Update from the Mountain and on the Freedom Fund Horses

Bo's Band

Dear Friends of Cloud and the mustangs;

On March 15, Connor, my Irish Terrier, and I drove north to Montana from Colorado to visit our Freedom Fund horses on the beautiful ranch where they live only a few miles away from their wild home on Commissary Ridge in the Pryor Mountains.

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Cavelitta, Conquistador’s black mare, and Chalupa, Bo’s bay mare, are very pregnant and we expect babies this month! The manager of the ranch is going out daily with her camera to try to locate all four bands, but she’s spotted no far foals so far. Stay tuned.

Then, the next afternoon Connor and I visited the horse range, driving out at sunset on the paved road to see if we spotted wild horses. I was so sad to find the Sam’s body lying under the junipers near the road. He and his dun mare Hightail were the “official greeters” of the horse range, often the first horses to be spotted. They were seen by thousands of excited wild horse watchers and casual visitors to the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area in the low, desert country. This 19 year-old black stallion and his 20 year-old dun mare were often seen just as you cross the cattle guard into the horse range. Perhaps Sam was not known by name like Cloud, but thousands of people over the years knew this lovely horse. Sam is featured in the BBC production “Spirit of the Mustang” that I worked on in 1997. The film documents Sam winning his first band, defeating the older sorrel band stallion, Hercules, in battle. Sam will be greatly missed by all of us and we hope that he and Hightail’s dark bay son, Admiral and his family, might take up residence in this highly visible location.

Sam and Hightail in 2009

The last time I saw Hightail she was gazing into the sunset near the cattle guard. She milled around as if looking for her longtime mate. “Eat,” I whispered to her. “Eat.” I have had experiences with band stallions who lost their mare and just gave up on life. Even though these stallions looked fine, they died. I hope that Hightail can regain her love of life in time.

The next morning Connor and I were creeping up rocky Burnt Timber Ridge Road hoping to spot wild horses. Once we broke onto the open ridges of Tillett we saw  Cloud’s palomino mother, Phoenix, with her stallion, Diamond, and Trace’s mother, War Bonnet. The palomino celebrates her 19th birthday this year but she looked much like when I first saw her as a three-year-old in March of 1994. Her soft yellow coat was pristine, as if she had just been brushed. War Bonnet looked wonderful too, and very pregnant. All the 40 or so horses we saw up close looked fantastic—young and old alike. So much for what BLM would like to portray as starving mustangs.

War Bonnet, Diamond and Phoenix

I was joined by Patty Hooker and Jody Klessens that day. We spent hours just glassing from Tillett Ridge across Big Coulee canyon to Sykes Ridge where it was likely we could see Cloud, Bolder, Flint, and their families. There was no way to get up on Sykes because of snow, so looking through binoculars and a spotting scope was our only hope of seeing them. We spotted Flint that afternoon, but no Feldspar, Jasper, or his new filly, Heather. When I thought I saw Feldspar with another stallion, my heart dropped. There was no foal with her either. But two hours later, as we glassed the area, we saw Flint and then movement in the trees behind him. Feldspar and Heather emerged along with little Jasper. I know I jumped for joy. Flint is such a dutiful father and he and Jasper are such buddies. For him to lose his precious family would have been a real heartbreaker, but all is well!

Days later I spotted Bolder and his band, and his beautiful pale buckskin daughter, Jewel. She just shone in the afternoon light as they grazed and sunbathed. So peaceful, I thought. For those of you who have never been to this magical place, it is hard to describe the feeling of being on a mountain with these gentle spirits.

Starman's daughter and her mother, Rosarita

The last day I was on the mountain, I got up extra early. It was my last chance to try to get any kind of  look at Cloud and his band. Patty, who adopted Summer–the daughter of Shaman and the granddaughter of Bolder’s Texas filly–came back up to help me try to find the elusive pale stallion. In the afternoon, we dropped down the mountain and hiked out on an old trail past Raven’s secret water hole. In 1995, I had seen Raven, baby Cloud and the rest of the family walk down the mountain and disappear into a small canyon. I followed them on a sandy trail in the shallow canyon. They approached a large rock that jutted out over the canyon wall. In the shadow of  the rock overhang, water had collected in a pool. One or two members of the band drank as there wasn’t enough room for the whole family to drink at one time. It was such a wonderful discovery.

Looking at Sykes Ridge from Tillett Ridge,across Big Coulee. Can you find Cloud?

Getting Closer…
and closer…

Can you see him yet?

Cloud!

Patty, her dog Duke, Connor and I kept walking to the edge of Big Coulee Canyon. Through binoculars we saw a pale horse walking out of a grove of trees. It was Cloud!

Around him was his family—Velvet and the rest of the band which includes Aztec, Shadow and little Jasmine, Cloud’s dark roan daughter born last year. They all looked great, but from such a distance, it’s hard to tell for sure. One thing is for sure. They made it through the winter.

Ginger and Connor, photo by Patty Hooker

On the next ridge over, we spotted Prince, Electra (Cloud’s red roan sister), and Pococeno, the black mare who is Bolder’s mother. The mare was back with Prince and Electra after spending a few months with Cloud last year. I was happy to see her with Electra again. Mares so often value the friendship of another female.

Even though it snowed on my visit to the range, I could see the first green sprigs of grass coming up. Soon there will be new life on the mountain—my 16th year in this wondrous place, and my 15th year tracking the pale stallion, Cloud.

With my batteries charged from spending time with the wild horses we are all fighting so hard to preserve, I flew to DC and our March for the Mustangs. Hundreds of people came to support the mustangs in Lafayette Park. As I mounted the small podium and looked out at all the signs and the faces of those in the crowd, I thought of Cloud and his family and all the mustangs still roaming free with their families in the land of their birth. We will never stop fighting for them. Never.

Happy Trails!

Ginger

More photos in a 2nd slideshow here! Please support the Freedom Fund horses, Ginger and the work of the Cloud Foundation by sending a tax-deductible donation, click here for more details.

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57 Responses to “Update from the Mountain and on the Freedom Fund Horses”

  1. Janet Ferguson Says:

    I’m so glad you found Jewel, and all the horses!

  2. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    This made my day! thanks, Ginger… mar

  3. jan eaker Says:

    It is so good to see them looking so good, good for Conquistador! he looks great! I remember your post from last fall when Chalupa was reunited with Bo, I’m so glad to know she is free and about to have a baby, all that new life is good news indeed!

  4. Suzanne Moore Says:

    Made my WEEK! Thanks SO much!

  5. sandra longley Says:

    I am sorry to hear about Sam, altho i did not know him, he got to die as he lived-free..I hope his mare finds a band in time to join with, or finds a home with him under the junipers

  6. Catherine Jackson Says:

    Thank you for posting this. I have often wondered about Conquistador.
    A bright spot in my day!!!

  7. Laura Leigh Says:

    Thank you for this… so much.

  8. Roxy Says:

    Thank you for a wonderful update on the rescued bands and Cloud. Good news is always appreciated.

  9. Art Giles Big Horn 1953 Says:

    Ginger Thunk You have saved the MUSTANG’S That have Been the
    for over 200 Years.
    These Mustang I hope are Free For Ever as I have seen run free
    from the 1930’s
    My the spirit of Arrow Head watch over them For 200 more Years.
    With folks like you then will.
    May the Spirit of go will watch over you.
    My Flux and Missy will be in my heart tell the day I die.
    They are resting near Sucker Creek.
    This will be the last year I will be able to visit them.
    As I do believe my time is near.

  10. Debra Whitmore Says:

    I have been so worried about all these horses, so glad you posted this.

    I am still very concerned about the Calico horses and their health. I wonder how many really are left in the Calico Mountains? I sincerely do not understand how the BLM, Obama and the lot could be so cruel to not only our wild horses, but so cruel to me as well. I don’t understand why they can’t even allow me this small pleasure of enjoying our wild horses.

  11. jan Says:

    its so good to see these horses that we have come to love thru the cloud videos and that they are free – hope u can do another cloud video

    since the blm allowed these people to buy these horses – why wont they let madeline pickens buy horses to save them

  12. CHRISTY CHAPMAN Says:

    I am so drawn to wild horses…and your stories over the years. Thank you for your dedication and pure love for these special gifts!

  13. Linda Says:

    Thank you, Ginger. I’m not reading or looking at anything else tonight. This is a good place to rest and reflect. Goodnight, everybody.

  14. Jen Says:

    So glad you are helping to lead the fight for these lovely creatures. Thank you and I loved seeing the pictures. We must never give up on them!

  15. Gabrielle Says:

    Im so glad to see Cloud is alive. I remember watching the documentary on him when I was very little, and have thought about him and his band often since then. Im so glad they are all doing so well.

  16. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    THIS IS SOOOOO GOOD TO SEE! WE ALL NEEDED TO SEE HORSES AS THEY SHOULD BE. WE JUST NEED TO GET THE OTHERS BACK OUT WHERE THEY BELONG.

  17. Lori Rottino Says:

    I cried I feel so connected to Cloud and his band I tell everyone that he is my boy he is a great horse spirit and we need to do all we can for the other bands

  18. Nora Morbeck Says:

    I had to do a double take on Conquistador. When I first glanced at his profile picture, I thought he was one of the pregnant mares Ginger mentioned!! He’s such a chubby boy!!
    My daughter, her best friend and I cheered when I read out loud that Cloud was spotted. What an amazing gift!
    This made my entire week!!

  19. Kristen Walker Says:

    It just brings tears to my eye’s to see these beautiful horses free and safe with their family’s. I love to see conquistador free as I wear his face on my “open the gates” t-shirt I just thank Ginger and everyone responsible for giving these living treasures the life that they deserve, that they all deserve. I am so moved by their beauty, free and roaming forever! Thank you Cloud Foundation.

  20. Toni Watkins Says:

    It was so Grand to see these photos and know some of Our Wild Horses are FREE to ROAM.
    I was at the DC March for Mustangs. I am confident our March will make an impact on this Gross injustice to our Heritage. We must not let OUR BLM GOVERNMENT OFFICE operate as if they have no accountable. I believe in President Obama, and I trust his FAMILY VALUES will include all who live on this Great Land USA!

  21. Sue Morton Says:

    Lovely to hear that Cloud has made it thru another winter. Thank you Ginger for keeping us posted.
    I was wondering, last year a lovely pic was posted of a Cloud daughter that was alot like him named Windflower. I’ve seen no mention of her, was she one of the ones taken out last year?

  22. Karen L. Says:

    Thank you so much for the updates and wonderful pictures!

  23. KELLY MILITELLO Says:

    Your stories and pictures make me want to live with the horses!! So beautiful!! Thanks for all you do!!

  24. Vanessa Register Says:

    Thank you Ginger, Ilove the updates. My heart is encouraged, I dream of seeing horses in the wild. Keep up the fight, the horses need us.

  25. Sandy Elmore Says:

    Thank you for the update Ginger. 🙂

  26. Lisa Norman Says:

    With so much tragedy and fighting tooth and nail for our mustangs, it is wonderful to see those that have made it through the winter and still free. Thank you for the update. Let’s not let the whitehouse forget our Calico herds, keep making your voices heard for the herds! Pray the judge will rule in their favor this month. I pray for this every day above all else.

  27. true15 Says:

    Wonderful photos. Thank you.

  28. Art Giles Says:

    Ginger hear are some Horses the need some help To PZP is going to be used Between Cody and Graybull Wy. Left side of Highway.
    http://www.nickolesphotography.com/Images/McCulloughPeaksHorses-1/index.htm

  29. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    REMEMBER–TUESDAY NIGHT VIGIL–LET GET THEM ALL BACK WHERE THEY BELONG.

  30. Linda H Says:

    Thank you once again for your update and beautiful pictures of Cloud and the forest service horses. But it is with sadness that I note the death of Sam. He was the first wild horse I saw on our first visit there, (which is true for many, I realize). What a gorgeous stallion he was, standing in a classic pose near the road! And Hightail was a bit down the draw. I thought, if I never saw another horse that day, he had made the trip worth while. (I did see other horses up on the mountain, but he will always stand out as my FIRST!) Thank you for the background story on Sam and his wonderful full life in the Pryors.

  31. Ana Maria Says:

    Thanks for the update !!
    From Murcia (Spain) we love to follow the wild horses.

  32. Laura Houston Says:

    Thanks for the wonderfull update. So good to know Clouds group made it through winter! The Freedom fund group look awesome too!

  33. Jeannie Parisi Says:

    Beautiful and Thank you~I can only imagine what it would be like there and see them first hand…In all their magnificence..God Save Our Horse’s

  34. kathleen gonnoud Says:

    Thank you Ginger for the update on the marvelous horses of the Mountains. Although I am far away in the big city.. your words and photos bring them close to home. I am saddened by the loss of dear Sam but cheered that so many are still wild and free in their historic home.

  35. GrullaLover Says:

    I am very happy to see they are well. As you mentioned Raven, I saw this beautiful stallion on public lands, in Cody, WY in 2007. He was magnificent, along with his new foal, a balck without any white markings. A black mare with a white blaze, or snip was the mother of this stallion. Could we be talking about the same Raven?

  36. Barbre Says:

    Thanks so much for the wonderful photos and news. I grew up with the horses in Nevada and want them to still be there when I retire from my government job. I visit home several times a year and on…sad to note…nowadays…rare occasions….get a glimpse of our wonderful wild horses. I was pleased with the March for the Mustangs…the more the public knows the more will be accomplished. It is a battle we can’t lose or stop fighting–despite the constant failure of BLM to honor the law.

  37. Debbie Briggs Says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for the wonderful update on Cloud. My husband and I are planning a trip to the Pryor Mountains this summer. Can anyone tell me the best area to access this horse range.
    thanks

  38. jan Says:

    i love that picture of flint – he looks like one of those dancing spanish stallions

  39. jan Says:

    got email that one of the mares has a new baby – born in freedom

  40. jan Says:

    how cloud got to be palomino and his mom

    Palomino is a coat color in horses, consisting of a gold coat and white mane and tail. Genetically, the color is created by a single allele of a dilution gene called the cream gene working on a red (chestnut) base coat. However, most color breed registries that record palomino horses were founded before equine coat color genetics were understood as well as they are today, and hence the standard definition of the color is based on the coat color visible to the eye, not the underlying presence of the dilution gene.

    While the breed standard states the ideal color is that of a “newly minted gold coin” (sometimes mistakenly claimed to be a penny), some palomino registries allow a coat color that may range from cremello, an almost-white color, to a deep, dark, chocolate color (“chocolate palomino”). Skin and eyes are usually dark, though some foals carrying the champagne gene are born with light-colored eyes that darken as the horse ages. White markings are permitted on the legs, but must not extend beyond the knees or hocks. White markings are also permitted on the face, but must not extend past the eyes.

    Many non-palominos have a gold coat or a light mane, or both. Horses that have a gold body but a black mane and tail are Buckskins. Those that have a dull gold or tan body with a dark mane and tail plus “primitive” dark markings such as a dorsal stripe down the spine and zebra markings on the back of the forearms are called duns. Horses with a chocolate-colored coat with a light mane and tail may actually be black horses expressing the rare silver dapple gene. Many reddish-colored “palominos” with a light cream mane and tail are chestnut horses that carry a flaxen gene. The Champagne gene also causes a golden-colored coat on some horses, but the presence of pink skin, amber or hazel eyes in adulthood, and mottled skin suggest the presence of the champagne gene, not the cream gene. The pearl gene or “Barlink factor,” may also create blue-eyed palominos.

    i remember from the cloud videos that his mom had a lot of red in her tail and i think cloud has some red in his tail –

    queen isbella of spain loved the palomino color and tried to breed it – hence the horses from spain carried the palomino gene – palomino in spanish means pale gold

    • Anne Says:

      Hello my comment;

      Thanks so much to Ginger for the wonderful photos and (thanks for adopting Sax…); sorry about the Dun being rounded up; very sad…the video shows a pix of a Foal brushing himself with Pine Bough branches in the wood meadow edge; very pretty!

      and to Jan; thanks for the info on the Palomino and other breeds; I was wonder about the Palomino; very interesting about the Dun breed:

      Those that have a dull gold or tan body with a dark mane and tail plus “primitive” dark markings such as a dorsal stripe down the spine and zebra markings on the back of the forearms are called duns. Horses with a chocolate-colored coat with a light mane and tail may actually be black horses expressing the rare silver dapple gene. Many reddish-colored “palominos” with a light cream mane and tail are chestnut horses that carry a flaxen gene…

      ps the Pigeon Fever outbreak @ Fallon looks serious!

    • Suzanne Moore Says:

      Very interesting post, Jan. I find this subject intriguing. I have a chocolate palomino Morgan. Well, chocolate in the late spring – mid fall. His winter coat is almost a pale as Cloud’s. Kaleidoscope palomino? His dam is a medium chestnut, not flaxen, and his sire is a homozygous cremello. Indy was born with dark eyes, but his foal coat was every bit a light as Cloud’s was when he was a foal. They look VERY similar! But then Indy turned dark. He and Cloud’s son Boulder (sp?) look VERY much alike.

      Fascinating topic.

  41. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    THERE IS AN S.O.S. ON MADELEINE PICKEN’S WEBSITE:
    Stallion & Mares Need Help! Urgent!
    Dear Friends,
    I received an email last night from Judy Barnes with the Spirit of the Wild Horse Foundation. Please read below and help save these magnificent animals.
    Madeleine

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Louie, Judy is still looking for them all…

      Thank you all for your support and encouragement, I know Jet can feel it too.

      The rancher called and said there were no wild mares with Jet, that all the mares were his. I offered to buy them, and again he said no wild mares. If he had wild mares he would have come around for money. He told me he released Jet on Tuesday night. I spent 5 hours yesterday and 4 hours today, before and after the sale, looking for him. I have to believe he is out there.

      I went to the sale barn anyway, Jet’s picture is now hanging in the office. I met the owner, branding inspector and sheriff and everyone is on the lookout for him. One person I met actually works for this ranchers family. She is going to be my spy, she knows the stallion. She told me Jet was left in a trailer in front of the house for two days.

      I can feel Jet’s energy and it is very low, his spirit is going to take some time to recover. I feel that he may be hiding out in the back country while he heals his mind, body and soul. I will be back out there on Saturday with a tour and then again on Sunday.
      Thank you everyone for all the support and offers of money, when this started I felt over whelmed and didn’t know what I was going to do. But now I know I have a great support team. I love this horse and I’m not giving up on him. I know he may never be the same but he is free and that’s what is important.

      Tomorrow I will be talking to the land owner and the sheriff and see what the next step is going to be. I will keep everyone updated as this progresses. Especially when Jet is sited. I attached some of my favorite pictures of Jet.

      Bless you all,
      Judy

  42. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    I don’t know if the pictures will come through or not……

    3361-Jet-in-the-Rio-Grande .jpg 3383-Jet.jpg 0741 Jet Mug .jpg

  43. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    MAR, THANK YOU!

  44. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO DO. HOW DO WE HELP?

  45. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    WE ALMOST NEED A CENTRALIZED RESCUE FUND.

  46. jan Says:

    WATCH FOX NEWS NOW – FORMER GOV OF NEW YORK STARTING A NEW GROUP CALLED AMERICANS FOR FREEDOM PLUS PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE RALLYING TO OVERTURN HEALTH CARE – SO MAYBE IF WE EMAIL THESE PEOPLE THEY WOULD HELP SAVE OUR WILD HORSES – ITS ALL PART OF SAVING OUR FREEDOMS AND THE THINGS WE LOVE –

  47. jan Says:

    thanks for reply on how horses get their colors – its amazing that cloud is probably almost a champange color – at least when he was newborn and his mom is a perfect palomino and i guess his daddy was black since ginger called him raven – that he wasnt black like his dad – and he himself has sired a palomino – remember trigger what a beautiful palomino he was – there is a horse association for palomino horses – not breeds but colors – when i used to be a big arabian fan – palomino was not one of the colors of the original arabian horses – maybe a light sorrel or chestnut but no palomino colors – so guess we have queen isabella of spain to thank for the palomino wild horses – when i see films of wild horses – i do see a lot of palominos mixed in with the darker colors – if you go to website called mustangs4us – cant remember exact name – the original wild horse developed in america was a dun with the dorsal and leg stripes – guess palomino was a fluke that somehow showed up in later horses and queen isabella bred it in spain –

    • Suzanne Moore Says:

      I’ve had people tell me that they didn’t know there WERE palomino Morgans. Actually, the colors were always in the gene pool, but in the early days, the breed organization was make up of a bunch of extremely snooty easterners who thought horses should only be bay or black.

      It’s only been in fairly recent years that the Association admitted that, well, yeah, those genes ARE in the pool. I think they were ashamed of it. LOL! Then Western Morgan breeders started breeding “colorful” Morgans. They sold like hotcakes! So, the Assn. decided to jump on the bandwagon. Now they promote them as much, if not more, than the bays and blacks.

      • Marilyn Wargo Says:

        Suzanne, I think I was lucky to grow up a few miles from the University of Connecticut’s Morgan Horse Farm. Mentor and his son Penfield were the stallions when I was a kid. They both were dark liver chestnut. They sired flaxen maned beauties and a few were dappled and light like Indy. These horses were beautiful and I will never forget them. This was the 50s and 60s. Yipes… mar

  48. jan Says:

    i used to get the arabian horse world magazine and remember there was a stallion in there that was very unusual – he was a purebred arab but i think he was bay or chestnut with silver mane and tail –

  49. jan Says:

    reading about that black stallion that escaped – wont he try and find some mares to form a new band – maybe even trying to steal some mares that are domesticated – hope no one shoots him – can you trap him with a fence and food in it – think the blm tried that once to trap cloud and his band – they came in and ate food and escaped – think a cougar was involved in that

  50. Valerie Wehmueller Says:

    I’m reading this a bit late, but I’m SO HAPPY you found Cloud & his family, &, that they’re all safe. I am VERY happy that you were able to save these wild bands & give them the safety, protection, & freedom they SO deserve!! I was also sad to hear about Sam, & I do hope his mare will find contentment & happiness soon. At least Sam died a wild & free horse, & did not have to suffer unbearable torture at the hands of man. My family & I hope you will make another special for TV, to tell the mustang’s story, & their fight for life, & to update all on Cloud!! You are awesome!!

  51. Jonathan Says:

    Are Bo and Sand still with the Freedom Fund horses or are they at a different location now?

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