Monday, July 9, 2012

Again In Wyoming - Part 1

About a week ago LC, our elderly neighbor, Jamie and I all drove towards Greybull on a very hot early evening..
!0 miles of dry and fading BLM land later we found what we were looking for.
The horses.
They exist alone and free and protected and unencumbered on 1000's of acres of Bureau of Land Management.
The vegetation they feed on, the harshness of the land where they live, and the lack of shelter, shade and water are all testament to the health and sturdiness of these very beautiful animals. 
Watching them graze and run and breed and fight for dominance - it is obvious that these horses (in a number of herds that exist independent of each other throughout the area) are thriving.
As we approached the large sign off the highway we saw a good sized herd of animals surprisingly grazing quietly and close to the road.
Surprising because often you must slowly 4-wheel for 30 minutes or more on rough BLM land in search of one of the herds.
But not on this day.
We bypassed the herd and pulled left off the highway at the next turnoff, crossed the cattle guard leading onto BLM land, put the truck into 4x4 and slowly drove rutted out dirt trails, hoping that they would eventually veer back towards the herd.
Soon it became obvious that the roads we were traveling were taking us further away from the horses instead of closer.
Reluctantly we turned the truck around and began to head back the way we had come, intending to drive the highway back to the herd and simply pull the truck over onto the shoulder.
Our neighbor Chris saw him first.
Over to the right, about 300 yards from us was one lone stallion.
Leaving Jamie in the truck we humans all slowly climbed out of the vehicle and carefully closed the doors instead of slamming them shut, not wanting to startle this horse.
Why was he alone?  Where was he headed?.................
Zooming in as far as my little digital camera could muster, I took many pictures of him, as he continued to slowly and methodically head directly towards us.
Although I lost sight of him frequently as he walked up and down small hills and behind thigh high sage bushes, I had him in my sights most of the time, and was quietly mesmerized by this horse that was alone, jet black, beautiful, and moving steadily still towards us.
A hundred yards from us he stopped.  And looked at us.
And then veered 25 yards to the right before changing course yet again to continue traveling in the same direction he had been traveling ever since we saw him.
We had been directly in his path.
He recognized that, and changed his path to steer clear of us, before continuing his journey to...........wherever he was headed...................
I think our neighbor Chris had it right.
It was late in the day and he was headed for water.......................
We stood beside the truck for a long time watching this stallion travel unhurriedly but with intent, and I smiled to myself at the sight of him and the thought of him, as Chris and LC laughed and talked and speculated.
There was no water visible anywhere close that we could see, but all three of us firmly believed that to water was where he was headed.
Although it was a few miles away LC and I knew of at least one large pond located on BLM in this general area:
Climbing into the truck we headed back a couple of miles to see if the horses close to the road were still there.
They were......................
My Mountain Boy watching from a distance, before following Chris and me down the embankment to the fence line......................
One young foal.
A handful of pregnant females.
A surprising number of young stallions.
A young herd of perhaps 25 or 30 in total.
All grazing quietly on a day that was very clear and had been very hot but was now thankfully beginning to cool down.
There was less than an hour of daylight left, and I snapped many pictures in the rapidly changing light.
Click on any picture and it will begin a slide show of larger pictures................
I wandered along the fence line snapping pictures as quickly as I could, all the while watching each horse intently.
Trying to gauge their personalities, watching for dominant behaviors, watching to determine who the strongest and lead stallion of the herd was.
Chris and LC stood talking excitedly with each other beside the fence, as I took in the scene around me.
Horses and the mountains and the rapidly setting sun and Jamie watching me intently from the rear seat of the truck.
There is something mesmerizing about watching these horses and I have always and surprisingly been drawn to them.
They are peaceful, and although there are obviously battles for dominance there was none of that during our visit.
Everyone was winding down from the day, grazing, comfortable in each others presence, relaxed.
They have a serenity that is difficult to put into words.
So I won't try.................
We are again in Wyoming......................

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