April 13, 2013
Portrait of a few Piceance Creek HMA wild horses. The young mare on the right was rounded up and was available for adoption at the Canon City, CO BLM holding facility. I don’t know if she’s still there, but she’d be easy to find with her unique coloring and two blue eyes.
Photos are for viewing purposes only. Most images are available online at: http://www.NickolesPhotography.com. Images by Pam Nickoles Photography, along with all site content are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. Photos and/or text may not be used, downloaded or reproduced in any form without express written permission from Pam Nickoles Photography. Feel free to share, but please respect my copyright.
July 24, 2011
Continuing with our vacation highlights – we had a little hitch once we hit Wolf Creek Pass after leaving Creede. The little truck started cutting out and coughing. You can probably relate to the feeling we got at this point – kinda sick and a little dazed when we looked at each other and wondered “what the heck?!” Well, after getting the check engine light code read in Pagosa Springs, we limped into Durango where we spent the next 2 days enjoying (sarcasm) the big screen in the dealership lobby waiting on the parts that would get us on our way again.
Wish we could have taken in more of the town (even though we’ve been there before), but without wheels or any idea when the parts might arrive, we were kind of stuck. Lucky for us, our friend TJ Holmes (Spring Creek Basin Mustangs Blog) was in Durango one evening and took us to dinner where we talked about all things horsey and caught up a bit. Thanks TJ! Our plans had included spending a couple of days in the Basin with her, but with our little “issue,” we just weren’t sure how things would play out.
Finally at the end of day two at the dealership, the little truck was ready to go and so were we! It was already late afternoon, but heck, there was still some time if we hurried to see part of Mesa Verde before sundown.
Click on the photos for larger/sharper views
After the fires… http://www.nps.gov/meve/parkmgmt/upload/fire_history_09.pdf
And there was a surprise as we were leaving the Loop Road. A lone wild horse. I’m told they wander in from the Ute Indian reservation. Apparently, there are a few bands near the Far View Lodge.
Less than a mile from where we’d seen the horse, we spotted this nice buck (in velvet).
Well, it was a lot less time than we would have liked to have spent there, but we enjoyed what we had managed to see and we had to push on if we were going to have any time with TJ and the wild horses of Spring Creek Basin.
We left Cortez the next morning and rolled into the Basin around 9:30. Just after entering, we came upon our first band.
We weren’t with the horses long before I was distracted by something Tom found – and of course, I just had to photograph it.
We finally ran into TJ and we hung out for a couple of hours before the weather started to turn and we decided it might be a good idea to head out before the possible downpour (which was badly needed – it’s dry in this part of Colorado). Again, not nearly enough time, but a nice visit with TJ and the horses.
We were off to Nick’s B&B in Whitewater, CO (that’s what we call my father-in-law’s place). With the unexpected expense and loss of two days, we had to change our vacation plans a bit and start home a little earlier. Still, we were going to have the opportunity to spend time with family and I managed to get hold of some folks I’ve always wanted to visit. Sometimes things work out the way they’re supposed to.
While Tom stayed home with his Dad the next day, I took the truck and drove south. First stop, Delta, Colorado and the Stirrup Cup Farm. I was going to be meeting fellow photographer Barb Young just outside of town – she would lead the way to the farm since she had been there before.
A couple of years back, I posted about a Sand Wash Basin mare and foal that I hoped to follow only to find out that the foal had been removed during the 2008 roundup.
I wrapped up my post by saying that I hoped he’d found a good home. Well, he certainly had and in 2009, I posted a follow-up story after hearing from the adopter of that little guy…and a few more of our wild ones: http://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/free-no-more-update/).
Mary and I have stayed in touch and I’ve wanted to go over the mountain many times to visit all their adopted Mustangs, but it’s never worked out – until this trip. Mary had just sent me photos of Nobody’s (the Sand Wash foal) third (third!) birthday. Wow, how quickly the time had passed. Well, this was my chance – I was finally going to meet Mary and Dusty and their “herd.”
They’re so beautiful with their unique markings so characteristic of many of the Sand Wash Basin horses. But there were more yet to meet. My tour was just beginning. We were off to the indoor arena.
Petey’s sire is the black stallion Jet. He is still out in the Sand Wash Basin HMA.
Wow, what a morning we had there at Stirrup Cup Farm. Great folks and beautiful horses. I was so glad to have finally had the opportunity to spend a little time there. I look forward to going back. Thanks Mary and Dusty for sharing part of your day!
Until I can make it back myself, I’m trying to talk Mary into being a periodic guest poster on my Blog so we can follow the progress of the horses. She’s very busy with the farm, but I hope she’ll consider it.
The day wasn’t over yet. Over the years, I’ve seen photos that Barb has posted of her Rainbow Farm and I’ve always wanted to see where the beautiful pictures were taken. Well, and there was another, more personal motivation for wanting to visit Barb’s farm too.
In 2009, I became involved with an animal cruelty seizure case through the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and volunteered my photography to help advertise and promote the rehabilitated horses (some Mustangs) when they were ready for adoption into new homes.
The adoption went quite well, but my favorite little black Mustang mare (from Piceance Creek) didn’t find a home. Fourteen years old with little handling – her options were pretty limited. In a last ditch effort, I posted her information on Facebook and within just a few minutes, Barb had responded that she’d take the little mare and give her a home at Rainbow Farm. Woo Hoo! That’s when I posted another story: “Gypsy Goes Home” about the day Barb came over, loaded up Gypsy and took her over the mountain to her new life. I just love a happy ending!
Cleo even has her own Facebook page! Feel free to stop by and say hello. https://www.facebook.com/NickolesPhotography#!/pages/Cleo/232078220148575
What a wonderful location and some lucky horses. Driving down Barb’s long driveway, I started to reflect on our days away. Even though it was shorter than expected, I’d say our vacation turned out pretty darn well all around. Maybe not exactly what we had planned, still, some really good memories were made.
Part One of our vacation highlights: http://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/colorado-vacation-highlights-part-one/
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April 15, 2010
Tom and I attended the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Adoption held in Powell, WY last weekend. I wondered how I’d feel about it since I had known some of these horses. Would they go to good homes? Would they be happy? Would the new owners understand just what it meant to care for and earn the trust of one of these remarkable animals taken from its wild home and family? There were many locals there who knew and cared about their wild horses – I was hopeful.
We browsed the pens full of youngsters and a few older horses. It seemed strange to be petting them, but I truly enjoyed the brief interactions.
As we walked around, we visited with some of the people I have met through my involvement with the wild horses who were also in attendance. My friend Tricia (Range/Wild Horse Specialist), the folks from FOAL (Friends of a Legacy – The McCullough Peaks Mustangs) Ada, Marshall, Bettye, Michaele and Susanne. Matt Dillon and his wife Kim from The Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, Jen (and her husband Tom) from USGS who documents the McCullough Peaks herd and Steve, Nick and Bryan Mantle who gentle and train the Mustangs for adoption.
It was so inspiring to see the devotion these folks have for the horses. Susanne adopted a filly, Jen adopted a little colt (from her favorite Peaks stallion) and Michaele took home three more youngsters (including a Fifteen Mile filly) adding to the four Peaks mares she had previously adopted in February. The final tally? Twenty one of the twenty five horses available found homes that day. That’s a terrific showing. Sadly, Crispy Cream and White Lightning were not among the fortunate ones that were beginning new lives. They went back to the Mantle Ranch for training with the hope that they’ll be more adoptable with a little more time.
I believe this is a little filly Michaele took home:
Nick Mantle shows off a flashy 3 year-old Peaks gelding:
A video of the available McCullough Peaks foals from the Mantle Ranch: http://s388.photobucket.com/albums/oo329/smantle/?action=view¤t=McCollughPeaksBabies.flv
Steve Mantle told me that people can adopt from the ranch anytime. You need to have an approved adoption application, but he can do the rest of the paper work there. They are currently picking out the colts that will be in their JUNE 26TH ADOPTION to be held at the Mantle Ranch, so those won’t be available, but all the others will be. There are about 10 or so of the Peaks 2 and 3 year-olds left. The ranch is located just outside of Wheatland, WY. Their website is: http://www.mantleswildhorses.com/
Little Art, the colt from my “Photo Of The Week – 4/8/10″ post is also among the horses available for adoption.
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June 20, 2009
Back on March 18th, I wrote an entry entitled, “Free No More” about a wild mare and her young colt that I had photographed just prior to the Sand Wash Basin, CO BLM gather in October, 2008. Regretfully, I would not be able to follow this foal’s development in the wild as he was offered for adoption. But, I also included in that writing – “My hope is that he found a caring, forever home.” Below is one of the images from that post.
In mid April, I received an e-mail from a very nice gal (Mary) out on the Western Slope of Colorado who wrote:
“Dear Pam, I am compelled to write you – I came across your blog by total happenstance – and to my delight and astonishment, I stumbled on your photos of our dear babies! The little paint colt in your “Free No More” post was adopted by us! – along with 3 other weanlings from the Sand Wash gather.”
The power of the Internet can be an amazing thing in its ability to bring folks together. Mary has since sent me many photos of the “babies” and has honored me by addressing them to “Aunt Pam.” As yet, I have not been out to see the youngsters myself, but Mary and her husband Dusty have extended the invitation and I plan to take them up on it. The following is an image I took of “Nobody” in the wild and images sent to me by Mary.
“We have been involved with the Adoption program for over 9 years. We have 3 other horses we have adopted from the Sand Wash herd over the past years. (One was gathered at 6 years old and was destined for the sanctuary. We took a chance on him – he was no problem gentling and anyone can ride him now!) When we first saw “Nobody” (the paint colt – he is actually a Medicine Hat as it turns out), he was so small and sleeping sound among the mass of babies. It really tugged at your heart. It is sad to dwell on the gathers, but we try to move past it and do what we can to adopt a horse and teach it to live in the domesticated/human world. In a sense we are grateful the BLM has the adoption program for it has afforded us to become family and friends with a wild horse – an opportunity MANY folks will never embark on nor have a chance to experience. We both grew up involved deeply with horses, however, since becoming a wild horse adopter, we have learned volumes from the mustangs.
“Nobody” was so tiny we just knew he had to get into a home with some personal care, though in the long run, I imagine many folks would have elected to adopt him because of his markings. My husband had his eye on a palomino colt; we could have stopped there, but a black colt with a white ring around his eye (like the dog in The Little Rascals!) and a distinctive looking filly had also grabbed our heart strings – so madness prevailed and all four have their home with us. I also saw on your website you had a photo of her with her band. Her name is “Sister Hazel”; the palomino’s name is “Sheepcamp” and our black colt with white on his face is nicknamed “Petey” – real name is “Two and a Half Bars.”
Nobody (who we knew from first sight that he is SOMEBODY!) has grown like a weed! Vet and us are fairly certain he was just a late foal being so much smaller than the others last fall. Petey is easily as tall as some of the older mustangs. They are all doing well and learning halter and feet trimming, etc. I know they are not out on 160,000 acres, but they enjoy us scratching their itchy spots and giving us kisses.
Your photos are beautiful and please continue your wild horse adventures and sharing your talent. I know it is not as inspiring to follow Nobody growing up in captivity as it would have been to follow him in Sand Wash, but I just wanted you to know he was here and very well cared for and loved. He makes ME smile everyday!! He is so funny – a total character! Hazel is beautiful and so dear. Petey is in your pocket. Sheepcamp is so athletic.
P.S. Dusty is on crutches due to hip replacement surgery, NOT falling off our wild horses!”
Below are images of “Sister Hazel” as a wild foal at Sand Wash Basin HMA, CO., and pictures from Mary after she and Dusty adopted her.
Mary and I continued to correspond and I learned more about their other “adoptees” and their experiences with the wild horses.
“August of 2000 – from internet adoption. I was nervous as heck doing the online bidding! Adopted a pair – mare with a weanling. Lucy and Diamond (Diamond was actually born in a facility after Lucy was gathered). They are from Nevada. I picked them up at Canon City.
November 2000 – Went to a Wild Horse Workshop and adoption in Golden and adopted a 1 year-old burro. His name is Steely – he is awesome, a total pet!
October 2001 – Went to Sand Wash gather with a best friend (who adopted also) and adopted Cowboy at the onsite adoption. Back then, they were doing competitive live auction – it was scary! I actually “lost” the bid of the horse I really wanted. So after the auction the BLM put the “no sales” up for a silent bid and I got Cowboy – sorrel 2 year old with blaze. I adopted him for $125 – the horse I lost during the sale auction went for $1000! Too steep for me! He was a big strawberry roan and I had his name already picked out – Santana, but he went to a ranch in Steamboat, CO. Cowboy is the smoothest riding horse – you would not spill a drop of champagne if you were holding a glass and trotting circles!
July 2002 – Dusty’s nephew actually adopted Nevada – a 3 yr-old roan pinto, at the Longmont 4th of July adoption. He has lived with us from the beginning because we had an approved facility. He has ended up being our horse. Nevada is so sweet and like a little Clydesdale!
October 2005 – At Sand Wash gather (again!) we adopted Imagine, sorrel weanling and brought him home from Maybell (BLM now only does silent auction bids!) He is massive now! – as big as my Warmblood dressage horse that wears draft size everything! I am hoping to take Imagine into the dressage world – he is extremely smart and a quick study with nice gaits. From this gather, we also adopted, A Boy Named Sue. A bay 6 year old stud! Sue would have been put out to sanctuary and NOT in the adoption program because he was “too old.” But Dusty had been watching him at the corrals during the gather and just saw something special. We worked with the Canon City office and requested to adopt him regardless of his age – we promised we would not return him!! Anyway we had to go to Canon City to get him because Sue had been shipped down during the gather with most of the horses during the processing (they only keep a few for the onsite adoption at a gather.) So really it was November 2005 when we adopted Sue AND…while we were down there picking up Sue, we adopted – Pussy Cat (bay 3 yr-old from Nevada), Wonderland (black 2-yr old from Nevada) and Mac (bay pinto 2 yr-old from McCullough Peaks, WY).
Going down to Canon City to adopt is really fun and much less stressful than trying to make it to a special off-site adoption. You just can’t have a felonious police record because they won’t let you into the prison!!
October 2008 – (yes, you guessed it – Sand Wash gather again!) Anyway, we had no intention of adopting. We just went to have a little get away to some beautiful country. The studs, mares and the BABIES were just amazing and gorgeous! The HSUS was doing the PZP and we just thought about what an uncertain future it is for this herd. We left for home all the while contemplating the thought of “how to help the Sand Wash horses” and what is going to happen to the quality of the herd…???
November 2008 – yup it was crazy, but went down to Canon City and adopted the kids – what’s the point of getting one when you can get 4! We know we “didn’t have to do it” and were accepting responsibility for alot of horses now, but do NOT regret it for a second! They have been so much joy. All the horses are still with us! We have 4 domestics right now in addition to all the mustangs.”
I asked Mary about her experiences with the adoption program and her life with the Mustangs, and this is what she described.
“Joy, but also it has dramatically changed our knowledge of horsemanship and training. The wild horses have taught us SO MUCH about working/communicating with a horse. Both Dusty and I grew up with horses, though from completely different backgrounds. Dusty – a CO rancher, team roper, worked in feedlots, rodeoed and started colts, etc – all the “cowboy” stuff. I came from New England and grew up on a large farm. We kept our horses at home not at a fancy show barn. We did foxhunting, jumping, pony club, 4-H, polo, dressage and I spent alot of time riding my ponies on the trails, in the woods and in the fields. My folks were very close friends with riders who were and are on the US Olympic team.”
Clearly, these are two people who regard the Mustangs very highly and don’t see any limit as to their use and abilities. For the sake of the many wild horses currently available for adoption, I wish more folks thought this way. For their part, Mary and Dusty should be very proud – they’ve saved several living symbols of our nation’s heritage. Symbols that are all too rapidly disappearing from our public lands. And, it looks like more Mustangs than just the little pinto colt I photographed found that caring, forever home I’d hoped for.
Related story with updated photos of the “babies”: http://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/colorado-vacation-highlights-%e2%80%93-part-two/