A Spirit Unbroken

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.

Cloud and his mares

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.

La Brava

La Brava & Kicks-A lot

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.

Cloud grazing with Feldspar in the background

Jasper spars with another bachelor

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.

Red Raven & Blue Sioux

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!

From right: Firestorm, her new colt, LeDoux, and her yearling filly, Lady Jane

Little Lobo

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.

Echo & Lobo

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!

Happy Trails!


3 Responses to “A Spirit Unbroken”

  1. Janet Ferguson Says:

    I just came across this link. It is a meeting in Wyoming on 6-21-11 for public to share their comments with BLM helicopter roundups.


  2. Michael J Ahles Says:

    Divide Basin EA Comments
    BLM Rock Springs Field Office
    280 HWY 19 N
    Rock Springs WY 82901

    June 19th, 2011

    Dear BLM,

    Regarding your planned removal of horses I have these questions and thoughts:


    Don Glen of the BLM reported with a slide show presentation in Reno at an advisory meeting that the horses via air count were impossible to count.
    Your planned removal of horses is based on air counts?

    2) How many cattle are grazing in this area?

    How many deer?
    How many rabbits?
    There are 6 billion people on this planet soon to be 7.
    Shouldn’t we focus our attention on ourselves!

    3) The Green River RMP (BLM 1997b) objectives for management of wild horses are to: 1) protect, maintain, and control viable, healthy herds of wild horses while retaining their free-roaming nature;

    Managing or controlling nature retains their free-roaming nature?

    4) Rangeland Health?

    The ultimate health of our rangeland is in her freedom is it not?
    America the once proud land of the free?

    5) Conformance with August 2003 Consent Decree State of Wyoming v. U.S.

    The state manages our public land, my public land, your public land?

    6) 43 CFR 4700.0-6 (a): Wild horses shall be managed as self-sustaining populations

    Managed and self-sustaining, isn’t that a contradiction?

    7) Alternative C (No Gather or Removal) does not comply with the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses Act (as amended),

    Wild free roaming horses must to be captured, sterilized, numbered, segregated, sold off too servitude, or meat packing plants, or spend the rest of their lives imprisoned?

    8)An Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) veterinarian will be on-site, as needed, to examine animals and make recommendations to the BLM for care and treatment of wild horses in accordance with Washington Office Instruction Memorandum No. 2009-041 (Euthanasia of Wild Horses and Burros for Reasons Related to Health, Handling and Acts of Mercy, BLM 2009).

    Hitler had doctors helping him with the round up and eradication of the Jews too.

    9)The Proposed Action is to gather approximately 85% (or about 1,394 wild horses) of the estimated current population (1,640 horses) in July 2011 or when funding permits.

    Are the horses unhealthy?
    Is the land?
    Could you please show us the unhealthy horses and damage a horse causes.
    Could you also show us the damage cattle cause.

    10) The BLM has been conducting wild horse gathers since the mid-1970s. During this time, methods and procedures have been identified and refined to minimize stress and affects to wild horses

    How do you minimize the effects of loosing Ones’ freedom, any Ones?

    11) Capture effects: Euthanized, stress, injuries, spinal injuries, fractures, displacement, orphaned foals…

    And you are calling this humane, just, healthy, or right? Management?

    12) Wild horses are captured, transported imprisoned, segregated, those measured unhealthy killed, prepared for sale, tattooed, castrated, fertility drugged, and for most imprisoned for life.

    For their health?

    13) Livestock Grazing

    How many cattle and sheep are in the Divided Basin HMA?
    More than 1600?

    14) Implementation of Alternatives A, B, and D would benefit wild horses in the long term because there would be improved quality and quantity of resources (forage, water, cover, and space).

    Eradication would benefit them?

    15) Under the No Action Alternative, there would be no long-term cumulative benefits to wild horses.

    Freedom is not a beneficial effect?

    16) Livestock grazing has a history of overgrazing in some areas, but with allotment management plans and Grazing management plans, rangeland conditions have improved over time and are expected to continue to improve to meet multiple use objectives and overall rangeland health.?

    The horses are on that same over grazed improving range are they not?

    17) Henry David Thoreau said: In wildness is the preservation of nature.

    Surely you must agree.

    Plan C no action is the preservation of freedom we need.


  3. Janet Ferguson Says:

    This is a very great letter. Thank you for sharing it! So many original and true comments, you have certainly advanced the literature on this subject with thought provoking comments bringing in the greater picture.

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