Thank You For The Lessons

Image

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!

Image

Four Gals and a Wild Horse Herd

Cosmo's band

Cosmo’s band

What happens when you mix a BLM meeting in Craig, CO with the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses near Maybell, CO, winter weather in February and 4 gals who love wild mustangs?  You find strength you didn’t know you had, friendships that will last forever and adventures you have to experience yourself to appreciate.

Since I was able to finally share the meeting notes regarding the Sand Wash Basin horses recently I thought I would also add in some details about the trip out to Craig, CO.  You honestly didn’t think we would drive all that way and not attempt to see the horses did you?  Snow?   What snow?  We had a couple of weeks back to back before the 2/2/2013 meeting that dumped a few feet of snow.  I was contacting friends that lived out there or who were already there right up to the moment we were leaving.  They reported that roads weren’t too bad all the way to Craig, CO but that wasn’t what I cared about……………….what about the roads to the horses?  Every report that came in wasn’t good but there was a chance on our way out there Saturday that it would warm up and melt a bit.  Would it be too much to ask for 2 feet or more of melt in 8 hours?

Vogue, pinto mare from Cosmo's band

Vogue, pinto mare from Cosmo’s band

Deb met at my house, she doesn’t have horses but she has worked in the animal industry her whole life and loves all animals, especially the horses.  We picked up Megan who is proudly owned by a mustang she adopted a couple years ago and from Megan’s place we picked up Kriszta who has owned mustangs and horses and actually spends weeks in the back country re-enacting buffalo camps; like the cowboy and Indian days.  They spend weeks in the back country with no phone service, no internet and no bathroom.  Just so we are clear – that’s too much uncivilization for me and I’ll be staying home on her next trip out there wishing her well and much fun!  I’m happy to live that excitement through her eyes.

What I didn’t mention yet is that we didn’t all know each other very well; I’ve known Deb for years from a distance.  I met Megan about 8 months ago from a distance and Kriszta I had just met at a meeting about mustangs a few weeks before.  Megan knew Kriszta but they didn’t know Deb.  Four women in a rented 4 wheel drive, driving 5 hours one way on icy roads to a BLM meeting – what could possibly happen?  The things we do for the animals that we love.  Although Megan and Kriszta owned wild horses, none of my friends had ever seen the Sand Wash horses and two had never seen wild horses in the wild.

Cowgirl from Cosmo's band

Cowgirl from Cosmo’s band

Our trip to Craig went well, we made it with about an hour to spare and although the roads were icy they weren’t too bad.  We went to the BLM meeting at 1pm and the first question we asked was how much snow was still out where the horses are and has anyone been out there?  Oh yes, we did ask how some of our other friends were doing, but after we asked about the road conditions.  The news wasn’t great, almost everyone refused to attempt getting out there.  The meeting was a couple hours long which gave us a couple hours left of daylight to get out to Sand Wash Basin to check the roads.  You honestly didn’t think we’d give up and head home with our tails between our legs did you?

We rushed out to the horses, as a matter of fact I think the highway patrol officer said I was rushing too much but we made it safe and sound anyway.  Our spirits lifted a bit when we saw tire tracks and the vehicle we were in fit almost perfectly in those tracks.  Did I forget to mention that I only recently moved to Colorado in July and this was technically my first off road adventure in snow?  Well, that’s okay, it really isn’t important; the girls had given me great instructions on how to make this happen more than once on the way out to Craig.  I did pretty well not allowing it to fish tail and slide and we made it in about 3 miles, up around the hill you zig and zag up but we hadn’t seen any horses yet and we were starting to worry.  When we topped the hill I noticed there wasn’t much snow there, as a matter of fact you could see the dirt and my heart raced……………..we can go further!

Cosmo trying to flirt with Cowgirl who could careless

Cosmo trying to flirt with Cowgirl who could careless

We sat on the hill scanning the land below us and still, no horses, so I asked if we should continue on.  The three of them have done this all their lives pretty much and if anyone knows about this stuff it is them.  They all agreed and said we should keep going.  I looked down the road, picked my track and gave the car gas and away we went.  It was amazing!!  I think we went another 50 feet and the car suddenly slid to a stop.  We all sat in the car and looked at each other for a few seconds and then Megan and Kriszta jumped out to see what had stopped us.  Deb and I tried to jump out with them too however our doors kept bumping into the snow that was over two feet up the side of the doors.  I think that was when I realized how we got stuck and what stopped us.  I looked to see where the sun was, we had maybe two hours of light left.  Deb and I had thrown a camping shovel in the car at the last minute and they went to digging.  After the first 30 minutes it was pretty obvious that unless a flash heat wave were to occur, we weren’t going to budge.

Megan

Megan

At the meeting Megan had spoken with a lady who gives wild horse tours out at Sand Wash Basin all year long and the lady gave Megan a business card.  Megan wanted to talk to her more about riding a captive wild mustang out with the wild horses and how safe that was.  I don’t think we intended to use that phone number so soon, but that was the only person we knew or could call at the moment, if you have cell service of course.  Four cell phones and only one had service, we’d take it.  A little over an hour later this wonderful lady and her husband showed up to rescue us!  His Dodge pulled this 4 wheel drive right out of the snow with the parking brake still on and made it seem easy!  They had us follow them back out to the paved road and once there we asked them to let us take them to a big steak dinner or pay for fuel – they refused.  They mentioned that it would be best to stay out of Sand Wash until after spring when the snow melted and the mud dried and we agreed they were right.  We followed them back to town, dodging deer, elk and two domestic cats along the way.

Kriszta

Kriszta

We went to dinner and when we got back to the hotel Megan and I tried to find a way home that was safe where we might be able to see other wild horse herds.  Sadly the roads through Wyoming were horrible or closed and going home along the I70 with weekend ski traffic didn’t sound like much fun.  We were resigned to simply heading home in the morning.

Kriszta’s husband called late that night and his comments about why we would go so far, why would we give up, we can do this – was what she relayed to us that morning.  We all looked at each other, loaded up the car, grabbed something to eat and drink and headed right back out to Sand Wash Basin!  We knew we could safely get in for at least 3 miles and from there we would walk till we found horses.  The day before I had learned a very valuable lesson; do not ask three very experienced Colorado girls how far you should go UNLESS they are actually looking at the road!  So as we left the safety of the solid pavement, I made them promise not to look for horses but to watch the road to tell me when to stop while I looked for the horses!  Far safer.

The handsome young boy, Milagro

The handsome young boy, Milagro

About a mile in we passed some teenagers in a Dodge pickup exploring along the road which made me feel better, worse case they could help us out.  In another mile I was looking at all the snow and sage brush where the hills came into the flat land and in the middle of all that white, about a mile out, I saw grey horses nearly blending perfectly with the snow.  I yelled “horses” and slid the car to a stop.  I carefully checked all my mirrors for traffic and since there wasn’t much we left the car right in the middle of the road, changed clothes, grabbed the camera gear and started walking.

As we got closer to the horses I was able to see that it was Cosmo’s band and on the other side of a gully was Hoot, Kiowa, Juniper and another young stallion.  We stopped about 200 yards away as Vogue and Cowgirl watched us and as we were standing there the expressions on my friend’s faces made the whole trip worthwhile, tears of happiness at just being in the presence of these horses were on everyone’s cheeks.  We discussed the horse’s personal comfort zones and how each horse is different and that same horse might be comfortable with you being so close today and it might change tomorrow.  Cowgirl was a bit more concerned than the others but she did allow us in pretty close to the herd.  I scanned the hillside for any other horses that I may have missed and was stunned to see two other warmly dressed creatures with cameras on the opposite side of the gully!  We hadn’t passed any other vehicles coming in but the kids with the Dodge.  I finally spotted Robin’s truck on the top of the hill where we had gotten stuck the night before.

When ignored go roll in poop so you smell more attractive?

When ignored go roll in poop so you smell more attractive?

Kriszta headed across the gully to get closer to the four horses on the other side while Megan, Deb and I stayed with Cosmo’s herd.  We discussed the dynamics of the herds; the lead mares, who appeared to be very much in foal, how healthy they all looked and we watched as Rounder provoked Cosmo into proving who the official band stallion was here.  We marveled about how even though sorrels are not our first choice on the color list, how Milagro didn’t just have wonderful conformation but he had a wonderful disposition as well and if not able to remain free would make some lucky person an amazing horse.

Megan quickly filled an 8GB card with images as we watched Kiowa curiously approach first Robin and then Kriszta on the other side of the gully.  Hoot had his hooves full trying to prove he was the main stallion over Juniper and we watched him snake her around and spar with the other young stallion that followed behind them.

Three hours never goes by as quickly as it does when you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, in God’s country with God’s wonderful animals.  When you see wild horses that have been adopted and are now living safely with new owners you can’t help but notice the wildness about them and wonder what their lives were like.  Being out here with them, seeing them how they are meant to be, living free and watching over each other can bring you so much more joy than you can ever imagine.  It was difficult to pry ourselves away knowing we wanted to be close to home when the roads started to become icy again.  We still had to make it back to the main road which after seeing Cosmo’s band seemed so far away.

Our tires hadn’t even hit the pavement leaving Sand Wash Basin when we were all already planning on when we could return.  Of course it should be after the snow melted and the spring rains dried up and it would be safer when the deer and elk headed back to the high country.  How does next week sound?!

Cowgirl and Milagro

Cowgirl and Milagro

To my friends; Deb, Megan and Kriszta – thank you for sharing this adventure with me!  I couldn’t imagine anyone else I’d have as much fun doing this with as you guys!  I look forward to our next adventures and can’t wait!

Little Snake Field Office and Sand Wash Wild Horse Meeting Minutes 2/2/2013

Cosmo's band

Cosmo’s band

I had promised friends and follower’s that I have made since starting to photograph the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Herds that I would attend this meeting and post minutes from it.  Sorry for the delay but I’ve been trying to juggle a more than full time job, 2 of my horses, my photography business, another aspiring business and my life all at the same time and I’ll be darned if I don’t run out of time at the end of the day!

Since these horses have so many followers and supporters and many of you live all over the US and wish you could be here but cannot, I think this is the only way to keep everyone in the loop.  Your support is very much appreciated; these wild horses as well as others need people like you and I think this is a great start.  With that said, these are the meeting notes I myself took.  They are from my writing and my thoughts at the time during the meeting.  I’m as accurate as I can be, if there is emotion included, that is my emotion and I try to approach things with a sense of humor.  Please, if you have a question, feel free to ask me – I’d rather be asked then to have questions posed to others who may not have attended or didn’t perceive things the same way I may have.

My first impression – the Little Snake Field Office is gorgeous!  Aleta Wagner Wolf worked with this office in order for us to hold this meeting there on a Saturday afternoon which I felt was very accommodating.  Normally meetings with government agencies are not held when the public can attend.  Although I was prepared to take time off work it was nice not to have to do so.  The doors were open and welcoming!  As I looked around the room there were about 25 people in attendance.  A few I knew because of our conversations on Facebook; social media is a wonderful thing when used to gain positive results.

Cowgirl from Cosmo's band

Cowgirl from Cosmo’s band

The meeting was facilitated by GEMS ~ Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary which is located in Deer Trail, CO (http://greatescapesanctuary.org/).  They have established a 900 acre eco sanctuary where they have adopted and are taking care of Spanish and American Mustangs.  More information can be located on their website as far as how many horses they have been able to rescue and/or adopt but it is my understanding that all of the Sand Wash Basin horses that were rounded up in 2008 that were still remaining at the Canon City BLM facility were adopted by GEMS and are now calling Deer Trail home.  They have some wonderful videos on- line and can also be found on Facebook along with a trainer who is assisting them with training some of these horses in order to find them forever homes; his name is Sean Davies (http://www.coloradoreinsman.com/)and from what I’ve seen so far, I like!

A few of the people from GEMS along with the help of Aleta and many others have established SWAT ~ Sand Wash Basin Advocate Team (www.sandwashadvocate.org).  Aleta is monitoring this website and emails and fielding questions in regards to the team.  They are attempting to establish the Sand Wash Basin horses as a “Treasured Herd” therefore gaining them more protection.

Why care or why become a member of SWAT?

The horses need a solid group of advocates to work together with the BLM and the HSUS.  Many people who live within a reasonable (okay, define “reasonable”) distance of the Sand Wash Horses have spent numerous hours with them; documenting and photographing them.  Nancy Roberts has spent endless amounts of her own valuable time cataloging and documenting these horses on Facebook and her Blog bringing many of us closer together and these horses into our families.  Since this group of very dedicated wild horse lovers has been out there more than anyone else they know the horses better, are more familiar with them and know what is best for them.

Vogue and another mare from Cosmo's band

Vogue and another mare from Cosmo’s band

The group would help the HSUS with PZP documentation; which mares were treated?  When?  Did they foal since?  When?  And how often?

 This group also knows almost exactly how many horses are out there and have been able to track and account for them – approximately 362 horses.  At the meeting the BLM officers said they were unable to get accurate aerial accounts and they know that this group has more accurate numbers from the ground.

 We discussed ideas of annual foal counts done via horseback, camps, rides and clean ups in order to keep the horses safe and safely monitored.

 Heidi from the HSUS will be out in Sand Wash Basin for one more year in an effort to collect data and then that project will be completed.  There is currently a seasonal position open for a field tech to assist in this study which includes the monitoring, documenting and darting the horses with PZP.  I have to warn you, I considered applying for this position as it sounds like a lifetime dream of mine.  Then I read “camping in remote locations” ~ I immediately envisioned cramped spaces, no internet access and worse!  No shower!  It became quite obvious that this is not for me; with no way to enjoy my photography, share it with others and keep my camera sparkling clean it is not meant to be.

 Ed Hendricks is the ranger who oversees Sand Wash Basin and the horses, one man to over 160,000 acres.  I’m not sure why, but he doesn’t feel he can be all over Sand Wash at one time and that we can help him help the horses.  He asked that if we come across an injured horse or suspicious activity to please contact him and he will gladly do his best to respond to assist or investigate.

 Tim Wilson with the BLM advised us that the BLM is getting ready to re-write new Herd Management Plans.  Jerome Fox is the writer of these plans, they are starting fresh and will value any input.  Jerome is open to ideas and ways to help.

As of the day of this meeting, 2/2/2013, Tim and Ed shared with us that the week prior all herd gathers were placed on hold due to too many horses in holding.  They do not foresee the Sand Wash Basin horses being gathered until possibly 2014 unless the environment made it necessary.  They did ask us to realize that this could change at any moment but that they were committed to working with us.

They also asked us to please work with them and if there are any questions, to please ask and be understanding.

In order to keep information organized and not bombard the BLM office the SWAT team is taking all questions, input, thoughts, ideas and comments and will do what they can to get the information back to everyone in a timely manner.  They are also a 501 (c) non-profit group.  Please visit their website and see where you might be able to assist; they are seeking members with all sorts of skills and strengths and even if you’re a distance away you might still be able to help!  If nothing else, contact them, let them know what your talents are and they will find something for you.  I’m not very good at math but if I were to take some beads on a string and ride my horse or drive around Sand Wash Basin I’m sure I could count new foals!  And just a hint, they are about a quarter the size of the large horse standing over them.

There are also a lot more than just wild horses in Sand Wash Basin as well; there is a lot of history, archeology and paleontology and all of that should be preserved as well.

I left this meeting feeling pretty optimistic.  There are a lot of people who want to do wonderful things to support these horses and they can use all the help they can get.  If we can work together to keep this herd safe and managed respectfully, who’s to say that we stop there?

Please be sure to check out the ID cards that Nancy Roberts is working hard to create on the horses of Sand Wash Basin in order to raise money to support them.

I have listed several websites above for more information on the wild horses and you can find more here as well, and don’t forget to follow most of this ongoing, hard and dedicated work on Facebook:

http://sandwashwildhorses.blogspot.com/

https://thruwildeyes.wordpress.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sand-Wash-Basin-Wild-Horses

http://www.Performancehorsephotography.com

Vogue, pinto mare from Cosmo's band

Vogue, pinto mare from Cosmo’s band

All images are copyrighted by Laura Tatum-Cowen/Performancehorsephotography.com

Please do not copy or reproduce without permission.

Portions of the proceeds of all sales from my wild horse images are donated back to the wild horses for without them then my photography would not be possible.  Sales of my images are what allow me to continue my efforts of documenting the wild horses and volunteering to see that they remain wild and free where they belong.  Please join us in these efforts.

Update ~ I Was Rescued Today

That saying about sometimes life gets in the way?  Sometimes I wish it wouldn’t and let me finish what I set out to do to begin with!  Since posting about the little mustang filly found wandering alone in Nevada who was injured and in very bad shape, alone, I have been back out visiting with our wild mustangs here in Colorado as well as attending a meeting with the BLM office there and a new group created to help our horses.

Taylor posted an update on the filly last night.  Many things have happened with the filly as well.  She wasn’t doing well at the prison facility she was taken to in hopes they could rehabilitate her and save her life.  The injuries she sustained most likely happened when she fell down a cliff or was attacked by a coyote.  At the prison facility they quickly realized she was in worse shape than originally thought and by the end of the week she was transferred to a private foal orphanage facility where she could receive more in-depth veterinary care.  She was having a difficult time lying down and then getting back up.  At the new facility she has other orphan foals her age that she is spending time with ~ this is very important for orphan foals as they really need to learn how to be horses.

The images that Taylor posted on her Facebook page last night showed huge improvement, she still has a long way to go but you could see improvement and most importantly the swelling in her face is nearly completely resolved, she is standing straighter in her hind end and there is even improvement in her neck.  There is even a brighter sparkle in her eyes.  It looks like this little girl is going to pull through thanks to so many prayers and so much encouragement from all over.

Chris Miller, the Department of Ag hero who assisted in the filly’s rescue is still in the picture.  His latest response to an email from Taylor thanking him and letting him know how valuable we all feel he was not only to this filly but to other horses as well was that it was how he was raised, to have compassion, and he always  wants to leave things better than the way he found it.  I personally think he has done a wonderful job where this filly is concerned.  If Taylor wouldn’t have seen her that day and been determined to find her again the next morning and Chris and a couple of others didn’t come in to help, this filly most likely would have perished.  If everyone could show this sort of compassion just once or twice this world would be a much better place.

Where there is a slim chance, where there is compassion, there is also Hope!  After much consideration and I’m sure Taylor did much soul-searching she has asked that the filly be named Hope.  I think that is a perfect name for a little one who wasn’t given much of a chance.

Please be sure to check out and follow the page Taylor started for Hope on Facebook:

Hope ~ The Baby Mustang Rescued in Nevada

I Was Rescued Today………….

What in the world happened to this poor baby?  Photos by Taylor James

What in the world happened to this poor baby? Photos by Taylor James

Ever have those days where things just seem to push you down from above?  There is so much horrible news regarding wolves, wild horses, wildlife and the whole world in general these days that I wonder if there is ever any good to report anymore.  Many times I have wondered why we seem to be losing this battle and then I’m reminded about what Mike Cavaroc had written and I press on.  There surely has to be good people in places we need them to be to help make a positive difference for our animals.  Maybe we aren’t losing and because of that that is why we see so much negative stuff?

I attended what I considered a positive BLM meeting this past weekend.  I heard a ranger and BLM officer explain how they were committed to the wild horses we were discussing and to working together with us to protect and manage them.  They also explained that if there is anything that we don’t agree with or understand from time to time to please ask them about it in hopes they can help us to understand.  They really want this to work between us and them for the benefit of the horses.  I reminded myself that these officials aren’t any different than us; they have families to feed and support and bosses to answer to higher up the food chain.  If they are willing to put in an effort to make this partnership work why shouldn’t we give them the chance?

I started to think about how perfect it would be if this BLM office were to start a new trend.  What if they were to work together with our group of volunteers to successfully manage the numbers at this HMA and keep them where they wanted?  What if when a gather and adoption were necessary they worked together and bait trapping was used rather than helicopters and these horses were adopted before the auction even happened, for higher prices than normal and none of the horses were sent to holding facilities where tax dollars were spent to take care of them for years?  It honestly doesn’t seem that farfetched to me or that difficult honestly.  How funny would it be to see all the positive media about this partnership and how great it was working?  Maybe other BLM offices and groups would want to change how the public perceived them and be able to change their policies as well?  A perfect, impossible dream you’re thinking……………….I know.

Consider this however for a few moments; we have been placing everyone in the same category or bucket and ‘assuming’ they/we are all that way.  For example when we say “BLM” that includes everyone associated with them, working for them, in all offices at every level, in every state however as I wrote in a prior blog ~ if the BLM were to call and ask me to assist them with the PZP darting of mares or they would all be sent to holding facilities I would drop everything and go.  This doesn’t mean I agree 100% with playing Mother Nature or even that I’m working for the BLM.  What it means is that I don’t want to see all these horses sitting in holding facilities where far more horrible things could happen to them and that I’m volunteering my time to assist in order to avoid far worse consequences for the horses until we can find a better solution together.  I’m not the BLM, I’m not being paid.  I’m doing this because I love these horses, love seeing them free and I want the best for them and we would continue working on better ways to make this a better system.  Again, this doesn’t seem like a difficult concept to me.

What in the world happened to this poor baby?  Photos by Taylor James

What in the world happened to this poor baby? Photos by Taylor James

Rather than lumping all things appearing and smelling like BLM we might want to be sure to call out the individuals or areas on their own; as of right now and until they prove me wrong, I want to believe the BLM office I met with last weekend is different.   They are better, they are great individuals and those individuals want to work together to preserve these horses.  I’m sure they have their own opinions on what has and is happening in Nevada and I’m hoping that they are working on ways to avoid that happening here.  If they do that and we can turn these stories around to become positive management stories I think it would be very important that these individuals are not lumped in the “BLM bucket” but individually recognized as the great management officials they are.  After all, if our volunteer group is successful and we make this work, wouldn’t we want the same?

I made the choice a few months ago to help the wild horses and wolves anyway that I could.  I’ve had to break this down into a smaller chunk (more on that later) in order for it to be more manageable for me right now.  My focus for the moment is Colorado and Wyoming since it’s where I live, these HMA’s are closer to me so that I can hopefully get to them within a day’s drive and I can be valuable.  I’m in no way trying to discredit what has and is going on in California and Nevada and it breaks my heart.  Seeing these animals treated this way, scaring them, pursuing them until they want to drop and what is happening to the foals is horrible and not acceptable.  We are suppose to be ‘stewards’ of the land and it should be done with respect and understanding.  To those who chose not to do this humanely, I pity you.  You will get what you deserve.

Her little face is so swollen.  Photos by Taylor James

Her little face is so swollen. Photos by Taylor James

On Tuesday night I saw an image of a wild foal in Nevada that ripped my heart out.  A photographer (Taylor James of Up Close & Personal Photography) out in the field had seen her; she is extremely thin, her face swollen, she had what appeared to be coyote attack wounds on her hind quarters and her hind legs were injured.  Worse than all that she was alone, no mother and no herd.  Nobody knows exactly what happened but residents in the area had heard of a stallion and foal falling from the cliffs and the herd leaving them; was she the foal who fell?  We would love to know but the only thing that really matters was that she was alone, injured and I’m sure scared and confused.  I don’t think any photographer goes into the field prepared to do any type of wildlife rescue so Taylor did what her heart told her to and what she knew how to do; she came home and posted an image of the foal and asked for help.  It didn’t take long for several people to respond with contacts, ideas and information and people were on stand-by waiting for directions and updates.  When I saw it I re-posted it knowing my mustang friends would respond and somebody would know what to do.  Sadly it was all that I could do to help.

The next morning Taylor went back out searching for this foal hoping she hadn’t died during the night; she was armed with contact information, what to do, what not to do, her phone and her camera.  Technically even though this filly is a wild mustang living on public lands she is still considered to be owned by the government.  To have a citizen come out and pick her up even though they are helping would be considered stealing and all of that information was sorted out during the night in chats which was a good thing.  It would have been awful if caring people were to have arrived with only great intentions of saving this foal’s life and they ended up fined or worse.  For most of us, total strangers, miles away we could do nothing but wait and hope.

Drinking before the rescue.  Photos by Taylor James

Drinking before the rescue. Photos by Taylor James

One of my concerns was after seeing the poor condition of this foal was that if she were stressed (roped or chased) she would go down and never get up again.  When I received a message from Taylor later on that afternoon it was not what I was expecting.  Not only had she found the foal alive but there was a Department of Agriculture inspector there looking at the foal and helping.  I wasn’t sure if this was good news or bad.  Taylor didn’t seem distressed and didn’t scream for help so I was hoping it was good news.

Chris Miller guiding the foal with body language to the horse trailer.  Photo by Taylor James

Chris Miller guiding the foal with body language to the horse trailer. Photo by Taylor James

Later on that night we got another report and images of the rescue; the foal at the water hole drinking, images of her injuries and an image of her standing inside the horse trailer so she could be taken to the Carson City Prison where they have an inmate mustang program and they have experience raising orphan foals.  The little one didn’t seem stressed in the trailer even though her eyes were wide open.  My first thought was that if this foal had to be ‘captured’ she doesn’t look to be too concerned about it and not stressed.  Then I came across an image that really touched me, the image of Chris Miller (he works for the Department of Agriculture); his hands folded in front of him, him looking down walking next to the foal, no ropes, and no contact, just using his body language to take her up to and load her into the horse trailer.  They didn’t have to put a halter or rope on her, she loaded on her own.  I have my own opinions on why I believe this went so well, why there wasn’t much stress on this filly but they don’t really matter.

What does matter is that good guys, good employees who know and respect these animals DO still exist.  It is my understanding he responded when called to help and explained that since she is a wild mustang ‘he can’t give away what isn’t his’ regardless of who wanted to help her and I can understand and respect that.  I can tell by looking at the image that he cares about the horses, if he didn’t than this rescue would not have gone off as easily as it did and the foal might not have survived.

Loaded in the trailer without halter or ropes ~ looking for a safe haven.  Photos by Taylor James

Loaded in the trailer without halter or ropes ~ looking for a safe haven. Photos by Taylor James

Rather than focusing on all the horrible things that some people that work for government agencies do, I’d like to take a moment to recognize and thank an individual for taking the time to care for one of these wild horses.  Thank you Chris Miller for taking time out of your day to help in the rescue of this scared, wild foal.  It’s nice to know there are still great guys doing what you do; I appreciate it, that little filly appreciates it.  From what I’ve read since her rescue there will be numerous people in line waiting to adopt her and that’s a wonderful thing.

Taylor, thank you for working on documenting the mustangs and bringing light to the help they so need.  This little filly is lucky you spotted her that day and didn’t give up on her.   Seeing all the responses to your post were wonderful, to see all the people working together, networking to help you and her was amazing!  Things were done right and no laws were broken.  Great job!

Swelling has gone down, her eyes aren't so big and round and she isn't alone anymore.  Photographer unknown

Swelling has gone down, her eyes aren’t so big and round and she isn’t alone anymore. Photographer unknown

Many of us have written numerous emails and letters to government agencies to stop these inhumane round ups and taking public lands from the wild horses only to give them to corporations, industries and livestock where a profit is made.  I’m not asking that you stop by any means and I’m glad that you have.  I’m hoping that you will take the same time to write a positive note to the same agencies letting them know how you appreciate people like Chris doing what he does.  If we can find, recognize and appreciate more people like Chris and like the people at the BLM office we met with the other day than maybe we can find ways to work together to find positive solutions to wild horse and wildlife management.  Keep in mind that our ‘issues’ are not with most of the employees who are out in the field but rather the politicians higher up the food chain that are giving the directives and making poor choices depending on what is going to profit and benefit them.

 Nevada Department of Agriculture
405 S 21st Street
Sparks, NV 89431
Jim Barbee – Director

More info to follow regarding the meeting with the BLM and the Sand Wash Basin horses from last weekend, including notes from the meeting.  This seemed to be far more important at the moment.

Thoughts for Wolves and Wild Horses

Corona from Sand Wash Basin

Corona from Sand Wash Basin

I started my day watching a documentary that Jim and Jamie Dutcher filmed about living with wolves.  I wasn’t shocked by any of the wolf behaviors or how they managed to live with the pack and raised the pups, nothing about that surprised me.  What surprised me was the opening of the movie where Jim was wrangling horses.  In Wyoming around the 1980’s.  Years before the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction program.   There were no wolves in the lower 48 states but one afternoon while he was out looking for horses he came across one grey wolf, shy but curious, hiding in the trees.  A few days later he spotted another one in the same area.  Fear wasn’t something he felt but like the wolf he was curious.   That is how his story began when he brought the Sawtooth Pack to Idaho where he and Jamie lived for 6 years, living with and documenting these wolves and the pack.  I wish I could do that.  Everything was on the wolves terms, if they chose to socialize with you, they did, if not, they didn’t.

Salazar is leaving in March and going home to Colorado but now who will take his place?  I’m praying it is somebody who is educated and compassionate about animals.  Somebody who will hear both sides and won’t make decisions based on money and hatred.  Will base decisions not based on government statistics but statistics from independent sources that are honest.

Four years ago, there were reported to be 67,000 wild horses on public lands running wild and free.  Today there are less than 32,000.  I visited a holding facility back in October and it broke my heart to see these once proud, fiery and fun loving horses put in crowded pens.  There were week old foals in large pens of mares being chased by other mares, mares fighting between pens and stallions chasing each other.  Normal behavior for horses in captivity, but painful to watch these horses that were use to wide open spaces take out their frustrations on each other.

Four years ago there were 1,650 wild grey wolves in the Rockies.  This year alone 605 have been killed.  The Yellowstone wolves have declined by 25%, bringing the number down to around 80 within the park.  Of the wolves lost:  824M of the Mollie Pack, 829F of the Blacktail Plateau Pack, 754M of the Lamar Canyon Pack, 823F of the Junction Butte Pack, 762M and 763F of the Madison Pack, 793 of the Snake River Pack, 832F of the Lamar Canyon Pack – all collared wolves.  And in December of 2012 two collared wolves were found shot, killed and left decaying in the Grand Tetons.  These numbers are heart breaking and overwhelming.

This afternoon I read a blog posting by a wildlife photographer that I have great respect for who lives near the Tetons, Mike Cavaroc (http://blog.freeroamingphotography.com/) and he wrote some very valid points.  We can continue to wallow in our hatred and anger or we can find solutions.  I see both sides of the wolf issue but I will always fall on the side of the wolves.  Do some wolves predate on livestock?  Yes.  Those wolves should be dealt with appropriately.  Do I believe in hunting out of hatred, fear and revenge?  No.  Do I believe in hunting to put food on your table?  Yes.  Can wild horse populations get out of control?  Yes.  Do I believe in managing them?  Yes.  They can be managed properly through bait trapping and birth control.  Those are my opinions; many may not agree and that is okay with me.

I do not want to see these animals hurt or tortured; I’d much rather be involved in bait trapping of wild horses and the use of birth control to keep healthy populations and make sure all the horses that are in holding pens go to good and caring forever homes than see them chased by helicopters, hurt, live out their lives in holding pens or sent to slaughter.  If the BLM walked up to me tomorrow and asked me to help them bait trap some horses and dart other mares with birth control or they will go out with helicopters and round up 250 next month and some will be injured or die and then they will be shipped to slaughter you can bet I will be the first one to show up before the sun comes up ready to help.  Is it the right thing to do?  I’m not sure.  Is it the best solution?  I’m not sure of that either.  Do I support this 100%?  No, not really.  But I sure don’t see any other great ideas falling from the heavens at the moment and I would much rather them include me in helping to do something that has far less harmful side effects than to do something kept in secret where wild horses I have grown fond of could be injured or worse.  A good short term solution would help us work together to develop a stronger, better, long term one.

I'm not ready to share this story just yet, but I will.

I’m not ready to share this story just yet, but I will.

I have wondered for months why with so many wild horse and wolf lovers we are quickly losing ground.  I’ve spent many nights crying myself to sleep wishing it would stop and wondering how I could stop it.  I have been furious and at times full of hatred.  Each time though I have come back wondering what I can do to stop it; it is one of the reasons why I started my blog.  I was stunned at some of the hateful and nasty things I saw posted by wolf lovers about the hunters; if we want to be heard and respected you cannot fight a battle by being one sided, closed minded and blinded with rage.  You can’t fight it alone either.  I have a deep respect for Wolves of the Rockies and WolfWatcher, as hard as it has been they have managed to stay calm and rationale and have been the voices of reason.  I wonder how much duct tape they have needed to use in order not to say the wrong things.  I have to believe they can do this because they are “keeping the end in mind.”  They are fighting to save the lives of the remaining wolves, what we all want.   We will lose some of the fights and as much as I hate to say this we will have to give a little to win the ultimate goal for both the wolves and the wild horses.

I know I’m not alone in how passionate I am about wildlife, mostly wolves and wild horses.  My life has been changed in so many positive ways because of them and many of the people in my life now I know because of them.  We are the majority and we should work together to find solutions to help the wild ones we love rather than allowing hatred and vengeance consume us which will paralyze us if we allow it.  There are many great advocate groups out there working for both causes as well as photographers and individuals.  I was recently at a meeting regarding wild horses but I had another interest there as well, wolves.  A question was asked; can you imagine if both groups were to come together the strength they would have?  I’m not sure but it sure wouldn’t hurt to try.

Yellow Man’s Band

Yellow Man watching us to make sure we are safe before he lets the herd move in

Yellow Man watching us to make sure we are safe before he lets the herd move in

Another herd we encountered out at Sand Wash Basin in September 2012 was Yellow Man’s band.  We actually came around a bend in the road and he was standing tucked up in the trees watching us.  His herd was a bit farther up the hill.

Yellow Man must have decided we were okay if he was starting to eat.

Yellow Man must have decided we were okay if he was starting to eat.

When Yellow Man finally decided that we were okay and not a threat he started to graze until the girls came along.  I was really excited to see a very young colt.  Even though it appeared that a drought was happening here, foals were still being born.

Dragon, colt born in July 2012.  Mom is Owl and sire is Yellow Man

Dragon, colt born in July 2012. Mom is Owl and sire is Yellow Man

He was escorted by his mom, Owl the pale grey mare, and his grandma, Crow.  The names are pretty fitting.

Owl & Dragon

Owl & Dragon

Dragon and his grandma

Dragon and his grandma

They didn’t stay long, they direction that they were traveling made it appear that they were actually heading to the water hole.

Hopscotch

Hopscotch

Yellow Man – Grey band stallion

Crow – Black mare

Owl – 2010, grey mare out of Crow

Dragon – 7/2012 bay colt

Hopscotch – 2012 filly out of Oda

Pearl – Grey mare with half an ear not seen on my visit

Owl & Dragon

Owl & Dragon

Through Wolf’s Eyes

Grey Wolf taken in Yellowstone standing over an elk carcass.

Grey Wolf taken in Yellowstone standing over an elk carcass.

My name? I’m not sure. At the place I originally came from I would normally hear them call me 897M but I have no name. It was pretty there. Lots of room, green grass, rivers to play in, rocks to climb and some really big mountains. It would snow a lot there when the days were short. There was also a lot of elk and bison there, hundreds of them. The best time was when the short days started to become long again and the sun made the earth warm the family didn’t have to hunt as much because we would find the old and weak dead near the water’s edge. Sometimes the big brown bears would come and take the dead from us but we would normally fight for it and win. There were lots of others like me there too, not family though.

When I turned two I felt the need to move on and find a family of my own. I traveled far within this area but the families were tight and not welcoming so they drove me further and further out of the place I once called home. I didn’t want to fight or cause trouble; I just wanted a mate of my own. I eventually ended up in mountains I had never seen before where the families were fewer and smaller but I wanted land of my own where my family would be safe from others so I continued traveling in the direction that the sun set. One long, warm day I came across a rather large family who had sent their daughter away and she joined me. It was nice to have company after so many months.

We crossed many rivers, mountains and black lines with noisy machines that went very fast. We did our best to stay up high to avoid the animals that walked upright on two legs that drove these machines and lived in square dens above ground. Sometimes we would see them up high on the mountains but we would hide in the trees and watch them as they ate the elk or deer and when they would leave we would approach to see what they left behind.

As we traveled the mountains became smaller and so did the trees in places but there were still Aspen trees, elk, deer and other hoofed animals. We no longer saw the big brown bears but we still saw the black ones. We had to go around many tight lines with barb stickers on them, sometimes in these areas we saw a new hoofed animal but they didn’t smell like elk and we had plenty to eat here so we avoided them. Since the mountains were shorter it was getting harder to avoid the animals that moved upright on two legs but we did our best to stay hidden in the trees.

Eventually we found an area where there was lots of room, Aspen trees, elk and deer and water. This is where we stopped when the sun became shorter and my mate had her pups. Since there were no other families here it was easy to find food and watch the pups grow bigger. We could tell that before us one like us had been here but its scent was long faded and we wondered where he had gone. When the sun started becoming longer again the pups were very large and strong, we often went out as a family to hunt elk and deer but we did our best to stay hidden. The animals that walked upright on two legs with the machines were more here and meaner. They carried long sticks that exploded and we would see them chase the new hoofed animals with small machines until they were tired and weak.

Sometimes we would have to move through these areas to get where the elk and deer were and another kind of hoofed animal lived. Their hooves were not split and they moved very fast. The upright, two legged animals didn’t come here often unless it was to stalk the fast hoofed animals or to chase the other hoofed animals on small machines. The fast hoofed animals seem to be more powerful than the upright, two legged animal and the split hoofed ones because they were seldom harmed even though they were stalked. They stayed to themselves and hidden mostly. We would also see coyotes and fox here and another that looked like us but who traveled with the upright, two legged animals and they smelled. There was lots of food here, places to hide and water but we would only stay to hunt and then return home to the place of the Aspen trees. The pups had grown so much now and were able to travel farther from home and learn how to assist in our hunts of rabbits and deer.

During the season of the short sun more of the two legged, upright animals appeared by our home in the Aspen trees. It was strange how they followed our paw prints and would stare at our droppings. The droppings would disappear when they would leave in the big metal machines that brought them here, were they taking it back to their den? Them being so close to our home scared us and we moved further back into the trees and hid more and traveled more at night so they wouldn’t notice us.

We spent many days here happy; playing, hunting and hidden. One day when the sun started staying up longer two of the four pups went with my mate to the hunting grounds to watch for elk, we needed to bring back food for the new pups born many moons before. The hunting ground was quiet, no split hoofed animals were nearby and only the fast ones with no split hooves were close. They hid as they watched a metal machine go by with coyotes in the back; they were very still and lifeless. When it disappeared from the valley they continued on looking for elk but none were found that day. As they started to return for home my mate smelled dying rabbit, at least which would hold the pups over until the next sun. As she reached for it there was an explosion. She jumped backwards, startled and began trembling and shaking her head and pawing at her mouth. She told the pups to run and hide as she began gasping for air and staggering, she couldn’t get enough air into her as hard as she tried. Many minutes later she was quiet and lifeless like the coyotes on the metal machine. The pups tried to wake her up but there was no breath, they lied across her and howled begging her to get up and take them home but she wouldn’t move. When the sun finally left the sky they howled for her to come with them one more time and when she still did not move they ran for their home in the Aspen trees.

I heard the pups when they were close and knew something was wrong as they cried with low moans and whimpers. The other pups and I left the new pups sleeping and met them at the edge of the Aspens. I took one of the pups who had originally stayed with me and one who knew where his mother was back to the hunting grounds with me while the others stayed to watch over the new pups. She was just sick I was sure and I could bring her back to the Aspens and help her. The sun was just starting to come over the hills when we got to where she was, the area smelled like the two legged animals that walked upright. We searched for most of the time the sun was in the sky; sometimes we would stop and howl, waiting for her to answer us. No howl came back. We laid down in the shade to wait but she didn’t come. When the sun left the sky we returned home to the Aspen trees and the other pups that were waiting.

We stayed close to our home in the Aspen trees for a few suns and only hunted small game hoping she would return. We would howl often in hope she would hear us and respond letting us know she was coming home but no howl came back. I went back to the hunting grounds several times alone looking for her where she had been now only smelled of metal machine and the animals that lived in it. The pups were growing fast and the smaller animals we were finding close to our home in the Aspen trees was no longer enough to take their hunger away. We needed to find an elk and it should be soon. One day as the sun was leaving the sky and darkness was close I returned to the hunting ground again. After looking again for my mate I started to follow the trail of the elk. They were coming down from the high mountains now. I could tell they were close as I weaved in and out of the short trees along the river here. I stopped a little while later, hiding at the edge of the trees when I spotted an elk by the water. It was lying down with its front half in the water, the other half out on the bank. I waited for a long time for it to get up but it didn’t, I could actually smell a bit of death. I walked toward it slowly, weaving back and forth in case it did get up but it continued to be still. As I got closer there was a trace of the smell of one of the upright, two legged animals but it was very faint, I thought maybe it had been why the elk was dead; we had seen them often use one of the metal exploding sticks on the elk and other fast moving hoofed animals. The animals would fall quickly and lay quiet, sometimes it would take awhile, but their breath would leave them as the upright, two legged animals would roar and then get in the metal machines and go away. It was odd that they did not stay or take away good food like bears, lions, coyotes and we did. The fallen hoofed animals would eventually feed the others for days if they were left behind once the stench left the area and they felt it was okay to approach.

The elk had no breath left in it and it smelled safe, I was in a hurry and needed to take back food to the pups at our home in the Aspen trees. I started to tear into the hide and glanced around, the air was uneasy it seemed. I tore into a softer area of the hide and suddenly there was a loud explosion from where I had grabbed, a very strange and powerful stench. I jumped backwards, shaking my head and pawing at my mouth and face. I couldn’t take the smell away and ran toward the river, water would surely remove what it is that was taking my breath away. I rolled in the water, face first several times but my breath was getting harder and harder to take.

My name? I don’t think I have a name, Lord. Other than the number I was once called I sometimes would hear wolf or grey wolf. Is it important? I’m worried about our pups. They are out there without guidance and there was still much to learn for even the older pups about hunting and staying safe. We miss their mother; do you know where she may have gone? Why can’t I return to the pups Lord? Without us they will not know where to stay, what is safe to hunt and what to avoid. If one is injured the other may not know how to help it. My mate………………………..I see her now by your side. She looks many seasons younger again and a darker grey like when I first saw her and her family. We are home? Safe with no metal exploding sticks to fear? Please Lord, watch over our pups.

And Lord, please forgive them, the two legged, upright ones, they don’t know what they do…………………

*************************************

Imagine if a government agency or agencies in a state where wolves were still federally protected were to keep the presence of wolves a secret. Then due to pressure from corporate ranchers and their own reasons for personal gain decided to take matters in their own hands to make sure the wolves were taken care of before the rest of the public found out they were there. It happened. It may still be happening. I was recently asked by a group to assist them with another issue and in our discussion wolves were brought up. At first I thought it was “mistaken identity” – they had to mean coyotes. After more research I turned up evidence of wolves. The number of the wolf is made up. Through my research I followed a wolf’s journey and need to tell their story. I’m not finished yet………………………………..and I won’t give up.

Grey Wolf taken in Yellowstone standing over an elk carcass.

Grey Wolf taken in Yellowstone standing over an elk carcass.

Femur’s Band

Femur  Bay Band Stallion

Femur
Bay Band Stallion

After leaving the grey bachelors and jogging back to my car to replace the batteries in my camera we drove down the road when I noticed a herd of horses up along the tree line.  To get closer it would only be about a mile up hill.

Yellow Cat, Kinstry and Sunka of Femur's Band

Yellow Cat, Kinstry and Sunka of Femur’s Band

The colors of the herd were amazing; grey, red dun and grullas.  And the cutest of them all is a little grulla colt that looks identical to his mother.

The young colt was napping when I got closer, his mom walked away with the other mares and left him snoozing.  I waited for about 20 minutes photographing the other horses while I waited for the colt to wake up and when he did he slowly got up and stretched all he way out.  Then he went and hid in his mom’s tail and then he stood and laughed at the other girls in the herd.

Sunka Wankan born 8/2012 to Kinstry

Sunka Wankan born 8/2012 to Kinstry

Sunka Wankan – Grulla colt born 8/2012 to Kinstry and Femur

Kinstry – 2010 Grulla mare to Jet & Zephyr

Nimbus – 2010 Grey filly

Yellow Cat – 2009 Red Dun mare

Femur – Bay band stallion

Nimbus 2010 Grey Filly

Nimbus
2010 Grey Filly

Yellow Cat2009 Red Dun Mare

Yellow Cat
2009 Red Dun Mare

All images are copyrighted by myself/Performancehorsephotography.com.  Please do not “borrow” without permission.  To purchase copies of images, please contact me directly via WordPress, Facebook or my website.  Thank you.

Picasso and His Band 9/2012

Picasso  9/2012

Picasso 9/2012

Mingo    9/2012
Mingo 9/2012

 

We had just arrived in SWB and had driven about 3 miles to the first fork in the road, going left seemed like the right thing to do.  We would stop about every mile and scan the hillsides with binoculars but we didn’t see the first horses until about 5 miles in.  They were about a half mile out, I could tell they were pintos but couldn’t be sure of anything else.  Gail joked, “what if the first horse we saw was Picasso?”  She had been reading up on the different horses out here too.  I doubted we could be that lucky.

We got out of the car and walked out a little ways, the horses knew we were there but were looking away from us.  I looked over at Gail and smiled, we could go home now as we had seen Picasso.  She started to cry.  She was really hoping to see him.

For a few minutes I thought the horses were moving away from us and my heart started to sink.  I had no intention of chasing horses across miles of open land where rattlesnakes lived that didn’t want to be bothered.  I just stood and watched, deflated, and then suddenly Picasso turned around and headed right toward us.  A few minutes later Mimi followed and not to be left out, so did Mingo.

Mimi    9/2012

Mimi 9/2012

There was a small gully we were standing beside, there was a little bit more green grass along here, but it was obvious that we were in a drought area.  Picasso crossed the road and stopped a little ways on the other side.  It took a few minutes for me to realize that I wasn’t taking pictures and staring at him instead.  I was shocked that he had walked off the hillside directly toward us to graze.  He allowed us to spend about 45 minutes with him that morning while he, Mingo and Mimi grazed along the gully on the opposite side.

It amazes me how white the white actually is on wild horses.  Mingo seems to glow.  She is the only mare with Picasso and seems to be devoted to him.  Picasso is approximately 23 years old; he is actually in better shape than most captive “aged” horses.  Mimi is Picasso and Mingo’s filly that was foaled around May 2012.

Since I’m new here, I rely on other photographers like Nancy Roberts for statistics and names of the wild horses.  Nancy and many others have been documenting, following and assisting the BLM and HSUS with these horses since 2009.  They are family.  After 5 minutes with Picasso, I know why.  Once you have looked into a wild horse’s eyes there is no forgetting.

All images are copyrighted by myself/Performancehorsephotography.com.  Please do not “borrow” without permission.  To purchase copies of images, please contact me directly via WordPress, Facebook or my website.  Thank you.

Mingo  9/2012

Mingo 9/2012

Picasso – 23 year old, bay and white pinto band stallion

Mingo – Chestnut and white mare

Mimi – 5/2012, chestnut and white filly

Picasso   9/2012

Picasso 9/2012