West Douglas, CO Wild Horses – July, 2010
August 12, 2010
This was our first visit to the West Douglas HMA. I heard there were around 90 horses left there and the plan was to zero them out entirely in October. I wanted to see them before they were gone. Seems our wild horse trips were becoming more and more about missions to document and then say goodbye to the beautiful animals we observed due to impending roundups.
I’d contacted the BLM Range Specialist in Meeker about how to find this group of horses. Had she not given me directions and a general location (we still got turned around and ended up on a narrow and somewhat cliffy road somehow-UGH), I am certain we would never have found them. Even after having finally discovered an area with some horse sign, we only managed to find two groups of horses – just nine in total (one I didn’t manage to get a picture of).
As we approached the top of Texas Mountain without a single sighting, finally, there on the corner of a turn was a group of three horses. Our first West Douglas horses. Two mares and a stallion and I think they were pretty surprised to see us. I can’t imagine that they see many people – not where we found them.
Click on the image for a larger/sharper view.
At first I thought the stallion was missing his left eye, but once I was able to blow up his images, I saw that it was there, just kind of set back. It looked like he may have been kicked or something on that side of his face. Obviously, a tough fella.
And the little mare was so cute – so small (probably young) and curious.
The other mare was definitely not as curious. She was a nervous horse. Not interested at all in hanging around while I took pictures. She was agitated and went back and forth before taking off for good, taking the other two horses with her.
We continued up the road and came upon more horse sign. Stud piles mean there are wild horses in the vicinity!
We drove some more and I got out and hiked. Nothing. We didn’t see or hear any horses.
There were good sized horse trails, just no horses.
We hit the end of any road we could follow (there was a tiny trail, but we decided against it), so we turned around and started to backtrack. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash. A horse, but you could barely see her. Had she not had the bright white blaze, we might have driven right by. And there was a little one beside her too.
I got out to see if I could get any closer, but none of these horses were particulary interested in us either. I watched them follow a path that ran right along the edge of the mountain. I grabbed these really quick shots as they passed by.
Look closely at this boy’s chest. That was quite a wound he had there and yet, he appears to be fine and healthy and strong enough to maintain a family band. The Mustangs are miraculous healers.
After these guys disappeared over the side, we never saw another horse even though we continued to drive around the mountain and look for quite a while. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but at least I knew that these few would always be remembered in my photos. They’re not just numbers or “excess horses.” They’re individuals with families and histories. I just wish I could follow one through its lifetime without losing it to a roundup.
There is a lot more pressure of late for the BLM to end the roundups until a more humane and scientifically based management plan can be studied and implemented. I hope everyone’s efforts will bring about a moratorium in time to save these horses and all the others slated for removal this year. Thanks to all of you that continue to fight for our wild ones.
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