Passport
Full Episode
Cloud: Challenge of the Stallions

The returning saga of Cloud, the wild stallion, finds us back in the Arrowhead Mountains of Montana. Cloud is one of two fathers who bring up each other’s sons. Bolder is his by birth, while Flint, sired by another stallion, is the colt Cloud raised. Now, Bolder has gathered some mares of his own, and Flint has joined a group of bachelor stallions. Who will rise to challenge the mighty Cloud?

Transcript Print

Woman: I ENTERED THE MONTANA WILDERNESS TO MAKE A FILM ABOUT WILD HORSES.

[ WHINNYING ] BUT I CAME TO REALIZE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY THAT NO ONE FILM COULD TELL A STORY SO BIG, AND IN MANY WAYS, SO UNEXPECTED.

WHAT BEGAN AS AN ASSIGNMENT BECAME AN OBSESSION -- TO FOLLOW THE LIFE OF A STALLION I NAMED 'CLOUD.'

ABOUT THE TIME I THINK I HAVE A HANDLE ON WHAT MAKES WILD HORSE SOCIETY TICK, I'M THROWN A CURVE.

IT'S BEEN CHALLENGING FOLLOWING THE TWISTS AND TURNS OF THIS COMPLEX FAMILY DRAMA.

THIS IS A TALE OF TWO FATHERS, CLOUD AND THE MIGHTY SHAMAN, WHO BRING UP EACH OTHER'S SONS.

BOTH SONS WILL BEGIN A QUEST TO START THEIR OWN FAMILIES, CHALLENGING THE VERY STALLIONS WHO RAISED THEM, IN THIS, THE THIRD AND MOST REMARKABLE CHAPTER, IN CLOUD'S STORY.

[ HORSE WHINNIES ] Kathrens: FOR NINE YEARS, I'VE BEEN COMING TO A REMOTE AND MYSTERIOUS MOUNTAINTOP IN THE ROCKIES -- AN ISOLATED WILDERNESS WHERE WILD HORSES ROAM.

AT FIRST, I ONLY KNEW WHAT WE COMMONLY BELIEVE ABOUT HORSES.

VERY QUICKLY I REALIZED I HAD MUCH TO LEARN.

RAVEN BECAME MY TEACHER -- THE ELEGANT BLACK STALLION AND HIS MARES OPENED THEIR WORLD TO ME.

THEY ALLOWED ME TO JOURNEY WITH THEM, AND RECORD THE INTIMATE DETAILS OF THEIR LIVES.

I GREW TO ADMIRE THEIR FIERCE LOVE OF FREEDOM AND FAMILY.

A YEAR INTO MY JOURNEY WITH RAVEN'S FAMILY, THEY BROUGHT THEIR NEWBORN COLT OUT OF THE FOREST IN FRONT OF MY CAMERA.

HE WASN'T LIKE THE OTHER FOALS ON THE MOUNTAIN -- HE WAS NEARLY WHITE.

I NAMED HIM 'CLOUD.'

FOLLOWING CLOUD THROUGH THE SEASONS OF HIS LIFE BECAME MY PASSION.

UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT MEANT TO GROW UP TRULY WILD AND FREE, MY MISSION.

ONCE CLOUD WAS KICKED OUT OF HIS FAMILY AS A TWO-YEAR-OLD, HE BECAME A BACHELOR STALLION, DISAPPEARING REGULARLY INTO THE MOST REMOTE PARTS OF HIS VAST WILDERNESS HOME.

EVERY WINTER, I SEARCHED FOR HIM IN VAIN.

DEEP SNOWS ALWAYS CLAIMED LIVES, AND I FEARED HE HAD DIED.

EACH SPRING IT WAS A TREMENDOUS RELIEF TO SEE HIM ALIVE.

DEFYING THE ODDS, CLOUD WON A MARE AT THE TENDER AGE OF FIVE.

NOW, I BELIEVED, I UNDERSTOOD THE COMPLEXITIES OF WILD HORSE SOCIETY... HOW WRONG I WAS.

IN THE SPRING OF 2001, I FOUND A NEWBORN PALOMINO FOAL WITH HIS COAL-BLACK MOTHER.

SHE AND THE FOAL WERE IN THE BAND LED BY THE STALLION 'SHAMAN,' A WISE AND POWERFUL LEADER WHO, ONCE CHALLENGED, WAS A DEVASTATING FIGHTER.

BUT THIS COLT COULDN'T BE SHAMAN'S SON.

I KNEW THAT CLOUD WAS HIS FATHER, AND REGRETTED THAT HE WOULD NEVER KNOW IT.

I NAMED HIM 'BOLDER.'

[ BOLDER WHINNIES ] WITHIN DAYS, I FOUND CLOUD, AND HE HAD WON SHAMAN'S LEAD MARE, SITKA.

A MONTH LATER, SITKA GAVE BIRTH TO A COLT I NAMED 'FLINT.'

THIS WAS SHAMAN'S SON, BUT HE WOULD GROW UP UNDER CLOUD'S CARE.

THE PLOT HAD DEFINITELY THICKENED.

AT THE HEART OF OUR STORY ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT FATHERS, RAISING EACH OTHER'S SONS -- AND THE ASTONISHING CONFLICT TO COME.

EACH SPRING, THE WILD HORSES OF THE ARROWHEADS MIGRATE TO THE MOUNTAINTOP -- FOALS ARE BEING BORN, AND THEIR MOTHERS ARE COMING INTO HEAT.

COMPETITION FOR MARES IS FIERCE, AND BAND STALLIONS NEED TO BE ON THEIR TOES.

JUST OVER THE HILL, A MAJOR DRAMA IS UNDERWAY.

A PACK OF DETERMINED YOUNG BACHELORS ARE GATHERING TOGETHER TO CHALLENGE THE DUN STALLION, PRINCE, FOR HIS MARES.

CLOUD WATCHES THE BELEAGUERED BAND STALLION ALONG WITH HIS STEADY OLD LEAD MARE, SITKA.

AS A TWO-YEAR-OLD, FLINT IS SURPRISINGLY STILL WITH HIS STEPFATHER.

THEY WATCH THE YOUNG MALES CIRCLE PRINCE'S FAMILY.

CLOUD SENSES AN OPPORTUNITY.

HE KNOWS PRINCE IS TIRED, AND RUSHES IN TO STEAL ONE OF HIS MARES.

PRINCE ATTACKS, LEAVING AN OPENING FOR CLOUD TO TAKE THE REST OF HIS BAND.

BUT HE'S INTERCEPTED BY A BACHELOR, AND FORCED TO FOCUS ON PROTECTING HIS OWN FAMILY.

PRINCE FIGHTS OFF ONE BACHELOR AND RUSHES AFTER ANOTHER WHO IS DRIVING HIS FAMILY AWAY.

WHEN CLOUD TRIES TO STEAL PRINCE'S BLUE ROAN MARE, HE GIVES THE BACHELORS A CHANCE TO CAPTURE HIS BAND.

FLINT CONFRONTS THE RED ROAN BACHELOR, BUT HE'S NO MATCH FOR THE MATURE STALLIONS.

CLOUD SNAKES THE BLUE ROAN MARE AWAY, KEEPING HER AWAY FROM PRINCE AND THE BACHELORS.

HE'S KNOWN THIS MARE ALL HIS LIFE.

WHEN HE WAS JUST A COLT SHE CAME CALLING AND, AND IMITATING THE ADULT STALLIONS, HE TRIED TO CAPTURE HER -- BUT SHE GOT AWAY.

I NAMED THE FILLY 'BLACK VELVET.'

IN TIME, HER COAT ROANED OUT, AND SHE BECAME JUST 'VELVET.'

CLOUD MUST CHOOSE HIS BAND, OR VELVET AND HER TWO-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER.

HE CHOOSES VELVET.

SITKA LEADS THE FAMILY UPHILL WITH THE BACHELORS HARASSING HER.

CLOUD SEEMS CONFIDENT THAT SITKA CAN BRING THE BAND BACK.

IN FACT, SHE TURNS, BARRELING DOWNHILL TOWARD CLOUD.

HE KNOCKS OFF ONE BACHELOR... THEN ANOTHER.

WHEN THE BACHELORS TURN ON EACH OTHER, CLOUD HAS TIME TO CONSOLIDATE HIS OLD AND NEW FAMILIES -- THANKS TO HIS LOYAL LEAD MARE, SITKA.

THE BACHELORS AREN'T THE BIG WINNERS -- CLOUD IS.

AFTER 8 YEARS, HE HAS FINALLY CAPTURED VELVET.

AS THE YEARS PASS, I SEE THE RULES OF WILD HORSE SOCIETY CHANGING.

HOW UNUSUAL THAT SHAMAN HANGS ON TO A MATURING BOLDER... AND HOW DOUBLY REMARKABLY THAT CLOUD HAS DONE THE SAME WITH FLINT.

BOTH STALLIONS PROTECT THEIR SONS AS IF THERE'S AN ADVANTAGE TO KEEPING THEM.

BUT JUST WHAT ADVANTAGE?

PERHAPS THE ANSWER LIES IN THE INCREASING NUMBER OF MOUNTAIN LION KILLS.

PREDATION ON THE FOALS IS SKYROCKETING.

IN ONE YEAR ALONE, ALL THE FOALS ON THE MOUNTAINTOP DISAPPEAR, MAINLY DUE TO THE LIONS.

IN RESPONSE TO THESE HEAVY LOSSES, I SEE THE BANDS ADAPTING THEIR BEHAVIOR.

SHAMAN AND CLOUD'S FAMILIES ARE OFTEN CLOSE TOGETHER.

MORE HORSES MEANS MORE EYES AND EARS TO DETECT A PROWLING CAT.

SHAMAN AND CLOUD MIGHT CONSIDER THE YOUNG STALLIONS AS AN EARLY WARNING DEFENSE SYSTEM.

WHEN SITKA GIVES BIRTH TO A DARK FILLY, AND VELVET TO A BRIGHT ORANGE ONE, I FEAR THAT THEY TOO WILL FALL PREY TO THE BIG CATS.

A MONTH LATER I FIND CLOUD'S FAMILY.

BOTH LITTLE FILLIES HAVE SURVIVED SO FAR.

THE FAMILY IS CLOSE TO SHAMAN'S BAND -- A LITTLE TOO CLOSE FOR CLOUD'S COMFORT.

AS FLINT AND BOLDER SPAR, I NOTE THEIR GROWING STRENGTH, BUT ALSO THEIR LACK OF INTEREST IN STRIKING OUT ON THEIR OWN.

CLOUD TRIED TO WIN A MARE AT THEIR AGE, YET THESE TWO FOUR-YEAR-OLDS SEEM HAPPY TO PLAY AT BEING BAND STALLIONS.

LATE IN THE SUMMER I SEE CLOUD'S BAND, AND BOTH LITTLE FILLIES.

I'M NOT SURE IF FLINT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THEIR SURVIVAL.

BUT I AM SURE THAT MOUNTAIN LIONS ARE STILL KILLING FOALS.

AND I THINK CLOUD WELCOMES FLINT'S PROTECTIVE ROLE IN THE FAMILY.

THE TWO ROBUST COLTS THEY WATCH THAT EVENING BOTH FALL PREY TO THE BIG CATS.

IS CLOUD ALLOWING FLINT TO STAY BECAUSE HE'S GROOMING HIM TO BECOME HIS LIEUTENANT STALLION?

FLINT GUARDS THE FOALS FROM THE REAR.

DESPITE HIS ATTENTION, THE BLUE ROAN FILLY IS TAKEN BY A MOUNTAIN LION IN THE FALL.

COMPARED TO FLINT, BOLDER SEEMS LIKE A SHIFTLESS PLAYBOY.

HE SPARS WITH OLDER BACHELORS, EASILY HOLDING HIS OWN.

DESPITE HIS ATHLETIC SKILLS, HE RETURNS TO SHAMAN AND HIS MOTHER, AND I WONDER WHY SHAMAN KEEPS HIM AROUND.

FALL PASSES INTO WINTER, AND I GET ONLY DISTANT GLIMPSES OF THE BANDS.

IT'S MID-MAY BEFORE I CAN GET UP ON THE MOUNTAIN.

LATE IN THE DAY, I FIND SHAMAN DRIVING THE OLD STALLION 'BIGFOOT' AWAY.

I CAN SEE BOTH SHAMAN AND CLOUD'S BANDS.

BUT BOLDER IS MISSING... AND SO IS FLINT!

THEY COULD BE OFF PLAYING SOMEWHERE.

THEN IT HITS ME -- FLINT'S MOTHER, SITKA, IS MISSING.

CLOUD MAY HAVE LOST BOTH HIS LEAD MARE AND HIS LIEUTENANT AT THE SAME TIME.

SHAMAN HAS A LITTLE FOAL, BUT CLOUD'S MARES DON'T LOOK PREGNANT.

I'M CERTAIN SITKA IS DEAD, AND THERE WILL BE NO CLOUD FOALS THIS YEAR.

I KEEP GLASSING, LOOKING FOR FLINT AND BOLDER.

AT SUNSET, I REALIZE THAT THE YOUNG STALLIONS ARE FINALLY ON THEIR OWN.

FOR SOME REASON, I DON'T KNOW WHY, I GET UP BEFORE DAWN, AND WITHOUT EATING OR EVEN BRUSHING MY TEETH, I BEGIN TO LOOK FOR CLOUD'S FAMILY.

IT'S VELVET -- AND SHE HAS A NEW BABY.

I DIDN'T EVEN THINK SHE WAS PREGNANT.

AS QUICKLY AND QUIETLY AS I CAN, I SET UP MY CAMERA.

VELVET DIDN'T GO OFF ALONE TO SOME SECLUDED SPOT -- SHE HAD THE FOAL WITH HER FAMILY.

SHE LICKS UP THE BIRTH SAC TO DESTROY THE EVIDENCE OF A BIRTH.

MOUNTAIN LIONS ARE STILL PROWLING, TAKING FOALS, AND EVEN YEARLINGS.

VELVET EATS THE PROTEIN-RICH AFTERBIRTH WHILE SITKA'S DAUGHTER WATCHES, AND I WONDER IF THE LOSS OF HER MOTHER DRAWS HER TO A NEW LIFE.

WHEN VELVET LAYS DOWN, THE BABY USES HER BODY TO SUPPORT ITS WOBBLY LEGS.

HIS EXPERIENCED MOTHER KNOWS JUST WHAT TO DO.

I CAN SEE HE'S A BOY.

VELVET STANDS PERFECTLY STILL SO THE FOAL CAN HAVE HIS FIRST MILK, CALLED 'COLOSTRUM.'

IT'S A POWER DRINK, HIGH IN ANTIBODIES THAT WILL PROTECT THE FOAL FROM DISEASE.

VELVET GUARDS HER NEWBORN SON.

STILL, SHE ALLOWS CLOUD TO SNIFF HIM.

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BUCKSKIN.

A DUSTY-COLORED COLT.

I'LL CALL YOU 'DUSTY.'

AS THE HOURS PASS, DUSTY GROWS STRONGER AND STRONGER -- AND MORE PLAYFUL.

LATE IN THE DAY THE FAMILY MOVES OUT, AND DUSTY MAKES HIS FIRST JOURNEY TO THE VERY TOP OF HIS MOUNTAIN HOME.

MAY PASSES INTO JUNE.

I RETURN TO SEE CLOUD STREAKING ACROSS THE RIDGELINE ABOVE THE BAND.

AND LITTLE DUSTY.

THE COLT HAS TRADED IN HIS WOBBLY LEGS FOR STURDY ONES.

HE WATCHES HIS FATHER APPROACHING BOLDER.

AS A NEW BACHELOR, HE ISN'T INTIMIDATED BY CLOUD -- MAYBE HE ISN'T QUITE THE LOSER I ONCE IMAGINED.

THEN I SEE FLINT COMING.

WHEN FLINT MAKES A PLAYFUL RUSH AT BOLDER, THE PALOMINO RESPONDS AGGRESSIVELY.

AS A NEW BACHELOR HIMSELF, FLINT LOOKS FIT.

CLOUD'S LITTLE SON, DUSTY, IS CONFIDENT AND STRONG.

WITHOUT ANOTHER FOAL TO PLAY WITH, THE CURIOUS COLT EXPLORES ON HIS OWN.

THE CLOSEST THING DUSTY HAS TO ANOTHER FOAL IS HIS YEARLING SISTER, FIRESTORM.

AND FIRESTORM ENDURES THE MOST ATTENTION.

HE AND HIS BLACK SISTER HAVE AN UNUSUALLY CLOSE RELATIONSHIP.

NEVER BEFORE OR SINCE HAVE I SEEN A SISTER ALLOW A FOAL TO NURSE HER.

EVEN AS A FIVE-YEAR-OLD, SHE HAS NEVER HAD A FOAL.

MAYBE DUSTY IS SOME KIND OF SUBSTITUTE.

LIKE THE BLACK FILLY, THE GRULLA MARE HASN'T FOALED EITHER.

AS YEARLINGS AND TWO-YEAR-OLDS, BOTH MARES WERE DARTED WITH INFERTILITY DRUGS BY THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT.

BLM MANAGES WILD HORSES ON PUBLIC LANDS, AND WANTS TO KEEP THE POPULATIONS LOW.

THE DRUGS HAVE WORKED FAR LONGER THAN ANTICIPATED, AND ALTHOUGH THE MARES COME IN HEAT MONTHLY AND ARE CLOSELY GUARDED AND BRED BY CLOUD, THEY NEVER PRODUCE FOALS.

EVEN LITTLE DUSTY CAN SMELL THE PUNGENT ODORS OF MARES IN HEAT.

THE NEAR-CONSTANT HEAT CYCLES OF THE MARES MAY EXPLAIN CLOUD'S BELLIGERENCE TOWARD OTHER STALLIONS.

AND WITH SITKA DEAD, CLOUD IS ADRIFT.

IN AUGUST, BOLDER DISCOVERS A STRANGE NEW ADDITION TO THE MOUNTAINTOP, JUST ABOVE THE SPRING-FED WATER HOLE.

THE BLM HOPES TO TRAP HORSES IN A CORRAL AND THEN REMOVE THEM FROM THE MOUNTAIN.

A BAIT TRAPPER HAS LACED THE ENCLOSURE WITH PROTEIN BLOCKS.

CLOUD AND DUSTY AND THE BAND ARE NEARING THE TRAP SITE.

CLOUD EYES THE TRAILER WARILY, BUT CAN SMELL SOMETHING NEW AND WONDERFUL INSIDE THE CORRAL.

THE TRAPPER CAN TRIGGER THE GATE TO CLOSE FROM INSIDE HIS TRAILER.

A NOISE FROM THE TRAILER SPOOKS CLOUD, AND THE FAMILY BOLTS TO FREEDOM.

THEY MOVE TO THE COOL OF NEARBY TREES, WHERE THEY SPEND THE NIGHT.

THIS WILL BECOME THEIR PATTERN OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS -- STAYING NEAR THE WATER HOLE AND THE TRAP, WITH ITS ADDICTIVE TREATS.

OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, 100 HORSES ARE LURED TO THE TRAP SITE.

BUT HORSES AREN'T THE ONLY ONES TO COME HERE.

TWO WEEKS LATER, WHEN I RETURN, I LEARN WHAT HAPPENED FROM THE TRAPPER.

HE TOLD ME THAT MOUNTAIN LIONS HAD COME AROUND THE WATER HOLE, DRAWN TO THE ABUNDANCE OF PREY IN ONE CENTRAL LOCATION.

I FIND THE TRACKS OF A MOUNTAIN LION KITTEN HE SAID WAS WITH ITS MOTHER.

HE SAID THAT THE BUCKSKIN COLT WITH CLOUD HAD BEEN KILLED JUST BEYOND THE WATER HOLE, AND I BEGIN TO SEARCH.

THE TRAPPER TOLD ME THAT THERE WAS A TERRIBLE STORM THE NIGHT OF DUSTY'S DEATH.

HE SAID HE COULD HEAR THE SCREAMS OF THE MOUNTAIN LIONS, AND WAS TOO AFRAID TO LEAVE HIS TRAILER.

I HOPE TO FIND SOMETHING THAT REMAINS OF CLOUD AND VELVET'S BEAUTIFUL SON WHO CAPTURED MY HEART.

I FIND ONE SMALL BONE WITH THE MARROW STILL FRESH INSIDE.

THE LONG WINTER PASSES.

I CAN GET NEARLY TO THE MOUNTAINTOP IN MID-MAY.

TO MY SURPRISE, I FIND SHAMAN ALONE ON THE RIDGES OF SYKES.

HE'S APPEARS TO BE SEARCHING FOR HIS FAMILY.

I JOIN IN HIS SEARCH.

[ HORSE WHINNYING ] WHILE HIKING HIGHER ON SYKES RIDGE, I HEAR A STALLION SCREAM FROM AN ISOLATED ISLAND, SURROUNDED BY CLIFFS.

I START GLASSING.

HOURS PASS, BUT SOMETHING TELLS ME TO KEEP LOOKING.

THEN I SEE A HORSE.

BOLDER!

THERE ARE OTHERS WITH HIM, AND I ASSUME THEY'RE BACHELORS.

BUT, NO, THEY'RE SHAMAN'S MARES -- MINUS BOLDER'S MOTHER.

AMAZING!

THE YOUNG STALLION WAITED UNTIL HIS MOTHER LEFT THE BAND.

THEN HE SOMEHOW PULLED OFF THE THEFT OF HIS STEPFATHER'S ENTIRE FAMILY.

BUT THE BAND CAN'T HIDE OUT ON AN ISOLATED ISLAND FOREVER.

WHEN THE SNOW MELTS HERE, THERE WILL BE ONLY ONE PLACE TO FIND WATER.

I FIGHT THROUGH DEEP SNOWS TO REACH THE MOUNTAINTOP, AND WHAT I SEE STARTLES ME.

CLOUD IS RACING BACK TO HIS BAND, AND I FEAR SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED.

FOLLOWING HIM IS FLINT.

AS A COMING SIX-YEAR OLD, HE LOOKS DETERMINED TO WIN A MARE.

THE BAY BAND STALLION, SANTA FE, IS CLEARLY INTERESTED IN A CLOUD MARE.

I SENSE CLOUD'S ANXIETY.

HE'S FLANKED BY TWO STALLION CHALLENGERS -- SANTA FE AND FLINT.

A HUNTING COYOTE HOLDS NO INTEREST FOR CLOUD.

HE'S FOCUSED ON DEFENDING HIS FAMILY, AND SEEMS CONVINCED THAT FLINT IS A LEGITIMATE THREAT.

AS CLOUD CHASES SANTA FE, HE RUNS THE RISK OF FLINT SLIPPING IN TO STEAL THE MARES.

IS CLOUD AS SHOCKED BY FLINT'S BEHAVIOR AS I AM?

THEY'D ALWAYS BEEN SO CLOSE.

CLOUD IS FRUSTRATED THAT FLINT WON'T STAND AND FIGHT.

FLINT CAN SEE DOWN THE VALLEY, WHERE OTHER BAND STALLIONS ARE BEING CHALLENGED.

BUT HE'S ONLY INTERESTED IN ONE BAND.

THE STRUGGLE GOES ON FOR DAYS, AND I LEAVE THE MOUNTAIN UNSURE OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN.

WHEN I RETURN AT THE END OF MAY, IT FEELS NOTHING LIKE SPRING.

IN MANY WAYS IT SEEMS COLDER THAN WINTER.

[ CALLING ] A MALE BLUE GROUSE BOOMS FOR A MATE.

AFTER DAYS OF SEARCHING, I FIND CLOUD'S BAND IN THE SLEET IN THE COMPANY OF MULE DEER DOES.

FLINT IS NOWHERE TO BE SEEN, AND CLOUD SEEMS CALM.

THEN I SEE VELVET AND A NEWBORN FOAL.

BOTH MOTHER AND BABY ARE SOAKED.

I NAME THE LITTLE FILLY 'RAIN.'

FOR DAYS IT SLEETS.

I SEARCH FOR FLINT... AND FIND BEARS, INSTEAD.

THE MOTHER BEAR GORGES ON LUSH GRASS.

SUDDENLY, I HEAR HOOF BEATS.

IT'S BOLDER AND HIS FAMILY COMING UP THE MOUNTAIN.

HE'S IMMEDIATELY CHALLENGED BY OLDER BACHELORS, AND I EXPECT THE WORST.

BUT IN A POISED DASH, HE BACKS THEM OFF.

OVER A HUNDRED HORSES CONVERGE ON THE MOUNTAINTOP, AND BOLDER WILL NEED TO BE ON HIS TOES TO HANG ON TO HIS NEW FAMILY.

BOLDER CONFRONTS THE BATTLE-TESTED DUN STALLION, IMMEDIATELY ASSERTING HIMSELF.

HIS DARKENING COAT SEEMS TO REFLECT A GROWING POWER.

A FEW HOURS LATER, I SEE VELVET AND RAIN CRESTING A FAR RIDGE.

FLINT TOO HAS RETURNED TO THE MOUNTAINTOP.

AS BOLDER LOOKS ON, CLOUD CHALLENGES FLINT.

IS FLINT STILL SERIOUS ABOUT STEALING CLOUD'S BAND... OR DOES HE JUST WANT TO COME BACK HOME TO HIS FAMILY?

TAKING NO CHANCES, CLOUD PUSHES THE BAND FAR AWAY.

I WONDER IF CLOUD SENSES THE STRENGTH OF THE COLT HE RAISED.

DID HE TEACH HIM TOO WELL?

THEN I SEE SHAMAN COMING, TRACKING HIS FAMILY AND THE STEPSON WHO STOLE THEM.

BOLDER DRIVES THE FAMILY AWAY FROM SHAMAN.

THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I'VE SEEN SHAMAN RETREAT.

BOLDER MARKS HIS TERRITORY, AS IF SETTING A BOUNDARY LINE AROUND THE BAND -- A WARNING SIGN FOR SHAMAN TO STAY AWAY.

BUT HE COMES BACK.

IS SHAMAN'S PASSIVE BEHAVIOR PART OF HIS STRATEGY?

HE SEEMS DETERMINED TO GET HIS FAMILY BACK, AND BEGINS TO FOLLOW THE BAND, DAY AFTER DAY.

THE NEXT MORNING I FIND CLOUD BATTLING A FORMER BAND STALLION.

HIS DAUGHTER, FIRESTORM, WATCHES AS CLOUD WARNS THE STALLION TO GET LOST.

THE TWO-YEAR-OLD MUST BE IN HEAT, BECAUSE SHE'S DRAWING BACHELORS AND BAND STALLIONS INTO THE LIMBER PINES.

CLOUD WARNS ANOTHER STALLION TO GO AWAY.

HE ESCORTS FIRESTORM AWAY FROM THE STALLIONS.

THEN HANDSOME SANTA FE ENTERS, JOINING THE HOPEFUL SUITORS.

CLOUD WATCHES HIS DAUGHTER, BUT THIS TIME MAKES NO MOVE TO DEFEND HER.

PERHAPS HE APPROVES OF THE MATCH?

SANTA FE GENTLY COURTS THE FILLY.

SANTA FE INVITES FIRESTORM TO JOIN HIM, AND SHE FOLLOWS.

THEN CLOUD DASHES AFTER THEM.

SANTA FE RETREATS... AND FIRESTORM APOLOGETICALLY RETURNS TO HER FAMILY.

THE BAND IS MOVING TOWARD BOLDER AND SHAMAN.

BOLDER DRIVES SHAMAN AWAY, ONLY TO HAVE HIM COME RIGHT BACK AS BIGFOOT REFEREES FROM THE SIDELINES.

NOT WANTING TO PASS UP A GOOD SCUFFLE, CLOUD BRIEFLY JOINS THE FRAY... AND THEN THE SITUATION EXPLODES.

THERE IS NO DOUBT WHO THE WINNER IS.

I'M AWED BY BOLDER'S SPEED AND AGILITY, BUT SAD FOR SHAMAN.

WHY HADN'T HE DRIVEN HIM OFF?

IT SEEMS A TERRIBLE MISTAKE MADE BY ONE SO WISE.

FALL COMES ONCE AGAIN TO THE TOP OF THE ARROWHEAD MOUNTAINS.

I CAN SEE CLOUD IN THE DISTANCE, AND IN THE LIMBER PINES, CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS COLLECTING THEIR CACHE OF PINE NUTS FOR WINTER.

PINE SQUIRRELS, TOO, ARE PREPARING FOR WINTER.

AS THE BAND HEADS TO THE WATER HOLE, I NOTICE THE GRULLA MARE.

SHE'S HEAVY WITH FOAL AT THE WRONG TIME OF THE YEAR.

AS A RESULT OF EXPERIMENTAL BIRTH CONTROL DRUGS, MANY YOUNG MARES ARE FOALING OUT OF SEASON.

I HOPE THIS FIRST-TIME MOTHER WILL FOAL SOON, BEFORE THE TEMPERATURE PLUMMETS.

IN OCTOBER, I RETURN TO FIND THE CLIFF EDGES OF THE TEACUP BOWL ALREADY DECORATED WITH SNOW.

CLOUD'S FILLIES HAVE ROANED OUT, AND ARE GROWING HEAVY WINTER COATS.

THEN I SEE THE GRULLA MARE'S NEW FOAL, A STURDY LITTLE FILLY.

WHILE MOST ANIMALS ARE PUTTING ON FAT FOR WINTER, THE SPIRITED FILLY CELEBRATES AS IF SPRING WERE JUST AROUND THE CORNER.

I NAME HER 'SHADOW,' AND HOPE SHE AND HER MOTHER CAN SURVIVE THE WINTER TO COME.

I HAD NO IDEA IT WOULD BE THE WORST IN A DECADE.

BY NOVEMBER, SNOW BLANKETS THE MID-RIDGES OF SYKES.

I GET A GLIMPSE OF CLOUD, AND WHAT MAY BE SHADOW, PLAYING IN THE BLIZZARD.

THEN THE SNOW DRIVES ME OFF THE MOUNTAIN.

MONTHS PASS, AND ONE STORM AFTER ANOTHER BATTERS THE ARROWHEADS.

I CAN'T DRIVE INTO THE RANGE, SO, IN FEBRUARY, I TRY ANOTHER TACTIC.

MY WILD HORSE, TRACE, SEEMS HAPPY TO BE BACK HOME AGAIN.

WE FIND A BAND NEAR THE SMALL LAKE THAT FEEDS INTO THE BIGHORN RIVER, AND COYOTES HUNTING NEARBY.

WITH WEATHER THIS BAD, I EXPECT THAT MANY HORSES WILL BE DOWN HERE IN THE DESERT.

NEAR THE EDGE OF THE BIGHORN CANYON WE SPOT A GROUP OF BIGHORN SHEEP.

THEY SEEM UNPERTURBED BY A PERSON ON HORSEBACK.

MIGHT CLOUD BE DOWN HERE?

OR BOLDER? OR FLINT?

FOR FIVE DAYS WE SEARCH.

I STOP AT OVERLOOKS AND GLASS, HOPING TO SEE CLOUD'S LARGE FAMILY.

TRACE AND I DROP INTO BIG COULEE AND SEE TRACKS, BUT NEVER THE HORSES THAT MADE THEM.

STRANGE, I THINK.

I WONDER IF CLOUD IS SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN SYKES, BUT WHERE?

IN MARCH, BASED ON A TIP, I BEGIN GLASSING A TOTALLY NEW AREA FAR TO THE WEST OF SYKES RIDGE.

CLOUD.

BUT I CAN'T SEE THE FOALS.

I BEGIN HIKING THE RUGGED AREA WE CALL THE 'HELL'N GONE.'

I'M LUCKY TO SPOT FIRESTORM AND CLOUD ON A DISTANT, ROCKY SLOPE.

THEN I SEE THE GRULLA MARE AND LITTLE SHADOW.

WHEN THE MARE GETS UP, I SEE HOW TERRIBLY THIN SHE IS.

SHADOW TRIES TO NURSE, BUT HER MOTHER HAS NO MILK.

I SIT WITH THEM IN THE BITTER COLD AND PRAY THEY CAN SURVIVE.

THE WINTRY WEATHER CONTINUES INTO APRIL.

I FIND CLOUD AGAIN IN THE HELL'N GONE.

SNOW CLINGS TO HIS GRANDDAUGHTER'S SHAGGY COAT.

WHERE'S SHADOW?

RAIN IS NURSING VELVET, AND AS I PAN MY CAMERA, SHADOW WALKS IN.

I WONDER IF SHE KNOWS HOW GOOD IT IS TO SEE HER.

HER MOTHER GRAZES BETWEEN VELVET AND CLOUD.

I BELIEVE THEY'LL ALL SURVIVE TO SPRING -- ASSUMING SPRING COMES THIS YEAR.

MAY IS WET AND COLD, BUT I CAN AGAIN GET UP HIGH ON SYKES.

IT'S BOLDER -- AND HIS MARES.

AND A NEW FOAL.

THE NEWBORN GRULLA IS HIS FIRST -- A LITTLE FILLY.

I SAW BOLDER BREED THE LITTLE FILLY'S MOTHER WHEN THEY WERE HIDING OUT ON THEIR ISOLATED ISLAND, ALMOST A YEAR AGO.

THE FOAL HAS SHOULDER BARS, A DORSAL STRIPE, BOLD LEG STRIPES, AND TWO PERFECT BACK BOOTIES.

QUITE A CLASSIC ARROWHEAD FOAL.

AT THE END OF MAY, IT FINALLY FEELS AS IF SPRING HAS ARRIVED.

I SPOT CLOUD ON TILLET RIDGE ABOVE BIG COULEE -- AND WHAT I SEE NEXT TAKES MY BREATH AWAY.

LIKE CLOUD AS A BABY, THE NEW FOAL LYING IN THE GRASS IS NEARLY WHITE.

I HAVE MISSED THE BIRTH BY ONLY A FEW HOURS.

THE FOAL SEEMS DISORIENTED, AS HE TOTTERS TO RAIN INSTEAD OF HIS MOTHER.

HIS MOTHER COMES TO GENTLY CLAIM HER BABY.

THIS IS CLOUD AND SITKA'S GRANDSON.

THE COLT'S MOTHER HAD BEEN WITH ANOTHER STALLION THE YEAR BEFORE AT THE EDGE OF THE FOREST ATOP THE MOUNTAIN.

AS CLOUD CAREFULLY EXAMINES THE SPOT WHERE THE COLT HAD BEEN BORN, I WONDER WHAT HE'S THINKING.

HE'S NOT THE SPITTING IMAGE OF CLOUD, BUT CLOSE TO IT.

THAT'S WHAT I'LL CALL HIM -- 'IMAGE.'

ANOTHER JUNE COMES TO THE TOP OF THE ARROWHEADS.

[ BARKS ] AS CLOUD AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE, I CAN'T HELP BUT SEE THE CYCLE OF GENERATIONS STARTING AGAIN.

FROM FLINT AND BOLDER... TO SHADOW AND IMAGE.

WHAT BEGINS AS PLAY WILL SET THE STAGE FOR WHAT'S TO COME.

BUT YOUTH AND STRENGTH DON'T LAST FOREVER.

EVEN SHAMAN'S GREATNESS HAS RUN ITS COURSE.

THE SON HE RAISED HAS TAKEN HIS PLACE... AND MAY SOMEDAY CHALLENGE CLOUD.

UNTIL THEN, THIS IS CLOUD'S TIME TO REIGN.

AND NO MATTER HIS DESTINY, I HOPE TO BE THERE TO SHARE IN THE FREEDOM AND WILDNESS OF HIS MOUNTAIN HOME.

[ WHINNIES ]