I had decided early spring that it was time to make a trip to wild horse range areas throughout Colorado. Much of my traveling over the last couple of years had been through Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming to build a host of reference photos for future paintings. I hadn't been to the Sand Wash Basin in over 5 years, so it was time to revisit once again where it all started. The 'little red roan' vintage RV was packed and ready to roll and I had a full schedule of stops for the next 12 days of our trip. I invested in some much needed new camera gear, snake gators and plenty of 'range' ready drinks, bug repellant and more. Along the way we would be showcasing fine art originals, and playing some music. The truck and RV were loaded to the ceiling with all the gear, clothes, food, artwork etc.
We launched early the next morning making our way to Dalores where we would bunk for our first night. We pulled out the instruments and hit the center lawn surrounded by RV Campers and swatted mosquitoes while we strummed guitars and sung, its possible I inhaled more than one mosquito that evening, haha! Our following day we would be on the road making our way up the northwest cooridor of Colorado to make a stop at Spring Creek Basin HMA (Horse Management Area) I had done my homework in planning, and we met up with a facebook contact, TJ Holmes who has worked for 10 years along side of the BLM to manage this small herd of mustangs in this area. She is very knowledgeable and making great strides working in tandem with the BLM in preserving and protecting this herd. The terrain in Spring Creek Basin is very dry, but the long range views are beautiful that surround this small herd of wild mustangs. TJ also oversees a small wild horse sanctuary in Dissapointment Valley that borders the wild herd area, an affiliate of The Engler Canyon Ranch where I had released my two colonial spanish mustangs just a year ago.
We spent a good part of the morning photographing this small herd before hitting the road to make our way to Rangely Colorado where we would spend the night before hitting the West Douglas and Piceance HMA in search for more wild mustangs. We had a gorgeous sunset to cook under at the RV spot that night and the breeze was just wild enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay. We sorted through our gear to prep for the next morning and hit the bunk with an early wake up to hit the range.
The West Douglas and Piceance herd area terrain is almost impossible at times to find wild horses. With recent foals on the ground, the wild mustangs tend to find safe harbor in the tree lines and ridges and valleys. We spent a couple of hours driving with only finding a small band of bachelors at the highest peaks of the terrain. By noon, we made the decision to head back down the mountains and pack up and head out to the Sand Wash Basin.
We pulled the 'little red roan' into the Sand Wash Basin early afternoon. I think the truck stayed in low gear pretty much the entire drive until we hit the plains, haha! But we made it with a steady push northeast. As we drove through the Basin we left a trail of dust as we found our spot to set up camp. We were on a nice ridge line facing the sunset and before nightfall had a beautiful band making their way across the valley floor to one of the nearby watering holes. We decided to load our gear and hit one of the ponds, one of my favorites, Copper Springs' in hopes to catch some bands coming through before nightfall for water.
We weren't dissapointed on our first attempt out! As the sun began to set there were several bands a mile or so out, you could see dust trails across the range as the bands were making their way in. The sunlight hitting the dust made a perfect backdrop for photographing band after band as they approached. I got some great pics that night and by the time we made our drive back to the RV the sun was setting and the horizon was just gorgeous. I continued clicking the camera as a band was on the ridge on the horizon. It was a great evening and Karl was just thrilled as this was one of his first wild horse range trips. I sat in the dark that evening scrolling through pictures on the computer thrilled with what I had gotten just that night. I have a great season of painting coming this winter, with some really awesome reference photos to work with.
Being on 160,000 acres with well over 800 wild mustangs does something to you inside. Until you have spent the time in raw wild country its hard to understand the long term impact it can make on your emotions and drive. I am in my tenth year of traveling, photographing, painting and writing songs about the wild mustang. I have never bored of it, and I don't think I ever will.
I have lived over the last 10 years in a way to afford me the outdoor lifestyle and solice that comes with being on large land parcels surrounded by incredible views and wildlife, and of course my own horses as well to add to the landscape.
We spent the next two days hiking through knee high sage in hot summer temps. But we came across band after band across the vast landscape. I have always loved the SWB for the long range vistas, the flora and the colors in the soil from the mineral content that brings a richness to the land. Foaling season was pretty much over with just a few mares that looked as though they would foal yet. Normally the stallion activity slows down a bit as summer progresses, mares have foaled and the heat sets in. But I was thrilled to have captured numerous confrontations and 'dances' among stallions while on the range.
For the most part, the ranges all looked really well, there has been a lot of snowpack and moisture and its evident when you see the general health of the wild horses. They are round and full from plenty of forage and with this in mind, should fair well through the winter. Though with the SWB, there are concerns with water availabilty year round as wild horse advocates work to maintain springs in certain areas across the range. Another concern, the AML of this herd is far above its recommended number. With a rough count of more than 800 in this herd, it is nearly double. Bait trapping and PZP has not been consistant with this herd and the reproduction has caused the numbers to soar. Unsure where the fault lies in the mismanagement of this herd is unfortunate as there will be a gather and most of the recent years of foal crop removed with many of these wild horses ending up in feedlots for the remainder of their lives, or being deemed unadoptable and thus sold for less than $25 ending up at risk of being sent to slaughter. Its a serious problem with our wild horses. With proper management from the governing agency and advocate groups that work in tandem with the BLM these are problems that have answers. Where the neglect is pointed is hard to know, but it saddens me to know that a gather is inevitable for this herd. The last helicopter round up was well over 8 to 10 years ago, and it was brutal.
The wild horse management has many issues and controvercies that surround it. The mismanagement will cost the horses in the end. My hope is that advocate and nonprofit organizations can see the greater goal and work along side of the BLM, holding them accountable, but also supporting a good and fair work for the wild horses in the end.
As I filter through the 2500 photos taken on just this trip alone, I know that some of the wild horses I choose to paint, will not be on the range in years to come. I continue to hope and believe for the greater good to prevail, our western landscape is so grand, so vast, so beautiful...but without the wild mustang gracing it, its just land. The spirit of the wild mustang should have the right to lay claim to that which they have spent thousands of years on. One can hope....
We ended our 11 day Colorado tour in Livermore. We had a weekend of live music, wild mustang fine art, the little red roan vintage rv was on site and got alot of attention in the parking lot...along with, wild mustang demonstrations. I always enjoy the opportunity to share 'the life' I have created around the wild mustang, with a mix of travel, art, music and having my own four legged equine to come home to when the travels are over. Its an unconventional life full of adventure, and sometimes some pretty wild rides! But I am ever thankful and grateful for the opportunity to share my adventures, art, music and the legacy of our west, the wild mustang with each and every one of You!
As always the enthusiasm I experience when meeting people during my travels is a continuing confirmation to keep painting this rich part of our western heritage. As our world continues to turn and spin, the outcome for our land and wild is always at risk of surviving this ever growing planet. I would hope, we always make room for them.
Summer is swinging down, and with that, I will pack away my traveling gear and gear up for a productive winter of painting the wild mustangs, the lands, and the incredible skies that I have witnessed over the last several months. Spring will bring new work, new travels...but for now, its time to paint! Enjoy the slideshow of just a small portion of photos taken from Colorado ranges...and as always, you can always follow my shenanigans and posts of facebook on my personal page and the business page as well.
Our trip started out a little rough before we could even get down the driveway, I had misplaced my wallet (something that has never happened), the doorknob to the 'little red roan' decided to malfunction and not lock, and one of my cats, a special needs cat, had to have a bath to remove the knee deep cat litter off his legs twice before we closed the door to leave. Needless to say we were about an hour and a half behind schedule by the time we found my wallet. It was in my songwriting bag, why? Who knows, but at least it was found. And of course a stop to the hardware store for a new doorknob, and install the new one, and gas and ice. But finally, we pulled out of Las Vegas NM and hit the interstate towards Santa Fe in route to Sedona Arizona.
We made a stop at the 'La Posadada' Hotel for a quick walk thru, it is a sprawling historic hotel just off the railroad in Winslow Arizona. Between the Art, decor and the gardens it was captivating to the eye, and I hope to spend a night there in the future sometime. If you pass through Winslow, it's definitely worth the stop over! We never did find that girl in a flatbed Ford.
We chose to stay overnight at a little RV park in Joseph Arizona, it was quiet, cheap, clean and easy in and out for a quick stopover for the night before heading to Sedona for the Equus Film Festival by noon the next morning. I always love staying in 'the little red roan' with its cozy warm colors. This vintage RV has had a lot of renovations to make it comfortable and efficient for travel, as well as a nice piece of eye candy rolling down the highway with its exterior full of wild mustangs and diverse terrain and dramatic horizons. We always get a few honks and thumbs up while were rolling down the road ways.
As we got closer to Sedona, I was amazed at how green everything was! The desert was alive and blooming everywhere. We took Hwy 89A into Sedona through steep mountain terrain. The drive was beautiful and the little red roan handled the steep winding roads like a charm! The red and orange
butes and mesas were incredible. Its amazing to see how the terrain enabled any sense of community living, it's a flourishing community with homes and businesses scattered everywhere. Tourism is the main push in Sedona, and the streets were just full of people walking and shopping and enjoying the beautiful views and weather.
The Equus Film Festival was hosted for its 2nd year at the Mary D Fisher Theater. Located in the heart of Sedona and surrounded by beautiful vistas all around. We pulled in and set up for the weekend as a full weekend of equine related films were on the docket for the duration of our time there. I had a full selection of 'wild' Fine Art on display including well known 'Picasso' and 'Cobra'. We performed music on and off all weekend before each block of films began. I managed to put to music a new song Karl and I had been pickling with the last couple of months, that's always fun when the creativity flows while doing events. I finally got to see the full documentary film I participated in with the organization I have been a support to over the last 6 years, Thundering Hooves. 'Their Last Ride' was on the film list along with a host of other films, as well as meeting Gareth Lafferly and him joining with his flute on one of my songs, 'My Spirit Runs wild and Free', he has written and recorded the soundtrack for 'Their Last Ride', it was a pleasure meeting him as well as a host of others!
We left 'the little red roan' in the parking lot to attract folks to the Equus Film festival all weekend and were fortunate enough to stay for a few nights with a facebook friend that I hadn't met 'face to face' yet. Thats always a special part of traveling, meeting people that you know online, but never really met. We were hosted with a generous heart and I got to meet a mustang that I had done a portrait of earlier that winter. So a huge thanks to 'Pattie' for putting up with us for 3 days! I got up one morning to make coffee with her french press, not realizing it was plastic and her way of use was by adding boiling water to it...well, needless to say, I stuck it on the stovetop one morning with one eye open. Within about 10 minutes I smelled this horrible smell and smoke began gathering in the kitchen...to my surprise...I had melted her coffee press pot. I felt like an idiot, lol...but she was gracious and I am still on the hunt for a replacement for her. Hopefully she'll have us visit again in the future! Lol.
We left after the film festival for the Salt River. Located about two plus hours south of where we were staying, I had made RV overnight at Apache Lake in Arizona. Not knowing much about the Salt River area. It's amazing how fast you can learn things once you start getting into an area, talking and meeting folks. The drive to the lake was incredible. Forests of Saguaro cactus lined the roadsides and horizons, we made our way to the Roosevelt Dam to find ourselves on a 13 mile stretch of dirt road that was steep and winding, it was a bit unnerving at first, but after driving in and out a few times it didn't seem so bad, haha! The Lake was gorgeous, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves outside of some day use boaters as we managed to travel just before the big opening season just a couple of weeks away. The sunset was incredible, and sipping on our wine in the evening just made for a good rest and reprieve before the rest of our trip began. It's a good thing we had taken the road thru an area called 'Fish Creek' without the RV first. Its some of the roughest terrain I have ever seen. It reminded me of the old John Wayne western films with the stagecoaches rolling down these crazy mountain sides! Narrow one lane dirt roads climbing up with switchbacks and boulders cut into the road. With no side rails, shoulder and drop offs that took my breath away. I have been on some crazy roads before, but this one beat them all! After we drove it with the truck, we were thankful we decided not to haul the RV that morning over the canyon. We left Apache Lake with the tincan, the way we came in, lol!
Once in Apache Junction, we stayed at a scenic and off road convenient park, Usery National Park, they had hookups for water and electric for RV's, tent camping as well full of a variety of wild cacti, birds and shrubs. The mountain views were great and the park was just a really nice park with lots of privacy for campers. Price was right, and location just a few miles from the Salt River. We were set to go! We saw mustangs on the ridgeline as we pulled into the Salt River that afternoon, it was an encouraging sight to see in hopes of finding more the following day. I was amazed at the diverse mountain terrain and water that runs through this state. I know that it has its flat desert areas, but we drove for days through Arizona seeing Saguaros in full bloom, wildflowers, rich green growth and great horizon sunsets while there. It has been a wet year for Arizona as well as many states in the west, and it's evident as you see all the green and growth.
For the next two days we hiked the Salt River and outer layer areas and found lots of mustangs. Because of the amount of tourism on the water, these horses are very comfortable being around people. Those with foals were a bit more guarded, but still very much at ease with people nearby. A bit of stretch for me as I am used to seeing mustangs on open range. The mustangs are small in stature, it's a bit of controversy around their history on the Salt River, though the advocates are doing their homework to show they have resided on the river for generations as far back as the late 1800's. The river was low, but the water from the dams will be opened up with summer tourism coming, bringing the river to higher levels for tubing and water sports over the summer.
There was one stallion that I just fell in love with, You know how I love the roans! He was a strawberry roan with small band we first noticed across the river. He was stout and strong with a beautiful eye and build. We sat on the river in the mornings and the evenings watching the bands making their way down to the river before crossing and moving back into the cedar and saguaro forests. We could hear stallions in the forest fighting, we hiked out a bit but never could find them, all we seemed to do was chase their dust! Things were settled on the most part with the bands as most of the foals have arrived, though we did see several mares that had yet to foal.
We discovered that the 'Heber' mustangs were only a couple of hours away and on our way home. So we decided we would make the trip and stay an extra night in hopes to find some of them. The drive from the Salt River to the Sitgreaves National Forest was breathtaking. We were hit with hail and rain on the peaks as we made our way to the forest. We stopped at the Forest Service Office to inquire about the mustangs. I feel its important when we visit various rangelands, that we make a stop at the BLM and Forest Service offices, it's important they know that we have an interest in preserving our wild mustangs, and enjoying them on the range. We were given some good input by the Forest Service and made our way out with the little red roan to boondock in the forest for the night. One of the reasons to make this stop as well is the mustangs have been getting shot and killed in the forest. There has been no discovery of whom is doing this. But up to 19 have been killed to date over the last several months. This is a herd like the Salt River that was unprotected by the government and 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act. Only because of a group of general public has there been legislation to protect these herds.
We found our first band after we set up camp just a mile down the road. They were flighty and the band stallion was very leary watching our every move. The forest is thick with pines and lush floor of grasses. It's a gorgeous forest, but because of the terrain, and the flightyness of the mustangs they can be hard to find. We did find a few bands that were a little kinder to be seen, but still very cautious of humans. I appreciate when 'wild is wild'. From what we have learned, the mustangs at Heber are primarily from old calvary stock. We saw more buckskins and sooty buckskins than I think I have ever seen before. Beautiful stallions, mares and several foals. The ratio of foals is low as there are many predators that keep the numbers low. Lots of Blacks, Bays, Palominos, Buckskins, a few cremello and sorrels. You could drive for days through the forest and see only a few. Again, we were lucky enough to be in the forest before the campers all hit the region driving the mustangs farther down the mountains.
We stayed our last night unexpectantly to avoid the summer snowfall at home. We found a great RV park in Clay Springs just outside the forest. The park owners were mustang enthusiasts and gave us a great deal to park the roan for the night. Next morning we were up early and packed up and headed home. Just south of Albuquerque we came across the Malapias State Park, miles of beautiful rock formations with a native history. It was beautiful to see by surprise as we ventured on back roads rather than the interstates. While photographing and enjoying the beauty of the rock outcroppings with the plains below, I was saddened to know that the buffalo and wild mustangs that once lived there, were no more. As beautiful as the land was to see, its missing a huge part of its legacy and history. Its why I love to travel, why I have kept my gypsy shoes handy, to imagine what things must have been before, before us, before our intrusion, before our invasion, and before the removal of the wild remnants that were there long before us. A great sadness along with soaking in such beauty all around.
Overall, the trip was a great trip, I was able to gather some great photos for future paintings of our wild mustangs and learn about some new range areas and the challenges that the mustangs face. I was able to meet new faces, connect with old faces. I always love the opportunity to share my talent of art and music bringing awareness to the public of the issues that surround our wild mustangs, as well as the sharing their beauty! I was able see about 110 mustangs along with the incredible vast territory that spans our west. We live in a gorgeous nation, but all aside the beauty, without the wild mustangs and other wildlife on the landscape, it holds a lesser intrigue. It's essential that we preserve these lands for them first, for us second, to enjoy their wild presence.
As always, I consider myself fortunate to have the ability to travel and see the region of land across our nation. To share with you, to inspire you. If you are traveling, take time and be an active voice to assure its sustainability for all. Enjoy the slideshow below!
I am looking into another range trip very soon this summer. Nevada or Utah...still deciding on that one.
As always I appreciate Your support, and you know you can find me....
Running with the Horses!
Enjoy the slideshows below, the first is our travels, and the second is the wildies! Enjoy!!!
Ended the month of January with a road trip, just seemed fitting to start the new year with a good ending! So, we packed up the car, made arrangements to keep the critters fed and pulled out of the drive in good spirits ready to hit the road!
Our first stop was in Fountain CO to meet a good friend for a quick coffee stop. You could see the snowpack on the Sangre de Cristos to the west. The air was crisp and sun was shining and it made for a great day of driving. We had the radio filled with a new list of songs to listen to over and over on the drive that we are adding to our list of covers as we spend the next few months working on new stuff.
As we pulled back onto the interstate towards Fort Collins CO we could see the Rockies beginning to show themselves shining like a beacon with their whitecaps gleaming under the bright afternoon sun overhead. Traffic held out pretty good for us until we hit north Denver, but it didn't last long and soon enough we found our way back up to speed pushing for Fort Collins for a dinner date with Cip. We arrived on time and had dinner at a great Cajun restaurant in the Fort downtown. After spending a good part of the evening hanging we made our way to Loveland to stay overnight at some great friends I met during my first years in Colorado several years ago.
It's always encouraging to meet with old friends and talk about lessons learned, future plans and dreams. The encouragement came easy as we filled our bellies with homemade apple crisp topped with ice cream. I have learned over the years to cherish the nurturing that comes with sitting with friends. It can inspire and drive one to reflect enabling better decisions and directives as we move forward. For that, I am always grateful. We were captured in the warmth of friendship till the early morning hour at which we were all a bit surprised and jumped up to hit the rack for an early morning breakfast.
We ate, said our goodbyes and hugged till we should meet again, and Karl and I pulled out of the parking lot towards the western front range with Durango in our sights. The snowpack has been good this season, once we hit the mountain range off the interstate it was as far as the eye could see, for the next two days of travel we would swim in a sea of white. We caught hwy 50, it was dark as we made it down the road still hours away from Durango. If you haven't traveled Ridgway thru to Purgatory, well, let me tell you... be sure you prepare yourself, lol! With the snowfall, and melt off, by dark the roads were freezing up in spots and as we were moving uphill we started a soft slide...I won't tell you what came out of my mouth, but by the time we stopped sliding we both had rubber legs and our stomachs felt like they ended up on the seat. Karl managed to pull us out of a 'slippery' situation, but it left both of us contemplating the necessity of having our wills arranged by the time we would get back home. The rest of the drive was surreal, with avalanche signs posted every couple of miles, tight hairpin curves with no guardrails, and drop offs in the dark abis leaving a 4" gap from the shoulder line between life and death. I think I contemplated the meaning of life during those 3 hours more than I ever have, haha!
But we made it, and pulled into a snowy Durango by 9pm that night, making our way up to our room at the 'Strater Hotel' tired and hungry, but just happy to be alive! The Strater Hotel was built in 1837 and remains true of the west with its decor of heavy wood work, lavish wallpaper and draperies. We made some music contact there, perhaps in the future we will perform there.
Durango is a small college town filled with breweries and coffee shops, with a mix of terrain from long range mountain views to arid mesa views and typical big skies above. We spent a good part of the day checking things out for future venues as we plan for spring and summer excursions visiting wild horse range just north and west of the borders of the four corners. We walked the sidewalks entering doorways of galleries meandering making connections for art and music through the day.
The ride home was long as we stayed off the interstate and took back roads, some new, some familiar, giving me the opportunity to reflect on my travels down those roads traveled years prior. There was a horizon of snowpack all the way home till we hit Taos, where we were greeted with watercolor sunsets to welcome us home.
It was good trip in a lot of ways, seeing Cip, old friends, being inspired by new faces and places. I woke up this morning with a new appreciation for living after the roads we gripped the day before, thankful that we were kept safe by the spirits that surrounded us. We live in a land that is so generous with its beauty, its risk, and its giving. Hope you enjoy the pictures posted, I know I am fortunate and blessed to have a gypsy heart, and feet that don't fail, eyes that can see and heart that has the zeal to keep moving, hoping and believing for those things that are true and right.
Live hard, live happy, keep your grit...
Running with the Horses,
Felt like I should write today with it being New Years Day, I am sitting here in the studio looking at the snow falling outside the window, eating my freshly popped bag of kettle corn and pondering over where to start. Not getting anything specific, I just decided to sit and start typing and see what comes, so here goes!
There's been so much change over the last year and I feel like my emotions have just now started to catch up with it all. There was a saying that I had a friend say all the time in the east before I came west
‘I am tasting salt’. Its meaning, that tears are being shed and tasted. That’s been much of how I have spent the last year, tasting salt. With all that has happened, the changes, the losses, the recovery, there has been a lot of salt tasted. Salt is an incredible healing agent. And I guess one can suppose that even shedding our tears through seasons of hardship help to bring an incredible healing along the way. I have never been one to ‘hide’ much emotionally. I learned a long time ago that stuffing our pain can be one of the most destructive forces In our lives. That being said, I have learned that fully embracing ‘pain’ is essential to allow the work of healing to come in our life. This last year has been a work of recovery one step at a time, embracing a new life and learning to move forward in the most of unfamiliar territory.
Being in a 38 year relationship and waking up one day to discover that it abruptly changed due to illness was one of the rudest awakenenings I have ever experienced. It has been a year of establishing new ground on so many levels. Finding myself on firm footing one day, and feeling like I had slipped off the edge the following. Its taken me a year of grueling emotional work to find stability within and find resolve with this new life that I had no idea would be just around the bend. I am moving forward, its been a long process, one that I dare not desire to repeat anytime soon!
But in the midst of all the hardship, change and challenges I have faced over the last year, I am always amazed at how things play out as I plod along in life. Not to say that I have not had plenty of help over the last year. Encouragement from friends to stay the course has been an incredible resource to help me move forward. Without those positive voices I might have sunk more than I swim. I have truly been ‘held’ this year by so many friends, and am so grateful for the community of such in my life.
Finding an incredible friendship cultivate out of such hard circumstances was a complete surprise. In the richness of friendship life is watered to allow positive growth , nurturing and healing. I have been lucky and blessed to find myself smack in the middle of just such a friendship. The value of which I have learned to embrace far greater than ever before.
And… my horses are home again. Unexpected blessings arrived in a text and a phone call just over a month ago. If you recall, I had re-homed my ponies last spring in face of what unknowns lay before me. It was a heartbreaking thing to do but I knew in my heart is was the right thing to assure them the stability they needed. Unbenowest to me, did I know that I would ever be getting them back. But the opportunity was presented to me just weeks ago, and I knew then if I didn’t take them back I may never see them again. So here I am just at a year after horrible circumstances unfolded finding them in my life again, forever this time. The two wild mustang girls are thriving at the sanctuary and will live out their lives being the ‘wild children’ that they are. Regaining them back into my family is like having my arms and legs re-attached and feeling more like a whole person than ever before. I am ‘still’ in process and ‘still’ learning, that as much as we plan, hope and desire…there are times that we have little control over what happens in our lives, and either we bend to conform to its challenges, or we break over our lack of resistance to bend. This has been my year of learning to bend like never before.
I find myself today in a new place, in many ways.
I find myself today moving forward, in heart and in life.
I find myself today still learning, still loving, still open handed for the best that life has to offer.
I find myself today still standing even though life through one of its hardest curve balls.
Its winter, snow has settled in, and its my Que to begin the creative journey full throttle once again. As I sit here in the studio, looking at the guitars, bass, piano, paintings on the easel and scribbles in my notebooks, I am inspired as I make plans to write new music, paint new art, tour and travel once I finish up the murals on the ‘little red roan’ vintage RV. I am finding myself, back after nearly a year of little painting, which I might add feels really good. I have spent a lot of time refocusing and looking on’ the hows’ I wish to move forward with the art and the music. I am excited at the opportunities that lie ahead and have a fresh outlook on the changed future that is ahead of me. I have changed my name back to my maiden name, hope to not confuse anyone, I am rediscovering ‘Me’ and forming life as I know it as I move forward. I will be making changes on the website and my facebook business page, so stay tuned as I finalize those changes.
I find myself moving forward again, and it feels damn good.
Never give up, and never stop hoping for unexpected blessings.
I look forward to 2019, to its challenges, its friendships, its successes and losses.
Hope you do too!
And as always, You will find me ‘Running with the Horses, like never before!’
Its been a long road since last December and the changes that have occurred since then have taken my breath away.
I have made a move back to a ranch across the road from a prior ranch I had worked several years ago in northern New Mexico at the foot of Hermits Peak. Its a gorgeous pine forested ranching community with incredible long range views of the peak offering solace and solitude. Something so needed in seasons of restoration and re-discovery to move forward.
The stability after a couple of years of chaos and loss are much needed, but staying somewhat mobile not knowing for certain the whats and wheres of future brought the idea of living 'small and mobile' for long term a huge factor in finding the 5th wheel RV and landing where I have. I may stay, I may go...but regardless moving ahead the idea of living 'small' opens the door for long term decisions without limitations.
Though moving forward has held its emotional and physical challenges, I count my blessings daily for the circle of friends that have been my stability over the last year. As winter has arrived I have found myself back to work and in the studio. I am feeling the ground under my feet getting familiar with this new life as I charter forward into unknown territory. Its a bit of a mystery of where I may end up in so many ways...embracing that mystery is a real challenge. Finding myself at the edge of discovering a new 'me' without all the familiar things around and in my life catches me off guard from time to time. The Art...sustains me, finds me, and draws me back to the core of who I am and what inspires me to move forward.
All is well within...slowly I will emerge from this last year and as new person, hopefully a better person. More compassionate, more skilled in my craft, and stronger for the challenges that I have overcome.
Never give up. Its my new mantra...let it be yours when you feel your world has turned to rubble. There is always beauty to be seen ... keep your eyes wide open, feet moving forward...
It was a month ago that I had followed behind the trailer on route to deliver our two wild mustang girls to Engler Canyon Ranch just on the borders of Colorado and New Mexico. With mixed emotions I watched the trailer ahead moving along the highway and down the dirt road to what would become their final destination back to the wild. I was joyful for them, but their release was a place of sadness for me knowing that my interaction with them would be limited from this point forward. Its been a season of emotions with all the changes I have been faced with over the last several months. I was unsure how I would posture myself after I came back home without a pasture of horses that had been with us for over the last 15 years.
Last Friday I headed back to Engler Canyon Ranch to visit the girls. I loaded the truck with a cooler, camera, guitars and a great anticipation as I made our way down the highway. I was joined by good friend and music partner, Karl along with meeting my new marketing and promotional director, Mary and her husband at the ranch. I had sage, tobacco and a red tie from 'Thundering Hooves' to offer up to the wild ones when we arrived. We hit the road to head north in hopes to find some wild ones and enjoy the good medicine they offer and enjoy the quiet beauty of the open range.
We pulled into the sanctuary and parked just inside the gate. The skies were vast and blue with rain falling across the northwestern horizon. Karl pulled his his guitar and we started our short hike across the range to find a few bands of about 40 mustangs grazing on the northwestern side of the bast 22,000 acre landscape. The mesa views were brilliant with hues of colbalt and ultramarine blues and shades of purple in the distance. Blue skies with clouds and every shade of green and sage filled the eye.
With camera in hand I slowly walked closer to the quiet sound of mustangs grazing when I noticed our two girls with a small band off to the right. I turned on the camera and kneeled on the range to steady my camera and began to call out with my high pitch to SierraCancion. Their ears perked up and they began a quick trot towards the familiar sound they had heard for years. I was amazed to see other wildies joining with them as they approached us.I felt the warm smile begin to curve on my face as they made their way toward us. The dust followed them close behind until they stopped short about 20 yards from us with their new wild friends in tow. It was comforting to see them stop, knowing they had settled into their previous wild state, with caution and curiousity confirming their distance. I knew then and there, they had returned 'home' to their wild place within.
Of the 110 or so wild mustangs on the sanctuary , most all of them have a story of being gathered and then released in long term holding facilities across the west. Some we we're told by the staff, had bee in holding for over 16 years. Its hard to imagine the sheer glee some of these mustangs must have felt to find their freedom under their feet after so many years. I would imagine though, it took some time to find their wild comfort as well. Like picking up a paint brush after years of not painting, the first touch of canvas with the tip of the brush can feel a bit intimidating and uncomfortable as you move across the canvas the first time seeking for that familiarity once again. Robert, one of the ranch staff members, shared the story of one of the mustangs upon being released, ran the fences for days and days, probably seeking to find its original homeland and family.
I could hear Karl strumming 'My spirit runs wild and free' on the guitar as I was snapping pictures of the girls and the other wildies at their side. A song I wrote several years ago from a wild mustang perspective going through a round up, separated from his family band and homeland. I was on my knees on the warm earth and as I stood I lifted my eyes to shift onto my feet I saw about 20 mustangs had approached and were standing with ears forward, drawn to the sound of the music coming from behind me. They were just listening, and loving it. I felt their spirits connecting to the lyrics and sound as it moved across the soft breeze over the land. We stood watching, it was beautiful. The mustangs kept their distance, and we honored them in the space they demanded, but watching them, watching us and listening was an incredibly profound experience. The music moved them just as it moves us, it was a beautiful moment of silent interaction with them. I continued taking video and photos as Karl strummed the guitar, he sensed the moment at work. I continued collecting those moments on video and photos to be cherished forever.
Good medicine was at work that afternoon, for the horses, and for us. I believer that the medicine of our hearts compassion through the music was received as well as our forgiveness for the pain we as humans have caused such spiritual creatures. These are mustangs that have not experienced the kind hand as our girls, until they had been released onto the land below their feet here at the sanctuary. Its a difficult thing, to stand in the presence of wild, knowing the injuries and injustice they have been handed out by human beings. Being removed from homeland, family and all they have known to be truth. To being rounded up, separated from family, and branded to a land of fences unfamiliar in all its ways to them, some for years and years. The ability to survive and thrive is an incredible testimony of the strength, grace and beauty of these magnificant equine.
This visit was a day of good medicine for all. For the mustangs, and each of us standing on soil that has been committed to offering a life of promise, healing, hope and freedom...good medicine indeed.
Enjoy the pictures from this trip!
As always, You can find me,
Running with the Horses!
Its been far too long that I have sat and written my thoughts...a lot of catching up to do for sure!
My gypsy life came to a halt over a year ago when we relocated to Angel Fire NM, working a 600 acre ranch with our horses along our sides. Over the years our travels have taken us, and our horses across the miles, and experiencing many different situations and landscapes. But through all the moving and travels, one thing has remained...the Promise and the Provision.
When we adopted our two 'wild' girls over 6 years ago, the Promise to afford them a life as close to their wild life was one that I have been able to keep with only brief instances of shifting from that promise. For our domestic horses, the same has been true. Promising them a continued place with pasture and keeping them together as a family band.
This Christmas, all things known changed forever. My husband was diagnosed with Dementia, and after a grueling 3 months in the VA hospital finally moved to a nursing home. Upon his diagnosis, as you can imagine, my world was literally turned upside down in a matter of days. Without getting into all the details of activity and drama that preluded and followed Christmas, the fear of not being able to follow through the Promise to our equine family became a huge heartbreaking decision.
In this life that I have lived, I have learned that hard choices are always laid before us in season and out of season. We are constantly being challenged and confronted to remain flexible, remaining soft to the harsh realities and being faced to make decisions that are best for those we love, and not always trusting what may not seem best for ourselves regarding our hearts.
These last 4 arduous months have been just that season for myself. I always hear people talking about Love, what it looks like...its sacrificial, its giving the best to others without considering yourself. And so, this is where I have landed over the last few months, having to make hard decisions, thinking little of myself, and mostly for the well being for our horses, wild and domestic. So the search began, the inquiries to secure the ones I love into a long term living situation that would guarantee their very best.
And so the Provision manifested, and the Promise was kept for them All. I said my goodbyes one by one, clipping a portion of their tail as a reminder of their presence and power in my life, releasing them one at a time into their new futures, giving them the release and permission to connect to their new futures. A hard task, a heartfelt move into new territory, but ever so wonderful to watch how it all came together perfectly to assure the Promise being kept as the Provision unfolded.
Sierra Cancion and Sierra Rosa were released into their new forever homes on 22,000 acres of wild pristine landscape at the NM/Colorado border at the 'Engler Canyon Ranch' Wild Horse Sanctuary. It is here they return to their roots of being wild, untouched and run with a herd of 110 present wild mustangs. They run wild now with their own kind, able to feel the connection to the land below their feet. The release was beautiful to watch as they moved slowly across the landscape learning the earth of their new home. Within the hour, a band of about 40 wild mustangs approached them at a run as if to say, 'Hey, we want to meet you!', it was a kind approach, yet startling for the girls, as they thought they might have this land all to themselves! After the initial confrontation they kept their distance continuing to follow the band that had approached them, knowing safety is in numbers. It was warming to know they had made initial contact and that they would soon work out their place within a band so quickly. I am grateful to the staff at Engler Canyon Ranch for the Provision they have provided to the 'girls' to be what they were born to be ... 'wild'. I will continue to visit the sanctuary in hopes to continue their story and learn new stories about the other 110 plus wild residents that roam the land there. You can presently find 'Engler Canyon Ranch' on facebook as they begin offering tours to connect to the wild and the land.
Liberty, Belle, BaildorViento and RojoNube, made the 7 mile walk down the mountain into the valley to their new home within the area here locally. A wonderful family who now calls them by their name took them all in together. The Promise and Provision was incredible on their behalf by this family to keep them together as they have been since their beginnings. It is here they will be nurtured and offered new challenges of growth and love, and my heart couldn't be happier for them.
I closed this weekend with a week of what some look as 'loss'. On a personal level, they will be missed greatly, and the hole in my heart will remain for them, hopefully to be filled with new vision for travel, painting and music, and of course, visiting rangelands across the west, learning the stories of wild horses that run wild across our vast lands. To look at the Provision as loss, is unacceptable. For the Promise has remained true in its manifestation in the Provision. And there, is where I will keep my focus and my affection on their behalf. So, we all begin a new chapter in our lives. My husband, the horses, and myself. For all of us, it may feel a bit awkward at first, but in time, we will find our rhythm and know that Creator has been ever faithful to keep the Promise and Provision using so many incredible individuals, new and old to fulfill the need and the gaps, to those, I am forever grateful!
As I personally move forward, renovations on the 'Tincan' travel trailer are in the works as I plan to hit the road, the range and meet warm hearts across the miles! I look forward to this new chapter and season in my life, knowing that the Promise and the Provision for myself will be no less then it has been for my husband, and our horses.
Enjoy the slide show of the girls release, for privacy and respect for the family that has adopted our domestic gang, I have not shared pictures of them.
The story continues...in faith and grace.
As always, you will find me,
Running with the Horses....
SoIts been quiet some time since I have blogged, not meaning that I have not been writing at all! I am on chapter four of 'Views from the window seat' so my hand has been busy with writing, but the blogging has had some distance and this morning I was feeling motivated to put some words to blog!
Those of you that follow my shenanigans have known the ups and the downs, the joys and the sorrows of the journey we have embarked on over the years. It has not been easy, nor fun alot of the time, but the Divine intervention and Grace that has been loosed over my life has been simply and so obviously out of my control to not mention.
Years of not embracing my worth and value, much less my 'creative self' and finally arriving at a place of understanding and knowing...it changes you, it changes how you function, how you receive, how you forgive, love others, and yourself. The last few years have been years of turmoil, loss and frustration mixed with incredible 'divine' blessings. This summer has been no different.
I had resolved in my heart that we would be doing another winter at the house we had been fortunate to find upon our leaving the ranch prior in dire circumstances, a long story I won't bore you with in this blog. But some of you know we had to relocate the two mustang girls, unsure if we would be able to regain them to the rest of our equine family, along with living in a house that i will call 'sterile' in the sense that it had NO personality or familiar 'feeling' of being a home to it at all. Though it was a safe harbor for us for the two years we were there. I was dreading another winter as it was near impossible to keep the house warm, we had not integrated with the neighbors at all, and I felt as if I were in seclusion during the time we were there, not to mention getting in and out during the snow season, lol! Needless to say, I have found some thankfulness in that we had a secure dwelling over our heads, but not much more than that. Our horses were confined looking over the fence for two years wondering why they couldn't eat the grass that was well up to their bellies most of the year. So, though we had a roof, it never felt like 'home'. I spent two years daily searching for a better place with no results. So as I packed my gear to head to Santa Fe for my 4th year of 'Thundering Hooves' I had in my heart resolved to the fact that we would be there for yet another season.
The event in Santa Fe was incredible as always, drawing curious crowds hungry to learn more about the horse, and the issues that surround them, wild and domestic. A bit of a slower crowd surely due to the economics of our country but enthusiastic nonetheless. I packed my gear, hugged the loved ones that have become like family over the years as we have teamed up to do what we do on behalf of the horses across the country and made my way home.
The horses have been our guide in many ways over the years. They have healed our hearts, bound up our wounds, given us a place to rest our hearts when we have felt anxious, and watched over us as we have them for years. Their presence in our lives has become one of great understanding and thankfulness. So, I shouldn't be surprised when spending myself on them, that they return the favor. Its a two fold process that I have learned to accept when it unfolds.
I woke first thing Monday morning and sat at the computer as I do most mornings and thought 'one more time, one more time I will try to see if there is something for us'...as I typed in the words, a property came up...we had spent the last few months driving and scouting out Taos and Angel Fire areas for a possible move, but again nothing available had us in lock down. But this morning, the 'unpredictable' happened, little be-known to me what was about to unfold that day.
By that afternoon we had met with the landowner and a key was in hand to begin the process of relocation. I don't recall getting too excited about it as my heart was so weary from the last few years of events with ranches that it was hard to get to thrilled over much. But....somewhere deep inside there was a hope that was still warm with its embers keeping the heart warm and safe within.
And so here we are, two months later, after an incredible couple of months of hard work, packing, moving, unpacking, more hard work...but...the unpredictable goodness of our Creator is one that you can never quite put your finger on, its best to just learn to receive every good and perfect gift. Something it has taken me years to learn, and sometimes I find I still haven't quite got it, but I am being ever stretched to remain hopeful despite all things, and to believe above all things that I am so loved, and there is One who takes great care over my soul to bring incredible delight regardless of the hardships that I am in the midst of. My hope is that You too, would recognize, feel and receive the same for your life.
Our equine family is together again, the charm of this 150 year old northwest log/adobe ranch house sprawling on land with incredible views, I can say we are 'home'...for how long, who knows. But for now, this has been the closest I have felt to being 'home' in a long time. We have renovated, cleaned, painted and gotten things up to par to some degree with a freedom to make it feel like a 'home'. Yes, we know winters will be crazy here, but after living in an RV for a year on 5000 acres in the Chama area, to living where we just moved from...we think we can handle it just fine...so stay tuned and you can chuckle along with us as we continue this crazy journey. So this story is far from over, I will be sharing more as we move forward...there is much I could say about this last move...but its for another time...until then, keep your eyes peeled for the unpredictable blessings that await for You!