Fifteen Mile HMA – June, 2010
July 31, 2010
Backtracking to June, we spent the first day of our vacation at the Fifteen Mile HMA outside of Worland, WY. It was my hope that I’d be able to find my favorite stallion there – a handsome boy I call “Nub Ear.” There’s been no word about him since the roundup last Fall.
(Click on the images for larger/sharper views.)
We entered what we call the main entrance and noticed several water sources were relatively full. That is always a welcome sight in a horse range.
Especially when the horses have other animals they share the resources with.
The cactus was blooming and we watched a brightly colored bird doing his best to be noticed by a potential mate.
Despite driving across most of that main road (until we hit a wash out we couldn’t navigate), we didn’t see a single horse. It’s unbelievably sad to be in a wild horse range without seeing any horses at all. How many were left and where were they?
We decided to go back to the spot where we had always found Nub Ear. There we spotted a lone horse running with determination towards something I couldn’t yet see. I got out of the Jeep and started walking and that’s when I figured out what had his attention. It was an antelope and for as far as I could see, the only other animal in the area. I watched the stallion continue towards the antelope until it finally decided to take off.
The stallion just stood there and watched the antelope run off and then he turned around and looked at me. Guess that’s when he decided to give me a try.
Without a lot of hesitation, the stallion came closer and closer. As his image got larger in my lens, I watched a beautiful young stallion coming into view. Though I’ve said this a few times before, this horse was somehow familiar. He looked very much like a younger, lighter colored version of the stallion that once roamed the same area – Nub Ear. Of course this boy had both of his ears intact, but still, his movements, his build – all similar to Nub Ear. I wondered if this boy was one of his offspring.
There is a little trick I use when I visit any wild horse range. I wear the same perfume spritzed in my hair (it’s a musk) so that I smell a bit different than most humans the horses may encounter. It is also my hope that most of the horses I see more than once remember that smell and that their experience with me was not one to fear. Maybe this young stallion recognized something familiar about me as well.
What a sweet, sweet face on this stallion. It appeared that all he wanted was for me to stick around a while. So I did. I talked to him and he just listened. It was such a wonderful, yet bittersweet experience. I wondered if he’d come to this spot looking for his family the same way I had. My heart ached thinking about it.
I stayed as long as we had light. I hated to leave him and as I did, his eyes followed me. Even as we drove away, he continued to watch. Tears fell for him. Be careful handsome boy and may you find the family you so desperately search for.
Fast forward to the end of our trip. I was going through the images on my laptop on the drive home. My poor husband. I was looking at the computer and crying. It occurred to me that I had some old files from this HMA still stored on my laptop and when I decided to do a little research, I found out right away that this young stallion had indeed been part of Nub Ear’s band and I had several images of him from over the years.
As a yearling.
Appx 6 months later with Nub Ear and the rest of his family.
Now I had a full blown heartache. He had been back looking for his missing family…and they weren’t there.
There is no way that these horses lives are not affected by the roundups and the removal of their families. There must be a more effective way of managing these very social and family-oriented animals. To witness this devastation over and over makes me even more committed to do my part to see those changes made.
Click on the image for a larger/sharper view.
If Nub Ear no longer roams free on this range, at least his legacy lives on…
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