Wild stallion Cloud of the Pryor Mountains

Wild stallion Cloud of the Pryor Mountains

From The Cloud Foundation:

“Cloud: Challenge of the Stallions” premieres Sunday evening, October 25th, 2009 on PBS Stations nationwide. This program is the next chapter in the exciting life of the charismatic stallion, Cloud, and the wild horses of the spectacular Arrowhead Mountains Of Montana.

Watch a trailer of the program at the link below:
http://video.pbs.org/video/1226379302/feature/96

Plan to watch this with your children, your grandchildren, nieces and nephews and anyone not aware of the plight of these magnificent animals. Start a dialogue about how to save the remaining wild horses. Have the kids write letters (many hand-written letters) and get these letters sent to the appropriate agencies/representatives (addresses provided below). Have the children talk to their friends, their schools, whoever will listen about the plight of our living legends. Now is the time to involve the next generation of wild horse advocates before there are no horses left to fight for.

Every little girl or young cowboy that has dreamed of having a horse of their own, (but for various reasons can’t have one at home) actually owns many horses – all of the wild horses belong to them. Their horses to cherish, admire and protect. The BLM wild horses belong to each and every one of us. If more people knew what was happening to their horses, I’m sure much more would be done to save them.

Contact your Senators and ask them to support S.1579, the Senate Version of the Restore Our American Mustangs Act (ROAM).

Contact Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar
exsec@ios.doi.gov or 202-208-7351
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Contact President Obama
http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

BLM
Director: Mike Pool (Acting)
E-mail: Mike_Pool@blm.gov
Deputy Director (Operations): Mike Nedd (Acting)
E-mail: Mike_Nedd@blm.gov
Chief of Staff: Janet Lin
E-mail: janet_lin@blm.gov

BLM Washington Office
1849 C Street NW, Rm. 5665
Washington DC 20240
Phone: 202-208-3801
Fax: 202-208-5242

When writing, please be sure to mention that it’s not just the BLM managed wild horses that you care about – all of our wild horses need and deserve protection including the horses living on US Fish and Wildlife Service lands and National Parks Service lands.

And from The Cloud Foundation:

Phone calls to make:

Ask for the release of the older horses and reform of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program – fax your comments as well:

White House Switchboard – 202-456-1414 (fax: 202-456-2461) Ask for Senior Advisors: Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod. Ask for Michelle Obama too, her office is recieving a tremendous number of calls and they need to continue.

Call your Senators – switchboard 202-224-3121 and ask that they support S1579, The Restore our American Mustang (ROAM) Act.

Call the Senate Committee of Natural Resources – 202-224-4971 (fax 202-224-6163) Email here. ask that they push the ROAM Act through immediately– it must go up for a vote soon in the Senate.

RELATED STORIES:

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/shaman-of-the-pryor-mountains/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/clouds-image-pryor-mtns-mt/

Returning Home - Cloud

Returning Home - Cloud

UPDATE: There is now a page on my website for ordering:
http://www.nickolesphotography.com/HTML/fundraising.html

This photo was taken as Cloud returned to the top of his Pryor Mountain home after the BLM roundup in September, 2009. At Makendra Silverman’s (TCF) suggestion, it is captioned, “Returning Home.” Couldn’t be more appropriate. This print will be available as an ongoing fundraiser with 50% of sales going to The Cloud Foundation’s Freedom Fund. Until I am able to create a unique page on my website, print orders can be e-mailed to me at info@NickolesPhotography.com. Please include your mailing address when ordering so that I can calculate shipping costs.

Print sizes available (with pricing) are as follows:

5×7 – $18.00
8×12 – $45.00
16×24 – $95.00

All sold unmatted – print only. Tax and shipping costs additional.

Thanks so much for your support of efforts to preserve our wild horses and burros!

We made it out to the McCullough Peaks HMA around 6:30 AM and saw many bands. It was like visiting old friends so it was hard, but we left the Peaks around 11:00 and headed back up to Lovell and Britton Springs. We were hopeful that we hadn’t missed anything but the morning briefing (which we knew we’d be updated about).

When we arrived at the facility, no one was around. It was about 12:30. One of the BLM folks came down to the covered area where we were waiting and explained that everyone else was watching/photographing the release of the horses. She told us that the roundup had been suspended. ??!! We were told before we left that releases would most likely occur on Thursday the 10th or possibly even Friday. What had changed we wondered? Tom and I felt a huge wave of disappointment that we missed witnessing the horses reclaiming their freedom, but that was followed by equally strong feelings of relief for the horses that were now going home.

About 20 minutes after we arrived, the BLM employee walked over to us again to let us know there was a break in the schedule of releases and the group of observers was headed back. Once they were back, we were filled in about all the changes.

The horses had been chased around quite a bit on top of the mountain and basically, the BLM feared they might have some (more) injuries if they continued, so the roundup up was ended early. Good and bad. Some horses slated for removal were never gathered. Some that were to be released, but were still in the holding pens, were substituted for the ones not gathered. In total, 57 horses were removed from their home.

Fellow observers also told us a little bit about the releases – how Cloud’s family didn’t want to leave band members behind. How heartbreaking that must have been to watch, but I was saddened that Tom and I hadn’t been able to. That’s why we had come back – to see the releases. Again, we took comfort in knowing that at least for many of the horses, the day had brought them back their freedom.

Ginger Kathrens prepares to film the last of the releases for the day.

Ginger Kathrens prepares to film the last of the releases for the day.

Ferdinand, Galaxy, and Fiesta are released

Ferdinand, Galaxy, and Fiesta are released

DSC_0484b-s

DSC_0490a-s

DSC_0498a-s

DSC_0502a-s

Fiesta

Fiesta

DSC_0507b-s

L-R: Galaxy, Ferdinand and Fiesta

L-R: Galaxy, Ferdinand and Fiesta

DSC_0524a-s

Galaxy

Galaxy

DSC_0536a-s

DSC_0538a-s

DSC_0539b-s

The last horses to be released for the day were Sam and Hightail

The last horses to be released for the day were Sam and Hightail

DSC_0553a-s

DSC_0563b-s

DSC_0568b-s

And then they were gone – headed back up the mountain to their home.

We all went back to the parking area. It was early enough that there was talk about driving up to the top of the mountain since restrictions had been lifted when the roundup had been suspended. Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker and Ben Susman left and went on ahead while Tom and I stayed behind to catch up a bit with Matt Dillon and his Dad, Tom (from the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center). This “gather” had been tough on them as well. Matt knows every horse and monitors them year round. He did an awesome job of documenting and reporting the daily activities on his Blog. Half jokingly, I asked him when he slept (figuring he probably hadn’t – and I was right). I hoped this day had brought him some kind of relief.

Having said our good-byes, Tom and I left Britton Springs and headed up Crooked Creek. When we were almost at the top, we ran into a guy in a 2-wheel drive van who had wanted to see the horses, but felt he must be lost (as he never reached the top) and was on his way back down. We told him where we were headed and that he could follow us if he liked. We were about half an hour from the top. Out of his rear view mirror, Tom watched that poor guy bounce around like crazy in that van. I guess he was determined to see the horses.

Once we made it to the top, we ran into Carol who said Ginger and Ben were on foot looking for horses. Carol had driven up and down the length of the road (from Krueger Pond, to Burnt Timber and down by Penn’s Cabin) and not seen any horses. It was disappointing and worrisome. We wanted a closer look at the horses and we wanted to know that they’d made it back to the top safely after their ordeal. Mike (the very nice guy in the van who turned out to be a fireman and photographer from Michigan) was getting ready to make the drive back down the mountain when he noticed horses off to the left. They were headed towards Krueger’s Pond so we all grabbed our cameras and ran that way as well. (It was obvious Mike was thrilled by his first sighting of wild horses).

It was Doc’s band. They had managed to evade the helicopter and had not been gathered.

A member of Doc's band

A member of Doc's band

DSC_0591b-s

DSC_0592a-s copy

DSC_0593b-s

Band stallion Doc

Band stallion Doc

Doc's band at Krueger's Pond

Doc's band at Krueger's Pond

Just about the time that Ginger came walking out of the woods after searching for horses, we saw a band coming in from the Burnt Timber area. It was Bolder – such a wonderful sight. He’d made it back to the top of the mountain with his family.

Bolder and one of his mares

Bolder and one of his mares

Bolder's band on the way to the pond

Bolder's band on the way to the pond

DSC_0617b-s

Bolder's family at Krueger's Pond

Bolder's family at Krueger's Pond

DSC_0643a-s

DSC_0650b-s

DSC_0654b-s

DSC_0659b-s

DSC_0663b-s

After a dip, there's nothing better than a good roll

After a dip, there's nothing better than a good roll

Bolder's turn

Bolder's turn

DSC_0684b-s

And then the little filly

And then the little filly

Shaaake!

Shaaake!

Bolder and his filly

Bolder and his filly

Handsome Bolder - son of Cloud

Handsome Bolder - son of Cloud

DSC_0708b-s

DSC_0709b-s

We went back down to the pond and Two Boots had brought his family in for a drink - they hadn't been gathered either

We went back down to the pond and Two Boots had brought his family in for a drink - they hadn't been gathered either

And then we heard more hooves running in our direction. We went to the top of the hill, waited and watched to see who would come through the trees next…

It was Cloud and his family making their way to the pond

It was Cloud and his family making their way to the pond

DSC_0716a-s

DSC_0720b-s

DSC_0722b-s

DSC_0724b-s

DSC_0725b-s

Cloud called out several times looking for his missing family members

Cloud called out several times looking for his missing family members

DSC_0738b-s

Two Boots' band moves off as Cloud's band arrives

Two Boots' band moves off as Cloud's band arrives

DSC_0750a-s

DSC_0761a-s

DSC_0762a-s

DSC_0765b-s

DSC_0773a-s

DSC_0782b-s

Cloud and his band walk by Ginger Kathrens as she films them

Cloud and his band walk by Ginger Kathrens as she films them

Two Boots leaves the pond area with his family

Two Boots leaves the pond area with his family

Shoulder striping

Shoulder striping

Phoenix - Cloud's mother and a member of Diamond's (aka Teton) band

Phoenix - Cloud's mother and a member of Diamond's (aka Teton) band

Band stallion Diamond - his family showed up shortly after Cloud's

Band stallion Diamond - his family showed up shortly after Cloud's

Lovely Phoenix

Lovely Phoenix

War Bonnet, Diamond and Phoenix

War Bonnet, Diamond and Phoenix

Phoenix

Phoenix

DSC_0852b-s

Diamond (aka Teton)

Diamond (aka Teton)

DSC_0863b-s

Diamond rolling

Diamond rolling

Turns out, seeing the horses back on their mountain top home is what Tom and I really needed. Bittersweet for sure, but it also provided us with continued/renewed motivation to see an end put to these roundups. I have shared the pictures and stories in hopes that the public will feel the same way. It’s time to come together to save these amazing wild horses before they are completely removed from our lands. We just can’t allow the photos and stories to be all that remain of these magnificent animals.

Note: All of the captured horses were adopted/saved. You can read more about the adoption at the links below:
From The Cloud Foundation
From The Pryor Wild Blog (click on September 26th on the calendar at the right)

We had been shuttled off the grounds pretty quickly the night before. There was a sense of urgency about it and we all felt uneasy and suspicious of why. At the morning briefing, it was disclosed that Jackson’s mare Brumby had tied up after coming in and Cloud’s daughter Rain had colicked. Sickening, troubling news, but the Vet assured us that both horses were doing fine. We asked for and were granted a walk through of the corrals so we could see the condition of the horses for ourselves.

On the way into the corrals, you pass the youngsters - several of Cloud's family are in this pen and available for adoption including Image, Rain, Arrow, Ember, Summer and Sage. From L-R: Ben Susman, Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker and a BLM representative.

On the way into the corrals, you pass the youngsters - several of Cloud's family are in this pen and available for adoption including Image, Rain, Arrow, Ember, Summer and Sage. From L-R: Ben Susman, Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker and a BLM representative.

Little Image looked so sad and lost

Little Image looked so sad and lost

Image

Image

Ginger Kathrens peers in at the babies she's known and documented since their births.

Ginger Kathrens peers in at the babies she's known and documented since their births.

Brumby - the mare who tied up

Brumby - the mare who tied up

Jackson

Jackson

DSC_2978b-s

Jackson's band

Jackson's band

R.T. Fitch, Ginger Kathrens, Elyse Gardner and Terry Fitch at the corrals

R.T. Fitch, Ginger Kathrens, Elyse Gardner and Terry Fitch at the corrals

Bolder

Bolder

Bolder's band

Bolder's band

Bolder's filly

Bolder's filly

DSCN2637b-s

Cassidy - tagged for adoption

Cassidy - tagged for adoption

DSC_2995b-s

Band stallion Chino - he has gorgeous amber eyes and he's a rare color among the Pryor horses. A beautiful buckskin.

Band stallion Chino - he has gorgeous amber eyes and he's a rare color among the Pryor horses. A beautiful buckskin.

Band stallion Duke

Band stallion Duke

A foal from Duke's band who was very sore

A foal from Duke's band who was very sore

Duke's band

Duke's band

Morning Star's band

Morning Star's band

Ben Susman, Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker, Sandy Elmore, R.T. Fitch and Terry Fitch.

Ben Susman, Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker, Sandy Elmore, R.T. Fitch and Terry Fitch.

Cloud

Cloud

DSC_3013b-s

Later, we were taken over to Greasewood Flats to observe more horses being processed.

Starman in the alley while he waits for other members of his band to be processed

Starman in the alley while he waits for other members of his band to be processed

Bolder watches the activities

Bolder watches the activities

A lucky group - they all have the blue dots that indicate they will be released

A lucky group - they all have the blue dots that indicate they will be released

The band stallion Cappuccino bangs his head in the chute in an attempt to escape

The band stallion Cappuccino bangs his head in the chute in an attempt to escape

And he does get out

And he does get out

He frantically runs up and down the alley way looking for members of his family

He frantically runs up and down the alley way looking for members of his family

Finally, another family member is processed and released into the alley way

Finally, another family member is processed and released into the alley way

Band stallion Mescalero did not want to go into the chute. BLM personnel haze him with plastic bags attached to whips

Band stallion Mescalero did not want to go into the chute. BLM personnel haze him with plastic bags attached to whips

They actually hit this horse - a member of Mescalero's band

They actually hit this horse - a member of Mescalero's band

DSC_0066b-s

Mescalero released into the alley way

Mescalero released into the alley way

Once the processing was completed, we were allowed back up on the viewing ridge.

Baja's band

Baja's band

Baja's band - Baja's mare Bacardi and another foal were missing as the others were brought in. We were later told that the foal just couldn't keep up so the pilot decided not to pursue them. They were left behind without their family.

Baja's band - Baja's mare Bacardi and another foal were missing as the others were brought in. We were later told that the foal just couldn't keep up so the pilot decided not to pursue them. They were left behind without their family.

The two foals that did come in with the band were very, very footsore. It's inconceivable to me to push any horse, let alone a foal, that hard for that many miles.

The two foals that did come in with the band were very, very footsore. It's inconceivable to me to push any horse, let alone a foal, that hard for that many miles.

DSC_9754-s

(And though I failed to mention it in my earlier posts, if the distance wasn’t enough, these horses were also forced down the mountain in 95+ degree temperatures).

After Baja’s band came in, we were told no more horses would be brought in. The helicopter was finished for the day. It was pretty early yet. Again, we wondered about the motives for this move.

One of Baja's foals that came in so very footsore

One of Baja's foals that came in so very footsore

Another footsore Baja baby

Another footsore Baja baby

Tom and I left Britton Springs, Lovell and our fellow observers that afternoon. We had made the difficult decision to move on to the McCullough Peaks HMA to photograph the horses there before the scheduled round up. We had just enough time to capture a few evening light photos before finding a place to stay in Greybull, WY. Though we were exhausted, we both had something nagging at us that we finally discussed before calling it a night. It wasn’t over – we hadn’t seen the conclusion or outcome of this roundup and it didn’t feel right to either of us. We knew we had to go back. We decided to leave Greybull very early and catch some first light photos at McCullough Peaks which would put us back at Britton Springs close to noon. Nothing much (other than the briefings) really went on until then anyway – or so we thought.

(More to follow…)

Stay updated on the latest wild horse news and information available on my website under the Wild Horse Information link: http://www.nickolesphotography.com/HTML/wildhorseinformation.htm

Having made it through our first day with a decision to commit to a second, Tom and I arrived at Britton Springs at the designated time for briefing. Briefings were held to present the plan for the day’s activities/goals. At the end of these briefings, we were allowed to ask questions (specific to just that day’s operations), but it was clear queries were to be kept to a minumum. There were times when the Independent Humane Observer was cut short with her questions and requests for more and closer access to the horses. Elyse (The IHO) was persistant, but she was often met by less than cooperative attitudes by some of the BLM personnel. I was told that her admittance to the area had been better earlier on (when the press was there), but shortly after the media left, so did most of Elyse’s access.

BLM personnel delivering the morning briefing

BLM personnel delivering the morning briefing

R.T. Fitch, Elyse Gardner (the Independent Humane Observer) and Ginger Kathrens at the briefing

R.T. Fitch, Elyse Gardner (the Independent Humane Observer) and Ginger Kathrens at the briefing

At the conclusion of the briefing, we were allowed another walk through to view the captured horses.

Exhilaration with Chino in the background

Exhilaration with Chino in the background

DSC_2891b-s

Bolder's band

Bolder's band

DSC_2870b-s

DSC_2880b-s

DSC_2882b-s

DSCN2536b-s

Horses tagged for adoption

Horses tagged for adoption

Flint - who is also known as Blue Moon

Flint - who is also known as Blue Moon

After going through the corrals, we were told that they were going to begin processing horses – putting them in the squeeze chute, taking hair samples, shaving necks, freeze branding (for those going up for adoption) and PZP’ing the mares. We were escorted to an area where we could watch, but it was from a pretty fair distance.

The squeeze chute is an incredibly loud device. It has to be a very frightening experience for a wild horse.

Horses to be processed

Horses to be processed

Processing a horse through the squeeze chute

Processing a horse through the squeeze chute

And then there was quite a commotion – a terrified young stallion was trying to escape from the chute.

DSC_9794b-s

DSC_9797b-s

DSC_9799b-s

They did finally get the stallion through the process, but I’m sure he was quite shaken. It was very hard to watch and feel helpless to do anything.

DSC_9818b-s

With the processing complete, we were escorted to the viewing ridge.

Looking down at the holding corrals from the viewing ridge

Looking down at the holding corrals from the viewing ridge

Ginger Kathrens, Ben Susman, Sandy Elmore, Terry Fitch, me and Elyse Gardner at the observation ridge

Ginger Kathrens, Ben Susman, Sandy Elmore, Terry Fitch, me and Elyse Gardner at the observation ridge

Behind the jute fence

Behind the jute fence

Bringing in Morning Star's band

Bringing in Morning Star's band

DSC_9852b-s

As we listened to the helicopter approaching with more horses, we started to hear radio chatter going on behind us. Most of us had our lenses pointed towards the direction of incoming horses and when they finally came into view, the reason for the increased radio communication was clear. It was Cloud. Apparently, there was some concern that our little group might go ballistic or something at the sight of Cloud being captured, so our escorts were being forewarned. I remember hearing one of them relay back to the base folks, “they already know.” With that, the radios were silent and we watched the powerful, pale-colored stallion direct his band from one side of the valley to the other, giving the pilot a run for his money trying to save his family. Just before reaching the end of the jute driveway, Cloud did the most amazing thing – he turned and faced the helicopter. One last defiant gesture by the courageous stallion before he was forced to continue down the capture chute with his family.

Cloud and his band - several family members were about to lose their freedom forever

Cloud and his band - several family members were about to lose their freedom forever

DSC_9872b-s

DSC_9880b-s

DSC_9884c-s

DSC_9886c-s

DSC_9900b-s

DSC_9905c-s

DSC_9908c-s

DSC_9916c-s

DSC_9920b-s

Shortly after Cloud’s family came in, Jackson’s band followed.

DSC_9957b-s

DSC_9970b-s

Walking back from the ridge at the end of the day

Walking back from the ridge at the end of the day

As we walked by the holding corrals on our way back from the viewing ridge, I looked over and snapped my last photo of the day. His eyes spoke volumes and mine filled with tears.

A captive Cloud

A captive Cloud

(More to follow…)

%d bloggers like this: