Fate of the Newborn
January 10, 2011
This is a follow-up to a post I made in June about a newborn from the Piceance Creek/East Douglas HMA that I was privileged to photograph the day he was born. (That story is here: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/the-newborn/
Below are a couple of photos from that memorable day.
We went back the very next day to see if we could find the baby and check on his condition. And once again, we were lucky enough to find the family, almost in the same location. The little guy appeared to be doing just fine.
As I was watching the little one, the band stallion (my favorite from Piceance Creek) approached me, snorting and tossing his head in an attempt to keep me from getting too close. I did not want to stress any member of this family so we didn’t stay long and we kept our distance. Afterall, all I wanted to do was see that the new youngster was doing well and he was. We decided it was a good time to head home.
About a mile down the road from the horses, I saw a ridge of swallow nests that I wanted to take a closer look at. There I found what has to be the most bizzare thing I’ve ever encountered in a horse range (so far anyway).
I called Tom over just to confirm what I was seeing. He was just as bewildered as I was. So, we started looking around the area. We spotted an entrance with tracks (no idea from what) inside the rocks and then this pile of debris and bones. What kind of animal lives here?!
Well, the eerie find gave us lots to wonder and theorize about as we drove home. Ah the things we come across in the horse ranges…
On successive trips to Piceance Creek throughout the summer, we were never able to find the wild horse family with the newborn again. Frustrating, but it happens.
Tom and I took about 10 days in September to go out to several of the horse ranges that were scheduled for roundups (including Piceance Creek) since we figured it would be our last chance to see many of the horses we’d documented over the years. Of course I was focused on this elusive band as we entered Piceance Creek on the first day of our trip. I just HAD to see them again.
We were coming down one of the roads that led to where we had spotted the newborn in May when we heard a terrible noise underneath the Jeep followed by loud hissing. What the heck?! We stopped and I looked out my window at the rear tire as the air was rushing out. We were now sitting on the wheel. I had just purchased these new, more durable tires! Not a good way to start our vacation I thought to myself.
Tom and I got out and walked down the road a ways to try to figure out what we’d run into (most likely a bungee cord or something similar), but we never found a thing. Tom unloaded the back of the Jeep (the spare is in a storage compartment inside the vehicle) and went about changing the tire (which had an irreparable cut across the tread we found out later).
Well, at least the weather was beautiful and we still had light. Just an inconvenience we decided.
Since Tom had things under control, I started looking around. We had been waylayed right next to a meadow full of wild horses – it doesn’t get much better than that if you have to be stranded somewhere! I got my camera out and scanned the bands.
Bummer – they’re not in this bunch. But wait, there’s some more horses over to the right.
And there they were – the pretty mare and the handsome gray stallion. I continued to scan the band, but pretty quickly it became apparent that the mare’s foal was not among them. My heart sank a little, but I decided to stay positive until I could get closer. Little ones can be hard to see if they’re laying down.
As I was searching through my lens, I noticed the stallion trot off. I followed him with my camera.
I also like the younger, darker gray stallion that “Handsome” is checking out. I’ve seen him a few times while out in this HMA. I’ve wondered if they’re related they’re so similar.
And then something set the bands off and they all started to run.
“Handsome’s” band watches the exchange (and me) from a safe distance.
Tom finished changing the tire and we continued down the road to the other side of the meadow where I could hike out to the bands and get on the right side of the light.
The first band I passed included the dark dappled gray stallion that was causing such a ruckus with Handsome. He’s a satellite/secondary stallion to the dark bay band stallion pictured below.
As he watches me come closer, the dark gray runs towards his band.
But the band stallion doesn’t appreciate his close proximity to the mares.
Even though he had just chased him off, the band stallion allows the gray to come back to the band, but he’s made his point about the younger stallion’s status.
I knew I might spook a cow that was in the path I needed to follow to continue up the meadow to Handsome’s band, but I hoped she’d keep her cool and not send the bands running again. No such luck however.
I finally made my way to Handsome’s band. This is a very pretty little mare too (she looks young to me) with her cute stud colt.
I wondered if she recognized me from previous trips and I wondered if she could sense how sorry I was about her baby. She worked her way even closer and seemed genuinely intrigued.
His actions towards the pretty mare are what make him a great stallion. He protects his band members from danger.
I pack up my camera and turn to leave. I try to replace the feeling of loss with a more positive thought – the hope that the pretty mare is already carrying next year’s newborn.
(Click on the images for a larger/sharper views)
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