An Update on Seneca & Hightail
Time heals all wounds, so they say, and that appears to be the case with Seneca and Hightail. These two mares were left with no band stallion when a drunk driver plowed into Admiral and then his yearling son, Climb’s High, in the dead of night. Both horses were killed on July 24th, 2011.*
When we were leaving the range at the end of our July-early August trip we reported seeing the two mares with Climbs High’s two-year old brother, Jesse James, and what looked like the 4 year-old bay bachelor, Hickok. They were far away dots on the distant hills, but we thought the bright, solid bay might be Hickok. A month later we would know for sure.
After camping for five days on the mountaintop at the very end of August (more on this adventure in an expanded letter), Lauryn and I were filthy dirty and anxious to get a shower in Lovell, but once we reached the desert area of the Pryors we diverted to run over to the Dryhead to see if we might spot Hightail and Seneca. It was disappointing not to see them anywhere near little Horseshoe Lake which had been such a reliable place to spot Admiral and the family before the tragedy. We gave up looking and drove into town.
Once we cleaned up at the Horseshoe Bend Motel, we decided to give the Dryhead one more shot… and I’m sure glad we did.
We drove over the cattle guard on the paved highway and stopped to glass up Crooked Creek, which flows from the high country into the lake that empties into the Bighorn River. Seeing nothing, we drove into the lake parking area again. This time we saw two horses near the lakeshore with their heads just inches apart. It was Seneca and Hickok. They were grazing together.
Hickok, Seneca & Hightail
“She likes him,” I instantly whispered to Lauryn. We watched them graze, heads even touching at times. Then they mutually groomed. It was clear they had bonded. Hightail stood beside them and I could tell she had taken a liking to the young stallion as well. About 50 yards away in the small cottonwoods, Jesse grazed and watched.
Hickok grooms with Seneca
Hickok with Jesse James grazing in the background
Four year-old stallions rarely win mares on the highly competitive Pryor Mountains, but, because of his friendship with Jesse James, Hickok had inherited a family. It just proves the old saying, “It’s now what you know, but who you know.” When Jesse wandered back into the country where he had been born, his bachelor friend, Hickok, trailed along with him.
Jesse James, Climbs High’s full brother
Will this young, inexperienced stallion be able to defend his new family when and if an older stallion comes calling? I’m betting Seneca and Hightail will play a part in answering this question.
Seneca leads the way up the hill near the road
Strong-willed mares who have bonded to their stallions will sometimes refuse to be captured by an interloper. Even Cloud met his match in 2006 when he tried to steal the mare, Rosebud. Her band stallion, Sandman, ran away from Cloud. Rosebud, on the other hand, did not. When Cloud tried to drive her from her family she wheeled and began kicking him in the chest with all her might. Cloud wisely backed away, realizing he had met his match.
Seneca strikes me as the same kind of mare. Time will tell if she fights to stay with handsome, untested Hickok. We watched as she led out. The little band followed her across the paved road. They disappeared into the tall willows along Crooked Creek as the sun dipped behind Big Pryor Mountain.
*Climbs High was a colt I filmed last year when he was just minutes old. He was the son of Admiral and Seneca and the grandson of Hightail and Sam, Admiral’s parents. Thank you for your caring words about the loss of these two highly visible and much loved Pryor wild horses. And thank you for your donations in celebration of their lives.