by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats
It is another morning a mile from the trap site waiting for the helicopter to chase the wild horses in Stewart Creek Wyoming. Yesterday 84 horses were captured, no injuries or deaths. We hope that continues today. The wind is not bad right now but is forecast to pick up this afternoon.
The two helicopters went out and we saw a big black stallion circle around and go right by us – I stopped breathing as he paused and looked at us, then kept trotting our of sight into Lost Creek. There will be at least another day of freedom for him.
Then several groups came in together, silhouetted by the sun directly in our eyes, the two helicopters worked together and brought them in. At least 40-50 horses. They headed out again as the contractor is loading horses into stock trailers – we were told then they load them into the big semis to take them to temporary holding.
Next three small groups come in and the helicopters head out again. The wind is starting to pick up but it is not nearly as bad as yesterday so far. I saw several stock trailers head toward temporary holding, the babies in the back. We will most likely have a chance today to go see the horses that have been captured today several hours after the helicopters stop.
I watched 3 more groups of wild horses being driven in using two helicopters, but once again a small family of 5 colorful horses ran away right toward us to Lost Creek. I am using an 800mm lens but it is still very far away and hard to see. From what I can tell they have gone through a barbed wire fence, which is being used as one of the boundaries of the lead up to the trap. Even though there are some pink flags, a barbed wire fence should not be the side of what they are driving the horses into – there is too much possibility for an injury to the horses. The stunning big pinto stallion brought up the rear of his little family – he looked at us as they trotted by but was not concerned about us. As they got closer I could see the sweat streaking down their bodies from running. He let them walk at one point until he heard the helicopter and then they started running away. They have a reprieve at least for today.
We were told that was it for the day, and the wind was starting to howl. We are meeting in a couple of hours at temporary holding so we can see the horses that were brought in today.
When we were being taken around temporary holding, we were told that 75 wild horses were captured today, 33 mares, 30 stallions and 12 foals with no injuries or deaths. As I am standing in front of the stallion pens, a gorgeous varnish roan appaloosa stallion meets my gaze, and keeps looking at me for a long few minutes. I wish I could tell him that it will be ok, but it would be a lie, unless he is one of the lucky 150 that will be released back into Stewart Creek after the mares are treated with PZP-22. The remaining majority of the horses are being shipped to the BLM facility in Canon City, Colorado.
I head out to see the remaining wild horses in the other HMAs that have not been rounded up yet, knowing this may be my last chance to see the horses I know and love.
I saw many horses at a distance but was delighted to meet a very colorful family new to me with an amazing Medicine Hat stallion with blue eyes. He seemed very calm and unconcerned despite the wind, and I noticed a beautiful cremello stallion who seems to be either a friend of the family or son a who is still hanging around. There is a gray mare, and pinto yearling and pinto foal. I am very happy to have the chance to spend time with them, but it is bittersweet because if they are removed I will not be able to learn more about their story. After spending some time with them while having trouble holding my camera in the wind, I reluctantly turn to go back as it will soon be dark.
On my way back to town I spot the black stallion who escaped this morning, about 10 miles from the trap. He stands and watches me drive by, still free.
This morning I am sitting in the pull out waiting to see if day 5 of the Red Desert Complex roundup will continue with helicopters flying today – there is a high wind warning which may shut it down today.
Then I hear that they called it off for today – one more day of freedom for the horses. I head back into the HMAs to see the horses, a reprieve for me as well.