Patriot’s Band

As much as I loved all of my trip to South Steens, seeing Patriot’s band was one of my highlights. The band was large, colorful, and seemed more comfortable with our presence. Most of them were grazing, and as we approached two of the younger members frolicked up to the rest of the band.

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Two of the young horses playing.

Another sorrel coming-yearling was near by too. Youngsters are notoriously curious, but is wasn’t until the sorrel stallion Patriot wandered over that the yearling looked. This was turning out to be a really nice change. Seeing the different reactions from different horses was a lot of fun.

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I have yet to ID this young sorrel in Patriot’s band. If anyone knows please let me know!

A few more horses joined the group, and the band bunched together. There were only a few members on our side now. One of them a palomino pinto mare. She was sassy. Also watchful, and eventually she crossed the road. As if by a signal, the band began to move.

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Patriot’s lead mare.

Almost straight up hill. They didn’t slow down until they reached the shelter of trees at the top. South Steens will be the fifth range I’ve visited, and all the horses are adapted to their terrain, but I have never seen horses move so deftly on rocky terrain before.

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Once more of the band was together, it seemed like they decided to move somewhere else. I also don’t know who the sorrel to the right is. If anyone does I’d appreciate it if they let me know.

I’m always amazed that they can make it around sage as well as they do. Some of it is almost as tall as adult horses. Add rocks, and juniper trees and you’re creating an extremely tough area to navigate. I’ve had people doubt the South Steens horses are wild. With healthy weight, and perfect feet I can see why people would want to think wild horses aren’t “native”. I have a slightly different take.

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It takes an experienced lead mare to know how to navigate terrain.

I think mustangs look better than domestic horses. South Steens has a milder climate compared to other HMAs, but that doesn’t change the fact that the horses looked great in the middle of February. Given the environments the horses live in, would they look as good if they were domestics?

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The horses didn’t slow down until they disappeared into the shelter of trees.

I am really appreciative of the South Steens horses.  I enjoyed seeing the wary horses, but I also liked seeing more natural behaviors in Patriot’s band. Patriot seemed like an attentive stallion. It takes an experienced lead mare to know what routes to take in the range. The view of Patriot’s band was brief, but it seems like he is a strong stallion, with a smart lead mare, and savvy range-smart horses in between.

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