Tracking the horses in a roundup year is difficult when you don't plan to buy any at the sale, but this year was particularly emotional knowing we did plan to take some home. I didn't want to get attached to any one for fear the youngster may not make it until fall with all the perils in the park. Then there was the worry that they might be injured during the roundup or at the sales barn. I tried to keep an open mind, not deciding on any particular horses until I knew they were safe, but it didn't work. We had decided we could take as many as four if need be, but would definitely want as least two so that we would each have a backup for the horses we ride for the tracking.
By mid-summer I had a few favorites. The first to snuggle his way into my heart was Marquis. I had always loved his sire, High Star, and his dam, Pale Lady. Little Marquis was just too cute with his wispy soft dun color and noble blaze. He was well built and fine featured like his sire and though not representative of the characteristic colors of the park, I could see him fitting in just fine in our pasture. In order to keep him company he needed a brother from the same band. His full brother, Sage, had always been a favorite of mine, but I didn't think we had the skills to deal with a two year old stallion. The yearling, Hawk, had caught my eye as well. Yearlings are notoriously homely and Hawk was no exception, but he had an unusual bay roan coat, the characteristic bald face, and a flashing blue eye. He's the kind of color people either love or hate; I grew to love him.
I had always thought I would like to have a foal from Thunder's band. He is powerful, one of the larger stallions in the park, short coupled, and nicely balanced. He had two nice colts from last year, but we already had a yearling on the wish list, so wondered what he might have this year. His is one of the most illusive bands, claiming their territory on the bottoms west of the far eastern rim, but finally, at the end of June, we saw the band from Buck Hill and watched them with the scope as they climbed the butte onto the flats on the east side of the park. Could we get there to see them before dark? We had to try since we could make out the form of a very small foal with them. We got to the east side just as the sun was setting, but it was light enough to see the band and get a few shots as they swirled around us in the near darkness. There was the foal with Rain, a tiny dark colt with a large round star perfectly placed in the middle of his forehead. Henry and I had been caught in a rain storm and hailed on the day before. The colt's sire was Thunder Cloud and his dam was Rain; he had to be Hail!
We didn't see Hail again until the end of September. Fortunately for us, they were on Lindbo Flats with dozens of others. Again is was nearing sunset, but it was unseasonably warm and quiet. Red Face and Singlefoot were off to the east, but Blaze and several bachelors were near the fence where we slid under to get a better look. Thunder eyed us cautiously from a small butte a few hundred yards to the south as we enjoyed the antics of the bachelors. Finally, determining we we no threat to him and his family, Thunder paraded them right to us. We watched as he sparred with a couple bachelors with his son, Clipper, closely following him. I marveled at the chance to see Thunder so close, and along with him, little Hail, three months old and stunningly beautiful! His dark coat had turned to blue, just like his daddy's and his legs were long and strait. He went to the top of the list with Marquis.
With Blaze was little Talkington, also a handsome blue roan. He would be smaller than Hail, but a good match for color. The thought of a team of blues crossed my mind. I also loved little Griggs from Red Face's band. He was an adorable bay roan with an engaging temperament. When High Star unexpectedly disappeared, my thoughts went back to his band and little Barnhart, another blue roan with a tiny star. I would have to see them come in and make my final decisions then.
At the roundup, we were successful in bringing in all the mares and foals; that is, all but Pale Lady and Marquis. Pale Lady slipped away from the choppers when they brought in the rest of her band. Though they were just south of the handling facility when the last run was made, it was too rainy to see them and they were missed again. It was meant to be that Marquis would stay in the park. One day he will be a strong band sire like his father and brother.
All the others came in safe and strong. Since there were so many people coming to buy, we decided to buy two or three. Hail, Hawk, and Talkington were on the list. My friends were there to support us and had agreed to bid for me, since I was to be up in the box with the auctioneers, still IDing horses. At first I told Joan to buy them for whatever it took. It didn't take long to realize I was being foolish; I had Henry give her a limit. The foals were first and bringing unbelievable prices. I swallowed hard as Hail entered the ring. Joan bid like a pro. I could just see her over the head of one of the auctioneers. The bidding was lively and the price crept up. It was up to my limit; I nodded to Joan to keep bidding. Crazy or not, I wanted that colt. Joan made another bid with my nod; the auctioneer went on and on begging for another bid. Enough, enough, I cried to myself as he seemed to try too hard to outbid me, but Joan had prevailed and Hail was mine! Takington was next; I had fallen in love with the little tyke when he stood so quietly to have his blood drawn for the Coggins test. Again the price crept up and up. I knew Hawk was waiting with the other yearlings. I really wanted him too. I finally let Talkington go. I didn't know who was bidding at the time, but found out later that a very nice lady from MN had bought him and would give him a wonderful home.
Hawk was next. For all his wild looks, he was handsome and proud. Though he was extremely frightened, he kept his cool in that noisy foreign place. Joan was watching as the bidding started, but didn't want to seem too eager, so hung back a bit. My other friend jabbed her in the ribs with an elbow, thinking she was preoccupied and missing out on the colt. Joan nonchalantly lifted her number. Up and up the bid climbed, but stopped below my limit. The other colt I wanted so badly was mine. Now I could relax.
Now with only two boys, I could take my time with them and spend more time with Whisper, the filly. I would not feel the pressure to sell her too soon. As it turned out, we are keeping sweet little Griggs for a friend, so he is Hail's new buddy. The training will be fun!