After dropping down out of McCullough Peaks LC, Gary and I drove through a very large swath of BLM land in search of the wild horses.
I have seen them so many times over the past year (both the last time we were in Cody and now this time) that I am beginning to feel as though I know these wonderful, beautiful and free animals, and we traveled to all of the usual haunts where we had caught sight of the horses in the past.
By this time it was late afternoon, but still much earlier in the day than when we usually seek them out.
And then suddenly there they were!
We had found one of the small herds.
We had found ourselves on a dirt "trail" that we had not taken before, and when we saw the horses they were at least a 1/4 mile or more away from us, with no easy way to get closer to them in the truck.
LC pulled the truck off the road, we all climbed out, and decided that this was as good a time as any to finally break open the sandwiches, the watermelon and cantaloupe, the bottled water and the cookies.
As we all sat and stood around the tailgate of the truck we hungrily ate and watched the horses from a distance.
Gary was as mesmerized by them as I always am, and he laughed enthusiastically while watching them graze and play in the sun through the binoculars.
At the same time we watched four people on foot as they worked their way closer to the horses, wondering exactly when they were going to stop their approach.
They were close. They were very close. They were too close.
As we continued to watch we all realized a couple of things:
1. these four people were slowly and unintentionally moving the herd in the direction of the road
2. while most of the herd continued to graze and slowly move closer and closer to the fence and the highway,there were two stallions (one solid black and one brown/black) who continued to graze (and stand their ground) in one place.
There was no big drama, no attempts to interfere directly with the horses, and thankfully no self-defending attacks against humans, but it was worthy of watching for a few minutes after our meal was done and before we finally packed up our belongings and leftovers and headed towards the highway...................
We drove slowly back towards the Greybull Highway, still looking for a larger herd but did not find them.
10 minutes drive down the highway LC again pulled the truck off the road and again we climbed out after catching sight of our small herd grazing right beside the fence.
This was Gary's first up-close view of the wild mustangs and he loved the experience.
The same two stallions - staying close together as they had when we watched them on BLM land, and this time also hanging back. Pulling up the rear of the herd.................
Momma staying very close while baby sits and sleeps.
She grazed around the very young foal for a long time, and then I watched as she gently nudged him awake, and then nudged him back up onto his feet so that they could continued moving with the herd....................
As I watched them yesterday I wondered exactly how these incredibly sturdy and adaptable horses were faring this year.
We spent many hours on BLM land yesterday and there were many places that contained large pools of water last year that were dry this year.
The ground looks burned. Not from fires but from the sun.
It was much hotter this summer than it was last summer, and even by Cody and Wyoming standards we have had very little rain.
It has to have been a tough year on them.....................
A true horseman does not look at the horse with his eyes, he looks at his horse with his heart.................Author Unknown