Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Summer has now passed and it was a story-board of the high desert prairie with temps near 100 on a daily basis. HOT DRY with all physical hard work. Not the stuff that tourism is made of. And not for the faint of heart. Our days begin around 6:30 (that is my day, I am the morning shift) and I feed Pasque Flower and Dulcena, Regal G, Hudson, Spirit, Shania, Ayashe, Dexie and some of mine (who are not on the range - Silhouette, Escalante and Rui). The hay is in big square bales, and is distributed by wheel barrow to individual feeders, which have been topic of many discussions in regard to convenience, functionality and friendliness. Discussions develop around each activity, whether it has to do with machinery or with animals. After breakfast riding and training. 4 saddle horses (some overweight, some barn sour, some a little lazy, some aloof and most yearning for attention and relating...are kept conditioned and advancing depending on their age and stage of training. 2 youngsters are being trained in hand. The obligatory and healing ride on the range is to check and fill the water tanks, visit and observe the herd and herd dynamics and possibly try to envision a chance to bring a horse in or release a horse out. RIDING IS BREATHING AND LIFE....we take our time, even if it is 100 degrees...


Last year I had hoped to train a yearling for the Ft. Worth Mustang Makeover but circumstances cancelled the project. Then in June came the HIGH PARK FIRE and I was glad not having a young mustang to take care of that was geared to compete in autumn. Nonetheless the fire had its effects on my home and neighborhood and led me to consider and contemplate my future in the Strawbale House, In Red Feather Lakes, with MUSTANG ECO TOURS and with the mustang issue at large.

With shortage of hay and a burned landscape the thought of mobility and flexibility gained momentum and I decided to rent the strawbale house and take the MUSTANG ECO TOUR on the road yet again. This time not to the BLACK HILLS WILD HORSE SANCTUARY but to a small 1000 acre upstart sanctuary in DEER TRAIL, south of Denver.

What attracted me was the OBJECTIVE of this particular PROJECT:
Similar to the Black Hills the sanctuary was to provide for horses that had been through a roundup.
Similar they were to be guaranteed a life of peace and space. And there was the goal of training and adoption. Similar also was the scenario of a man's wild horse dream now realized and continued and carried by a woman, that loved that man for his dream.

The particularity of this sanctuary: IT WAS A LOCAL COLORADO SANCTUARY FOR A LOCAL COLORADO HERD with LOCAL COLORADOANS engaging and caring. I could not think of anything that would make more sense, acknowledging that I CONSIDER THE MUSTANG NATURE'S RENEWABLE RESOURCE HORSE (provided, raised, educated and delivered at no charge) (we all know where the charges are - and that they are NOT with the horses on the range)

THIS IS THE SAND WASH BASIN HERD - and over 12 Sand Wash Basin horses call it home. There are currently over 410 mustangs on the 160 000 acres of HMA west of Maybell Colorado and over 60 foals were born in 2013. The death rate averages 7% and in cooperation with the HSUS and other volunteer organizations in the area the attempt is made to manage the herd with fertility control rather than roundups.

Whether or not we seek dialogue with the BLM or are pro PZP native, the care of the horses in the local arena (even though this is a federal institution) is close to my heart.

It is now over 3 months ago that I came to this facility owned and founded by Michelle Sander, who has dedicated the ranch to her late father, whose dream it was to have a sanctuary for wild horses. It is a beautiful near 1000 acre facility at the very northeast corner of the Black Forest in Eastern Colorado. Currently 27 horses call it their home.  A set-back is the rather remote location of the Ranch and the fact that it is not home to the owner/operator. Since 3 months I have fed and cared for the horses in the corrals and also watched over those on the range. Together with 2 young Californians (Giulia and Nicholas) and several highly appreciated visitor volunteers, we have ridden and trained, cared for and treated, cleaned the range and removed 1000s of feet of barbed wire, and consecutive t-posts from Cross fences, experimented with feeding and rotation and dealt with weather, wildlife and not so wild life.

Here are a couple of pics:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

2013 - February: BLOG out of fashion

Blogs seem to have lost some of their immediacy and attraction. But when Facebook fails blogs come in handy again. So for the start of 2013 a small update.

ERICH PROELL (docu film in austria) and his 3 mustangs
 The austrian Television aired a 3 part series on the american Mustang by Film maker Erich Proell, who  adopted 3 mustangs after the Wyoming White Mountain Roundup in 2011 and consequently exported them after the adoption year to Austria
My mustangs (Coppersmith and Aragon here) continue to flourish and learn
I have continued to train and condition my 7 horses, even though there is no plan to undertake any expedition, since I will be headed to the Black Hills Wild Horse sanctuary again in the summer.

The Abenteuerreiter Guenter Wamser and Sonja Endlweber are still continuing their ride on their mustangs after 5 years not in ALASKA

The Mustang Heritage Foundation has introduced the Mustang Million and set an adoption goal of 1000 mustangs for 2013.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


 Arriving at Beaver Meadows on Thursday Sept. 20th, we were the only campers and the pair of Moose cow and bull were quite the surprise for Aragon and I. Their slow motion movements have affixiating qualities...I was wondering whether I would be well served to put a bell on the horse at night. But I did choose not to expose him to that.

The next day things looked just as sunny and glorious. The little creek running by the campsite and temps dropping below freezing made for a serene night experience. Then the cappucino with the rising sun was marvellous.

For over 10 years I have been a member of the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, an associate volunteer organization for the Forest Service. My patrols extend through most of the Roosevelt National Forest here in Northern Colorado. The mounted patrol contentrates on highly traveled and used trails and we maintain communication between the Forest Service and the participating public. The work in the following years will shift to focus on burn and beetle kill. The land has suffered and a renewal has begun. Here are some images of our last 4 day camping trip and some of the grandiose fall riding.

Yes, the Toyota Landcruiser pulls the 32 foot airstream no problem...
Christine Churchill riding Aragon, Gabriele on board Coppersmith#900

Friday, August 24, 2012


August 13, the day the wall was built in Berlin (1961) and now August 13, 2012...Things to do b4 you turn 60...Have your WILDfire, train a mustang for the Extreme Mustang Makeover, raise 7 Mustangs...Here are a couple of pictures from the gathering of friends that helped with the restoration of body land and soul disrupted by a powerful and quite destructive fire.
Strawbale house - the fortress - with wonderful sunset light...
It took 2 month for the land to look like this. And it looks similar inside the hearts of the people and animals that lived here...and or still live here.
Streamers and the unbearable lightness of being...(Photo Linda Bell)
 Thank you to my friends for celebrating and restoring. Stranger than paradise, indeed....

Reminders of our fragility

Linda Gresham Hanick (thank you for the photos)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

EMERALD ISLE after the fire - the GREEN...

It is about a month since the fire in the 12th filing...Two weeks after the fire the GREEN returned and the MEADOW looks like EMERALD, the Coppersmith is in 7th heaven and every day is amazing. Then the rains came, some people say, one month too late. I say: NOT SO, absolutely accepting what happened and embracing this wonderful event.

It has become quiet in the mountain, the sounds are of wind and animals and some vehicles, but much less.

Looking onto the POUDRE the fire coming up the gulch in short order burning down 60 buildings and acres of trees and green.


Sunday, July 8, 2012


I will remember. Let the beauty of what you love be what you do...(RUMI)


What is it that I love.? ICELAND? ORKNEY>>>NORTHERN LIGHTS

CAMP LE JUNE - the mustang camp at the sheep barn

And then at one point it is TIME TO LEAVE. And the 7 mustangs and I (plus the little cat) moved to the 70 acre pasture by the sheepbarn. (owned by a very generous and beautiful person) and then there was room to MOURN with VIGOR: for the little beloved dog, for the fire goods and for the ones who were less fortunate.


The beautiful airstream always ready to save me from peril

Camp le June...three fires, Carlos Castaneda....

...how peculiar that the strawbale house stands amidst charred trees, shrub, houses and roads... I built a house of straw on a foundation of sand (the biblical no-no)...and three little pigs...Not even a kiss of the fire - not even the odor of ash...just black charr around as far as the eye can see. Phoenix out of the ashes during the year of the dragon...The trees have burned the animals have suffered tremendous loss, they say next year will be an explosion of wildflowers....the Strawbale House, "Don't your horses eat it?" the one that no one wanted to insure, stands solemn in a black and white and wilted neighborhood.. Did I mention that the STRAW-berries also survived and the Bed-STRAW...I am reverend...This was the THIRD fire in golden June of 2012...Hewlett Gulch started late May, then the Stuart Hole fire in Cherokee Park, the back to the POUDRE an the High Park Fire got the fuel and zunder it needed to burn 89 000 acres....June 9th to the end...my story is only a small and relatively harmless account. What I remember most is the constant hauling of horses, from here to Bonner Peak to evacuate there down to Wellington back to here and then around again.

I also remember the strange evening walks with neighbors and friends, and the strange migration of deer and insects...the smell - the life on hold...the thoughts of essential packing.

I will never forget INCIWEB.ORG and the intense search for indicators that the wind, the weather, the watergods would turn the course of events.

This was just the beginning, then the Pre-Evacs started followed by the EVACS, the reverse 911, the collecting of personal belongings..And then on the 23rd, after several SPOT fires and successful jumps across the POUDRE with extreme heat and wind combined Stephens Gulch and Sheep Mountain gave out, the slash pile was lined up and the containment lines, dozer paths and contingency lines accelerated the flames into the 12th filing with heat and speed exceeding the capacity of any fire fighting technology (?) and burned so hot that 20 minutes consumed over 60 houses and charred the landscape with holes burning out roots several feet deep.
There was a life-stream helicopter which allowed us to view and take Screenshots as the fire burned...
Note the only green circle left center is where my mustangs grazed a pasture. The fire did not want to cross the fence into the grazed area. This house was saved.
Note again the triangualar shaped green spot top center of pic is my pasture and house, grass not burned and house safed. Most other building sites visible here were destroyed. On the lower left the dozer line and the contingency lines held the fire away from the other filings.
THE STRAWBALE HOUSE on June 23rd 5pm. As seen on the denverchannel from the helicopter livestream of the fire as it swept through the 12th filing in 20 minutes. Smoke still rising from the house or the tree. At that point I did not know whether this was still burning or not.
Coming closer to my friends and neighbors houses.
House, garage and rock garden... Just a day before my "Equine Mower Ruigoord, the Icelandic" had done his best for fire mitigation eating his little heart out on the high grasses of her leachfield...This burned so hot and fast that more than a week later when we were allowed escorted to inspect our rubble every little item was still burning hot to the touch.
Hovering helicopter siphoning water from riddle lake by the western Ridge...
The Final Countdown. You can see that the black line kept its promise to some extent. The fire consumed the 12th filing with little distraction.
This is my beautiful neighborhood with 74E (Redfeather Lakes Rd in the foreground). You can see the charred hills and then the dozer line on the left middle. The 12th filing is but gone, good to remember though, that the fireseason has just started and what is burned will not easily burn again.