A Tribute to Cloud

They say the first stage of grief is denial, so at risk of sounding crass, I’m just going to say it: Cloud is gone. In that line of thought Red Raven is also gone, but I get it, it’s Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies, not Cloud and His Younger Bro Red Raven: Wild Stallions of the Rockies, so for those of you that mostly look up the Pryors to see how Cloud is doing, then for the purposes of this post, I’ll indulge you.

Although Cloud never knew it, his story inspired many to become horse advocates. Ginger Kathrens lucked out, that the palomino roan* foal she found to document was also a truly remarkable horse. So, in true tribute fashion, in mostly chronological order, here are some of my favorite traits about Cloud.

1)If anyone’s familiar with how Ginger described band dominance in 2011 it was a bit like this: The bands are a wheel, with Cloud in the middle. The more dominant bands, Bolder, Duke and Jackson, Lakota, etc. are like spokes. Slightly less dominant bands, Flint, Custer, Baja, Chino, etc. are nearby, but not right next to Cloud. Horses that aren’t dominant, or are too particle for conflict Prince, Doc, Morning Star, etc. are in a different part of the range entirely. When my dad, and I visited in 2011, Cloud was one of the first bands we saw across from Penn’s Cabin with Bolder’s right next to them. It’s what made my first impression of Cloud even more special. When a large group of bachelors moved in, both Cloud, and Bolder left their bands to investigate. Other than a brief greeting, Cloud, and Bolder went their separate ways to work together to confront the bachelors.

Cloud keeps an eye on Bolder while confronting Two Boots.

Cloud keeps an eye on Bolder while confronting Two Boots.

2) Cloud’s grunge phase. Most mustangs don’t mind being dirty. Some like, Cloud really seem to enjoy it. It keeps the bugs away, and with light horses like Cloud, shows up really well.

Cloud always seemed to have at least some dirt on him.

Cloud always seemed to have at least some dirt on him.

3) Cloud had bravado. While his brother Diamond was around, he also had a sibling rivalry going. It was really fun to see the bands nearby, and their sons play.

When Diamond still had a band, their sons would often play, prompting the two stallions to spar.

When Diamond still had a band, their sons would often play, prompting the two stallions to spar.

4) I’m not saying Cloud’s a helicopter parent, but every time Mato Ska would play with another colt, Cloud would rush in. If Encore spent too much time sleeping while the rest of the band moved away, Cloud put up with her sass to get her back to mom. I’m not saying other stallion’s don’t care about their foals, but Cloud worked really hard to keep his band together.

This photo doesn't really tell a story, I just really like it.

This photo doesn’t really tell a story, I just really like it.

5) Speaking of keeping his family together, Cloud had disapproving dad look down. I could go on, but I think I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves. Because, who needs to spend energy disciplining a kid when a look will do?

"Don't mine me grazing over here."

“Don’t mind me grazing over here.”

"No, really, Encore, time to go!"

“No, really, Encore, time to go!”

"Ugh, dad, I'm going!" "I thought I told you not to mind me while I'm grazing Encore!"

“Ugh, dad, I’m going!”
“I thought I told you not to mind me while I’m grazing Encore!”

6) Cloud was always determined to woo his mares. Not that other studs don’t woo their mares, but Cloud was pretty respectful about it. It probably also helped that for most of his life he had a large band of mares to choose from if one wasn’t interested.

It's hard having a mare as opinionated as Aztec when it comes to stallions.

It’s hard having a mare as opinionated as Aztec when it comes to stallions.

Aztec was more gentle in turning Cloud down than I've seen with other stallions.

Aztec was more gentle in turning Cloud down than I’ve seen with other stallions.

If another mare wasn't feeling it, Cloud could always count on Ingrid.

If another mare wasn’t feeling it, Cloud could always count on Ingrid.

7) Seriously, Cloud and Ingrid are my favorite Pryor love story that I’ve witnessed. Ingrid’s a mare that needs a lot of reassurance from band-mates, and Cloud was always willing to give it to her.

Look at their happy expressions!

Look at their happy expressions!

8) He had really pretty eyes. I can see why Ingrid liked him.

What mare could resist those eyes?

What mare could resist those eyes?

9) Cloud didn’t support traditional gender roles. Granted, he didn’t really have a strong lead mare when Sitka passed away, but it didn’t stop Cloud from trying. Adaptability is a good quality for a mustang, and as his band changed, Cloud was adaptable in his role as band stallion.

Often a band stallion will put himself in between his band and a potential threat, in this case bands already at the pond.

Often a band stallion will put himself in between his band and a potential threat, in this case bands already at the pond.

10) Band stallions have to be very comfortable in order to let their guard down, so I had a lot of fun seeing him lay down next to Ingrid, and Encore. Ingrid was pretty protective of Encore, so it made it even more special to see the three of them.

Cloud, Encore, and Ingrid take a mid-afternoon nap.

Cloud, Encore, and Ingrid take a mid-afternoon nap.

11) He was a pretty mover. This would be better shown with video, but he was very efficient with which gait he chose, and deliberate with his movements.

As a bonus, here's Cloud through the wildflowers.

As a bonus, here’s Cloud through the wildflowers.

Even though Cloud never knew he was famous, he still had spunk. To me, it seems like by continuing to ask about Cloud, or imply that people aren’t looking hard enough for him, we’re taking away from more important issues such as management. I understand he’s a lot of people’s favorite, but I don’t think he’d appreciate that. If people really want to honor Cloud, I recommend learning about the other horses in the Pryors. Learn about management, and what you can do to help, then learn about other HMAs, and their management. Currently, Cloud has a strong legacy on the mountain, but they need our help to keep it that way.

*It’s true pale palomino has nice alteration, but you can’t get a roan (i.e. Mato Ska) without one of the parents being roan, so unless we’re willing to dispute Mato Ska’s sire (read: no one is) Cloud, Phoenix, and Isabella are/were all roans.

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1 Comment »

  1. Well said Livi. It’s about time that someone publicly acknowledged that Cloud is gone. Thanks for breaking the ice.


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