Open letter from Ginger Kathrens, volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation
17 Years and Going STRONG!
Today, May 29th, we celebrate the birthday of Cloud, son of the stunning, black stallion Raven and Phoenix, the palomino mare, who is 21 years young this spring.
Seventeen years ago today, Anni Williams and I were on Tillett Ridge in the Pryor Mountains engrossed in filming a young stallion trying to breed his father’s newly won mare. His father, Opposite, was off playing with nearby bachelors. The filly had successfully fought off the two year-old when his father returned to sniff his son, and I guessed that this young son would soon be “asked” to leave the family.
That’s when I noticed a flash of white in the trees to my left and had the presence of mind to pan my camera just as Phoenix led her newborn, nearly white son in front of us. The band followed close behind with Raven protectively pulling up the rear. As the newborn colt tottered by I whispered to Anni, “Do you know how special this is?” At the time I had no idea that the fragile colt would become an ambassador for all mustangs in the West.
Last week, Lauryn and I were elated to find Cloud and his family (Aztec, Jasmine, Breeze, the Black, Dancer, Agate, Ingrid, Lynx, Feldspar and her foal) in intermittent rain and snow. All 11 were looking fabulous. The gray colt at Feldspar’s side instantly won our hearts. As we watched him play with Ingrid’s yearling son, Lynx (son of the deceased stallion Ferdinand), I sensed a band stallion in the making—if he survives. Cloud’s only living son is Bolder, but he was not raised by Cloud. The gray colt represents a chance for Cloud to raise a son. We laughed when the colt tried to mimic his father. Cloud had defecated on the spot where one of his mares had urinated. The gray colt sniffed the area and tried to urinate on the same spot. He missed the mark by about three feet, but he tried nevertheless!
Cloud himself looks grand as you can see. We watched him drive the band stallions Mescalero and Morning Star away. At 17 years of age, he has not missed a beat and still moves with the easy grace of his father and the fierce determination he first exhibited as a bachelor stallion. Cloud tried to start a family at the tender age of four and nearly died trying. At five, he succeeded in winning a mare in a most unorthodox way. Since that time his family has grown, and he has consistently led one of the largest bands on the Pryor Mountains
We hope you’ll share with us a birthday wish that Cloud might remain a powerful leader in his mountain stronghold. You go big boy! PBS is celebrating his birthday too with a short video update we just completed before heading up to Montana last week. Check it out on PBS Nature’s site.
P.S. Cloud’s legacy includes his lookalike grandson, Echo, who could be removed in the upcoming summer bait trapping in the Pryor Mountains. Please send a message (or an additional message if you have done so already) to BLM asking them not to remove Echo, or any of the young 1-3 year olds that have been identified as genetically critical to the future survival this small, vulnerable population of Spanish-style mustangs.