A new home for Image and Ember

October 23, 2009

Every time I go to the Pryor Mountains it is an experience unique unto itself, filled with new challenges, inspiration and much joy. My trek up to the top of the Pryor Mountains the summer of 2008 was no different. The only way to the top was on the rugged bone jarring road called Burnt Timber. Climbing rock after rock in 4WD low, we slowly made our way to the top of the mountain. As we reached the point where Burnt Timber meets Sykes Ridge Road, we could see some horses over on Cloud’s Island. As excitement filled us, we started hiking out to the horses. We soon came upon Cloud and his beautiful band. The closer we got we could see a miniature version of Cloud! A little white fluff-ball with legs, he couldn’t have been more than a month old! Image soon stole my heart as I watched him snoozing in the wildflowers.

Image enjoying a mid morning snooze

Image enjoying a mid morning snooze

Dancer and Image

Dancer and Image

Another little one in Cloud’s band was Firestorm’s daughter Ember. As I got a closer look at her, I could see she had a horribly long wound on her right shoulder. The only thing I could think that would make a wound like that was a mountain lion. Oh, poor baby, my heart melted for her. The wound was big and she was such a little thing. Was there any way her wound would heal? Would she make it through the coming winter months? Would she even survive the coming night? Thoughts of the mountain lion coming back for more gave me chills. I had little hope that she would make it through the harsh winter to come.

Ember with her mom Firestorm and Image with his mom Dancer

Ember with her mom Firestorm and Image with his mom Dancer

Firestorm and Ember

Firestorm and Ember

As we spent that week up on the Pryor Mountains, we faced many challenges. The raging storms kept the roads very slick and virtually impossible to drive on. The hail storms kept us tucked inside of Penn’s Cabin and very thankful for the shelter it provided.

Two Boots and his band greet us at Penn's Cabin

Two Boots and his band greet us at Penn's Cabin

The following summer I once again made that long drive out to the Pryor Mountains to spend time with the wild horses that had captured my heart. The horses were not hard to find. They were right on the road! We soon found Cloud and his band. Image looked a little small for his age and little thin, but seemed to be doing very well.

Image and Cloud

Image and Cloud

Image among the lupines

Image among the lupines

A little later we found Ember’s mom Firestorm with Jackson’s band. To my amazement Ember was with them! She had survived the winter and she looked fabulous. I was amazed at how well she had healed from her mountain lion attack. There wasn’t a scar on her! She is a true survivor.



When Image and Ember were to be permanently removed from the only home they ever knew, my husband Terry and I decided to give them a place to live with us and our other 3 horses on our farm in Ohio. I would have preferred they stay in the wild with their families on their mountain top home, but since that was not an option, we will try to give them the next best thing. I was a little surprised at how much weight Image had lost between the round up and the time of the adoption. I am hopeful that with a lot of TLC, we can bring him back up to good health.

A huge thank you to Cheryl for taking such great care of these 2 youngsters until my schedule cleared so we could head out west to pick them up. When we arrived at Cheryl’s ranch, I could already see a huge difference in Image. In Cheryl’s care, he had gained a good bit of weight. Even though it was only mid October, Image and Ember had a good start on their winter coats. Our horses had only just begun to grow their thicker hair for winter. As soon as we got back home, Terry put our girls, Touchy, Abi and Shy Ann, in the back pasture so we could get Image and Ember into the corral without too much drama. Our girls could see the new kids and called out to them. Ember gave a return high pitched greeting. We let the kids get acclimated a bit before letting our girls back over to the barnyard where the corral is.

Ember and Image at their new home

Ember and Image at their new home

Image immediately allowed us to touch him all over and seems to crave our affection and attention. Ember is a little more wary and would only allow me the barest of touches when she ate hay out of my hand. She is definitely more interested in socializing with our older girls than with us. Image took one look at our older girls when they came back over and was clearly unimpressed as he went back to eating his hay.

Image on his first day on our farm in Ohio.

Image on his first day on our farm in Ohio.

Ember allowing only the barest of touches on her first day with us

Ember allowing only the barest of touches on her first day with us

Ember socializing with Shy Ann and Touchy

Ember socializing with Shy Ann and Touchy

We are hopeful that Image and Ember will come to love our little piece of heaven here on earth as much as we do. It has been a wonderful start to this new chapter in all of our lives.



  1. OMG! This is so wonderful to know a little about you and how Image and Ember are. I wish you the very best with them and hope you will continue to update us with how they are doing.

    Please give them both a big petting from me. I know that it might be a bit frightening to Ember so you might have to put that on hold for a while. That’s okay. Maybe you can start a “petting credit jar” to make sure you get them all in when Ember’s a bit more relaxed about having human friends.

    • Thank you Margaret. They are a true joy. Ember will come around, in her own time. Ember is definitely more in tune to her environment than Image is. I am certain it comes from her attack from the mountain lion. Image is in tune to who feeds him! I’ll be sure to give them both some extra loving for you. Image lets me kiss him. I have to sneak kisses with Ember.

    • Thank you, thank you , thank you Deb and Terry for doing what we all wish we could. Since they were ripped from their home and freedom. You have given them a soft place to land, unlike so many others that stay years in their concentration camps before ultimately winding up in heaven. We are a private sanctuary for abused and forgotten equine, our field is overflowing and have no more room. I pray someday we are able to save a mustang and burro in the 3 strike corral. God bless you and your rainbow bridge. God bless Ember and Image, two horses that have touched all our hearts thru Cloud and Ginger

  2. Deb, Isn’t it funny how this worked out? Lucky, fateful, things happen for a reason, all that. Good luck, all of you. Mar

    • Hi Mar,
      Thank you. I know that this is all a part of God’s plan. He was planting seeds back in 2003, our first trip to the Pryors when Image’s mom Dancer was just a couple of months old. She stole our hearts. And now God has made the way for us to take care of these 2 youngsters. We will do our best to make sure they both have a great life. I would have preferred they have their true freedom on the mountain though. It is breaking my heart to see so many of our wild horses being ripped from their homes, from their freedom. So we must keep on writing those letters, making those phones calls and getting people to listen to our voice, the only voice these horses have.


  3. Wow, that’s interesting that Image let you touch him all over immediately. Did they do some gentling at your friend’s ranch? Was Image left as a colt, too, or was he gelded before adoption?

    • Hi Christine,
      Yes, Cheryl was able to touch Image as she was feeding him. And that certainly helped us when it was time to load him and Ember into the trailer to bring them home. He is a little needy right now and I think that is why he is craving the attention so much. He is just a sweetheart. He has not been gelded yet. We will probably have that done by mid November.

  4. Deb, thank you so much for the update, I am going out to the Pryors for the 1st time next summer, I can hardly wait to see these horses in their home,
    take care and good luck to you and your beautiful horses,

    • Hi Jan,
      Thank you so much. You will LOVE the Pryors. Make sure you have a 4WD vehicle. I wasn’t kidding about the road! It is just stunning up on the mountain. The horses, the wildflowers, the mountain, well EVERYTHING – is just gorgeous!

      • Should we(me and my sister) try and drive it ourselves or go on the Pryor Mountain Horse center tour? Where is and how do you stay at that cabin?
        Thanks for any information you can give! I haven’t been out west in many years, I can’t wait to go!

        • Hi Jan,
          I’ll send you an email with more specifics on the roads, how to get there, etc.




    • Hi Cindy,
      I am hopeful that with more public awareness of how the BLM treats our wild horses and burros, they will have to be held accountable for their actions.

  6. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos. It’s the closest some of us may ever get to being there. I find it ironic that Ember had a mountain lion caused injury. I guess according to the BLM she was attacked by a ghost! It’s mystifying how some people can look at such beautiful creatures and consider them a mere nuisance.

    • Thank you T.A.

      I am not sure why the BLM will not recognize that the mountain lions are there and they are quite real! It is absurd that they, the BLM, is blaming poor quality of milk as the reason some of the babies died this summer. That is absurd! The Pryor horses are in great physical condition, as well as the range!

      The BLM will advocate the hunting of mountain lions, but will not recognize them as predators to these horses. If they would just put a stop to the hunting of mountain lions, the number of horses would stay balanced in a natural way. AND it would save the BLM from spending our hard earned tax dollars!


  7. These photos are unbelievably beautiful and reassuring. I’m SO glad Ember and Image are going to be with you – someone who loves and understands them.

    So many people seem to be totally without the ability to appreciate that horses are sentient, intelligent, beings with the ability to love and grieve just as humans do. Because horses don’t “talk,” doesn’t mean they don’t communicate – and far better than our jabbering. My beloved Indy and I can talk for hours with our bodies without having to say a word. Just because horses use body language instead of words, many never even realize their exquisite “conversations” even exist.

    Give Ember and Image a hug for me.

    • Hi Suzanne,
      Thank you for your kind words about my photography. Image and Ember have been amazing. And yes, you are right, horses have a beautiful way of communicating with each other and with us. They have a beautiful language and we as humans could stand to learn a few things from them. I’ve been giving them a lot of hugs and kisses. Ember made a huge breakthrough in facing her fears yesterday. I will write about that in my next entry.


      • I can’t wait to read all your upcoming “reports” on these two little gems. I think Image is a natural born “people horse.” ;o) He reminds me so much of my own palomino Morgan gelding, Indy.

        • Hi Suzanne,
          I am hoping to make another entry tonight. These two little gems are worth every moment spent with them. Image is truly a “people horse.” He has shown very little interest at all in our other horses. Whereas Ember is constantly talking to them.

  8. Hi Deb!

    I am delighted to hear that it was you that adopted Image & Ember! I too fell in love with them both during the summer of 2008 while visiting their magical mountain home. We were there in early July, and that particular trip is very emotional for me,as I had my Mother with me! (her first time on Pryor) We live in Texas so its quite a long trip too!

    CONGRATULAIONS and thank you for keeping them together! They were just adorable laying in the lupine!

    Please keep us posted.

    Kathy Weigand

    • Hi Kathy,

      Thank you so much! They are both so special. You know what it is like up on the mountain, so you know how bittersweet this is for us. In my heart, I yearn for them to be back up on the mountain. But we will do our best to give them a good home and a safe place to live.

  9. Just wondering if Image will be kept as a stallion? I know it would be hard but his genes are so rare and important.
    Thank you for giving him and Ember such a good home with lots of TLC.

    • Hi Barbara,

      It will be hard, we are going to geld Image. I have hope that the ROAM Act will pass and that this horrible treatment of our wild horses being ripped from their homes will stop. I am hopeful too that all of the Forest Service wild horses will be let back onto the range. I know that I am probably just wishful thinking, but I HAVE to keep that hope alive.

  10. hi Deb it is so great to hear an update of Ember and Image i hope you keep everyone updated about them also is Ember SantaFas daughter i know she came out of Firestorm i just wanted to know thank you for reporting this it is good to know that they went to a good home instead of to a slaughter house it brings tears of joy and also sadness joy because they are in a good home and sadness becuse Blm adopted them out and they where taken from there home in the mountains where they probably will never see again but it is good to know that they are in a good home also I would like to keep in contact with you my email is kmcclasky@yahoo.com

    • HI Kayla,

      This is incredibly bittersweet. As I have said in an earlier comment, I yearn for these two to be back on their mountain home. But that is not possible now. Yes, Ember is the daughter of Santa Fe and Firestorm. It is interesting that Cloud seemed to handpick Santa Fe. Other suiters came calling on Firestorm, but Cloud would only allow Sante Fe to get close to her.

  11. Deb- I too live in Ohio,(near Xenia). I’m relatively new to the plague of the BLM on our Mustangs. I was naive and uninformed about the destruction of our Mustang herds, but I am learning quickly. I lost my 25 year old gelding in March to colic, he was only half Mustang but he had a strength and way of going that made everybody stand up and notice him. Image and Ember are magnificent, seeing them in Ginger’s last Cloud saga, of course made me cry as well as angry. I firmly believe God has a plan for those two. Horses are resilient and adapt well to new situations as we know. I pray their sacrifice will help save others. Thank you so much for taking them in and sharing your love with them. I hope the rest of your herd has welcomed them home. God Bless- ohioKathy

    • Hi Kathy,

      I am so sorry about your loss.

      We must keep making phone calls, writing letters and emails to get ROAM passed. I am hopeful that this destruction will stop, but how many wild horses will we lose waiting for this to happen. So we must put pressure on those who are in power to make decisions.

      Image and Ember are such a joy. I’ll have more details in my Journal entry on how they are doing.

      Thank you,

  12. Thank you for sharing these amazing stories and photos! What was the trip back to Ohio like? Do you “drive straight through” or what? What is the experience like for the horses going that distance? Long forgotten by now, of course! Have a happy winter!

    • Hi Janet,
      We got to Cheryl’s house at first light Sunday morning to get the kids. Cheryl had done an amazing job in the short time she had them, getting them to eat hay out of her hand. And she was also able to work with Image in getting him used to people touching him. They were very easy to load: Image went in first with the promise of hay. He was a little nervous, but the promise of hay as his reward won out. Ember wasn’t so sure about it all. She made a trip around the round pen looking up at the surrounding hills as if she knew it would be the last she would see of them. She soon joined Image in the trailer and we were on our way.

      The trip back to Ohio started out with freezing rain while leaving Colorado and halfway through Kansas. Image and Ember did very well together in the stock trailer on the way home. We had plenty of hay for them and water, of course. Cheryl soaked some rags in lavender essential oils and tied them up all around the inside of the trailer. Lavender is very calming to all mammals. And I am sure that helped calm the kids down. As a matter of fact, I was wishing we had some of that lavender in the front of the truck with us as we drove in the freezing rain!

      We drove into Missouri, past Kansas City and stopped at a Pilot Station for a few hours of rest when our eyes started to sting and get sleepy that night. Terry layed down in the front portion of the stock trailer where we kept the hay to be near the horses. And I layed down in the front of the truck. We were prepared with our sleeping bags and blankets. After a few hours of shut-eye,not real sleep, we started back on the road. By this time it was raining and I drove the rest of the way across Missouri. We made it to St. Louis at the height of rush hour, but it really wasn’t all that bad. Once we got into Indiana, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. We made it back to our place in Ohio by 4:30 that afternoon with plenty of daylight left to get the kids unloaded and acclimated. They did amazingly well on the trip home.

      I don’t think I will ever forget that trip out and back to get the kids. I am hoping that the kids won’t remember any of it. I think it was easier on them because they were together. It would have been a long trip for just one of them to make alone. And they did really well together, being together. If that makes any sense.


      • If you are ever through here again without horses, please stop by if we are here. We are in STL. Is there an address I can send you our address and phone #??? It would be great for my husband and I (“older adults”) to meet you; we aren’t “horse people” but if you had time, it would be great!

        Thank you so much for the trip story! It is amazing how our angels look over us and protect us, no matter what! They teach us how to care for our animals, too!.

        Will be reading your blog and I already sent it to 3 of my family/friends!

        • Actually, we have a little barn (was 6 stall, now 4 stall, (with 1 holding “storage” furniture, etc.) appropriate for trained horses if you needed to use on your eastern – or western – travels with a trained horse who would stay in a box stall. At our stage of life, my better half feels it’s not the time to begin horse ownership, but we are right off 270 (north loop) and if you are crossing the country, it could be a stopping place. The fencing, while adequate for trained horses, doesn’t fit the criteria for mustangs, plus the “grass” is full of weeds; don’t know if horses would/could eat due to possible noxious weeds. . .(I am Mrs. worry wart).

          Anyway, ‘bye for now.

        • Thanks Janet,

          I’ll email you my email address. God’s Hand of protection was on us the entire trip. And He is still leading us as we are caring for these new ‘kids’.


  13. Deb, first time to your site. Thank you so much for sharing with us. We are and always will be caring about Ember and Image. At least some good images (pun) in light of this weeks news!

  14. Hi Deb,
    I had the pleasure of seeing Image in person last May, when I visited the Pryors. I have quite a few pictures of him and a cute video of him and Jasmine. I was thrilled to hear how he and Ember are doing and see how he has grown in a year. I’m glad he’s in a good home but think how stupid the BLM was to remove him as Cloud and Cloud’s mother Phoenix are the only palaminos on the range. I’m sure Image would have made a significant genetic contribution. Is he a gelding now?

    • Hi Donna,
      I am so glad you had the opportunity to see Image in the wild. He is such a special little guy. Actually there are 5 palomino’s on the Pryors now. Cloud, Bolder, Phoenix, Mariah and now Bolder has a new little palomino baby.


  15. I love that the horses are doing great… but Image is ruined by gelding him!!!! These lines need to be preserved not ended!!!!

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