Dear Friends of our Wild Horses;
A year ago in September the BLM removed the family bands that roamed the Commissary Ridge area in the Custer National Forest, saying they were illegally grazing in this Pryor Mountains area. Their decision to remove ALL the horses in the Forest Service came at the 11th hour when there was no time to mount a protest. Their actions resulted in the removal of four bands led by the stallions Conquistador, Trigger, Bo, and Shane. The bands contained animals like Grumpy Grulla who was 21 years old and Conquistador, the magnificent 19-year-old stallion you may remember from the first Cloud film.
Because of an outpouring of donations from all across the country from generous wild horse lovers like you, the Cloud Foundation was able to adopt and buy the older members of the bands, keeping the families together and providing them with the freedom to roam on a beautiful ranch just north of their home in the Pryor Mountains. This spring three foals were born in Conquistador, Bo and Trigger’s bands. Diablo (Chalupa x Bo) and Diego (Cavelita x Conquistador) were born in April. Lovely Annie Oakley was born in early May to Mae West and Trigger. Our surprise gift arrived in August when Trigger’s mare, Evita, gave birth to little Pistol.
One year ago this week the BLM roundup of Cloud’s herd began and 57 wild horses in Cloud’s herd lost what they value most: their freedom and their families. It was only with your help and immediate action that people working with the Cloud Foundation were able to adopt and purchase four family bands after the disastrous roundup. Because of your generosity, Pistol lives with both his mother and his father – growing up as close to wild as possible.
I first filmed Pistol’s father, Trigger, when he was just a few days old for the National Geographic special “Horses”, so it was very special to meet Pistol at this age – he looks very much like his father did! Trigger is the only offspring of the stallion, Challenger, who was struck and killed by lightning in 1999, as portrayed in Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies. With such a small herd now remaining in the wild, the removal of Trigger and his band is especially detrimental to the unique Spanish genetics of the Pryor Mountain herd.
It is my hope that Pistol and his sister will be allowed to return to the wild someday and continue Challenger and Trigger’s legacy.
Makendra and I had just landed in Columbus this morning to begin the Equine Affaire weekend when I got the message that I was “a grandmother!” Not of a two-legged, but of a newborn bay four-legged.
Baerbel Stuetzle, manager of the ranch at the base of Pryors where our Freedom Fund horses live, had left me this message: “The bay mare in Bo’s band (Chalupa) foaled this morning to a very strong baby — very healthy.” Baerbel couldn’t tell if it is a boy or girl yet, but the foal was about three hours old when she snapped these pictures. What’s your best guess? Is it a boy or a girl?
The little one was born in the snow, but born with his or her family thanks to so many of you who donated to save them and keep the bands together. Bet this little one doesn’t know he or she has thousands of grandparents all around the country!
Once we know the sex, we will let you know and we think it would be fun if you kids out there (anyone 16 or younger) submit a name for the baby and we will choose the winning entry. Sound like fun?