Frolicking Filly

July 5, 2019

Is there anything that can bring a smile like a youngster with a “wild hair?” This little filly felt the urge and I was lucky to be standing by watching…with a camera. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Piceance-East Douglas HMA, CO., June, 2019)

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Carry on little one. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. You can follow me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/pamnickolesphotography and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PamNickolesPhotography/

Wild Horses Overhead :)

June 30, 2019

An early morning encounter with horses on a high ridge above us. Piceance-East Douglas, HMA. (Colorado, 6/2019)

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The band stallion is the gray (almost white) guy on the far right (known as Seven).

I’ve been spotted!

This mare is known as Honey.

This little one is getting angry, pinned ears from a mare that is not his mother.

Hurrying towards mom.

Last year’s foals. The perlino has blue eyes and the sun makes her squint.

The little bay foal on the far right does belong to “angry ears.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

The band is being followed by a gray, bachelor stallion.

Coming down from the ridge.

And into a small meadow where we left them to graze. A cute parting glance from the youngest member of the band. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. You can follow me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/pamnickolesphotography and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PamNickolesPhotography/

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)
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Good looking boy.

Good looking boy.

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

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

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Crossing the road in front of us.

Crossing the road in front of us.

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Love their curiosity.

Love their curiosity.

Interesting coloring.

Interesting coloring.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.


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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!

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DSC_5561-sThis boy has a blue eye.

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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.

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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/)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

T1

T2No fire restrictions – we checked. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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.

(Continuation of our wild horse weekend with Carien Schippers, March 1-2)

We’d had a pretty successful day (considering the weather) at Adobe Town, so the three of us decided we should go ahead and attempt an early morning drive out to Sand Wash Basin before Tom and I had to drive back over the mountain for home and Carien had to turn her attention to her week-long workshop.

Saturday night, I contacted Nancy Roberts (fellow self-described wild horse “addict”) who documents the Sand Wash herd (Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses Blog) and asked her if she’d like to join us. Fortunately for us, she wanted to. She knows the horses and where they hang out. We were all hopeful we’d get to see some more wild horses on Sunday.

The first thing I did when I awoke on Sunday morning was peek out the window. My heart sank when I saw new snow on the ground. Well, it wouldn’t hurt to drive out and see how the range conditions were and everyone else was still game to go. We picked up Nancy at the edge of town and headed towards the horses.

Once again, the snow had pretty much missed the Basin and it was cold enough to keep any wet roads frozen, so we ventured into the range and started looking for horses. Nancy directed us west on a road where she had recently seen Lightning’s family with the new filly Madeleine (named in honor of Madeleine Pickens). Sure enough, Lightning’s band was the first we came upon.

Mama Mystic with new filly Madeleine

The black and white pinto stallion, Lightning and one of his mares.

There was a little action while we were photographing the family. The dun bachelor and the little blue-eyed stallion that Lightning was trying to kick out of the band were dogging Lightning and sparring with one another as well. The stunning black and white pinto was kept busy trying to keep these stallions at bay.

A bachelor stallion dogs the family

Cute little blue-eyed stallion

Going after the little sorrel stallion with the blue eye.

Waiting for his next opportunity to rejoin the band

Mystic and little Madeleine

Isn't she a little cutie

Pretty bay mare

Checking out the little one

Family portrait

As we continue on, we run across these very spooky horses on top of a ridge. They run back and forth and then finally down the side of the hill.

And off they go...

We went over to the edge to watch the horses run for what looked like the sheer pleasure of it. They were totally enjoying themselves as they ran full speed, bucking and kicking.

Next, we came upon a group of bachelor stallions.

There’s one horse that reminds me of the very colorful stallion Picasso. Wonder if this youngster could be his? The middle pinto below is the one that, to me, resembles Picasso.

This is the majestic stallion Picasso - I threw this photo in from another trip and post for comparison

The two pintos on the left begin to spar with one another

A small band way in the distance

We decide to turn around and get onto the main road to see if we can spot more horses. As we start down a hill that was no problem when we came up, the Jeep starts to slide. Tom and I look at each other with a shared shock. What the heck?! I glance up at the thermometer in the Jeep. Reading the digits, I realize that we may have a potential problem. The road is no longer frozen and what we’ve just experienced is that awful slick mud that has left us stranded in the horse ranges more than once. We all fall silent and wonder how the rest of the road is. Tom drives carefully and we’re lucky this time. We make it to the main road, but decide that we should probably start heading back since we can see dark clouds closing in around us.

Just as we start our drive back, we see some horses off to the left. A bachelor band. We just have to stop, but we’re conscious of the approaching weather. It’s so hard to leave when there’s horses to be photographed.

This little Palomino is pretty young...and cute

There's also a handsome dun stallion

Playtime

Okay, that's enough

Tail blowing in the wind

We turned around to leave and the horses started towards us. I switched cameras to catch the action at the poop pile. Stallions are very proud of their stud piles. ๐Ÿ™‚

The gray stallion is injured (check out his left knee), but he's obviously the most dominant boy

As is the case with most wild horses, they find a way to manage their injuries. This guy can still move out, but he's hopping on that sore leg. I hope to hear from Nancy that he heals from this.

Amazing grit and strength of a wild horse

We don’t go very far after visiting with the bachelor band when more horses are spotted to the east. They’re further away so there’s a short discussion about trying to get out to them before the rain. Of course we decide to go for it.

The gray is the stallion

We've crossed over their comfort zone and they take off

We can feel raindrops as we walk towards Tom and the Jeep. It’s time to say good-bye to the Sand Wash wild horses for now. It was wonderful to spend some time with them, Carien and Nancy.

We said our good-byes to Carien too as we dropped her off at the motel. What a great time shared with a a very talented photographer and horse lover.

Nancy suggested that we come by and see her horses on our way out of town. I was hoping she’d say something. I very much wanted to meet her adopted Mustang from Sand Wash, Odakota (who’s 2 now).

Here they come - Odakota is on the left.

Flash (26 year-old Bay Arab mare) and Micah (23 year-old Arab gelding)

Odakota (Kota) is in a hurry to say hello to us

Hi Tom!

Can you see me Tom? Am I close enough?

Because it’s wet and a bit muddy outside (there are snowflakes falling too), Micah decides to enjoy a good roll!

Now the other side

Flash's turn

It’s so nice to meet another one of the folks I’ve become acquainted with through the wild horse preservation efforts and Facebook. I know that Nancy and I would enjoy observing horses together from dawn to dusk (and hopefully, we’ll have an opportunity to do just that). We share a very strong passion for our wild ones and the desire to keep them free.

Nancy with Odakota and Micah

Nancy’s post about our visit: http://sandwashwildhorses.blogspot.com/2010/05/professionals.html

(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 browserโ€™s address bar. Copy this address to share.)

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

Related stories:

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2009/08/01/wild-horse-weekend-july-25-26/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/wild-horse-medicine/

(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 browserโ€™s address bar. Copy this address to share.)

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