Thursday, July 31, 2014
The 2nd Annual Reunion Ride will be based out of Sully Creek State Park just south of Medora, ND, September 5-7. Come join us for trail rides in the park and other activities. You don't need to be riding a North Dakota Badlands Horse, you don't even need a horse. Just come and meet others who love the horses from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Go to the Facebook page: North Dakota Badlands Horse for more information. Be sure to sign up for the event on that page.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
|Tracking in the snow|
The Sieben Four Adventure
By Marylu Weber
At one mile above sea-level, winter comes early to the Sieben Live Stock Company ranch nestled in the foothills of the Big Belt Mountains of Montana. The four wild young stallions that had been purchased from Theodore Roosevelt National Park had been gelded and kept together in a large corral separated from the ranch headquarters so they could adjust to ranch life gradually. They had plenty to eat and drink, but something in their hearts must have been drawing them back to the wild. One day in early winter while having lunch at Cooper Hibbard’s house, Iain Davis saw that Sage, Hawthorne, and Peace Pipe were on the wrong side of the fence around their corral. Tomahawk was still inside but running back and forth trying to figure out how the others had gained freedom. Iain watched as Tomahawk too jumped the narrow space between the wooden gate and the gatepost and all four galloped up the hill behind the corrals. When a couple of them dropped their heads to graze Iain hoped they would stay on the sunny slope about ¾ of a mile from the corral complex. With any luck he could somehow lure them back into the corrals, but the young horses had other ideas and within the hour disappeared over a high ridge into what was wild, rugged breaks filled with all sorts of wildlife, including bears and mountain lions.
Iain took two bales of good hay up the mountain to entice the horses back or maybe even catch them there. Hawthorne, always the tamer of the four, came with the others behind him. Iain was able to get within 100 yards of them, but it was too much pressure for the wilder horses and they all ran farther into the rough country. As more snow came Iain was able to track the horses but never get close to them. Several times he saw the tracks of mountain lions following the horses. Fascinated with the mountain lion tracks and how the dust from the barren areas the cat had walked on would drop off onto the snow tracks, Iain took his phone out and took a few pictures of the large tracks. As he crouched there in the snow, intrigued with the size of the tracks and the dust encircling each indentation from the cat’s pads, he noticed that the wind was quickly blowing the dust away. The cat must have been in that very spot only minutes earlier. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to be crouching in the snow so soon after the cat had passed that way; maybe he was being watched at that very moment. After all a pocket knife wasn't much of a weapon against a mountain lion. With the hair standing up on the back of his neck and being much more aware of possible hiding spots for the big cats, Iain hiked back out to the safety of the ranch, deciding the wild horses would have to fend for themselves or come back to the safety of the corrals on their own.
It was almost three months since the horses had run away to freedom. Efforts to bring them back were scrapped because of the weather and the difficulty in traversing the back country in winter. Would the ranchers ever see those four ungrateful equines again? They could travel for 100s of miles if they wanted to. Would they starve or become dinner for the mountain lions? It was anyone’s guess, but toward spring some hunters reported seeing horses not too far from the corral complex so this time Iain baited his corral with hay, a mare in heat, and later another gelding. The adventurous boys seemed to long for the company of the mare and her companion and gradually came back to the corral. Seeing that they were hanging around by the corrals Iain was able to sneak in, open the corral gate, run down the fence line, and hide so that he could close the gate again if he was lucky enough to have them go in. One by one the wary young horses entered the corral and went to eating the delicious hay. The adventure was over and, though a little thin, they had all survived winter blizzards, pawing through drifts for forage, eating snow for water, and the teeth of the big cats. It was no different than life in the Badlands of North Dakota to the four wild horses, but the cowboys on the ranch were not going to take any more chances, the four were separated and put with four groups of domestic saddle horses so that they were not drawn to the wild country any more.That was the end of their adventure, but not the end of their story.
|showing the size of this track|
|showing the dust in the track|
|The horses disappeared over the hills to the right.|
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
THE SIEBEN FOUR
By Marylu Weber
This story started in 2008 when Whit Hibbard, a fourth generation rancher and Low-Stress Livestock Handling Instructor, came to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to share his livestock handling knowledge with the staff of the park. I had been invited to that workshop and had the privilege of riding with Whit when he gathered and penned 10 of the wild TRNP horses. At that time, a young blue colt came up to him and sniffed his hand. I told him he had to buy that colt and Whit took the bait. (Read “Whit’s Story” on this blog) Whit has never regretted that decision and calls Teddy one of the best ranch horses he has ever ridden. Teddy is admired and coveted by all the horsemen of the ranch. Whit’s nephew, Cooper Hibbard, says of Teddy, “He’s like riding a dream!”
After the suggestion by Whit, it was Cooper’s decision whether or not to add four more North Dakota Badlands Horses to Sieben Live Stock Company’s cavey of ranch horses. Whit told me Cooper would be calling me, but as busy as a “CEO in training” of a large ranch can be, he didn't call me until the night before the sale. Based solely on Teddy and what his Uncle Whit had said about the TRNP horses, Cooper was willing to take a chance and buy four wild 2 or 3 year old stallions, sight unseen. Though I knew the horses well, I wasn’t feeling entirely comfortable picking prospective ranch horses from the 103 being sold. When I asked Cooper how he would get them home, he mentioned a hauler named Steve. Surprising Cooper that I knew of Steve, I told him I had talked to Steve on the phone earlier that summer and liked him immediately. Knowing he was a experienced horseman and a good judge of horses I enlisted his help in picking horses for Cooper. While looking at the horses in the pens, Steve asked me if I knew Billie Rase; Billie was a lifelong friend of mine and someone I had always loved and admired. It turned out that Steve was married to Billie’s niece. Any friend of Billie’s was a friend of mine, so now I trusted him implicitly with helping me pick horses! Steve graciously gave me his list of 5 stallions he thought would make good ranch horses based on conformation and attitude in the pens.
Without knowing it, Steve picked four sons of Sidekick: Sage, a two year old gray overo, and Peace Pipe, a three year old gray out of Snip’s Gray, Hawthorne, a two year old, and Guitar, a three year old, both roans out of Embers’ Girl. His fifth pick was a sharp minimal sorrel overo, Bandit, out of Dolly by Cocoa. These were favorites of mine too, so I would bid to try to purchase four of the five. I was able to win the bid on both Sage and Peace Pipe with Sage going a little high and Peace Pipe a little low. I was at even money when Hawthorne came in. The bids quickly rose over my allotted budget, but I really liked the 2 year old colt’s docile disposition, so kept bidding and won him at $200 over budget. I was not to be so lucky with Bandit; his coat still glistened and he was already showing a lot of muscular development. Soon, at $1400, the winning bid was far beyond my budget. The young lady sitting beside us at the sale had set her heart on buying Guitar and I was not about to deprive her of that handsome young roan, so I quickly went to Steve to see what he thought of 3 year old Tomahawk who was just about to come into the ring. Steve gave his approval and I was able to fill out the order of four horses with Tomahawk. Steve was going to haul the four to Billings, MT yet that night, rest them overnight, and meet Cooper in the morning. I was a little nervous that I had gone $250 over budget, and that Cooper had never seen the horses; I wondered what he would think of them. The next day, when we were almost back home to Rapid City, I received a call from Cooper. He said he was “blown away” at the quality of the horses and thanked me for buying them for the ranch. The four young stallions were moving on to another stage of their lives.
Cooper drove back to Cascade, MT with the four young horses that would one day be part of the cavey of saddle horses serving the large cattle and sheep ranch his great, great grandfather, Henry Sieben, had established in 1909. He was excited to show the horses to the other three horsemen who would each work with one of the young stallions, gentling it and training it under saddle. Upon seeing the four stallions, the other men were also impressed with the four and marveled at how well built they were for horses bred and raised without human intervention. Whit Hibbard’s wife, Felice, a horse enthusiast and rider since an early age, loved Whit’s Teddy. She said, if the new colts were a fraction as good as Teddy they would be great ranch horses. She had been studying the Phanfare.com photo files of sale horses and was excited to see that some of her favorites were among the ranch’s new horses; she admired the sturdy build, good bone, and large healthy feet of the wild ones.
The first order of business was to get the four young stallions gentle enough to be gelded. Each man was to pick one stallion to work with. Iain chose the young gray overo, Sage. Brice liked the way Tomahawk was built; he would one day look like his sire, Silver. Cooper had his choice of Peace Pipe, Hawthorne. He liked them both, but Hawthorne walked right up to him so he figured Hawthorne picked him. Brent was to train Peace Pipe. The three other colts were pretty easy to get the first halter on, but Tomahawk was not very trusting. He was finally caught, sedated, and all were gelded, then all four were turned out in a large paddock to heal and get accustomed to life on the Montana ranch.
|Bryce and Tomahawk|
|Brent and Peace Pipe|
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
As one of the members of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce that North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry has achieved federal tax-exempt status. With that status, we will be able to be more active in the goals of educating the public about Theodore Roosevelt National Park and it's horses, promoting, and protecting, and finding homes for the wild horses. We have a lot of exciting plans, so watch here and on our Facebook page: North Dakota Badlands Horse, for updates and announcements.
One of our projects is to make a Guide to all the horses of TRNP that people can buy and use to identify the horses when they visit the park. We will let you all know when that is available.
Happy Trails to you, and go visit the Park. You will not be disappointed!