Springtime in Colorado. It’s so unpredictable. Our plans to visit Adobe Town seemed doubtful when the latest road report included chain restrictions over the passes just an hour before we were to head west. Of course, I had my studded snow tires swapped out the weekend before, certain that they were no longer needed. HA! Well, we told ourselves, it’s always an adventure. We decided we were going to give it our best shot and off we went.

Our only real issue was over Rabbit Ears Pass, and it wasn’t bad at all. We took it easy and even had a snowplow escort. No worries. And as usual, it was beautiful with the new snow.

When we arrived in Craig, we met up with photographer Carien Schippers from New York. She was presenting the Equine Photographer’s Network Colorado Cowboys and Great American Horse Drive workshop that would be taking place the following week. Until that began, we were going out to see wild horses – weather permitting.

We got an early start on Saturday and again, things looked doubtful with the wet roads and dark clouds. It’s impossible to drive on those clay roads if they’re not frozen or dry. We’ve been stuck a few times on wet roads, so we’re very cautious about weather in the horse ranges. We decided to make the drive and see what the conditions were before scrapping our adventure.

The lighting was incredible with the clouds and new snow. We were in luck as the temperature was well below freezing at the entry point. That was enough to at least get us started.

As we entered the area, we came across this sheepherder’s camp.

And then, our first wild horse sighting! They were very skittish and didn’t hang around long, but exciting to see regardless.

A view of the landscape. It’s vast and rugged country.

We came upon another group of horses and as Carien and I walked out towards them, this stallion came running up to see who the intruders were as the rest of the horses looked on.

We determined that all three of the adult horses were stallions. I’m not sure about the youngsters (with the interesting colors).

Tom and I always check out a large water hole inside a small canyon (we call it “hoo doo canyon”) as we usually spot horses there. Not today though. Just a very full source of water and lots of sign.

Well, this is something you don’t see often – a wild one laying down even after it sees you. Made us wonder for a minute, but he was fine and pretty quickly went to join the rest of his family.

The gray stallion is pretty battered and bruised, but he has a family and that’s what matters most to these guys.

Carien photographing the gray stallion and his family

Tom and I drove out further on the main road than we ever had that day. While the weather pretty much surrounded us, the road was dry and until we felt a downpour was imminent, we were going to stay out as long as possible.

At the end of this road, we ran into these horses. Again, these looked like all stallions, but I couldn’t be absolutely certain. The chestnut boy seemed to take the leadership role. He’d run up to us, retreat, circle around, run up again, retreat…until they finally decided it was best to put a little distance between us.

The whole family watches us

A final parting shot as they move away from us

It was really starting to get dark as the weather closed in. The wind picked up and we could feel rain drops. We decided we’d better head out to a paved road before we get caught in either rain or snow.

Driving back, we found another small family. The stallion was very curious/cooperative (and we probably stayed a little longer than we should have). It’s hard to pass up an opportunity like these guys gave us though.

This boy hung around for quite a while so we were able to take many photographs

I took so many images of this stallion that I decided to play with a couple

The mare and probably last year’s foal.

The family members

Below is a band we had seen earlier, but they had traveled quite a ways and we just had to stop to grab a few more photos.

As we turned south off Powder Rim towards the paved County Road 4, we spotted this last group of horses. YAY! That dapple gray is one of my favorites. I didn’t find him on our winter trip, so I hadn’t seen him since last July. It was wonderful to see him again…and looking so well.

This is probably my favorite stallion I've seen so far at Adobe Town. I've seen him twice now. So impressive.

I had thought this band had at least one mare, but once I studied the images, I don’t think so. I can verify that three of the four are stallions. The light gray (white) boy appears to be an older, more seasoned gent. He didn’t seem too worried about us at all.

Making a statement at the stud pile

All of the horses we saw that Saturday looked fit and fine coming out of winter and into spring (read an interesting discussion regarding forage and the Mustangs on Joe Camp’s blog: http://thesoulofahorse.com/blog/the-absolute-best-film-about-wild-horses-i-ever-hope-to-see/) however, we didn’t find that many horses and approximately 80% of of what we did see were stallions. There were no babies either. In my opinion and based on my observations over my last few visits (and those from several years prior), I can’t imagine this is a herd area in danger of either starvation or overpopulation. (There is a planned roundup of this HMA near the end of the year).

I hope this wise old boy gets to live out his life in freedom, but unfortunately, it doesn’t look likely at this point.

Please continue to write, call, fax and e-mail asking for an immediate moratorium on all of the planned roundups. The warehousing of these incredible wild horses in government long term holding facilities must end. The continued overuse of PZP (birth control) on the mares in these HMA’s will effectively wipe out future populations. We are losing both our horses and their ranges at an alarming rate. For the sake of our wild ones, please educate yourself about their plight and then become involved on their behalf. Share information with everyone you know. Only through knowledge about the situation can people get on board and help. The wild horses belong to us. Only we can save them. Thank you for caring.

Informative links:
American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
The Cloud Foundation
American Herds
Humane Observer: Elyse Gardner’s Blog

More information on the planned roundup: http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/article_9b09aec0-68a9-5261-a23b-79e6545c8d35.html

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