Stallions Battle in the Pryor Wild Horse Herd

Road Warriors: Blizzard vs Hidalgo 

It begins peacefully enough. Late in the afternoon, Ann Evans and I drive on the paved road into the Pryor Wild Horse Range in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The sun is dipping behind the rocky top of Sykes Ridge. To the east the Bighorn Mountains are fading into sunset pink.

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Past the Devil’s Canyon overlook, to our right a pair of ears appear. The grulla mare Baaken walks out of a rugged gorge followed by her daughter La Nina then her 2 year-old son, Pax.

I expect to see their stallion, Blizzard pop up behind them. Instead the unmistakable face of Hidalgo appears. “He has Blizzard’s band?” Ann questions. “Looks like it and he can hardly walk,” I answer. Hidalgo, Blizzard's younger brother, hobbles after them, horribly footsore. 

Then Blizzard crests the hill and we gasp at the huge, bloody wound on his chest. 

In the photos to the left, Hidalgo waits beside the guard rail with Baaken while Blizzard walks on the road and taunts Hidalgo. Below right, Blizzard follows Pax and La Nina as they cross the road. 

Meanwhile Hidalgo struggles to walk, following Baaken around the guardrail. The light is fading as I quickly bump up the speed of the shutter on my still camera. Lucky I did! 

As Hidalgo slowly approaches Blizzard, the older stallion charges forward, grabbing Hidalgo’s neck. The fight is on. Both stallions rear and scream, their angry voices reverberating off the canyon walls.

Over and over they bite and strike. The mares and Pax move away as the stallions swirl in the loose gravel and slide through a roadside puddle. 

Blizzard moves away for a few seconds, then whirls and attacks. Hidalgo strikes as  Blizzard rears, driving Blizzard head first into the gravel.  

But Blizzard jumps up, landing a kick to his little brother’s neck. Hidalgo shrieks in anger and Blizzard moves away. 

 

Hidalgo stands beside the mares and Pax. Then Baaken leads the band calmly away with Hidalgo struggling to follow. It hurts me to watch him putting one painful hoof after another on the gravel. In the dying light he follows Baaken up a steep hill, falling farther and farther behind as Blizzard watches.  

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Ann and I are worn out after watching these two clash and we drive away. But a thought occurs to me. We drive only a mile or so to Mustang Flats where the former band stallion, Hidatsa, calmly grazes, glancing at us briefly. This vicious battle has left both Blizzard and Hidalgo injured. Might Hidatsa take advantage of the situation?  

When I return in August, I find Hidatsa with Blizzard’s band plus the older mare Strawberry. Although I look on several occasions during my visit, I can't find Hidalgo or Blizzard. Both have been seen however. Whether this drama is over remains to be seen. To become a band stallion in this competitive place it takes courage and strength. . . and sometimes a bit of luck in the case of Hidatsa. 

 Hidatsa, Strawberry, Pax, La Nina, and Baaken

Hidatsa, Strawberry, Pax, La Nina, and Baaken

Here in the Pryors, the wild horses determine their destiny. But in most other places they are in danger. The only thing that may stand between them and the murderous plans of uncaring politicians and unscrupulous corporate interests is you. Don't look back and say "if only I had fought for them."

Happy Trails!
Ginger

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