Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wild Horses: Update on the Cremello Colts

On Saturday I went to visit my two cremello colts at Rich Scott's place in Byers, CO. I had waited for the weather to clear, as we have been having a very cold and snowy/rainy spring. Just an hour before I arrived, there was another downpour, but as I pulled up next to their large pen, the sun began to come out.

There were puddles everywhere. I walked slowly up to the pen, and Claro walked toward me, clearly the leader and the more adventurous of the two. He is the lighter colt, with one blue and one dark eye. He is also much dirtier than Cremosso - I remember that in the wild he loved to roll in the mud.

As I spent time there, he led the way for his brother Cremosso and blocked him and moved him around. Both colts looked much more relaxed than when I had last seen them at Steve Mantle's place. Rich told me that the two have begun to get more curious about people coming into their pen to feed them and clean their pen, and apparently they roughhouse together at mealtime.

I was very happy to see them relaxed and socializing with the horse next door to them. After about a half an hour, Rich, who was on a 4 year old colt he was riding for Marty Marten, said he would ride into their pen and just move them around a little.

It was so interesting to me to watch them track the horse and Rich, and move their feet to face him. He walked slowly and took care not to corner them and to encourage them to move themselves to face him.

After a few minutes, they remained closer to Rich and the horse as they went by, and Rich decided to quit.

After he left their pen, they were so relaxed that they fell asleep!

They have come a long way since the roundup. Next week Rich will start working with them to get them good to handle, so he can trim their feet, lead them on the halter, and other helpful things. I will be visiting and watching over the next month so that I can learn how best to work with them.

Next month, on June 14 the BLM will be having a public workshop in Denver, with an opportunity for the public to make comments on the Ken Salazar's plan for the wild horses. The next day, June 15 will be the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting, with public comments at 3pm. I encourage you to come and make your voice heard, and if you cannot come, you can submit comments by June 7:
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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wild Horses: The Tale of the Two Cremello Colts

Two weeks ago I was at Equine Affaire in Ohio, and that was the same weekend that the McCullough Peaks horses (along with a few from the nearby Fifteen Mile herd area) were up for adoption in Powell, WY. The roundup took place in October, but instead of having an adoption immediately afterward in the area, the horses were all shipped to the Rock Springs holding facility. The adoption was scheduled for April, and some horses were adopted at Rock Springs, a bunch were shipped to the Mantle Ranch so that the Mantles could work with the horses first, and some were adopted there.

Of course, during the weekend of the adoption I was thinking about two of my favorite horses that had been removed from the herd area during the roundup - the two cremello colts whom I had watched grow up since they were born in the summer of 2007. Both colts were in Indigo's band, a big grey stallion, and the first born was the darker of the two, with two blue eyes that look almost green to me. The BLM named him Crispy Cream.

His mother is a beautiful buckskin, and he was a very adventurous little guy, wading into the water hole one evening at sunset when a huge group of horses came down to drink.

Next born was the lighter of the two, an almost white colt with one blue eye and one dark eye, and the BLM named him White Lightning. His mother is a beautiful sorrel pinto.

That summer I remember being absolutely captivated by the antics of these two striking foals playing together. They and a bay filly and a bay pinto colt would romp and play for horses, and the filly would wrestle just as hard as the colts.

Over the last 2 1/2 years I always spent time and watched the two inseparable boys, and was amazed at how fuzzy their coats became in the winter.

Last fall before the roundup I was photographing them playing with each other and this years foal crop, and thinking that they would probably be kicked out of the band by Indigo next year, if they remained in the wild.

However, that was not to be. With the BLM planning to remove 100 horses from the area, the young horses were first in line to go. At the time, I was very sad to see them shipped off to Rock Springs, but as they are such striking colors, I felt sure that someone would adopt them.

After I returned home from Equine Affaire, I was very surprised to learn that neither colt had been adopted even though Steve Mantle brought them to the adoption. They and their pinto brother were the only horses not adopted. I wonder if the fact that they had not been worked with or handled contributed to this. I immediately called Steve and asked him what would happen to them. He said that he had some more horses coming in from Rock Springs and that he would probably not have time to work with them, and they would go in the online adoption. Of course, they would probably end up separated, and with the loss of the rest of their family and their home, I decided that they didn't need that loss as well. I had not planned to adopt a mustang - my travel schedule is full and I have been concentrating on helping keep horses in the wild. But these two called to me. So I got on the phone to find someone who could help me with the colts. Although I have owned domestic horses since I was 12 years old, I have never worked with a wild horse.

I found Rich Scott in Byers, CO who is a natural horsemanship trainer with experience working with mustangs and he was willing to help me, going to get them, take them in, and work with them on basic handling, haltering, all the things that we take for granted that we can do with our domestic horses.

I went with Rich and his wife Shannon up to the Mantle Ranch in Wheatland on Wednesday. It was a beautiful day after all the rain, and we looked at the two colts as they stood close together in a pen. They looked worried and moved back as we approached. The only contact they had had with humans so far has been traumatic - rounded up by helicopter, moved from pen to pen, being castrated, freeze branded, having their blood drawn, being given shots - but as of today this all ends, and they will be treated very well.

They loaded into the trailer easily, and were quiet on the trip. I renamed them on the way, as part of their new start - the lighter of the two is now Claro, spanish for light colored, and the darker is Cremosso, spanish for creamy. They have settled in well at Rich's place, and in July I am going to take them to my home where they will have 25 acres to call their home. And they will be together. That's my promise to them.
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