Part 1: A Trip to Montana & the Freedom Fund Horses
Despite a not so rosy weather picture, Lauryn and I started out from Colorado to Montana, encountering sleet, snow and rain on our way to Billings. Luckily, the rain stopped overnight, allowing us to access the road to the Freedom Fund horses. It was a windy, but lovely, day to visit. Because of all the moisture, the huge 1,000 plus acre pasture is beginning to explode with new growth, the cottonwoods have all leafed out, and the creek is running high. I could see where it had flooded during the past few weeks of near constant rain.
This was my first chance to see the two new foals that had been born weeks before, both in Shane’s band. We spotted Moshi’s husky dun daughter, and Chalupa’s little black colt, a near carbon copy of his father, Bo. As if this wasn’t wonderful enough, we also discovered that Trigger’s mare, Mae West, had foaled just a few days before we arrived. The colt is a cracker jack—so like Pistol in looks and in temperament. Both the new foal and the almost yearling are the image of their father, Trigger. Check out our new YouTube video of footage taken during our visit with these stunning horses!
Pistol was born last August, and he is just that—a pistol. He loves to fool around, in between nursing his mother, Evita. At one point, he picked up a dead branch from under a cottonwood tree and appeared to be using it as a tool. Alexa Guttenburg, our student intern from Carroll College, is working on a behavioral study of the horses, so it will be interesting to see if Pistol really is a tool user. It would be the first observation of this type of behavior that we are aware of—Pistol, our very own Albert Einstein colt? Stay tuned! As a result of her summer-long study, Alexa’s paper will be a scholarly addition to our visual record of wild horse behavior.
The meadowlarks were singing, and the cowbirds were following the horses around, snatching insects kicked up by their hooves. What a peaceful kingdom. I sat on the ground and watched the two bands move together. The stallions, Trigger and Shane, are so respectful of each other and both families seem to find some comfort in traveling and resting fairly close together. The dun filly and black colt are cute together, playing, nursing and then sacking out in the sun. Even Grumpy Grulla is a wonder at 23 years young. She looks great and doesn’t even seem to mind the colt and filly too much… I wonder if she is mellowing in her old age.
Not everything was so calm a month ago. Shane ran Bo through the barbed wire fence—it’s the second time he did has done this. Bo was just trying to win back his mares that Shane stole nearly almost a year ago. I felt like Bo could be badly injured or killed, so we took him to Livingston to be with Sierra when she improves. It is our plan for Bo and Sierra to be together from now on. Sierra seems to be improving so we’re hopeful. Thanks to those of you who made a donation to help us defray the costs of her treatment, which included two operations.
Big News Flash!!!! Conquistador and Cavelitta will be coming to the pasture in a few weeks. They have a new daughter, a beautiful dun just like her dad. Our friends, Robert and Effie, who have been their caretakers during Cavelitta’s pregnancy, suggested the name Augustina for the little filly. Augustina de Aragon was a real life heroine known as the Spanish Joan of Arc. I like the name. It seems fitting for the daughter of a conquistador.
Diego, Cavelitta and Conquistador’s yearling son, will continue to live with Robert and Effie and their three daughters on their ranch outside Emigrant—a stunningly beautiful mountain location just north of Yellowstone National Park. Diego is growing like a weed and appears ready to eclipse both his parents in height.
Diablo, Bo and Chalupa’s son, and Annie Oakley, Trigger and Mae West’s daughter, are in halter training class together and will be adopted soon. Since we have offspring this year of the same bloodlines, these two are going to make some lucky horse lovers very happy! They are both just beautiful, even though they haven’t shed out. Who can blame them after the winter they’ve gone through?!
Without you this story of family, and freedom, and new beginnings would not have happened. To all of you out there who continue to so generously support these horses, thank you. It’s hard to say where these older adult horses would have ended up without you. One thing for sure—they would not have been together!
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