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Mike, a magnificent stallion. In his prime.

Mike, a magnificent stallion. In his prime.

 

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Mike and his son.

Mike and his son.

Mike was the patriarch stallion of Wild Horse Mesa. I thought he was amount the age of 20. But now I think he was closer to 25 to 30.   Mike was known as the Lake Band Stallion. He had a band of 17 mares and offspring. His territory was the west side of Sanchez Reservoir at the base of Wild Horse Mesa.  Mike took great care of his family.

 

In 2001, four years before I even moved to the mesa, I met Mike.  Mike was the first horse that allowed me to sit and photograph him and his family. Many times I was the entertainment for the yearlings. They would slip up behind me and tug on my jacket or hair and as I turned around they would gallop off as fast as they could go, then turn around and see if I was following. Our games lasted around 30 minutes and then Mike would round up the family and head off in another direction. He would turn and look at me as if to say “that’s enough for today, see you next time”. 

 

Several years ago Mike had a battle with Lightening, a tough competitor that lived on the other side of the lake. Mike was injured in that confrontation and disappeared for many months to heal. His whole family was taken.  He was never the same again.  The last couple of years Mike hung out with the young bachelor stallions. Often nearby, but not with them.  Four months ago, Mike left the bachelors and chose to be by himself.  I knew he would be leaving us soon.  Today I got a call that he was down. Mike was very weak and couldn’t get to his feet, even with help. I made the decision to put him down and set him free. Mike would not get close to humans, but he trusted me. I know he was OK with the decision I made on his behalf. He went down in a place where he knew I would be called. The mesa will not be the same without Mike.  I love you Mike.

 

 

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Time goes by so fast.  It is winter again, and cold.  The horses have been getting fed 2 to 3 times a week on the bands I have to search for all over the mesa.  Five very smart bands of horses show up in the yard everyday and get fed.  It’s very interesting being out in the middle of 30 to 40 horses trying to spread out hay and have the stallions battling for position.

It is usually Napoleon against his two sons, Milagro or Trucker.  Or it may be Casanova’s band and sometimes the bachelors show up.

Still need more donations for hay to get through the winter.

Happy New Year!

Trucker and Casanova's bands sharing a pile of beautiful grass hay.

Trucker and Casanova’s bands sharing a pile of beautiful grass hay.

 

 

Beamer's Band

Beamer’s Band

 

 

Napoleon's Band

Napoleon’s Band

 

 

Beamer

Beamer

 

 

Bachelors, Rocky, Adobe Legend and Seleno and the rest of the bachelors following.

Bachelors, Rocky, Adobe Legend and Seleno and the rest of the bachelors following.

 

 

Young bachelor, Irish and more bachelors.

Young bachelor, Irish and more bachelors.


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Spirit of the Wild Horse is doing some birth control on a couple of the bands. We are birth controlling some of the younger mares so they don’t start breeding so young. The birth control is PZP which lasts for two years.  It is not sterilization. We did the “primer” last Saturday and will be doing the follow up on May 3rd.  So that we have more control over where the horses go,  making it easier for me to find them, we are continuing the feeding until May 3rd.

Any help with the hay would be greatly appreciated. We are still paying off the winter feed bill.

 

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This gorgeous little darling is Blue’s newest born on the 15th. Mother is Misty who was born in my yard five years ago.0009-Blue-Baby 0011-Blue-Baby-2

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This is Miranda, a first time mother and her daughter Angel, born this morning in the snow. This is one of those spring storms that dump a lot of snow quickly and moves on. It will all be melted by afternoon.4137-Miranda-&-Angel 4140-Miranda-&-Angel

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Jules-4-12-14This is baby Jules born on Saturday the 12th, she is a beautiful little sorrel with big boots like her mom.   Boots is her mother, Napoleon her father.  Boots is the injured mare that showed up the day I moved into my house on Wild Horse Mesa nine years ago.  She had a broken pelvis.

Over the year she has recovered with the help of HorsePowerHerbs. The rest of the band won’t allow her to eat with them because she is a little disabled.  She eats in the garage and kicks the fence panel when she is ready to go out.  She and Jules spent four hours in the garage last night waiting for the snow to stop.  Didn’t get much snow but it was really cold, around 10 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jules-4-12-14

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Blue has a new baby boy born on the night of the 10th. I saw them yesterday afternoon and they was no baby. An overnight surprise.  His mom is Sophie and dad is the handsome Blue.   His name is Two Socks Blue and will be an amazing stallion some day like his father.Sophie-&-Blues-Girl Sophie-&-Blues-Girl1

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Wendy-&-DaughterWindy had her first baby on Sunday night, April 6th. On Monday morning she brought the baby for me to see……and photograph. I think it is a girl, but I will know more in a day or two. I am giving mom and baby space right now. Because the babies hears my voice while in mom’s stomach, they know me when they are born.  I sat down on the ground and this sweet little thing walked over and put her nose in my face.

Windy is the daughter of Napoleon and Starr. She is three years old and is with Milagro’s band. While the baby is so small, they are hanging out at the house. In day or so they will go back with the band.

 

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Still Running Free on Wild Horse Mesa

They Get By with a Little Help from a Friend

By Laurie Paulik

 

BlueHe’s the one, she said. The one you have to see. Blue. The magnificent, dappled, silver stallion.

We would look for him, of course, but later in the day, when the sun started dropping in the sky. There were other horses to meet and locations to visit first.

On March 27, nine LPS members traveled to the San Luis Valley to meet with Judy Barnes, wild horse advocate and founder of the Spirit of the Wild Horse Foundation. Judy, herself, is an experienced photographer and suggested some nearby locations we might like to photograph before visiting the horses. Thus, Thursday morning found us heading up the highway to view some distinctive rock formations. After a quick stop, we continued on to view an arresting wooden fence that sprawled horizontally before righting it self vertically–its weathered slats directly lead to the distant snow-covered mountains. Even an inexperienced photographer couldn’t mess up this photo op. The final stop was a late-1800s wood and metal bridge that spanned the Rio Grande.  Its stark, heavy lines contrasted with the sun-washed background around it.

Once finished with the bridge, we jumped in our vehicles and headed across Wild Horse Mesa to Judy’s 40-acre homestead. It was there that the first band of horses waited. As Judy’s truck approached, horses materialized from all directions. Before we had even exited our vehicles, they had surrounded Judy’s truck, nosing for the alfalfa hay in the back. We mingled for quite some time with this band of horses, led by the stallion, Napoleon. The horses are wary, of course, but anyone who stopped photographing for a while could approach a horse and stroke its coarse, mud-flaked hair. As Judy pointed out each horse, its age, lineage and relationships to the other horses, we could watch some of the behavioral dynamics of a wild horse band—dominance, shunning of the weak, expelling of the unwanted (primarily 1-2 year old males forced to leave the group).

After spending time at Judy’s property, we headed out across the mesa to find other horse bands. Within a short time, we saw a distant new band of horses starting towards us, the individuals again recognizing Judy’s truck. Here came the imposing stallion, Beamer, with 10-month old Braveheart, Diamond, Little Darling, and others. This was my favorite stop. Maybe it was the mountain backdrop, the wind-whipped manes and tails, the facial angularity, whatever, these horses were impressive. They seemed watchful and attentive, and less willing to come close to us. Though the extreme windiness made it difficult to hold the camera still, even on a tripod, all the elements were there for some great photos.

After leaving Beamer’s band, we had a quick lunch in San Luis, and then, literally, chased Lightning. We drove across the dried mud flats of Sanchez Reservoir trying to catch up with the small band led by this stallion. Alas, the horses immediately took off running and put a great distance between us and them in a matter of minutes. Judy had thought they might not be as approachable and she was right. But, no matter—we were now looking for Blue.

We marveled all day at Judy’s ability to find her way across the 77,000-acre mesa and its maze of dirt roads. Had any of us been leading the group, we would have all been lost. We drove left and right and here and there scanning hillsides, eyeing distant features, and then…we found him—Blue. He and his band were hanging out at a small, seldom-used airplane runway on the mesa. Wow! Then Blue can surely be called a wild-horse rock star. And like any good rock star, he seemed to love the spotlight. This was a horse that posed willingly for photo after photo — turning his head this way and that, giving a gentle shake of the mane here, strolling past the cameras there. His specialness was evident to all. Blue’s band was the most interesting–with lead mare Maggie Mae and foal January Blue (born January 10th in the snow), Misty the dark mare, Cheyenne the sorrel, Jet Blue, Smokey Blue, and several unnamed bay mares. Also of note were Patch (a young stallion) and Ginger Blue (a filly) — two horses that Judy guessed might be ready to break off from the group and start a new band.

We left Blue’s band as the sun was sinking and had one final encounter with another band, led by the stallion, Milagro, with Lily, Lacy, Windy, Allegra and babies April (born last Easter) and Logan. The time of day made for some striking photos, especially with the lowering sun striking the reddish coats of the horses and the greening sage providing a background. It was with this last group that we got quite a lesson in “who’s in charge” as Milagro chased away any and all horses from food he had claimed.

After one last visit to Judy’s property, we all headed out to Fort Garland for a final dinner. We found that the shared meals, field photography and travel time enabled all participants to learn about each other, ask questions, and share experiences.

As a writer, I have been taught to use the word, “unique” sparingly, but I think in this case it applies to our whole day. There are many horse lovers and horse advocates, but few that share Judy’s wild horse sensibilities and her ability to communicate what these wild animals are all about. Having Judy Barnes lead us through our day on Wild Horse Mesa made for a memorable and lasting experience for all.

 

 

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Spirit of the Wild Horse has opened a photography shop on Etsy.com.

Search:  spiritofthewildhorse to view photos, more will be added weekly.

Thanks for shopping!

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