1/23/10

Cloud's Herd & Rescued Bands Update

This is the newsletter from The Cloud Foundation with an update on the 15 Freedom Fund horses that they were able to purchase back from the BLM after the hateful roundup in September, 2009. It was hard to believe that the BLM - against its own regulations removed older horses like the 19 year old Conquistador and the 21 year old mare, Grumpy Grulla. Then they put them up for sale! I don't even want to contemplate what might have happened to them if the Cloud Foundation hadn't been able to buy them back.

So I put on my Conquistador t-shirt, make some coffee in my Conquistador mug and just rejoice in these pictures. Enjoy!

Cloud's Herd & Rescued Bands Update
A letter and travel journal from Ginger Kathrens
Dear Friends of Cloud and his family and all our wild horses;


After Christmas, Ann Evans (owner of Cloud’s sisters- Smokey and Mahogany and my dear friend), Connor (my Irish Terrier), and I traveled north to Montana. First we visited our Freedom Fund horses on the ranch just north of the Pryor Mountains.
 

 Only with your help and immediate action were we able to adopt and purchase these 15 after the disastrous roundup in September 2009.


BLM removed every horse from Commissary Ridge in the Custer National Forest at the request of the Forest Service. In their defense, I do not believe that the Forest Service managers knew that BLM was permanently removing all of them, but were under the impression at least some would be allowed to go free in the designated range. But, BLM surprised all of us and did not let one horse go free—not even the 19-year-old band stallion Conquistador or the 21-year-old mare, Grumpy Grulla.
It is my great pleasure to report to you that all 15 in four bands look fabulous! They have settled in to a pasture in the shadow of the Pryors, an expansive, scenic area bisected by a willow-lined creek below colorful red rock cliffs.



 


Conquistador has assumed his role as “king of the stallions” and, while we were sitting with him and his mare Cavalitta, Wild Blue, the lone bachelor stallion, came across the creek and ventured a bit too close for Conquistador’s comfort. The proud old stallion marched up to Blue and they did their ritualized pooping and snorting. Then they sparred, rearing and biting. When Conquistador grabbed the back of Blue’s neck, the bachelor fought to get away.

 


With the snow flying, Conquistador pushed him down hill. He released Blue and they pranced side-by-side, before Blue took off kicking and bucking. I sensed this was great fun for the four-year-old and that he was pleased with himself. After all he got a rise out of the “king.”

   
Band stallions Bo and Shane

True to her name, 21-year-old, Grumpy Grulla, is happily bossing around every one of her family members in Bo’s band, including the chestnut mare, Sierra, Bo and his bay mare, Chalupa, have the only youngster in the small herd, a coming yearling we named Star. But, Star may soon have young companions as four mares look pregnant including a very round-bellied Mystery (Wild Blue’s mother), one of Shane’s two mares. And Trigger’s mare, Mae West looks as if she could foal at anytime, but we think she’ll wait until spring. This new life will allow for the continuation of rare bloodlines that can one day rejuvenate the main Pryor herd.


 

Trigger, Mae West and Evita in background

The weather was even warmer when we drove into the horse range and began looking for mustangs. On Tillett Ridge, right near the road, we found Diamond, Cloud’s palomino mother, Trace’s mother, and her daughter. The four looked great. In fact, Diamond and the Palomino look better than they have in years—since Diamond’s injury during the 2006 bait-trapping of horses and the Palomino’s 2007 abscess from an infertility drug dart. 



The young bachelors we saw just above them also looked wonderful and included Cloud’s four-year-old half brother—a flashy light-colored roan with stockings and a blaze.  On Sykes Ridge the four-year-old blue roan bachelor, Fool’s Crow and the older sabino bachelor, Medicine Bow, eyed us warily from the crest of a hill near Cougar Canyon. 



Connor and I took a hike where we had seen Flint and his little family disappear the day before when it was getting dark. From the top of a flat-topped rocky hill, I glassed and glassed and on a distant, snowy ridgeline far above us, I spotted Cloud! He shone in the mid-day sun and I could see others with him but couldn’t make out who they were or how many. I knew that reaching them was impossible which was a disappointment, but that is the reality of winter. 


Flint's band: Feldspar, Jasper and Heather


As I glassed the canyons nearer my lookout, I saw a horse who looked very familiar. It was Flint and he was with his family. Ann and I were able to hike through the snow to them. Flint, Feldspar, their son Jasper and a new mare foraged amongst the juniper breaks. We watched as they scooped up snow and chewed, water dripping from their mouths. I recognized Flint’s new mare, Heather, a pretty little red roan two-year-old  (featured as a foal in our 2010 Cloud Foundation Calendar by Carol Walker—she was the March “pinup”). I was proud of Flint and whispered, “Good for you.” He had lost a young filly who was removed in the round up, so Heather was a great catch for the young band stallion. 



As we watched, I saw Fool’s Crow appear on the hilltop and peer down at Flint’s family. Flint stood very still, watching the young bachelor intently. Then Flint crossed the little draw toward the blue roan who walked downhill to meet him. They greeted, sparred a bit and were joined by another bachelor bright mahogany bay. 



Their sparring was strictly for fun, but it also gave Flint a chance to warn them not to come any closer. Medicine Bow appeared atop the hill and Flint accompanied the two bachelors uphill where he and Medicine Bow sparred ever so briefly. Then the three bachelors dashed off. Every so often I turned to see what Feldspar, Jasper and Heather were doing. The mares looked around and started grazing while Jasper watched his father with the bachelors. There is much for a foal to learn just by watching. Jasper and Flint are two of the closest fathers and sons I have ever seen. The colt clearly loves his father, much like Flint loved Cloud when he was a baby.


On our last day we walked from the Red Buttes across Turkey Flat to the mouth of Big Coulee and found Bolder and his band in the sagebrush flats that lead into the deep canyon. Like all the horses we saw, they looked plump, with Autumn and Cascade looking especially round.


There may be two more Bolder babies in the spring. The dark palomino ate snow with Texas as I had seen them do together through the years when they were both in Shaman’s band.


The grand, old stallion died just days before the round up. If Shaman had to go, I was thankful he did not have to go through that awful ordeal. Bolder’s buckskin filly daughter wandered up a snowy gully toward us.


She looked spectacular—the black on her legs is above her knees and her pale coat shone in the sun. It was as if her great-grandmother had returned. We call the filly Jewel and she is a gem. My hope is that she will be allowed to live free in her home forever.

With this in mind, the Cloud Foundation’s top priority in the coming year will be to work on expanding the boundaries of the Pryor Wild Horse Range to reflect the large historic use area of the horses. When we are successful with this effort (which will require continuing education and potentially litigation), the removal of entire families like what happened in the Custer National Forest last September will never happen again! And the BLM will have no excuse to manage the herd at the current, non-viable number.
Meanwhile, the struggle goes on to protect wild horse and burro herds all over the West. We are leading a fight to raise public awareness, focusing attention on BLM’s extraordinary mismanagement of our horses and burros at the expense of not only the animals, but the American taxpayers. A staggering 12,000 wild horses and burros are to be rounded up in 2010. With your continued support we will keep fighting for their right to remain where they belong—in their homes, with their families on our wide western landscapes.

Happy Trails!
Ginger Kathrens
Volunteer Executive Director






Cloud tries to snake his band back to get missing family members. September 2009 roundup



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2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update. I've been checking out the Cloud Foundation blogs too and trying to keep up on what's happening.

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  2. Aren't those pictures uplifting! Those horses would probably have gone for slaughter if the Cloud Foundation had not been able to buy them back.

    When I'm feeling discouraged, I come back and look at these happy, SAFE horses.

    The Cloud Foundation is a great source of info. In fact, all the blogs in my Blog List are well worth a click. They support the wild horses and the Anti-Slaughter Movement.

    More updates when I get them.

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"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra