bighorns……pretty soon there won’t be any moose or elk up there either…” I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to laugh or cry about this comment. Anti-wolf people (for the most part equal hunters) really need to think about what they say or write before they hurt themselves. The thought that most of them carry armed weapons should scare most of the human population. I can explain; hang on……………

First this comment leads me to believe these people have poor eyesight. I’ve read stories that ranchers have lost both cows and mules because hunters have “mistaken” them for moose! This also concerns me! If they are so excited to pull the trigger BEFORE figuring out it’s a moose or a cow, they shouldn’t be allowed to own a weapon. And if they can’t tell the difference between a moose and a cow or mule, I’m not sure those are the people I want doing “official” counts on the moose and elk population.


Second this comment really leaves me concerned about hunting “ethics.” You see, you tend to change your story. When asked if there are enough moose or elk up there to issue hunting tags this year your eyes glaze over and the numbers reported are “plentiful” and “increased from years prior.” If you were told that due to the depredation on the herds and the increased number of success in the hunt last year you would happily tell us the numbers are inaccurate and the numbers are better than fine and it’s okay to allow a hunt. Based on the comment made above this would leave me to believe that the moose and elk numbers are very low and the elk and moose seasons should be called off. It sounds to me like we are at risk to make them extinct. It’s the wolves fault of course; they take down the sick or older animals maybe once or twice a week; worst case scenario that is 104 elk per year per pack. Keep in mind at this point we aren’t even sure yet if there are wolves in the Bighorns and I’m just basing this information on the statements you provided. I’m curious as to how many elk and moose hunting tags are issued each year?

I’ve sat with a group of people including hunters who have said there were so many moose in certain areas that they are considered pests and rats and they couldn’t wait till hunting season to get rid of some of them. Of course my hair stood up! I love moose as much as I love wolves and wild horses! I wanted to run off every moose I found in a 100 mile square radius. So in one conversation there are too many moose and in another, when wolves are involved, there are not enough and your worried?

So my question is, based on the information you provided, why when asked about moose and elk population are the numbers great when it comes to allowing hunting tags but when it comes to wolves possibly being in the area are the numbers suddenly declining at a drastic rate? It can’t be both, it can only be one or the other, it either is or it isn’t. This leads me to believe that your numbers are based on what you want for yourself and the numbers change based on what that want is. This concerns me because it’s not honest; if you want me to believe you, you must be consistent with your stories. I can’t support or trust you if you’re not honest. You have obviously seen the populations decline drastically due to the wolves so I’m relying on you for these numbers. I’m not there, I haven’t seen the decline – I only count cows and mules. They tend to be easier to identify and count as they don’t hide in trees and marshes for the most part.


The runner up comment, “When mankind took over the responsibility of managing this planet from mother Mother Nature it had and still has no idea. Mother Nature did a fine job.” I’m not sure exactly what this meant (and forgive the quote, I only copied what was written)? If you’re trying to say that Mother Nature was doing a fine job until mankind interfered with her, I believe that this is very true. A perfect example was how when mankind eradicated the wolves they not only allowed other species of animals to become weak and sickly, it caused over population in grazing animals that has drastically changed the ecosystem and caused a lot of damage. We’re currently doing it again if you look at what is happening with the polar bears and what is happening to the environment they have lived in for years. If you’re excepting responsibility for mankind making one mess after another that we cannot fix, you’re so right.

If however you’re saying that we were given responsibility of managing this planet and given the right to repeat history by eradicating predators that were here and did just fine long before mankind interfered, I think you are horribly wrong. I personally didn’t ask people to take on this responsibility of Mother Nature Management and I feel we are far from perfecting it. Until we can get rational people with good eyesight from both sides who are not “paid” by one side or the other who have no personal gain on the matter then I don’t think we will ever have a good management system. The fact that biologists were recently “fired” off the board providing information about delisting wolves because they may have provided information that would have hurt the information that hunters and ranchers gave shows exactly how far from perfect mankind’s management is. Mother Nature finds balance and co-existence; as of yet I don’t see mankind doing this much at all.

I’m not one to put this wildlife photographer’s name on here to destroy him. I figure he will do that to himself. It makes me sad that he will sale wildlife and wild horse images to put food on his table and then in the next moment take the very way these animals survive away from them. Eventually we will all lose the ability to see these wonderful animals, there will no longer be a chance to photograph them and he will lose his ability to put food on his own table and he’ll have no one to blame but himself. Maybe at that point we can say Mother Nature found balance?


Are You Crazy Enough………..?


“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

I spent yet another great weekend with a friend out at Sand Wash Basin searching for and photographing wild horses. Along the way we spotted 8 moose which delayed the early morning we had hoped to spend with the horses but it also allowed us to spend about 30 minutes with a gorgeous badger when we arrived. I’m not one to complain when the wildlife seems to want to be photogenic. Watching 2 young moose play and jump around each other was well worth being late.

This friend had never seen wild horses so I was hoping that she would be so impressed with the horses that she would become an advocate and join so many who have been changed by these horses. As we drove up the first road I was stunned when up on the hill I saw Picasso. About a year ago he was the very first wild horse that another friend and I had ever seen and he had changed how I would fight and think about wild horses from that point on. My friend asked if he would be flighty. Every day is a new day in the wild and it’s hard to say, we started walking toward where Picasso was on the hill about a half mile away and I smiled when I saw him actually walk our way, slowly grazing on the way. I thought to myself that there could not be a better advocate for wild horses than this stunning, aged, wild band stallion himself. Of all the horses that a new visitor could see, this was one that could change the world.

We spent all day in the 100 degree heat in Sand Wash Basin and spotted nearly 50 to 60 horses; some I haven’t seen or photographed before and some like Picasso and Corona who I’ve been blessed to see a few times. I don’t take these opportunities lightly; each and every one of them, each horse, is special. We didn’t see as many foals as I expected to see since there have been so many born out there this year and some of the ones we did see were actually missing parts of their ears – these horses are so tough and endure so much. A couple herds would not allow us within 200 yards of them and others like Picasso almost allowed us to feel as if we were a part of his band for a short time. I think the most shocking thing of the day was when Star who was with a couple other bachelor stallions, called out to us as we were walking away and trotted to a hill closer to us as if he didn’t want to be left out of the photo shoot.


On the way home I received word that several trucks loaded with wild horses were on their way to the slaughter houses from Nevada. This news is disappointing to say the least. We as a society have let down the wildlife we greedily take the wild lands from and claim as “ours.” I can honestly say that the HMA’s I have visited I have no desire to “own” and I’m not sure who in their right mind would want to. The “normal” human being wouldn’t survive, or want to live there. They are desolate, remote, lonely, have extreme weather conditions and although pretty in their own way not what I would consider the greatest of landscapes. The only things that can live out there without assistance are rattlesnakes, badgers, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and wild horses. Yet we continue to want and take and force the wild animals that belong there off.

Since my first encounter with wild horses last year I made the decision that I would advocate for them along with several others (some photographers, some horse lovers). When I sold my wild horse images and jewelry I would donate the profit of the sales back to the wild horses; hoping to help groups maintain the HMA the horses were on, help somebody with possibly adopting one, etc but the money was to go back to the horses. I was surprised when I inquired on donating the money I was saving that the groups and people I spoke with didn’t want the money and couldn’t point me in any direction where I could donate the money to help. I’ve never had anyone turn money away before. So I continued to save this money hoping that one day somebody could answer me; there had to be a trustworthy group out there that were making a difference for the horses that I have come to love. After all, if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be selling these images to begin with.

While doing my search I contacted other photographers and asked where they donated money to in support of the horses; crickets. I was a bit surprised. I recalled asking several photographers when I moved here about viewing the different wild horses questions like the best way to get there, the best herds to visit, best times of the day to see them, etc. At the time only a handful responded to my emails, the ones who did respond were very helpful and I thank them for that. They obviously love these horses so much that they realize that the only way they are going to survive is to get others to love them as much as they do. I didn’t let the crickets scare me. They actually made me more determined and I did a lot of research on my own and since then I have met many, many more great people who are good advocates for the horses. We may not win every battle but we try very hard and we may not win at all like this recent Nevada horse slaughter issue makes us feel but we are trying and we care. We care for every one of those horses and deep down I believe those horses know that.


I’m a year into this fight now and like an elephant I do not forget. The wild horses have blessed me with more friends than I ever imagined from all over the United States and the world. They have also taught me a lot about humanity and exploitation. These lessons hurt as I feel if you use a wild animal to help promote yourself you should, in turn, support that wild animal. Support comes in very many forms; donations, your time, education and much more. I’m asked often what we can do to help and what we can do to keep these horses free on the land they run on. I’m saddened because a few thoughts come to mind and I’m not sure that I like them.

1) Together we can move mountains but alone we will not move a pebble. I think many of the wild horse advocates feel this way often. There are many days I feel like I’m alone and talking to myself. If so many people out there love these horses (and there are thousands) then why aren’t we making a difference? Why can’t we stop the horrible events?

2) The “What’s In It for Me?” disease. It’s a horrible sickness and consuming and selfish. If this is a question you ask yourself then I’m not sure you should be an advocate because there is a simple answer. What is in it for you is that you’re saving a life, a living breathing animal, a species. If this isn’t enough than I’m not sure what is.

3) I’ve seen several people be “turned off” or pushed out of groups. I’m not sure why that happens but it seems like favorites are chosen and others are tossed to the side. I think that is something to be careful with; what if those people are millions of dollars strong? What if they could make a difference? If they aren’t given the opportunity to be involved, if they aren’t included or allowed to grow then these groups maybe shutting the people out that could truly make a difference for these animals we claim to love so much.

After I met Picasso last year I made up my mind and decided I would fight for the wild horses. I didn’t know at the time what I would do or how, but I was determined to make sure that others fell in love with the wild horses so that more advocates joined the plight of these wonderful animals. I knew that to do that I had to do my part. I can share my images all day long with people but it helps to really get them to fall in love when they see the horses for themselves. So I take people out to visit the horses who have never seen them before and if I can’t go with them, I do my best to give those directions and helpful hints in experiencing the horses. I’m never let down; the looks on their faces and the comments I receive when they do get the chance are so rewarding. I’ve seen people cry and seen people laugh when they see their first wild horse and it’s worth every minute. We all own these horses and they are here to be shared, we have no right to keep them to ourselves and not sharing them only makes it harder for us to save them.

Don’t give up; we won’t win every battle. Don’t let others discourage you. Not everyone is going to share the same opinions or feelings that you have; that is what makes the world so interesting and difficult. But don’t give up. There is no such thing as a bad or crazy idea and I’ve seen many ideas that others may have counted out that were shared with somebody else become the ideas that made great changes.

I’ve worked in the veterinary medicine field my entire life; my verdict on PZP is still out. There is as much bad information as there is good. What I can say is that the herds that have been on PZP have fewer round ups happen and therefore less stress on them. From what I’ve seen they are healthy, they don’t seem to be starving. The ones who are not on PZP seem to have more and more round ups, are sickly and seem to be dying of starvation and harsh environments. Do I miss seeing foals running around and playing and growing up? Yes. However, with over 33,000 wild horses being in holding pens with a very limited chance of finding a forever home that now may be going to slaughter I would much rather miss a couple years with no foals than knowing these horses are going to slaughter. Until we have a better solution to manage these horses, until every horse is healthy or every wild horse is adopted I think we need to be a little more understanding on the PZP topic.

We have so many “excess” horses in the United States without counting the wild horses. These days’ horses are a luxury and/or business and a very expensive one. We can’t even find homes for domestic horses that irresponsible owners bred that have great bloodlines, some of which are pretty decently trained horses. How are we to find homes for over 33,000 wild horses that require “special handling?”

In addition to my promise to myself of sharing the wild horses with people who want to see them and know more about them, I wanted to help even more. I still have some money to donate to the cause, but there has to be more. I am a horse owner after all and have been since high school. I know that wild horses are very smart and need facilities that have to be far more secure than a domestic horse. Not only can they hurt themselves but they could destroy property if not taken care of properly. I’ve been thinking of all this for awhile now and now that I’m in my own home again and I’ve built the facilities I want I had planned on adopting a young mustang and starting from the ground up. However the other day I was asked if I’d be willing to take a 10 year old Adobe Town mustang who is broke already and just needs some work. The current owners can no longer keep him, they have too many horses. As soon as I saw him I liked him. No need to ask twice, he’ll be picked up on Saturday. Now I have to re-think Plan A and the young wild horse I’d like to adopt; I’m not giving up.

I have a crazy idea. If anyone out there is in a position to adopt a wild horse, now is a great time. If you can’t adopt, think about donating what the average adoption fee of a wild horse is to a group that you trust, that adoption fee is $125.00. Start talking more about these wonderful horses and spread the word; they now need us more than ever since the slaughter houses are opening up again. If anyone out there wants to learn more about these amazing horses and would like to see them, I’m willing to share and take groups out often; all you have to do is ask.


Fight for Wolves………….

2382I was really happy when I saw that another very active wolf supporting Facebook page shared my blog last week. It really helps keep me inspired and motivated and it lets me know that the work I want to do has not been for nothing. Due to last year’s wolf hunt and the loss of several of our valuable Yellowstone wolves in addition to wolves that we don’t know personally I made the decision last week not to share posts or images that give current locations of the Yellowstone or Grand Teton packs. I have to say that I believe that by the time we get that information and it is shared the wolves have moved on and are no longer there but it is just something that concerns me a bit. I also believe that the murderers who are after the Yellowstone wolves most likely know their location far better than we do and that the way they are choosing to hunt is not a sport; shooting an animal that has become habituated to people and lost fear of them is not a challenge and therefore not “hunting.”

Yesterday I received a message that a wolf hating Facebook group had gotten the support of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) and that the PBR would be placing their stickers of hatred on the PBR trucks. I know many bull riders and rodeo people and I thought this was an odd thing for the PBR to be a part of. That’s a pretty large association for a small group of hateful people to claim to be a part of so I contacted PBR and asked. I was relieved to receive a quick response that confirmed what I thought and PBR is in the process of having that mis-informed statement made by that group removed. I have to say thank you to PBR. I can understand individuals having their own thoughts and opinions and that is their right but for an association like PBR to take that stance I was a bit concerned.


Knowing that group has mis-informed the people that follow them makes me wonder what else that group has been mis-informing people about where wolves are concerned. I really believe if you are going to take a stand on an issue that you need to do your own research and seek your own knowledge and not be led by a group who is doing something based on hatred and spite. I do my best not to speak about something unless it’s a topic I know a lot about, something I’m passionate about and have done my own research to learn about; both the goods and the bads. If this group is willing to be dishonest about something like a large association supporting them what else have they mis-informed people about? That is really something important to think about.

Out of curiosity I visited their Facebook page and website; it is full of wolf hating products and comments which is what I expected. I was hoping to find a first and last name of the person behind it but it only had a first name so that I couldn’t find out any further information on them, that didn’t surprise me either. Of course the page goes on about elk hunting in Idaho and how the wolves are responsible for the population of elk declining since they were reintroduced; blah, blah and blah. I wonder if these same people believe that what the elk herds have done to the ecosystem in the Rocky Mountain National Park is okay and how much longer these herds will have food and will stay healthy when there are really no predators within the park to manage it? It isn’t a secret that there is already a serious problem and yet the park is hesitant to reintroduce wolves here and at the same time the public freaks out when the word “hunting” is tossed out. At the rate the elk population is growing it is obvious that something needs to be done it just depends on what makes more sense and sits better with the people. Keep in mind when the herds start to die of starvation or disease the blame will be placed on the ones who were not allowed to make a decision and no decision was acceptable.


I visited Rocky Mountain National Park last week; I went moose hunting. I have to say I understand the adrenaline rush that hunters get and the excitement they feel when they find that big bull elk they are looking for. When I found the big bull moose I was looking for I was pretty excited, I took a few shots but sadly the willows were in the way and I missed the shot I was looking for. Then I realized I was surrounded by about 20 other people all trying to get that shot too and the excitement quickly ran out; this moose was habituated to people and really there was no challenge. I decided to leave and try to find a big bull who was more of a challenge. A little later while hiking I got the shot I’ve been wanting for awhile; my blood was racing, my heart pounding! I raised my arms for the shot! It was right there in a green open meadow, walking across, stopping occasionally on its way to a stream. It doesn’t get any better than this. It was so quiet and peaceful. Once it crossed the meadow I could barely stand still! This was going to be a winning shot. I quickly looked around and there was nobody there. This was perfect. When it jumped off the embankment and into the water my heart lept into my throat and I took the shot. Now it was a fair hunt; this moose was not habituated to people, wasn’t posing and was more of a challenge.


God Only Gives You What You Can Take………..


Once again, I’ve been off line for a bit.  Just when I thought I had been given enough God added more to my plate.  So I wonder now, just how much does God think I can take?  I’ve devoted much of my life to fighting for animals.  The wild horses, wolves and many more who don’t have a voice, who can’t speak for themselves, who are being murdered or removed from the land that belongs to them.  So why does bad things happen to good people?

Those that know me know that I try to ride my own horses about every other night if not more.  I rush home after working an 11 hour day in Denver and if I don’t ride, I’m out walking, hiking or running.  Not only are my animals my top priority but in order to keep up with and photograph the wildlife I love, I have to be in good enough shape to get to them.

After returning home from California and my dad’s funeral all I wanted to do was spend time with Blueper, the horse who has been there for me through all my hard times, my best friend, a horse I rescued from abuse.  I never expected him to have a flash back moment and jump out and away from me a few weeks ago.  I landed on my left side; the first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t hear.  After figuring out I hadn’t broken anything I walked over to him, lounged him for awhile and started to get back on when I realized I still couldn’t hear.  I put him away and went in to the house to sit for awhile.  The horse trainer I’m friends with always manages to call at just the right time and so he didn’t ruin that reputation, he called right on time.  I explained to him what had happened and that I couldn’t hear and after about 20 minutes of arguing I decided to go to the emergency room.  I wasn’t sure why.  I wasn’t hurt, I just couldn’t hear.

I drove myself to the hospital, walked about a half mile around to find the emergency room, signed myself in and waited about 10 minutes to be seen.  I waited another 20 minutes to get a CT scan and while waiting during that 20 minutes I got very sore and stiff.  The doctors really hadn’t even touched me yet, but I they had already hurt me!  They came back to my room after getting the CT scan results, 2 trauma doctors – I almost felt special until they told me that I had a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain and told me I had to spend the night so that they could observe me in case I needed brain surgery.  Up until then I had no stomach upset but when you deliver that kind of news to somebody like myself, you can bet it will make a person puke!   Lucky for the horses and dogs I have great friends who stepped up to not only run and feed them but they also rushed to see me in the hospital.

By the next morning the bleeding had stopped, I still couldn’t hear and I had a wonderful headache and over night I swear a semi truck hit me.  Amazing how sore a body can get when your allowed to sit and do nothing.  I walked into the emergency room just fine, I was leaving barely able to stand or walk.  Over the next 10 days or so the headaches were enough to drop me to my knees, my hearing still hasn’t returned, I found out I lost my sense of smell, my new house finally closed escrow and my landlord needed me out of the home I was in a week after landing on my head, I had horse shows to photograph and animals to take care of.  Again, thank God for friends and family.  Friends pretty much moved all my things while I shot a horse show one weekend.  Pretty amazing.

The accident was about 5 weeks ago now and my hearing on the left side and sense of smell is still gone.  I still have my sense of humor when my head doesn’t hurt.  The support of my friends and family has been the best blessing ever and I’ve even met new friends who make me appreciate life even more.  A very wonderful wildlife photographer emailed me a couple days ago and let me know she was thinking about me and felt my tenacity and strength was amazing.  It made me think of the things I’ve been “given” lately that somebody above thinks I can handle.

Blueper has now made me go through all the emotions; what did I do to make him feel he needed to hurt me, is he in pain and I’m not seeing it, does he have a mean streak horses with his breeding are known to have, did he do this on purpose or did I hurt him to cause him to do this?  Fear has set in.  I wanted to start riding about 2 weeks after the accident, not him but my other horse, Reno who I feel I can trust but the doctors said I’m not allowed to do anything that might jar my skull; sadly that includes riding, running and even leading a horse.    For my lifestyle this is pretty much not acceptable.  I’ve been on my best behavior, I haven’t ridden but I’m leading and working my horses from the ground and I’m not running but I am walking with my wonderful dog Drifter again.  Walking has helped reduce the leg cramps a whole lot and also reduces my stress.  Drifter was really missing our journeys and is again a happy pup; if my animals are happy, than I’m happy.

After the pain reduced there was a time when I was sad when I realized I couldn’t smell anything.  I love the scents of fruit candles, cake and cookie batter.  I was proud that my house always smelled good when you walked in.  I love the smell of horses and the barn.  It’s always nice to be able to smell a bear, something dead or where a mountain lion marked it’s territory before they see or smell you.  The next day I realized how much I would be saving by not buying these candle scents.  And although it has to be done I often can’t handle the smell of cleaning the dog’s yard, now it isn’t so hard to do.

A couple weeks ago we spent a weekend with some friends of ours at their ranch.  They raise and train some amazing horses and I got to spend the day sitting on the fence to watch them ride; I may be a little bit afraid but my heart wanted to be riding one of those horses.  They also have a month old fawn they found as an orphan they are taking care of.  As I watched her run and play it really lifted my heart.  So tiny, so innocent, so precious.  I could have spent all day with her.


On the way home from the ranch I thought of my friend’s message.  If this is what I’m “given” then I’m lucky.  This accident could have been far worse; I can still see which allows me to see the things I love the most – the wildlife, my animals and the horses I love to be involved with.  I can still walk and hike so I can see the animals I so love in the places I love spending time.  I can still take photos and capture amazing memories.  For a moment I thought about what it would be like not to be able to see Hobo, Quad mom with her cubs, Spitfire or the wild horses.  That was a thought I wanted to erase just as quick as it came.  That wasn’t what I was “given,” thank God it was a lot less.  I have frustrating moments when I have to adapt to different ways but they are moments that go away.  I feel lucky.  I can still do the things that mean so much to me.  I’m hoping that as the fracture heals my hearing will as well and hopefully my sense of smell will return.  Time will heal the fear and I’ll ride again.

In the meantime I’m going to get back to working on the things that I want to accomplish; working on educating people and sharing wild animals with people who want to know more.  God wouldn’t give people gifts if He didn’t want you to use and enjoy them.