September Adventure with Wild Horses

September 20, 2014

This trip was going to be pretty special to me. It was the first time we would be taking my twin nieces Tai and Ariel to see the wild horses and we were going to be joined by Ariel’s husband Kirk and our friend TJ Holmes (her first trip to Piceance). It didn’t disappoint. We had a great time!

Tom, Tai and I left the Front Range early (6:30ish) and headed towards Meeker where we were to meet TJ before heading out to the Piceance Creek/East Douglas HMA. I couldn’t believe it when we arrived at the motel within minutes of each other. Perfect timing! Ariel and Kirk were coming from a different direction (in hopes of seeing some moose) and would be joining us in the horse range later in the day.

As we entered the HMA, we decided to try the Barcus Creek area first. Too early or too late in this valley and light can become a problem. It was late morning so it wasn’t an issue. We didn’t see any horses until we were almost out of the area. Sadly, Tai’s first wild horses were a pair of bachelors – and one was injured. A tough reality when living wild. At least he had company and that offered us a bit of comfort.

(Click on the pictures for larger/sharper images)
DSC_8398-s

DSC_5454a-s The bay with the star has an injured leg.

We didn’t stay too long once we discovered the injury. We didn’t want to stress these guys and have them attempt to run off. They were close to a water source and we wanted it to stay that way.

As we continued to look for horses, we also kept an eye out for a nice campsite. Tai wanted to do some solo camping and I wanted to find a place with cell service in a location I knew, just in case. She’s a very capable young woman, but as her aunt, I think it’s just normal for me to be a little concerned. I showed Tai the place I was thinking about and she liked it. As a bonus, there was a fresh poop pile (the horses come through this area) and she had cell service. Perfect. We would come back to this spot at the end of the day.

DSC_5526-s

We were running behind on our meet time with Ariel and Kirk, so we had to hurry through the rest of our loop. When we caught up with them, we found them enjoying a picnic lunch in the back of their truck. Ariel is due at the end of October (their first – I’m going to be a great aunt!!), so I had some concern for her as well. But, no worries. She was quite a trooper and had no issues at all.

DSC_5457-s

Once we got re-organized, we were off in search of more horses. We decided to try the 84 Mesa area. There, we had better luck. We saw a few bands.

DSC_5476-s

DSC_5483-s

DSC_5494-s I love the middle youngster’s upright mane. Too cute!

DSC_5499-s

DSC_5505-s

DSC_5508-s

DSC_5512a-s

DSC_5518-s

DSC_5521-s

DSC_5524-s

L-R: TJ, Tai and I.

L-R: TJ, Tai and I.

This band stallion watches us from behind a small tree.

This band stallion watches us from behind a small tree.

DSC_7333-s

DSC_7335-s

Good looking boy.

Good looking boy.

DSC_7341-s

Love the tipped-in ears. Many Piceance horses have these.

Love the tipped-in ears. Many Piceance horses have these.

DSC_7349-s

DSC_7354-s

DSC_7361-s

DSC_7365a-s

Crossing the road in front of us.

Crossing the road in front of us.

DSC_7368-s

DSC_7369-s

Love their curiosity.

Love their curiosity.

Interesting coloring.

Interesting coloring.

DSC_7380a-s

DSC_7384-s

This photo needed a verse and I've always loved this one.

This photo needed a verse and I’ve always loved this one.

DSC_7398-s

DSC_7404-s

A shy bunch.

A shy bunch.

From 84 Mesa, we took a quick side trip down Duck Creek so I could show TJ where the Dudley Bluffs Bladderpods were located. The Bladderpods “are limited or endemic to barren white shale outcrops and specific soil tongues in the Piceance Basin of Rio Blanco County, Colorado” and are quite rare. (More information here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/5716434206/) I also wrote about them before and have pictures when they are blooming (click on the link, scroll to the pictures and then hit your browser’s back arrow to come back to this post): https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/piceance-creeksand-wash-basin-trip-3-412/

Kirk taking pictures while we look for the bladderpods.

Kirk taking pictures while we look for the bladderpods.

Tom walks carefully near the bladderpod location.

Tom walks carefully through the bladderpod location.

Me pointing out a bladderpod to TJ.

Me pointing out a bladderpod to TJ. They are tiny!

As we left Duck Creek, we turned towards the “pasture” area where I hoped we’d find a certain horse that I love so that I could share him with the everyone.

My favorite (and the first horse I ever saw at Piceance way back in 2006). This is Handsome flanked by a cows (okay, and a bull) that shares this area.

My favorite (and the first horse I ever saw at Piceance way back in 2006). This is Handsome flanked by a cow and a big bull that share this area.

Handsome is a bachelor stallion now. He and his friends decided not to stick around.

Handsome is a bachelor stallion now. He and his friends decided not to stick around.

Handsome has had some serious injuries over the years. He’s an older boy (probably 13-15 year range) and although he’s mostly recovered, he has a visible limp which may stay with him. But to me, he’s still one of the most striking stallions out there.

Off they go, and they just kept running.

Off they go, and they just kept running.

L-R: TJ, me, Tai, Ariel and Kirk coming back after the bachelors took off.

L-R: TJ, me, Tai, Ariel and Kirk coming back after the bachelors took off.

It was getting late in the afternoon. There was still one other road I wanted to try before we headed back to Tai’s campsite. One of the routes that eventually leads to the beautiful area known as Cathedral Bluffs.

DSC_7431-s

DSC_7441-s

The gray youngster has a weird gait, but he seemed to move along just fine.

The gray youngster has a weird gait, but he seemed to move along just fine.

Out in the middle of nowhere, is a mare with 2 youngsters. No band stallion. I wish I knew their story, but they seemed to be doing just fine. Eventually, I'm sure they'll get picked up by a stallion and form a small family band.

Out in the middle of nowhere, is a mare with 2 youngsters. No stallion. I wish I knew their story, but they seemed to be doing just fine and in good health. Eventually, I’m sure they’ll get picked up by a stallion and form a small family band.

DSC_7457a-s

DSC_7463-s

DSC_7469-s This is a smart mare. She doesn’t let us get very close before she takes off with her family.

DSC_7483-s

DSC_7485-s

We said our good-byes to the mare and her young ones and headed towards the site Tai would call home for the night.

Getting everything in order before we leave Tai (with the truck) and head back to Meeker for the night.

Getting everything in order before we leave Tai (with Kirk’s truck) and head back to Meeker for the night.

DSC_5530-s

Tai planned to sleep in the truck bed, so it needed to be cleared and swept.

Tai planned to sleep in the truck bed, so it needed to be cleared and swept.


DSC_5539-s

Kirk making sure Tai has enough water for the night.

Kirk making sure Tai has enough water for the night.

Ariel and I watch all the preparations.

Ariel and I watch all the preparations.

After Tai was all set up for the night, the rest of us started back to town. The light was fading, but we decided to head down Barcus Creek since Ariel and Kirk had not been with us when we took this route earlier in the day. It wasn’t long before a large band of horses came running from the left and onto the road in front of us. Cool!

DSC_5546-s

DSC_5552-s

DSC_5555-s

DSC_5559-s

DSC_5561-sThis boy has a blue eye.

DSC_5564-s
As soon as I see the black horse with the blaze in front, I say out loud that “he used to be in “G’s” band. And as soon as I get the words out, “G” passes by. “G” is my 2nd favorite stallion in this HMA and boy, he’s got quite a large family these days.

DSC_5571-s

They cross to the other side of the road.

DSC_5587-sBig, good-looking “G.”

DSC_5594-sOh, and there’s Glow! (More about her here: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/evening-glow-wild-mare/)

DSC_5595-s

DSC_5598-sThat’s “G” leading the way.

DSC_5608-sGlow leading now with her youngster following right behind.

DSC_5615-sGlow and her filly.

DSC_5623-sThis is Silver. He is “G’s” lieutenant/satellite stallion. It is his responsibility to monitor the black stallion that is dogging the band.

DSC_5625-sKeeping an eye on the approaching stallion.

DSC_5630-sHere is the stallion that is dogging the band.

DSC_5634-sHe stays close as the band runs toward the creek.

DSC_5636-s

DSC_5638-sSilver did a good job of derailing this boy. He had to run up a ridge and then back down again to continue following the band.

As soon as we hit some rock outcroppings, the large band took a sharp left and disappeared into the tall sagebrush. What a great sighting.

As we continued down Barcus, we came across one more family. It was getting pretty dark, but I took a quick picture anyway and I think it turned out alright.

DSC_5643-s

As we got to the end of Barcus where it meets up with a couple other roads, we stopped briefly to take a picture of the sunset as we all said goodnight to Tai.

DSC_5647-s

Later in the evening, Tai sent us these images from her phone.

T1

T2No fire restrictions – we checked. ๐Ÿ˜‰

T3

T4

She told us later that she heard coyotes singing until it got dark when they quit (that’s odd) and that she could hear horses nearby, but couldn’t see them (how cool is that?!). Though it wasn’t a downpour, it rained enough that Tai ended up in the cab of the truck for the night. I was glad she had that option. ๐Ÿ™‚

What a great first day we’d had. It was so much fun to have the twins, Kirk and TJ with us. I couldn’t wait to see what the next day held in store for us…

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Most images are available online at: http://www.NickolesPhotography.com. Images by Pam Nickoles Photography, along with all site content are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. Photos and/or text may not be used, downloaded or reproduced in any form without express written permission from Pam Nickoles Photography. Feel free to share, but please respect my copyright.

13 Responses to “September Adventure with Wild Horses”

  1. Robin Halsey Says:

    Awesome pics!!!! I’d love to go with you too!!!!!!!!! (Don’t want to sleep by myself in the back of a truck, though!!!!!)

  2. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks Robin. I don’t remember a time when I’ve gone with that many people, but it sure was fun! That Tai is a brave one isn’t she? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. chris1055 Says:

    Beautiful shots and a personal narrative that is so nice to read. Wish I was there but enjoy it the same. The Coyotes and other predators would concern me. Glad Tai took to the cab. Neat, neat pics she sent to you. Thanks for sharing

  4. Linda Ha Says:

    Thoroughly loved your post. I love these horses, and you do a beautiful job telling their story with your photos and your words.

  5. TJ Says:

    Wow – what fantastic memories these photos bring! Thank you so much for inviting me along. Beautiful horses, wonderful company, perfect weather – it couldn’t have been better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks Chris. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yea, I was a bit uneasy about Tai, but she was quick to point out to me that I used to do the very same thing when I was her age. HA! And she’s right, I did. Now I know how much I must have worried my Mom. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks Linda – we should visit up there someday together. There’s a friend of yours I’d like to meet.

  8. pnickoles Says:

    Really great memories TJ. I’m so glad you could join us. And you’re right – it couldn’t have been more perfect! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Maggie Frazier Says:

    Thanks so much for taking me along on your trip. Getting to see and “know” these horses is worth more than I can say. Hope to someday really see them – but living in NY – you and Carol Walker & Rachel Reeves all allow me to “come along”.

  10. Pat Rice Says:

    Hi to all! Thanks so much for the production! We don’t always get back to you, but please know that we Love being included and Pammie . . . your artistry continues to grow and expand with such Beauty – please keep goin’, Girl! We just never knew what your precious time astride Coco would lead to, so very long ago – ’71? Love and Prayers for All, and hug Mom for us . . . can’t believe my 80th is coming up!!!! Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat

  11. Lynn and Kathy Says:

    Great photos and story! Thanks for posting this!

  12. pnickoles Says:

    Happy you came along Maggie. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks Bill and Pat! Always good to hear from you. ๐Ÿ™‚


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: