I finally received the email I had been waiting for from Susan Watt, Director of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary:
“Stork has arrived – just heard that Diamond Girl and foal are fine!”
I immediately started rearranging my schedule so that I could go visit. I had been concerned about Diamond Girl since she had been so huge the last time I visited the sanctuary, but the 20 year old stunning pinto mare had given birth to a healthy black foal.
Upon my arrival at the Sanctuary, Susan invited me to get into her truck and we drove into the Paint pasture that all the Adobe Town horses were all now calling home. The truck was a great idea because the very friendly horses in the paint herd like to surround visitors, which makes taking photographs very difficult. As it was, they followed the truck and liked to nibble on mirrors and windshield wipers.
The clouds were coming in and it was getting darker and darker, but I still had enough light to see Diamond Girl and her adorable little black foal, with a crooked blaze. Susan and I determined that it was indeed a little filly. Diamond Girl was very protective, trying to to keep her filly away from the other horses, who were very curious about the new baby. I looked around for Theodore who has been Diamond Girl’s constant companion since she arrived at the sanctuary in January, and finally found him courting an outrageously loudly colored roan mare who seemed to be in season. Theodore had quite a gathering of lady admirers around him – it is spring and he is a handsome devil!
Diamond Girl had found a friend however – a bay domestic mare who stuck closely by her side and helped protect the baby from the curious equine onlookers.
Bronze Warrior and his mares and filly as well as Sundance and his mares and filly watched us, coming closer and closer, and I was surprised at their bravery. They all looked very relaxed. Being free in the new pasture really seemed to be agreeing with them. Even Bronze Warrior and Sundance seemed to be getting along well, standing next to each other peacefully. I looked back at their old corral, their home for several months, and there was no longer hay there, and no longer any reason for them to return.
Finally I located Snowfall, who was followed closely by two of the pale Choctaw ponies. He had been adventuring into different areas of the pasture, and looked very pleased with himself.
The next morning was sunny and clear for a change, and I went into the paint pasture this time on foot just after dawn. Many of the horses crowded around me and I had to move around a bit until they finally gave up.
I was able to get fairly close to Diamond Girl and her filly this morning – she was surrounded by Theodore’s admirers, and this time he was sticking close to her as well as the rest of the girls. I got a good look at the filly who has a mottled nose and a couple of spots on her face – she is an Appaloosa like her dad Snowfall! She will develop more spots as she gets older, and I wondered what color she would finally end up being.
Later in the morning, Rianna Hotz took me for a tour of part of the sanctuary, and it was wonderful to see how green the pastures were from all the recent rains. The horses look well fed and happy, and I was especially enchanted by the Spanish mustang pasture, and watching the gorgeous duns and grullas and roans with their lovely faces coming up the hill was the highlight of the drive for me.
After we returned to the visitor center, it looked as though everyone in the paint pasture had settled down for a nap, so I went in for lunch. Later in the day before the clouds moved in again I went back to the Paint pasture and found a good place to watch the Adobes. I finally saw Sabrina’s filly and Aurora’s filly interacting together, as one lay down for a nap. Then I watched Flurry, who was spending time with Sundance’s family. Sundance walked toward her with his neck arched, and whickered softly. He came up behind her and mounted her, while Aurora’s filly standing next to her opened and closed her mouth submissively. Since Sundance is now a gelding, there will be no baby as a result of the breeding. Afterward, Flurry returned to Bronze Warrior and her mother Gwendolyn, not quite ready to leave. In the wild, in the Pryor Mountains of Montana I had observed young mares who had gone into estreus leave their families to be bred by a stallion and then later return to their original family. It was so interesting for me to observe that even though the stallions had been gelded, the behaviors I had observed in the wild were still taking place. However, in this case, the families were still together – it was not like a BLM “Eco-Sanctuary” where all the horses were strangers, and all geldings or all mares.
I moved to a different part of the pasture to observe Diamond Girl and the black filly, who had suddenly woken up with lots of energy. She ran, kicking up her heels, and Diamond Girl struggled to keep up with her frisky daughter.
Then I saw Snowfall gallop by at full speed, in pursuit of a black mare. He ran right through the gathering of Theodore and the mares, and Theodore ran at him and reared up, then chased him away. Snowfall continued to pursue the black mare and later I saw them grazing close together.
There was another storm coming in the next day, so I headed to Wyoming, confident that all the Adobes, including the new filly and her mother, were thriving at the Sanctuary.
If you are interested in sponsoring one of the Adobe Town Appys, contact the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary:
Look for Galloping to Freedom by Carol J. Walker, sponsored by Cana Projects, coming out September 2015 from Painted Hills Publishing. This full color coffee table book follows the adventures of the Adobe Town Appaloosas.