Welcome to the blog by Marylu Weber

This blog contains dozens of posts and photos of the wild, feral horses from the park and some of the people involved with them. These horses are owned by the park and not managed by the BLM. To see most of the photos, scroll to the bottom of this page. To find earlier posts of interest go to Blog Archive on the right and follow this guide:

For some of the history of the horses and people involved:

Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Tom Tescher's Story
The Boicourts
The Roundup

The Sale

For some of the special horses' stories:
Fire's Story
Whisper's Story
Our Boys Come Home
Dancing with a Wild Horse
Whit's Story

The Dance Continues
Training Update

More Dancing with Hawk
More Training for Hawk
Bashful, the Steps of His Life

Post of Interest:
Four Stallion Fight
Hazards, Did I Mention Hazards?

Monday, November 30, 2009


More photos below of some training sessions

Monday, November 9, 2009


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!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

THE SALE, 2009

The adrenalin rush of the roundup was over and relief washed over us as we looked back on a very safe, successful roundup. Now it was time to concentrate on those animals who would be hauled to the sales barn in Dickinson and sold to the highest bidder. My friends and I had worked tirelessly to get the word out about these beautiful wild horses. I had been hearing from a lot of prospective buyers, and it seemed as if we were going to have a good crowd at the sales barn Friday, so there was nothing more we could do now but wait.

This sale would be different from those in the past. Now all the horses had names and those names would be the way the buyers who had seen our fliers, articles, and photos would know them. Thursday afternoon we were lucky enough to watch the horses come in and be unloaded. I prayed none of them would be injured here at this strange place. They all seemed to settle in very easily and were not alarmed as a few early arrivals tried to figure out which one matched the names they had picked out. By the next morning more people were pouring into the parking lot. Mike had filled in all the hip tag numbers with the appropriate horses and brought the sale lists that morning. Excited potential buyers moved from pen to pen spotting their favorites and discussing each one's potential in hushed tones. Some buyers were on the phone describing horses for others who could not be at the sale, but wanted to buy. Most of our group headed into the auction area early to get good seats. I would be up in the auctioneer's box so that I could identify those whose hip tags were either missing or too crumpled to read, so I had a little time to get my head together. Then the bidding began.

There were a few domestics sold first. Prices were low; a nice Quarter Horse foal went for $7.50. Then, the first TRNP foal came into the ring. It was Sheila, the pretty filly from Blaze and Little Brother's Girl. The bidding began, and as amazed murmurs rippled through the crowd, the bidding continued, bringing a respectable amount for the chestnut filly. As each weanling appeared, the bidding picked up. The auctioneers burst into giddy grins as the auction took on a festive nature. Cheers broke out as buyers won the baby they had hoped to buy. Badlands Bill, the beautiful red dun with a bald face and four high stockings, that I had predicted would bring the highest price, was finally won by our good friends for $1450. Several other foals brought very good prices with the weanlings averaging $361. The yearlings, lanky and thin, struggling to grow into their limbs, also sold very well, averaging over $200 each. The handsome blue roan, Full Moon, brought $575 from some more good friends from MN.

Two and three year old studs came next and experienced horsemen vied for the chance to gentle a young stallion, born in the wild and already testing his power among the bachelor bands. They too were going well until the blue gray two year old, Bashful, ran timidly into the ring. At first he froze when bombarded with all the light and noise in the auction ring. Another friend from ND had the bid and they were about to let him out, when a ring man pressured him too much. He stood to his hind legs and easily launched himself over the 6 foot, double ring fence into the seating; only his right hind leg hanging up on the fence prevented him from running headlong through the scattering crowd! Screams irrupted as frightened onlookers ran from the building. A quick thinking horseman jumped into the ring and wrapped the frightened horse's tail around the ring rail and another tied the hind leg to the rail with his own belt.

An older gentleman with a walker had been unlucky enough to be right in front of the horse when he cleared the fence with his entire front end. The man was under the frightened stallion as it pawed to be free of the biting fence. The man's wife and a brave cameraman were able to drag him to safety before he was mortally injured. Once the man was safely outside along with the majority of the crowd, the sales barn staff was able to deal with the horse, who was thrashing and raging at anything he could reach. A man's jacket, the chair the old man had been sitting on, anything he could get his teeth into was a target of the hurting stallion's wrath, since he could no longer run from his pain. Miraculously the men were able to sedate him, remove him from the fence, and walk him down the stairs and out the door to the freedom of a quieter place! He stood quietly, lost in the fog of the sedative, but relieved to be rid of the noise and the monster that had held his leg.

People milled around outside on the warm, sunny day, shaken and not sure what to do next. An ambulance came to take the injured, but alert man to the hospital. Thoughts of fresh ownership of horses were momentarily forgotten while prayers were said for the man and the horse. When both had been dealt with in a proper manner, the owner announced that the rest of the horses would be sold in the pens inside the barn where they had been waiting to enter the ring. Though it was announced that only buyers were to enter the barn, the alleyway was soon filled with the curious along with the serious buyers. Unfortunately, the young stallion's behavior had frightened off all but a few tough trainers and some horse traders. Prices dropped to under $100 on the last few horses. I had a lump in my throat as I indentified those older horses for the auctioneer, not knowing what would be the fate of these unsuspecting animals.

All were soon sold except Bashful, the groggy, bloodied two year old who had just been pushed more than his young mind could handle. What was to happen to him? Earlier, just before the auction had resumed, a tall young man , the son of my dear friends, whom I had known since he rode his little black pony with us in the badlands, slipped in beside me and said in a determined voice, "I want that horse!" Just as quickly, he slipped away into the crowd and I lost sight of him, but when the bidding started for Bashful, there he was; he bought the frightened young stallion. Bashful was safe!

To follow his progress, go to: http://ahorsenamedbashful.blogspot.com