A Sweltering Summer

January 5, 2012

The summer months had unusually high temps and very thick humidity that hung heavy in the air.  I was half tempted to get a spoon and scoop it up, it was that thick.  Our small herd found themselves tucked into the dark recesses of the barn to get away from the swarms of horse flies and the oppressive heat.  Abi has never been able to stand having a horse fly on her.  But when she does have one on her, she runs to us, knowing we will take care of the horse fly that is tormenting her.  I have to admit that it’s a bit daunting to have 1400 pounds on 4 hooves come flying at me!  But she does stop in time and present the horse fly to us for easy removal.   We typically put a commercial fly spray on all of our horses in the summer.  But there was an unusually large amount of horse flies this summer.  Image learned very early on to come right to us so we could remove the vile offender from him.  He was very polite in his manner about this.  It took Ember a little longer to reach out for help with the nasty horse flies.  I saw one on her mane and quickly and quietly caught it in my hand.  I made sure it was dead before presenting it to her to see and smell.  That seemed to be all it took for her to come right to us with her horse fly woes.

We did not work on much training or games with the horses since it was so hot.  It didn’t take much effort to start perspiring heavily.  If we were miserable, we assumed the horses were too.  We still played plenty of ‘friendly’ games though.

I found that every time I went out to the pasture to hang out with the horses, that Ember would leave my side as soon as our herd alpha, Abi, came up to us.  I decided I needed to move Abi off so Ember would be more comfortable by my side.  I started to move Abi off with steady pressure on her fore-quarters.  Just as soon I moved her off, she came right back.  So we played this game over several days.  Each time we played this, Ember stayed a little closer to me each time.  And by about the 7th day of this dance, all I had to do was push the air around Abi for her to move off and stay at a polite distance from me and Ember.  Abi needed to realize that I am one of her leader’s.  And more importantly, Ember needed to see that Abi understood that too.  So I had to show Ember that I am the leader of all of them for her to be completely comfortable standing by my side when Abi is around.  I had plenty of opportunities to show this to Ember during the summer.  Since Ember has the lowest ranking in her herd, I ended up doing this with both Image and Lady Gray as well.

Even though Touchy, our 30+ year old, just wanted to be left alone from the other horses, we found that she was craving our attention.  As her vision in her remaining eye continues to plummet, she has lost a lot of her status among her herd.  In the barn yard, she shares the lowest ranking with Ember.  But out in the pasture, she can still hold her own.  It is impressive to see how Abi protects Touchy on a daily basis.  I see her putting herself between Touchy and the others quite frequently.  Touchy is much slower than the ‘young kids’, so Abi lingers behind to help Touchy find her way.  And I have watched her move off a stray dog that showed a little aggression toward Touchy in the pasture.  Her protective nature is really shining in her alpha status.

It was interesting to watch Image and Ember one afternoon as they crossed the creek to an area that has a little grazing and is landlocked by a neighbors fence.

Lady Gray wanted to follow them, but she is much more timid in randomly crossing the creek just ‘anywhere’.  She seems to want her footing a little more sure than what Image and Ember do.  But then Lady Gray was bred to race on a track, not to survive in a rugged Montana wilderness as Image and Ember were!  I watched as Lady Gray started to think through what she knew she had to do to get to the others.

She watched Image and Ember for a little while and then gathered her courage to cross the creek in an unknown area.  She inched toward the water and smelled it.

Then she took a tentative step in and found herself on the other side in no time!

 That wasn’t so bad.  Once she was there, Image came over to see her and have a chat with her.  Image still has an interesting relationship with Lady Gray.  His infatuation with her turned to fascination and then to domination.  Or at least he tried…..  She will take his advances only so long before she lets him know just how she feels with those hooves of hers.  I am not sure why Image continues to try to rule over her, since he is the one who ends up wearing the evidence of their ‘bickering’.

As the summer months wore on, the rain continued to fall.

We were able to get all of our cuttings of hay in, but it was a bit difficult finding 4 days in a row of dry weather.

As the summer months wore on, the rain continued to fall.  There were times when I didn’t think that Image was really a palomino.  He resembled more of a dirty brown roan/appy cross.  If there is such a thing!



  1. Wonderful blog and photos Deb!

  2. Love love love it, Deb! Love hearing and seeing about their interactions. 🙂

  3. Beautiful horses, thanks for sharing your great photos.

    • It’s certainly my pleasure sharing their beauty with you! Thank you!

  4. Love the pictures they look so happy!

  5. Absolutely beautiful horses + love the stories..

  6. Awesome!!!God bless the horses

  7. Gee he sure does look like Cloud! I’m so glad you adopted both Image and Ember and committed to giving them a great home!

    Please give them a little pat for me next time your out with them.

    • Thank you Margaret. I’ll be sure to give Image and Ember some extra lovin’.

  8. It is so green there!

  9. Its beautiful out there and a very pretty story.

    • Thank you Joan. We try to keep our horses in as natural an environment as we can.

  10. Beautiful. The horses seem very relaxed and very happy. Not to mention fat and shiny.

    • Thank you Christine. They have all settled in together quite nicely.

  11. Hi Deb, Happy New Year, as always your photos are lovely. What a great place you have for your horses, love the pond. Your last photo both horses look so relaxed, and happy, oh yes, clean as a can be. Looking forward to seeing you at the 2012 shows.

    • Thank you Denise! Happy New Year to you as well! See you in a couple of months at EA!

  12. Deb: Awesome, what respite, reading about your wonderful herd. As I read the stories I wonder if I had an alter-ego in Abi! (kinda funny) You are the best! Karen

    • Thank you Karen. You crack me up! You will have to come down and meet Abi, your alter-ego! She is a real sweetheart!

  13. Thank you so much for keeping us up dated on Image and Ember. They were really lucky to get a home with you. Looking forward to more posts. Happy New Year.

    • Thank you Karen. I hope to keep up with this web journal a little better than I have been. Happy New Year to you as well!

  14. EEeewwww! Did you really kill a horsefly with your bare hands!

    That photo of Ember and the rainbow is so evocative of the wild ranges from whence she came. . . her coat color is a banner of her past, and brings the wild to us through this visual cue, like music evokes places and memories through our hearing.

    There can be no mistaking her origin in this photo as far as I am concerned (other horse experts on color may not agree, but to me, this says it all).

    Image does really have so many of Cloud’s features — I didn’t think he would ever get over that cuddly teddy bear look. . . he has Cloud’s slightly dish nose, too.

    • Oh Janet….. Between Terry and I, we probably squashed several hundred horse flies with our bare hands over the summer. They were horrible. They have these razor sharp teeth-like things (my fly terminology leaves a lot to be desired!) and they just kind of zigzag them into the horses skin cutting them open to get to their blood. Knowing the torment and torture they cause, I had NO qualms about squashing them.

      Embers coloring is truly exotic. She is a true sweetheart.

      Image definitely displays characteristics just like his grandfather Cloud! Even though he is growing up he still has a very playful fun side of him that is just adorable.

      Even though I know they should have never been removed from their Montana wilderness home, I can’t imagine my life without them….. We try to give our horses the most natural environment that we can.

      Thank you,

  15. You have such a beautiful group of horses and I love reading your blog about them! Image and Ember are so grown up now too! It seems that Image has inherited the same persistant and determination characteristics from Cloud and is now determind to win over Lady Grey. Perhaps it’s a learned behavior from the time they got to spend together on the mountain. Ember is absolutely stunning in the picture with the rainbow in the background! It’s hard to believe that thin line is all that’s left of the mountain lion attack. And how she healed completely in the wild without any human intervention. These wild horses were truely bred to survive.

    • Thank you Sarah!

      Image certainly is determined to win over Lady Gray, but will he? Stay tuned for an interesting turn of events….

      Ember is amazing. She has so much spunk and sass in her! Although her physical scar is small, she does carry some residual emotional trauma from the mountain lion attack. It has taken us a long time to earn her trust and she is very much aware of all of her surroundings. We are trying to help her become more settled in dealing with ‘scary’ things.


  16. You have a very lovely spirit. Thank you for taking us on this exquisite journey with you.You are a very talented photographer. I am a photographer too and really enjoyed your story telling and the composition of your photos. Thanks again for sharing!

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