Handsome and the Filly

August 21, 2016

dsc_2256a-s(Handsome in 2014)

Most folks who read this Blog know that Handsome is my favorite stallion in the Piceance-East Douglas HMA. He’s also the first horse I ever saw there, so I’ve been following him since 2006. Tom and I hadn’t seen Handsome since September of 2015 and we’ve been up several times. Another gal who photographs/monitors these horses finally saw Handsome in April, 2016 which was a huge relief to me, but since then, neither of us had seen him. He’s one of the horses we generally see while visiting the HMA, so his absence made me worry about how he was doing (although he looked good in April in the photo that was shared). He’s an older guy (probably between 15-18) with many battles behind him, so you always have to factor that in when a horse goes missing. He had made it through one of the coldest and snowiest winters in 30 years. Surely, we were just missing him somehow.

Finally, on our most recent trip to Piceance at the end of July, Tom spotted a “white” horse that darted off the road ahead of us. We slowly drove up and the horse took off. I climbed out of the Jeep and followed him into the woods in hopes we’d finally found Handsome. Whoever it was, they were moving at a pretty good clip, so I stopped and tried to listen for a direction. Luckily, I made a left and came into a small clearing about the same time as this “white” horse. When he turned to look at me, I instantly knew we’d found Handsome. Woo Hoo! SOOO good to see you boy! Wait, what? I saw something dark move in behind him.


Handsome has been a bachelor stallion for a couple of years now and I hadn’t seen another horse when we spotted him this time. As he stepped further into the clearing, I could see that this something dark, was a foal. Did Handsome acquire a family? Where was the mare? I scanned really quickly to see if there was another horse, but nothing else was moving in the trees. Oh no, I thought. I hope this isn’t an orphan. She’s pretty darn small.


Handsome has seen me a bazillion times, but he wasn’t hanging around with this little one in tow. I stayed put, took a few more pictures and waited to see if a mare was going to show up and follow them. But there was nothing. I was pretty sure it was just Handsome with this little filly.



I’ve seen this played out before in Piceance; stallions raising an orphan foal (https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/piceance-creek-hma-july-2012/) and the little guy grew up just fine under the stallion’s care. At least this filly had landed with a seasoned stallion who had raised several families. Hopefully, she’d be okay.

Before leaving the next morning, we went back to where we’d seen Handsome and he was still close by with the filly. Now I could see that both were limping. When I got home, I zoomed in on my photos and could see that the foal had a nasty wound on her right rear leg between her fetlock and hock. Handsome had some open wounds as well. What had transpired and how did they end up together? I wish I had an answer – I can only speculate. In any case, we will be going back up in the next couple of weeks, searching for Handsome and the filly in hopes that both are healing well in typical Mustang fashion. I’ll keep you posted.


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.

4 Responses to “Handsome and the Filly”

  1. Maggie Frazier Says:

    Its heart-warming to see a relationship like this – something really bad must have happened to leave this filly with no mom. Shes very lucky that dad (probably) was around to care for her. Bet this doesn’t happen all that often. He really IS handsome.

  2. Ronnie Says:

    Thank you Pam!
    What a so beautiful, heartwarming story. Our animals are so gifted, in-the-know. Handsome is so majestic. Elegant. You know, an “Old Soul.”
    It does appear that he & the filly are paired, bonded. But a mystery, the two.
    Maybe the filly was too hurt to travel & this is why you did not see Handsome for awhile. Maybe a mountain lion attack & Handsome fought for the filly? No mare, no Mom. Maybe she got killed.
    Ok, enough.
    But (!), your photos are spectacular. The sequence shows Handsome trusts you. He kept the filly back for awhile, then showed her off to you 🙂
    Lastly, the final image with the black filly snuggled against the Big-White-Horse that rode in to save her <3. Like a real fairy tale. (Well, my "Maybe"…)
    Thank you for the Joy, Pam.

  3. Kim Michels Photography Says:

    Absolutely stunning

  4. chris1055 Says:

    It’s reassuring that Handsome will protect the filly. In the Sand Wash Basin, a little filly by name of Ruby clung to a young stallion after she lost her family. She seemed secure, but I haven’t read anything about them in a quite a while. Very much hope Handsome and his filly will get well and stay alive. They sure deserve it.

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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: