After having lunch we decided to take a hike across the ridges of the teacup bowl to see who we could find. But first we decided to visit Lakota’s memorial. There is a stone memorial at Lakota’s final resting place. Lakota was one of the legendary stallions of the Pryors, and Sandy’s favorite stallion. He was a gentle and nurturing stallion to his mares and offspring, but a fierce fighter to any challenging stallion. He held onto his band until the age of 19. The first mare he ever won was the mare Quelle Colour and she was his faithful lead mare until he lost his band in the summer of 2011 to the stallion Grijala. Unfortunately Lakota had to be euthanized during the summer of 2012 due to a broken leg he suffered while fighting with Grijala in an attempt to regain his band. Thank you Sandy for letting me use your pictures of Lakota.
Over the years Lakota and Quelle Colour had many foals together and two of them remain on the range today. Those two are the band stallion Galaxy who was born in 2006 and the mare Kohl who was born in 2010 and currently resides in Garay’s band. Kohl was the last foal that Lakota sired.
Lakota also has offspring on the range with two other mares. The mare Heritage was born in 2007 to Lakota and his mare Warbonnet. Heritage is currently in Doc’s band.
His other daughter is the mare Galena who was born in 2006 to Lakota and his mare Mariah/Blanca. Galena currently lives in Doc’s band.
I wish I had gotten the chance to meet Lakota. To read more about Lakota’s life, you can read Sandy’s blog post about him, Lakota.
As we began to walk across the ridgeline we saw two horses grazing down in the bowl. One was definitely palomino. At first we thought it was Cloud and Red Raven grazing together. As we got closer we realized it was actually Knight and Encore/Nimbus.
Garcia’s band was near Knight and Encore. You can see them in the background of some of these photos. They frequently stay on the outer fringes of where the other horses are.
As we walked further down the ridge line we looked over to the other side of the bowl and saw that several bands were down there. Garay’s, Jupiter’s, Tecumseh’s, Gringo’s, and Doc’s were all there. Oceana, being the little social butterfly, noticed that the yearling colt Oro from Jupiter’s band was near by and ventured over to say hello. Gringo kept a close eye on her while she was over there. He seems to really enjoy looking after her. He takes his job as an uncle very seriously. Gringo has a son of his own too. Over the winter Gringo lost his mare Ketchikan and their 2014 colt Okiotak to the stallion Jasper. Jupiter kept a close eye on his step son Oro too. He has taken to fatherhood very well and is very close with his step son and is very protective of him too.
I looked across the teacup bowl and saw a band of horses in the trees high on the ridge above the bowl. I looked through my zoom lens and excitedly realized I was looking at Jasper’s band, who we hadn’t had the chance to see yet. I made my way over to Sandy to tell her about Jasper’s band and she pointed out to me that Hamlet’s band was right below us. Hamlet has the mare Audubon and her 2013 daughter Niyaha. Niyaha is the daughter of the stallion Morning Star. Hamlet has had then since the late spring of 2014.
Niyaha is so beautiful and feminine. She’s a full sister to Hera who is in Galaxy’s band. Audubon was very pregnant and we hoped she might foal while we were there on this trip. But she held out for awhile longer. She gave birth to a beautiful filly named Penn in September. Penn is Hamlet’s first offspring. He’s been a great father and enjoys looking after his little daughter. Pryor Wild also took video Penn’s first trip to Kruger Pond with her band. To watch that video click Penn.
Duke’s band was resting at the top of the hill Hamlet’s band was moving towards. I’m not sure if Hamlet’s band realized they were up there. Flint’s band was also up there. They were out of sight behind the hill where Duke’s band was resting.
When Hamlet got to the top and noticed Duke’s band he paused, trying to decide what to do. Hamlet is wise beyond his short number of years as a band stallion. Although very large and physically imposing, Hamlet does his best to avoid unnecessary conflict with the veteran band stallions. He respects his place in the hierarchy and knows that the older and more dominant veteran band stallions are above him. I have no doubt he will one day be one of the top stallions, but for now he is content with his place as it is. He’s not at the top, but not at the bottom either. Last summer (2014) was his first summer as a band stallion and he ran into several conflicts with the stallion Morning Star. Audubon and Niyaha were with Morning Star’s band until spring of 2014 when they somehow ended up with the illusive lower Sykes stallion Johan. Then Hamlet stole them from Johan early in the summer. Audubon was very much where she wanted to be and happy with Hamlet. Yearling Niyaha didn’t quite have an understanding on how things work with relations between bands and band stallions. She frequently would see Morning Star’s mares and would take off at a dead run to go over and say hello to her aunties. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t be with both her families. The problem would be when Hamlet had to go retrieve her. Morning Star would launch into an all out attack on Hamlet not wanting to lose any more mares to him. But each time, Hamlet backed down and didn’t engage or challenge Morning Star, not even to defend himself. He simply rounded up Niyaha and got out of there as quickly as he could. Sandy did a blog post about it on Wild In The Pryors. To read more about those encounters and to see pictures, click Hamlet.
Hamlet decided to stay where he was and that his band should wait and give Duke’s band some space. Audubon was not as patient as Hamlet and tried to pressure him into moving forward. Duke lifted his head to keep an eye on Hamlet, but soon went back to relaxing. Since Hamlet was respecting his space, he saw no reason to worry.
Aurora decided to join Outlaw Lady (Duke and Helenium’s yearling filly) and lay down. Duke was feeling relaxed enough that he decided to lay down too. You can also see Flint’s band moving into view behind them.
After watching the horses for awhile we decided to walk back to the truck and take a drive to see if we could find Jasper’s band over by Burnt Timber road. While walking across the ridge on the way back showed me the spot where the stallion Plenty Coups died. Plenty Coups defines the word legend. Born in 1989 the beautiful blue roan stallion was named after the last great chief of the Absaroka people who lived in the Pryor Mountains. The chief had no children of his own, but adopted orphans instead. The young stallion did the same. Plenty Coups was a bachelor when he adopted an orphaned foal whose mother had broken her hip and died. Then there was a terrible helicopter round up held in 1994 where many horses died. Several foals were left behind and orphaned during this round up. Plenty Coups adopted those foals into his family too. This young and kind stallion created his first family by adopting foals in need rather than fighting and winning mares.
Eventually he did go on to win mares and was a strong, fierce, and agile fighter but remained nurturing and gentle with his mares. In the summer of 2000, five year old Cloud began dogging Plenty Coups’ band. During their intense fights, Plenty Coups seriously injured his leg. He continued to try to defend his band, running on three legs, but eventually he lost his mares to several different stallions. By the next spring Plenty Coups regained a band of new mares. Unfortunately later that year Plenty Coups was struck and killed by lightening on the ridge where we were standing. When horses die, the normally shy black bears will take advantage of the opportunity and feed on the body. But for reasons that no one can explain, the bears never touched the body of Plenty Coups.
Although his life was cut short, his legacy continues with the three offspring he leaves on the range. All three of those offspring are with the mare Washakie. Together they have the seal bay stallion Morning Star born in 1996, the dun mare Sequoyah born in 1999, and their youngest and final offspring who was born in 2001. She is the lovely mare named Bacardi who shares her father’s beautiful blue roan color.
While driving down the road to the area we were hoping to find Jasper’s band, we passed a horse napping under the shade of a grove of trees. It was Cloud!! I was so excited to him again! We pulled over and got out.
Sandy offered to get a picture of me with him in the background. Just as we were about to take it Cloud started walking. He was walking straight towards me, casually but intently coming straight to me. It’s an incredible feeling to have one of these wild horses feel comfortable enough in your presence that they want to come say hello. And I felt especially honored for Cloud to feel this way because he is the one who started it all for me. Following this herd and getting to know the wonderful world of wild horses. I now know so much about all of the horses in this herd, but he is the one who started it all. He came very close, within two feet of me before changing his path and walking past me.
We let him head off to wherever he was going and got back in the truck to find Jasper’s band. They were only a short distance down BT road. Jasper is the 2009 son of Jackson and Galena and he is a new band stallion. He put this band together over the winter. Instead of trying to win a mare or mares from one band, he put his band together of mares from three different bands. The first mare he won was Millicent who was still living with her parents in her natal band, Garcia’s. Then he added Lariat and her 2014 colt Oklahoma from Horizon’s band. And finally he added Ketchikan and her 2014 colt Okiotak from Gringo’s band.
Okiotak reminds me a lot of a horse I know named Dublin. They have the same swirl blaze, left hind sock, and expressive faces. Okiotak was curious about us and walked over for a closer look.
There has been some speculation about the sire of Okiotak. First, let me tell you about the band he was born into. The stallion Tecumseh had the mares Beulah, Ketchikan, Jacinta, and Galadrial. During the summer of 2012 the stallion Gringo stole the band from Tecumseh. Tecumseh dogged the band from that point on and fighting between him and Gringo were intense and frequent. By mid summer 2013 they had mostly worked out a deal, their fights were less violent and less frequent. Gringo was definitely the dominant stallion with Tecumseh acting more like a Lieutenant stallion helping to defend the band, but not the one in charge. Galadrial is Gringo’s half sister. They grew up together and know they are siblings. Because of this Gringo allowed Tecumseh to have a sort of claim on Galadrial and remain close to her most of the time. He also made no moves to prevent Tecumseh from breeding with Galadrial. However Gringo still guarded the other mares from Tecumseh and didn’t let him get as close to them as he allowed with Galadrial. In 2014 Galadrial gave birth to a chestnut filly named Oceana. No one has any doubt that she is in fact Tecumseh’s daughter. Her features are very much like him as well. A short time later Ketchikan gave birth to Okiotak, another chestnut foal. Then over the winter of 2014-2015 it became two distinctive separate bands with Tecumseh, Galadrial, and Oceana being separate from Gringo’s band. Both bands still stay near each other most of the time, but it is definitely with each stallion being dominant over their own mare(s). Tecumseh is a red roan and Gringo is a bay, which is why some people speculated that maybe Tecumseh slipped one past Gringo and bred Ketchikan. I didn’t think that was the case, I was pretty sure he was Gringo’s son. Gringo’s mother Madonna was chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. Gringo’s father is the bay stallion Duke, but Duke’s mother Flicka was also chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. So Gringo carries the chestnut gene and can sire chestnut foals. Then this summer we’ve realized that Okiotak’s mane and tail are becoming flaxen too like his granddam and great granddam. Madonna’s flaxen mane was also silvery which is the same case with Okiotak. Seeing him in person too made me realize how much his features resemble her too. I’ve included a picture of her with this post. I am confident that he is Gringo’s son.
Oklahoma then ventured over to play with Okiotak. These two colts are very bonded. Although they are not actually brothers, they behave as if they are. It was fun watching them play. Interestingly though, they are cousins. Oklahoma’s mom Lariat and Okiotak’s dad Gringo are full siblings. Jasper has also made a great dad looking after his step sons. He enjoys having them around. I look forward to getting to see him raise his own foals in the future. Despite the fact that this family was pieced together from three different bands they quickly bonded and have become very close.
Although he was born into Horizon’s band, Oklahoma’s father is the grullo stallion Garay. He passed on his strong primitive markings to Oklahoma. You can see how thick his dorsal stripe is and how distinctive his leg stripes and shoulder bars are.Lariat was grazing behind the trees and wouldn’t pick her head up to give me a good shot. I didn’t mind though, Lariat has been very thin since being pregnant with Oklahoma so I was glad to see her eating as much as she could and putting on weight.
After spending awhile with Jasper’s band we headed back to camp for dinner. While we were eating we had a surprise visitor, it was Cloud again!! He came to share dinner with us. He very purposely walked to our camp and started grazing once he reached it. With the loss of his band this spring he has found himself on his own for the first time in 15 years. I was happy to keep him company. When he used to have his band he would bring his whole family by for dinner.
The dirt on his hip makes his hip look more pronounced then it was. He had actually put on a good amount of weight since the spring when he was so very thin after fighting and losing his band. And he looked even better by the end of the summer. Here he is visiting with his lookalike daughter Encore in August
After dinner we decided to take a drive and see what horses we might find. We found Cappuccino and his band near the spot where we had left Jasper’s band.
Gabrielle and Cappuccino’s 2015 colt Paterson was glued to Moenkopi while we were there. He followed her everywhere she went.
I liked the way that the light was reflecting off of Mariah’s mane and tail but it didn’t quite translate the same way into pictures.
After spending awhile with them we decided to head back to camp for the night. On the way back we noticed Garcia’s band way down below us. Garcia noticed us stop and stared up at us. We noticed the pretty sunset and snapped a couple pictures before continuing down the road.