Pryor Mountain Roundup – 9/9/2009
October 4, 2009
We made it out to the McCullough Peaks HMA around 6:30 AM and saw many bands. It was like visiting old friends so it was hard, but we left the Peaks around 11:00 and headed back up to Lovell and Britton Springs. We were hopeful that we hadn’t missed anything but the morning briefing (which we knew we’d be updated about).
When we arrived at the facility, no one was around. It was about 12:30. One of the BLM folks came down to the covered area where we were waiting and explained that everyone else was watching/photographing the release of the horses. She told us that the roundup had been suspended. ??!! We were told before we left that releases would most likely occur on Thursday the 10th or possibly even Friday. What had changed we wondered? Tom and I felt a huge wave of disappointment that we missed witnessing the horses reclaiming their freedom, but that was followed by equally strong feelings of relief for the horses that were now going home.
About 20 minutes after we arrived, the BLM employee walked over to us again to let us know there was a break in the schedule of releases and the group of observers was headed back. Once they were back, we were filled in about all the changes.
The horses had been chased around quite a bit on top of the mountain and basically, the BLM feared they might have some (more) injuries if they continued, so the roundup up was ended early. Good and bad. Some horses slated for removal were never gathered. Some that were to be released, but were still in the holding pens, were substituted for the ones not gathered. In total, 57 horses were removed from their home.
Fellow observers also told us a little bit about the releases – how Cloud’s family didn’t want to leave band members behind. How heartbreaking that must have been to watch, but I was saddened that Tom and I hadn’t been able to. That’s why we had come back – to see the releases. Again, we took comfort in knowing that at least for many of the horses, the day had brought them back their freedom.
And then they were gone – headed back up the mountain to their home.
We all went back to the parking area. It was early enough that there was talk about driving up to the top of the mountain since restrictions had been lifted when the roundup had been suspended. Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker and Ben Susman left and went on ahead while Tom and I stayed behind to catch up a bit with Matt Dillon and his Dad, Tom (from the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center). This “gather” had been tough on them as well. Matt knows every horse and monitors them year round. He did an awesome job of documenting and reporting the daily activities on his Blog. Half jokingly, I asked him when he slept (figuring he probably hadn’t – and I was right). I hoped this day had brought him some kind of relief.
Having said our good-byes, Tom and I left Britton Springs and headed up Crooked Creek. When we were almost at the top, we ran into a guy in a 2-wheel drive van who had wanted to see the horses, but felt he must be lost (as he never reached the top) and was on his way back down. We told him where we were headed and that he could follow us if he liked. We were about half an hour from the top. Out of his rear view mirror, Tom watched that poor guy bounce around like crazy in that van. I guess he was determined to see the horses.
Once we made it to the top, we ran into Carol who said Ginger and Ben were on foot looking for horses. Carol had driven up and down the length of the road (from Krueger Pond, to Burnt Timber and down by Penn’s Cabin) and not seen any horses. It was disappointing and worrisome. We wanted a closer look at the horses and we wanted to know that they’d made it back to the top safely after their ordeal. Mike (the very nice guy in the van who turned out to be a fireman and photographer from Michigan) was getting ready to make the drive back down the mountain when he noticed horses off to the left. They were headed towards Krueger’s Pond so we all grabbed our cameras and ran that way as well. (It was obvious Mike was thrilled by his first sighting of wild horses).
It was Doc’s band. They had managed to evade the helicopter and had not been gathered.
Just about the time that Ginger came walking out of the woods after searching for horses, we saw a band coming in from the Burnt Timber area. It was Bolder – such a wonderful sight. He’d made it back to the top of the mountain with his family.
And then we heard more hooves running in our direction. We went to the top of the hill, waited and watched to see who would come through the trees next…
Turns out, seeing the horses back on their mountain top home is what Tom and I really needed. Bittersweet for sure, but it also provided us with continued/renewed motivation to see an end put to these roundups. I have shared the pictures and stories in hopes that the public will feel the same way. It’s time to come together to save these amazing wild horses before they are completely removed from our lands. We just can’t allow the photos and stories to be all that remain of these magnificent animals.
Note: All of the captured horses were adopted/saved. You can read more about the adoption at the links below:
From The Cloud Foundation
From The Pryor Wild Blog (click on September 26th on the calendar at the right)