Noah and Liberty (Libby)

After an unsuccessful attempt at seeing horses in Palomino Butte HMA, we moved on to South Steens HMA. The information we had indicated that South Steens might have less snow, but the road may not be as clear. There might be the possibility we’d see more horses, but no guarantee conditions would be better.

Pleasantly, there was only remnants of snow under trees in South Steens. Other than some mud, the road through the range was clear. We were already starting to see sign of horses, fresher than what we had found at Palomino Buttes.

Not long into the herd, we saw our first horses. A lovely sorrel mare, and her seal bay stallion. Although they were not pintos, there were flashes of white on both of them. Neither of them seemed perturbed by our presence. Periodically, Noah would lift his head, but Libby spent most of her time grazing.


A typical view of Liberty. (South Steens HMA, February 2017)

The South Steens horses are so fit it’s hard to tell, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a foal from Libby. Since we were unfamiliar with the range, our time spent in town was looking up the names of the horses we saw. According to some of the facebook pages about Steens horses, Noah was a backcountry horse. It seemed like most backcountry horses were rarely seen, and wary of people. That did not seem like the behavior from either Libby or Noah.


One of the few times Libby looked up. (South Steens HMA, February 2017)

As I began looking up more horses, I began hearing more about Noah. A few people commented that he was aggressive, but that also did not match with my observation of him. During further sleuthing, I found that they were referencing times when Noah acquired new mares. It sounds like he snaked them away from other stallions, but that is not an inherently aggressive move. It’s the stallion’s job to protect his mare, and in Noah’s mind other stallions are a threat. It can take time for a mare to settle, so it’s smart for a new stallion to make sure she doesn’t wander off.


The handsome Noah. The light, and ISO setting I used made his red highlights look more pronounced than they are. He’s a handsome dark seal bay.

The more I research, the more I like the stallion Noah. We saw he and Libby a lot over the course of the trip, and they seemed content with one another. Thus far, my favorite anecdote of Noah is of Liberty’s filly Glory. I’m not sure what her full story is, but somehow she ended up with Noah out of her Natal band. The filly had a limp, so Noah defended her from other stallions.


Noah moves closer to Liberty.

I’m not sure how Liberty ended up with Noah, but I believe he’s had her since November 2016. As they continue to settle, I hope to use the groups that follow the South Steens horses to keep track on her foal. I’ll be interested in seeing how he handles a step-foal. Perhaps there will be little Liberty and Noah fluffers running around South Steens in the next few years.


  1. sp Said:

    Have you notice any difference with the pryo herd?Any similairities ??for instance the band stracture and their generall behaviour?
    I noticed that the horses behaviour change from place to place and its not always the same, So Stallions from one area may bejave different from stallions of an other area, I also read about the Namimbia horses and their band stracture there seems completelry different from the pryo herd.

    • This is my first trip to any HMA in winter, so I’m not sure if comparisons about behavior are fair. The horses seemed more wary/curious about people, but depending on how many visitors they get at different times of year, they may have just been surprised to see people in winter.
      I can compare conformation, however. You can tell that South Steens horses are managed to have flashy colors. Even solid horses have some aspect of chrome on them. Despite that, they seem sturdier* than the Pryor horses. Since their terrain is rockier their hooves are bigger, and they’re built differently. I know this doesn’t answer your original question, but I can see how different types of range influence adaptations, and behavior.
      *I use the term sturdier loosely. The Pryor horses are also incredibly adapted to their environments, but for different reasons.

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