Saturday, April 30, 2011

Schellbourne Pass Band Of Wild Horses


The day is cold and overcast, with intermittent light snow flurries.

Schellbourne Pass is a high thoroughfare crossing the Schell Creek Mountains between Steptoe Valley to the west, and Spring Valley to the east, along the old Pony Express Route.

The wide, well-compacted dirt road is steep and winding, passable throughout the year, but may require 4WD or chains in winter.

A small creek runs parallel to the road, at the bottom of a very deep canyon. It feeds a series of small pools all year round.

An abundance of wildlife may be seen here, including deer, elk, and predators.
Cattle typically graze along the narrow creek banks during the summer.
Some of this land is privately owned.

One small band of wild horses ranges from one end of the canyon to another,

This band consists of one stallion, three mares, and a near-yearling colt. They are newly arrived in this canyon, and currently occupy a small territory formerly inhabited by a different band.  I will continue searching for the old band, even as I am concerned they were taken in the roundup operation of January, 2011.

A wild horse advocate recently revealed that she had united two wild horses that were calling to one another across two fences and a highway.  According to her, "nature took its course" and the pining pair were "liberated"; presumably to consummate their love.

  • I inferred that fences had been cut in order to achieve that union. No such word was used; the assumption was mine. 
  • Now, having been assured of that, I apologize!  And I leave the rest of my statement "AS IS", as a caution to activists that might have intepreted as I did, as an example to be followed.
I am very familiar with the stretch of road described, and I happen to know that the fences there were erected, not as a BLM plot to interfere with "herd migration routes", but to prevent and protect the horses (and other wildlife) that were being killed as they ran into the path of cars traveling at 70 MPH there.  Horses died, and so did people.

While I do trust that the person in question is well qualified with how to identify a wild horse (as opposed to a domestic one that might be grazing in a very large open pasture), it concerns me greatly, that other well-meaning individuals might not be so well-versed. 

In Nevada, not all horses one sees along the roadside are wild. Some (most) of them belong to someone.  Imagine how you might feel if someone released your dog in heat because it was "in love".  Imagine how you would feel if your pet was inseminated by a rogue mongrel, or so much worse: splattered all over the highway, as the result of well-intended "kindness".
Promoting acts of destruction fuels the growing resentment of local ranchers, and might well lead to further restrictions upon public lands. 

Rarely do wild horses need our "help" on the open range. Horses are capable of finding alternate routes in their own territories. Interacting with them can be dangerous.  

Wild horses need our help in Congress and the courts, and our eyes in the field. On the ground, we need sensiblel and law-abiding activists capable of exercising good judgment and restraint.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

(2011.APR.26) Cherry Creek Tribe


The day is cool (high 30's - low 40's) partly sunny with occasional scattered snow flurries. Curry Road is dry dirt, well-compacted . 

Runoff from melting snow runs in small washes from the high mountains down into the flat. Most of these washes will dry up in early summer. For now, water is abundant, as is new-growth grass and forage.

There are no free-ranging cattle on this area of the range, at this time. The only other large animals inhabiting this part of Steptoe Valley public lands are a herd of about a dozen antelope.

Cherry Creek Tribe consists of eight core members, including the stallion, two yearlings, one new foal and four mares, (one appears pregnant); plus three satellite bachelors. All members of this band are sorrel with white stars or blaze faces. A few have lighter-colored manes.

Young bachelors, no longer welcome in their famiy of origin, keep one another company until they find mates. These guys are bout two years old.

"BLAZE" is approximately four years old, and has been on
his own for the past few years. As he is reaching his prime, I expect
that soon he will have a harem of his own. Preferrably, his mates will
come from a different band than the one he was born into.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

2010.APR.24 - Wild Horses Of Butte Valley


Today's weather is cool (low to mid-40's), overcast and foggy with intermittent sleet.  Creeks and watersheds are high, due to melting snow. Roads are generally dry and deeply rutted in some places, from winter traffic to and from mine sites in Butte Valley. Low-profile vehicle NOT recommended.

New grass is plentiful on the high desert. Small herds of cattle are visible throughout the valley; most notably about a dozen head are grazing around the base of the ore dump at the U.S. Gold mine.

Butte Valley Group 1 (pending rename) today consisted of a black stallion, a large buckskin mare with buckskin foal, bay mare with bay foal, and two young bays of indeterminate gender (probably mares). All members of this group appeared vital and healthy. Both foals are probably two or three weeks old. The bay is smaller of the two.

Red Butte Band

Lone Sorrel Stallion - could be from either herd

 The Black Mountain band consists of six members including the big bay stallion, three mares, and a foal that appears to be several months old.

Black Mountain Band

Saturday, April 23, 2011


If you notice my activities via Facebook, then you know that my old Canon Rebel xT died of unknown causes while I was guiding wildlife biologist, Craig Downer, on a rambling tour of wild horse country, April 10.

Followed a series of "coincidences" which culminated in the provision of a new Canon T2i, from the generous hand of Maureen Lynch Vanderstad of and an agreement to provide the organization with documentary photos of the wild horse herds that I traditionally follow, anyway. The principle difference now being that my documentary wild horse photos will henceforth be dedicated to GRH FIRST.

In keeping with my commitment to advance the cause of improving the public's awareness and understanding of ACTUAL conditions on the range, I will publish my photos and documentation here, and leave it to the dedicated advocates at GRH herd watch to organize and present them in a system that makes sense.

Bands that I follow on a regular basis include:

  • Cherry Creek (Steptoe Valley)
  • Butte Valley
  • Antelope Complex
New areas will also include the Medicine and Maverick ranges.

Please stay tuned!