Dear Friends of Cloud and the wild horses,
Makendra and I just returned from a great five days in the Pryors with the wild horses. We sighted band after band in the broad, flower-covered meadows near Tony Island and the Dryhead Overlook in the Custer National Forest. As is their pattern, the wild horses had migrated to this higher elevation area where show still dotted the slopes above a snow crater surrounded by boulders. The meadows have exploded with purple lupine in football sized flower beds. Due to cool temperatures and moisture the flowers were delayed and the height of the bloom coincided with our visit.
One of the first bands we saw was led by the grullo stallion, Lakota and, to our surprise, we discovered, he was a new father. The little dun colt, still unsteady on his legs, had clearly been born that morning to Mariah, Cloud’s palomino sister. Last month, I thought Mariah was just fat. Even after the birth she still looks alike a beach ball.
They were traveling toward snow in scenic circle of boulders in the middle of the meadow. When we hiked closer we got a better look at the handsome colt sticking closer to his attentive and experienced mother. Later in the day we watched his brother who had been born the month before walk slowly toward the young colt. As the darling grullo colt we named Koda Wakan (sacred friend in the Lakota Sioux language) approached, Mariah laid her ears back. “No”, she was clearly saying to Koda. I know in time the two will become playmates, but Mariah was clear that this was not to happen for a while. We named her son Kokopelli.
At least a dozen other bands were enjoying the rich grass in this highest of the meadows, including Cloud’s family. As we hiked closer to them, we quickly realized how very pregnant Aztec was. She is the grulla mother of Shadow, the mother-daughter duo you met in “Cloud: Challenge of the Stallions”. Aztec looked huge and her udder was tight — a sure sign of an imminent birth.
The next morning we got up extra early and began searching for Aztec before dawn. We found them in the area around the Dryhead Overlook close to where we left them the night before. We spotted Cloud, his family and Aztec, just as a tiny dark lump flopped down at her feet. The newborn didn’t stay down for long, struggling to its feet to suckle.
We could see that it was a baby girl. When she looked around with bleary eyes, still light in color like most newborn foals, we could see her big star and the tiny little spot of pinkish-white on the tip of her nose.
Over the next few days we saw her grow stronger and stronger.
Bolder and his family came to the congregation of wild horses that day and I was awestruck at his son, Cloud’s white grandson. I finally settled on a name for him — Echo… Echo of the Arrowheads. Echo was near his mother, Cascade, and the other mares and his two siblings, Kicks Alot, the dun filly, and Absaroka (what the Crow call themselves, meaning children of the Raven), the dark colt with a narrow blaze.
Although we watched Echo play with his siblings, we also watched as he walked boldly to other bands to play with the yearlings! Sometimes he tried to play with horses even older and walked to his grandfather who looked at the upstart then lifted a foot to send him away. The pale colt knows no fear and, if he lives, he has band stallion written all over.
To our dismay, we noticed small orange flags marking the line where the Custer National Forest plans to build a two-mile-long fence that would prevent the wild horses from accessing the very area they were enjoying on our visit. This is a horrifying thought on many levels. It would compromise the health of the herd, if they were not able to graze on these wide, sub-alpine pastures in mid-summer through the fall. The fence would cut off historic horse trails they have used for centuries and would prevent the public from viewing the wild horses on these high scenic meadows that are more easily accessed by regular vehicles. We are not sure why Forest Service is so determined to keep the wild horses out of their historic range. Is it to increase cattle grazing? The ‘why’ of this is very hard to understand.
The Cloud Foundation has just filed an expanded lawsuit, which we hope will prevent this tragedy (read our new press release here). If you want to help Cloud, his family and his herd we are asking you to take action now. Please contact Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and Custer National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson to stop the wasteful and destructive building of this fence (click here to find out how). And please consider a contribution to Cloud’s Legal Fund today.
Thanks so much,
Visit The Cloud Foundation online at www.thecloudfoundation.org to learn more & join Cloud on Facebook & Twitter for frequent updates on our American mustangs.
Thank you for your support & action.
The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th
St Colorado Springs, CO 80905