Since I don't have a photo yet of Paddock, or Paddy for short, the last foal to introduce now is Buck, in Little Sorrel's band. He is another cute bay from the mare, Trouble's Girl. Since Grandma Roan lost her foal this year, he in the only one so far in that large band. He appears to be doing well, and I would expect him to roan like his mama and his older brother, Butte.
The Little Sorrel band has been interesting to watch as Little Sorrel ages and loses some of his youthful vigor. He has been successful in running off all his stud colts as they get old enough to challenge him except for the four year old, Cruiser, who is also one of Trouble's Girl's colts. Trouble's Girl is from the mare, Trouble, who was the thorn in The Chestnut's side, as she was always dragging her family away from his band to join other bands. Trouble's son, Double Trouble was also very hard for The Chestnut to chase away, as he would stay on the other side of his dam whenever The Chestnut tried to get near him.
Cruiser has been irritating Little Sorrel since last year. When we first located the band to do the behavior study, Little Sorrel had just run Cruiser off, but by the time we were done, he was back. The odd thing is that we have seen Little Sorrel leave Cruiser in charge at various times.
For an example, the second day we found the band by the old entrance to the park. At first we had not seen Cruiser. A blue roan stud that appeared from the east, turned out to be Shadow, one of Grandma Roan's stud colts. Shadow was taking his time to approach the band, so Little Sorrel had not yet seen him. About the time Little Sorrel saw Shadow, Cruiser reappeared. Little Sorrel left his band to Cruiser and went out to meet Shadow. We were prepared to witness a fight or at least a good chase, but what we saw puzzled and amused even Jason, the wild horse behavior expert the Park had brought in to train us. Little Sorrel went to meet Shadow, they pranced and circled in a show of strength, squealed and stomped at one another, and then Little Sorrel trotted off in the opposite direction from his band with Shadow following obediently behind. Little Sorrel led him across the valley, over the butte, and out of sight. (see series of photos below) We were not able to stay for the rest of the story, but we were determined to find out what would happen.
Later that day when we checked on them, Cruiser had claimed a mare, her two offspring, and a couple young stud colts. Not far away were Shadow and Granite's Boy, another young bachelor looking for trouble. On the last day of our visit we ran across Shadow with a mare and two young fillies. Yes, they were the ones Cruiser had claimed. Cruiser was back to hounding Little Sorrel. We left them in another game of "catch me if you can". It will be interesting to see the saga continue over the rest of the summer.
The last band we were to collect data on that trip was Mystery's. We had been seeing him and his three mares periodically throughout the six days of our visit. Looking for bands from the top of Buck Hill on the last day, Jan, our new friend and data collector from CO, saw Mystery with a new mare. She saw him mount the mare, but then they all dashed away toward the east end of the loop road. We had almost given up on finding them when I spotted them across the road to the east, just north of Talkington trail.
I was excited to see that the new mare was Lacey. I had not seen her since last summer when she disappeared from Embers' band. It was clear from her behavior that she was in estrus, but the curious thing was that whenever Mystery would show interest in her and come her way, the old mare, Gray Lady would threaten him or kick at him. We watched them for an hour and every time Lacey tried to approach Mystery or he showed interest in her, Gray Lady ran interference, herding her away. We had a good question for Jason, our trainer; how do we report harem tending by a mare?