Respecting the Range

It was a warm morning as I headed to the range. I was a little later than I normally am, and was worried it would be the first time I would not see the horses in the Pine Nuts. I picked a road that followed a ridge, then led to a valley. Normally it would help me see horses in the distance, but I had already reached the valley and I had barely seen any sign. As I neared a crossroads, I decided to find somewhere to park.
The closer I got, I noticed some red in the trees. Either it was some dead leaves, or a horse. I started toward the area, but wasn’t sure if my car could handle the road. Backing up, I parked and hoped if there were horses they’d still be there. I approached slowly. Even if there was just one horse, I did not want them to feel like I was sneaking up on them. I was pretty confident there was a horse, and they usually did not travel alone. I was starting to make a list of possible bands.
Finally I saw the orange of a sorrel horse again. Blondie, and Shorty were possibilities, but I was going to wait until I was closer to make final judgments.
Carefully, I circled around the trees so I could see better. As I noticed several horses I paused. There were a few sorrels, so I was still thinking Blondie and Shorty’s band. I saw more horses nearby, and it finally clicked. There were three bands.

Blondie's band

Blondie’s band resting near shade.

After confirming two were Blondie, and Shorty’s I tried to figure out the third. It was much smaller than the other two, and I realized it was Mystique’s band. Hoping the horses would rest for a while, I tried to decide which band to photograph first.
Out of all of them I had seen Blondie’s band least, so I focused on them. Most of the horses were happy to relax, but the yearling colts had different ideas. There must have been mares in heat; both curled back their lips in the flehman response. One even tried to court a mare, but she paced in circles until he gave up.
Despite their best efforts, the mares could not keep the yearlings away for long. They edged around the trees, and the rest of the band seemed to decide it was time to wake up. Blondie half-heartedly snaked them together, but did nothing to discipline his colts. With more of the band awake, their attention seemed to be wavering, but periodically a colt would saunter up to a mare.

Joker courting

This yearling was particularly persistent.

I began wondering why Blondie wasn’t doing anything about their behavior. He wasn’t even looking at his band. As I followed Blondie’s gaze I realized there was a UTV in the distance. Far across a hill I was surprised Blondie was interested in it. But despite the distance, the sound of the UTV was clear. It roared as its speed caused dust to sail behind it. The rest of the horses were starting to notice too.

Shorty confrontation

The horses react to the UTV.

Blondie’s band started moving purposefully to higher ground. As the rest of the horses followed, they shifted into a run. Hoping I wasn’t in their way, I stayed still. Letting them settled, I walked parallel to where they were headed so they did not think I was following them. I did not want them to expend more energy than they already had.
I was able to get a few photos, but did not stay long. It’s the responsibility of people visiting the range to also respect it. I doubt the stress that the UTV caused was intentional, but it still should not have happened. It’s tempting to say people don’t know better, but they can still do research before going to an area with any wildlife. It’s not the first time I’ve seen people on UTVs go too fast, it’s just the first time it’s happened so close to horses. It’s a little disappointing theirs no signage about entering a wild horse range, and I would like to see more education to the public about the horses.

Roman and Faith

When people aren’t careful, it can make foals like Roman and Faith vulnerable.

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