Part 2: A Trip to the Pryors
Dear Friends of Cloud, his family and herd, and the wild horses of the West;
I am asked time and again, what keeps me going in the face of powers that seem unmoved by the rule of law, the principles of kindness toward all creatures, and the wishes of a caring American and worldwide public?
The answer is contained in these few lines to you.
I visited Cloud and his herd a few weeks ago. New foals were being born. The horses were shedding their winter rags. The grass had turned brilliant green. The bluebirds had returned to the mountain and their songs filled the air.
Standing on windy Sykes Ridge, I looked across Big Coulee to Tillett Ridge and I saw a horse reflecting the late afternoon light. It was Cloud’s golden mother—20 years young this year, and looking grand. She was shining as if lit from within.
Not a quarter of a mile away, a bit higher on the ridge, I saw her son, the most famous wild horse on earth, and an inspiration for so many around the world—the embodiment of a spirit unbroken. Cloud grazed peacefully with his family.
Who could fail to be renewed, rejuvenated, and recommitted when in the presence of something so beautiful?!
I believe that the Cloud Foundation is, in many cases, the only thing that stands between these vulnerable, inspiring souls and a life of potential imprisonment, isolation and even death.
We man the front lines and we stand ready to protect them, using whatever means are available in our democratic society. We cherish what they cherish… freedom and family. And so, we keep fighting. And we will never, ever give up.
From where I stood on Sykes I saw movement on the slope to my right. It was Cloud’s brother Red Raven, Blue Sioux and the rest of the family, which includes a newborn—a tiny, but sturdy little filly I named La Brava (the brave one). This newest offspring of Blue Sioux and her long-time stallion, Red Raven, was born despite infertility drugs, a lethal roundup in 2009, and a winter that was the worst in 50 years. La Brava played with Kicks-A lot, sweetly nibbling and grooming. What darling fillies.
Bolder’s young mare, Autumn (Shaman and Texas’ daughter), joined Red Raven over the winter. Like many of the bands, there have been exchanges far beyond the norm. I believe this lack of fidelity between stallions and their mares may be the unintended result of the indiscriminant use of infertility drugs given to all captured mares in the 2009 roundup. The jury is still out on my theory, but it was postulated in a peer-reviewed paper by Dr. Cassandra Nunez, regarding wild horse mares on the Shackleford Banks who are also on infertility drugs.
In a surprising turn of events, Cloud has lost Velvet to Bolder. My take on this is that Velvet became annoyed at Cloud when he brought home a three-year old filly (who is pregnant, by the way). I hope Velvet might eventually forgive Cloud’s “indiscretion” once the bands are closer together on the mountaintop. Right now, Bolder is on Sykes Ridge and Cloud is on Tillett—so they are miles apart.
I think that Feldspar was quite annoyed when Flint brought the mare, Sequoyah, and her son, Uno, into the family. That’s when she and Agate left to join first Bolder, then Cloud. Jasper became a bachelor during this time. I don’t think Cloud wanted a young stallion in his family. Perhaps he learned his lesson with Flint (see Challenge of the Stallions). Whether Flint will win Feldspar back remains to be seen.
However, no drugs or circumstances have rattled the bond between Blue Sioux and her younger stallion, Red Raven. For those of you who do not know their story, check it out in the 2nd of the Cloud docs, Cloud’s Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns. It is a remarkable example of the lifelong bond that develops between a stallion and his mare. La Brava is the latest example of their enduring relationship.
Other foals now grace the mountain. Cloud and Velvet’s daughter, Firestorm, and her stallion, Jackson, have a new son, LeDoux. And Bolder and Cedar have a new son, Lobo. He is a darling little dun. Also in Bolder’s family, Cloud’s grandson, Echo, is growing like a weed and is beyond precocious (remind you of another pale colt years ago?). His buddy and half-brother, Absarokee (Bolder x Cedar) are troublemakers of the first order and fun to watch!
We will be traveling north late next week to visit the Freedom Fund horses and to release Conquistador, Cavelitta and little Augustina onto the big pasture! And we will be visiting Cloud, Bolder, Flint and the rest of the Pryor herd. So, we will let you know what we find. It is always an adventure.
Thanks so much for your moral and financial support. The Cloud Foundation is in the forefront of the wild horse preservation effort, and we only function through your continued, generous support. Help us keep up the fight!