Dream Horse

December 13, 2010

Every once in a while, I’m gifted with stories that lift my spirit. Yesterday, one such story came my way so I thought I’d share. I cried, I laughed, I jumped up and down – and I still am.

Last January I received an e-mail from a young girl who wanted to know about a horse on my website. He looked like her “Dream Horse” that she called Abafalth. The photo was of one of my favorite stallions, so I told her all about Utah from the McCullough Peaks HMA in Wyoming. (a link to a previous post about Utah and his family with more photos: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/utah-mccullough-peaks-wy/)

Tess and I continued to correspond and she’d periodically ask me for updates and photos of the handsome stallion, which I would send her. It was pretty apparent that Tess was quite taken with this boy.

In June, Tom and I made a trip to the Rock Springs, WY BLM holding facility. There, I took photos of the horses that I planned to post on Facebook in hopes of generating some interest, possibly getting a few adopted out. As I went through my images, I kept thinking one of the horses looked very familiar to me. I had posted a photo of her and her brand new baby on Facebook and each time I looked at it, I kept wondering about her.

Finally it hit me and I was devastated. The pretty little pinto mare had been in Utah’s band and the beautiful baby at her feet was the spitting image of her sire.

Two Bears, Shakira and Utah in the wild

Utah and Two Bears

Two Bears (the mare) had been rounded up the previous Fall and had given birth to the foal after her capture. I was heartbroken. Of course I told this story on Facebook and Tess read about it. She contacted me right away and wanted to know how to adopt the filly. I passed along the information to this 19 year-old from Missouri and then wondered. I never doubted for a moment that Tess was sincere about giving the foal a home but since I didn’t hear from her after that, I figured that’s as far as it went. I’ve never been happier about being so wrong!

In Tess’ own words:

“It’s a long story, but to me it’s almost a fairy tale. This story to me has creation, determination, the certainty of defeat and at the end, even through it all, a happy-ever-after.

The creation started when I created a wild stallion dream horse, since my parents said I was too young for a real horse yet. He was jet black with white markings. His name was Abafalth. Years later I found out that he existed in the real world, only this one was called Utah. I found him through Pam Nickoles’ photography website and contacted her, telling her the story and keeping tabs on Abe/Utah.

The determination came when I found that Pam had taken pictures of a mare from Abe/Utah’s herd. She had been rounded up and she and her new little filly were up for adoption. I called the BLM and kept tabs with Kathi Fine, calling every couple of weeks like a paranoid mother hen. When the little filly was ready to adopt I – long story short – found a hauler, signed the papers and everything was set… or so I thought.

The certainty of defeat hit me when the hauler backed out on me, leaving me 2 hours to find a new hauler or give the little one up. I didn’t find a hauler and when Kathi called for the non-existent hauler’s information I never cried so hard in my life. Kathi apologized profusely as she told me that another woman wanted the foal if I couldn’t get her. We said good-bye and I thought that was the end.

And then came the happy ever after as Kathi called back with news that the lady had backed out and that a contract trainer for the BLM had agreed to take one more horse into his shipment of trainees. I called Steve Mantle and he agreed to let me adopt her. We found a new hauler and with painstaking work and hectic communication between Kathi at the BLM, the horse haulers and Steve, the filly was finally unloaded December 11th into the corral at my home.”

Video of the filly’s arrival:

(The following photos were provided by Tess)

Tess and her new filly

A remarkable and determined young woman for sure. I’m so happy for Tess and for “Little One” (the filly’s nickname until Tess comes up with the perfect name).

With much anticipation, I look forward to Tess’ updates as she begins her journey with the very lucky daughter of her Dream Horse.

(Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. No reproduction or downloading permitted. Feel free to share the link, not the images. To share, click on the blog entry title. The permanent link will be displayed in your browser’s address bar. Copy this address to share.)

The day before the Pryor Mountain roundup ended, Tom and I made a quick trip down to the McCullough Peaks HMA to see the horses – their gather is scheduled for this month and I wanted to visit with them one more time before that took place. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time there – only one evening and the next morning. We missed seeing several bands, but it was still so good to see the ones that we did manage to find.

This family was just off the highway in that wonderful late afternoon light.

This family was just off the highway in that wonderful late afternoon light.

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McCullough Peaks youngster

McCullough Peaks youngster

The first band we ran into the next morning was Indigo’s.

Indigo snakes a mare that had wandered too far away

Indigo snakes a mare that had wandered too far away

Band stallion Rerun is close by and watches Indigo bring his mare closer into the herd

Band stallion Rerun is close by and watches Indigo bring his mare closer into the herd

Indigo's band

Indigo's band

Indigo and his band

Indigo and his band

This is Kenya – a young stallion who’s family was disbanded when the stallion Spirit Walker went missing and presumably died. A photo I took of Kenya and his mother a couple of years back made the cover of the catalog Back in the Saddle last year. I was really pleased they featured wild horses!

Kenya

Kenya

Back in the Saddle catalog cover with Bourbon and Kenya

Back in the Saddle catalog cover with Bourbon and Kenya

Kenya next to his dam Bourbon taken a couple of years ago

Kenya next to his dam Bourbon taken a couple of years ago

Bourbon with the band stallion Spirit Walker - taken a couple of years ago

Bourbon with the band stallion Spirit Walker - taken a couple of years ago

Next we came upon a snoozing Bridger. Last year, Bridger had a family. I noticed he was hooked up with a small band of bachelors on this trip.

The big gray stallion Bridger

The big gray stallion Bridger

A backlit Bridger

A backlit Bridger

We left the Whistle Creek area and drove west to see if we could locate the Red Point Band. We did, but we never even got close to them as something had them “bugged” (literally – they were running from bugs I was told) and they ran back and forth across the range. Sometimes seeing a large band of horses running in the distance is the best way to enjoy them.

Part of the Red Point band

Part of the Red Point band

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This stallion popped up out of a waterhole area we were checking out

This stallion popped up out of a waterhole area we were checking out

A youngster with the black stallion

A youngster with the black stallion

And a young mare that was part of the family enjoying a good roll

And a young mare that was part of the family enjoying a good roll

A family on the eastern side of the range area

A family on the eastern side of the range area

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A gorgeous foal with this group

A gorgeous foal with this group

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I had run into Jen, (the USGS gal that helps monitor both the Pryor Mountain and the McCullough Peaks horses) at Britton Springs during the roundup. I asked her about the Peaks horses – Utah in particular. She told me all about Utah’s new babies (I never got to see them last year). She told me that one of last year’s babies was the spittin’ image of him. A black Sabino with four white stockings. I really hoped to see them for myself. Luckily, I was able to. Just a couple of distance shots, (minus last year’s foals unfortunately) but satisfying nonetheless.

Utah, facing away, and his family

Utah, facing away, and his family

Utah - third standing horse from the left - and his family

Utah - third standing horse from the left - and his family

It was strange not to see Hooter amongst all the colored horses. I even caught myself looking for him a couple of times. Whether it’s to a roundup or a death, losing the horses is the hardest part of getting to know them as individuals.

Hooter - never forgotten

Hooter - never forgotten

Meet Utah – a black, 1999 Sabino stallion from the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area. I’m going to fess up and admit that Utah is one of my favorite mustangs from any area. There’s just something about him that both my husband and I love and admire. Well, and he’s a handsome fellow. He was part of the first group of horses that we saw on our initial trip to McCullough Peaks. He was a bachelor stallion at that time, trying desperately to steal a mare and start a family. When we saw Utah last spring, he was in the company of two young mares, Shakira (a black Tobiano) and Two Bears (a bay Tobiano). Though we were too early to see them, both mares had little Utah babies last year.

Utah

Utah

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Utah sparring with Hooter

Utah sparring with Hooter

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Utah with another bachelor stallion

Utah with another bachelor stallion

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Utah with mare Shakira

Utah with mare Shakira

Utah and mare Two Bears

Utah and mare Two Bears

Two Bears, Shakira and Utah

Two Bears, Shakira and Utah

Band stallion, Utah

Band stallion, Utah

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