Pretty soon, like these summer days, our wild horse chasing days will sadly disappear. Winter will come. The mountain will be covered in snow and the iron gate that leads to our magic meadows will be closed and locked until the following June.
Yesterday C and I got to spend the whole live long day with many bands of mustangs, and with it the return of 60 mile gusts and cooler temperatures mixed with sun and rain and partly cloudy skies. It all makes for interesting photos shoots, bad hair days (for the horses) and constant wardrobe changes. The layered look is in again.
Some of the horses, we noticed, have already come down off the mountain. They have so many, thousands of acres, to disappear into, but I have an eye for spotting them right away. Then, with my binoculars, there they were, up to their eyeballs in blue-grey sage and Rabbitbrush. Along sloping hills and vastness, we hiked out about a mile toward a dozen contented grazers with tangles and scars. As we made our appearance over a hill we startled them and the dust began to fly. Manes flew, hooves curled and nostrils flared. Like racehorses coming out of a chute, they were off! I got chills, my jaw dropped and in a low voice I told them to run.
As always, we made our rounds to the familiar meadows but most were empty of horses. We did see some mule deer heads peek around tree trunks. Signs of elk were everywhere and Jackrabbits scurried and ducked under bramble. Instead, fancy RV's made their home in the meadows and ATV's were all lined up. Bow hunting season would begin tomorrow. There is a healthy and thriving elk herd on that mountain. We've seen them all summer, bounding through the woods and we've heard their wild sounds echoing through the trees.
But, wouldn't you know it. We found a couple of jewels in main meadow. A young boy, either the son or brother of Ghost. So many of the horses have the same look. Like they're all related. They sport that spanish blood. That roman nose. The predominantly charcoal grey and white face. Coal was there, too. He's always been a favorite of mine. He's lean and shiny black with the perfect white blaze and gentle eyes.
Further down the road we stopped to make some tailgate coffee. Strolling and sipping we came upon a lone palomino, full of caution and curiosity. I was reminded of Pony Boy. That palomino paint that was so often alone. That boy we don't see anymore. Where's Pony Boy?
It wasn't long before we got to hang out with The Lucky Black Stallion and his mares, and the young 'uns Flaxen and Mocha. Those babes grew! Just two weeks ago they looked like newborns, fumbling and carefree, running all over the place. I wonder if they know how lucky they are to live on Magic Mountain?
Nearing dusk, we started making our way down the mountain and I looked to the west and shouted "Horses!" C is used to me shouting and carrying on when I get excited and fired up about mustangs. Afterall, there is a side to me that is spirited and high strung, like some horses, and he figures it just goes with the territory.
Down at the base of the mountain about a mile in the distance was a herd of tobiano paint mustangs! Approximately 10 of them. They were lovely. All of them with beautiful patches of brown and white. My little 10 year old niece, Shelby, had just sent me a picture she had drawn, of a wild paint horse. It was titled 'Patches: The Wild One'. How did she know I would soon have the pleasure of seeing these fine painted ponies?
Maybe one day she will get the chance to see Patches for herself, in person. I'll make sure of that.