Wild Horse Medicine
January 3, 2010
I had a wonderful Christmas with my family, made all the more special by my Mom’s current health status (she’s in remission!) and the beautiful new snow that covered the ground. Even as enjoyable as everything was, I felt restless and anxious. It was the wild horses that were on my mind of course. The decision by the Federal Judge not to grant a reprieve of the planned Calico Complex roundup in Nevada just drained the drive and hope right out of me. I knew I needed recharging so I asked my husband if we could visit the horse ranges over the extended holiday weekend and as always, he agreed we could. He knew I was in need of some wild horse medicine.
We never know if we can get very far on the range roads in the winter, but we decided it was worth a try. A new wild horse friend and advocate I’d made in NW Colorado told me she had been able to navigate a few miles of road at the Sand Wash Basin HMA recently, so we were hopeful (thanks Nancy – be sure to check out her Blog as she follows the Sand Wash horses). We decided to attempt Adobe Town first. If we were unsuccessful there, we’d backtrack to Sand Wash.
We left just after 5:00 AM Sunday morning. The drive was absolutely gorgeous with the new snow. Rabbit Ears Pass was truly a “winter wonderland.” The drive alone jump-started my attitude adjustment.
It would have seemed a lot colder, but amazingly (anyone who’s been to Wyoming knows what I’m talking about), there was NO wind. I couldn’t believe it. Just as calm and peaceful as could be. I actually ended up peeling off a heavier jacket and putting on a lighter one over my many layers. It was just a perfect day.
We drove on to the reservoir in a canyon area. We figured we might find horses here as it offered some shelter.
I hiked out to take a peek over a ridge.
There was LOTS of horse sign in this area, but we didn’t find any other horses. We got back on the main road and continued west when we came upon another small family band. The grey is the stallion and none of them wanted anything to do with us – they left in a hurry.
It was time to let the puppies out to play. While I normally don’t bring the dogs on our wild horse trips, I couldn’t bear to leave them this time (after just losing our Kaylen girl). We were careful to make sure no horses were in sight and that they weren’t out too long as their feet got cold pretty quickly. Tom and I kept telling each other that Kaylen would have been right in her element – she was a Husky mix.
Our day was going by quickly and we knew we’d have to start heading back shortly, but we both decided to drive just a little further west since we were running into more and more horses. We spotted a herd in another valley and as I walked out to get a better look, I could see more horses in both directions. We felt like we had hit the “mother lode.”
We were over 2 hours west of the nearest “real” road. We told each other we’d be out of the range before dark, but we weren’t going to make it. It was so hard to leave, and just when we had figured out where the horses were. At least we’d know where to come back to. Our high temperature for the day ended up being 9 degrees.
We stayed in Craig overnight and decided to venture out to Sand Wash Basin before leaving around noon for home. Man, was it COLD when we started loading our gear that morning. I couldn’t believe it when I read the thermometer at -27 degrees!! Tom was nervous about the anti-freeze in the Jeep holding up, but again, there was no wind and Sand Wash is not quite as remote as where we’d just been. And surely it would warm up once the sun came through. (Nope, it never got out of the negative teens!) We decided to brave a trip out. We could always turn around if we had to.
We are always over prepared for trips to the wild horse ranges (well, we’ve learned the hard way that we have to be). I was so bundled up, I felt almost claustrophobic! Lots of layers (top and bottom), scarf, headband, gloves and the most amazing boots – Sorel Glaciers. If my feet get cold, I’m pretty much done but in all the years I’ve had these boots, I’ve never even had a chilled toe. I was ready.
There was fog most of the way out to the range and for much of the time we were there. We spotted our first horses shortly after entering and as I opened the door to get out, I was met with a chorus of yipping and howling coyotes. I wondered what had gone down to get these guys so excited. They went on for quite a while as I took some pictures of the horses in the fog.
I couldn’t be absolutely sure, but I assumed both groups of horses were bachelor stallions.
After the fog cleared for a bit, I hiked down to the two bachelors I’d seen earlier in hopes they’d let me visit for a while.
And on our way home, we hoped the same for the Calico Complex horses (though we knew better) as they go through the terror and trauma of a brutal roundup in the dead of winter…
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