Duck Creek Bachelor Stallions

November 14, 2010

We were driving along Duck Creek in the Piceance Creek HMA when I caught a glimpse of what looked like a horse down in the creek bed. We stopped and I got out to take a look.

Yup, you can barely see his hind end, but that’s a horse. Tom parked the Jeep a ways up the road and I hiked down into the creek bed. As I was headed down the slope, I saw two horses (and several cows).

The vegetation is so tall, you can only see the backs of the cows.

I decided it might be best to situate myself ahead of the horses since I could see that they were moving in my direction. They hadn’t seen me, so I hoped to get a few shots before they realized I was there and took off. Just as I got the monopod set up, here came two very healthy bachelor stallions around the corner. I focused my camera and stood very still.

They both looked at me, but they didn’t seem alarmed. Maybe because I was already there and not moving? I wondered what they thought I was. HA! This was great. I wondered how much time the wild ones actually spent in a creek area (since they are often blamed for damage to these water sources). I was going to see for myself. I’ve watched them many times at waterholes, but never down in a creek bed like this.

I could barely hear them lifting their feet in and out of the marshy area but could see the splashes of water on their bodies. It was a hot day. This must’ve been heaven for them. The grass was tall and green and they were gathering as many mouthfuls of the good stuff as they could.

They would ocassionally look up in my direction, but really seemed unconcerned. Even the periodic click of my shutter didn’t distract them too much. The pictures are a bit deceiving as to their distance from me. They’re further away than they look.

I was surprised at just how quickly they browsed the area and moved on. They just kept moving. They would grab a bite and keep traveling forward. I was even able to capture this image of a dragonfly as they made their way. They weren’t disturbing much of anything.

Quite a mouthful boy

Hi handsome

They were pretty close to me now. Just as I was wondering how close they’d come, I saw them look up and over my head. Huh? Whatever was up there sent them up the creek bank in a hurry.

I headed up the bank myself to see what was so scary. Aha. Tom had climbed up a hill to get better cell reception (he’s good about checking in with his folks so they don’t worry about us). He didn’t know exactly where we were and felt bad about scaring the horses. Oh well. It’s hard to get mad at a guy who takes you out to see wild horses as often as he does!

The bay stud kept an eye on the “thing” up on the hill. You can barely see him in all that vegetation!

With the horses gone, I decided to go back down into the creek bed and follow the route the horses had taken as they worked their way towards me. I like to study the areas where I find horses.


The main water source

I hated to see the t-post sticking up out of the water. Was wire attached to it? How would a horse (or a cow for that matter) avoid it when they can’t even see it?

I continued to walk around and as I did, I got tripped up in this. I found lots of barbed wire just inches above the ground. That made me cringe. How many animals had the same experience?


I wished there was something I could do about the wire, but it was everywhere. I walked up another horse trail and found a dead horse. Of course, there’s no way of knowing what caused his/her demise, but the low-laying barbed wire was in the back of my mind. In any case, I hoped that the horse hadn’t suffered. I have found many dead horses on the ranges and it’s always disturbing, but at least there’s some comfort in knowing they got to die where they lived.

Amazing feet on the wild ones.

It’s pretty hard to question your own personal research and experiences. Mine over the years has convinced me that the wild horses aren’t the ones largely responsible for damage done to water sources and riparian areas. They just don’t stick around long enough. They get a drink, sometimes play then move on. At the same water sources where I’ve seen the wild horses drink briefly, I’ve watched the cows linger at for days…

(Click on the image for a larger/sharper view)

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15 Responses to “Duck Creek Bachelor Stallions”

  1. Mar Wargo Says:

    Thanks for this. It is a nice little splice of life. It was a good summer in Colorado and winter seems to want to come too fast. mar

  2. Katrine Pett Says:

    Hi Pam, what a fabulous set of photo’s, these two batchelor stalions look just as they should be!Thankyou for sharing your wonderful experience!, lots love and light from a wet n windy Cornwall,UK!Katrine.

  3. Janet Ferguson Says:

    How many times have I heard of cows wallowing in muddy places for days and horses being blamed for it.

    Thank you for your story and great shots of amazingly colored individual horses!

    Why aren’t cows getting caught in that barbed wire, too?

  4. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks Mar! I can’t believe we’re already into cold weather. I’ve hardly even begun to share the summer activities.

    Thanks so much for your support Katrine!

    Janet – I don’t know if cows get caught in the wire or not. I don’t know if the horses do, but it sure is worriesome for any of the wildlife that visit this water source.

  5. TJ Says:

    Fantastic observations! That area – and the boys! – look fabulous. I bet the horses were loving it. I hate the wire, too. I’ve been picking it up for years in SCB. Handsome boys!

  6. Joanne K. Says:

    Wonderful story and observations! Its so hard to believe anyone would put barbed wire where and group of animals can be injured by it. How heartless at a water source.

  7. Barara Says:

    Pam, may I print all of this off & send to President? If so, it’d have some of my own notes added to it such as bringing attention to the mess the cattle make of the water hole. Being ranch raised I under stand those messes. Horses don’t do that! I’m sending a box of articals to President, 2nd BOX of articals & letter nearly ready to go.
    Love the pictures & yes, sad about the horses but that is part of life & as you said, died where they live, free & wild, free of MANS HANDS
    Thank you for sharing this. Will waite for your answer. Can laeve it in FB Message if you like

  8. Dianne Holland Says:

    Absolutely gorgeous horses, great comparisons and observations. Let’s go clean that barbed wire up! I posted it as an idea on Mustang Meetup and already have someone wanting to help..wants to know date, time, and directions. Pam please let me know what you think…since you know exactly where it is do you want to contact BLM for permission?


  9. beautiful story and photos. Dona and I saw these same two horses when we were there. I really loved that “chocolate” colored stallion. They were pretty laid back and mellow. Fun to spend time with them. Thanks for sharing all your photos and stories.

  10. Deby Zimmerman Says:

    Top notch, again as usual Pam!!! You take photos that let us feel like we are right there with you!
    I wanted to give you my wire cutters for that barb-wire crap……hopefully that horse that died was able to have lived out it’s life and die of old age….no matter tho, at least it died FREE! That last show of the slow elk is SO TYPICAL of what they leave an area looking like, yet those fighting to remove all mustangs refuse to admit this, and definately will NEVER admit what these photos PROVE. Thank you again Pam!!! YOU ROCK!!!!


  11. Great observations! Wonderful pictures…

    Petra Christensen
    Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
    Parleli Central

  12. Nancy Ness Says:

    Loved your photos and the account of what happened that day. I wasn’t sure…were you on private land or public?

    Thanks so much for posting this for us so we can see the ‘real picture’, of what goes on in the wild lands.

  13. pnickoles Says:

    Hi TJ – we pick up wire and “junk” when we find it as well, but I wasn’t sure if this fence was on public or private land. More research. 🙂

    Thanks Joanne. I wish there was no wire there too.

    Hi Barara – I’ll e-mail you about your request.

    Hi Billie – well, they were pretty laid back until they saw that scary Tom up on the hill! Glad to hear that you made it out to Piceance. I love those horses. I suppose I just love them all. 🙂

  14. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks for your kind words Debbie. 🙂

    Thanks Petra!

    Hi Nancy – I’m trying to figure out if it was public or private land. I’m just not positive. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  15. Craig Downer Says:

    beautiful chestnuts free and wild


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