The Untying of the Knot

It’s hard out there for a pimp.


Or so I am told.  I don’t have very much experience with the pimping business, and can only go off of second hand knowledge gleaned from the music that my little brother listened to a decade ago.


Now as the song goes on, it blames {ladies} for jumping ship.  Okay, the song does not actually use the word ladies, and all ladies regardless of their career path deserve to treated with dignity and respect .  So you probably should not look the song up.


Jackson’s mares did not jump ship.  After a tough winter which left Jackson beat up and thin, he did not have the strength to keep everyone together.  His band was broken up, with mares ending up all over the place.  That did not last long.  The mares were devoted enough to one another that they still ended up back with one another, even without Jackson.


My friend and I did not see Jackson on our first day in the Pryors.  This was disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.  The weather was poor and many of the horses were staying down in the trees.  So much so that we did not see any bachelors that day.


For this reason, I would argue the completely ridiculous dance of joy upon his discovery was 100% justified, no matter how ridiculous it probably looked to anyone who may have seen us.  Jackson was hanging out by himself at the water hole.  I don’t know if there is a way to make a victory dance look suave when you’re in the middle of a meadow carrying a bunch of camera equipment and a can of Pringles; I doubt that I will ever discover any such smooth moves.



Jackson was a little thin, but was not showing any major injuries or lameness and was starting to put on weight and muscle again.  It was still a little disconcerting.  Jackson has always seemed larger than life, and seeing him alone and looking so… small.  Well, other people have already discussed that so I guess I’ll move on for now.

Custer warns Jackson away.  I never imagined I'd ever see such a turn up.
Custer warns Jackson away. I never imagined I’d ever see such a turn up.


Jackson’s old band of mares is currently with Doc.  Their reaction to the new stallion is mixed, but overall I’d say that they seem less than thrilled with the new dude in their lives.

Firestorm wanrs Doc to back off
Firestorm warns Doc to back off


High Noon, Firestorm, Aztec, and Jasmine seemed indifferent to Doc.  In the political world we would refer to them as “independents” which everyone knows is another word for wishy-washy (kidding Lauryn!).  At the same time, those four were actively avoiding any interaction with Doc, choosing instead to stick close to each other.  Almost like they were going through the motions, but the love was gone.

Firestorm and High Noon
Firestorm and High Noon. Pryor horses aren’t posers like some other wild herds (LOL, see what I did there?). The point is that sometimes you get weird angles. I didn’t think High Noon is pregnant, but some of these photos have me second guessing that.


Aztec & Jasmine
Aztec & Jasmine
Nye is along for the ride

Brumby, on the other hand, was openly antagonistic.  This should be a surprise to no person who has ever spent five minutes or more observing Brumby.  Brumby is a highly opinionated lead mare who is known for taking off when she is not happy with her stallion.  She left Jackson when she was annoyed with him, and I would lay down good money that if this band falls apart Brumby will be the first to leave.

Sweet Brumby. Gentle Grumby... Wait. Gentle?Yeah Right!
Sweet Brumby. Gentle Grumby… Wait. Gentle?Yeah Right!


Maybe it’s just that Brumby does not handle change.  But Doc is not helping his case at the moment.  Doc is an extremely paranoid stallion and is micromanaging the mares to death.  He is constantly snaking them about and keeping them “in line”.  I get this reaction; I really do.  Jackson’s band is a lot to handle, and Doc is in a tenuous position.  He does not have the best track record of keeping mares, he knows Jackson is out there lurking, and he has a limited amount of time to make sure everything is consolidated.

Cranky Doc

But trying to tell Brumby what to do?  Yeah.  Let’s’ just see how well that one is gonna work out for ya, son…


Brumby was in heat.  Doc was trying to woo her, so he could do whatever it is that stallions are inclined to do when a mare is in heat.  This probably did not help Doc’s case.  Brumby was thirty-eight kinds of not interested and she made sure that Doc knew it.


Here is where it starts to get really interesting.  There is one mare who seems to like Doc.  So let’s count off the band on our fingers… who is left?  Nye… Okomi… oh yeah, Galena!  Galena actually seems to like Doc. Le gasp!

Galena (with Brumby in the background)
Galena (with Brumby in the background)

Whenever Doc began to show his interest in Brumby, Galena got between the two and broke it up.  This is not the first time I have seen a mare block a stallion from the object of his interest.  My interpretation of this varies on the situation.  I have seen mares block a stallion from their offspring or a younger member of the band who is deemed “not ready” yet.  On one notable occasion, I watched a mare named Feather block a stallion and pee over the in-heat mares’  urine while she flehmened out her feelings.  Yeah… that was a weird one.

Hey Brumby, I really we could have something special
Hey Brumby, I really we could have something special
Oh no he better don't!
Oh no he better don’t!
Drat! Foiled again!
Drat! Foiled again!
A confused Okomi got caught in the middle of the drama, but had the brains to get the heck away
A confused Okomi got caught in the middle of the drama, but had the brains to get the heck away


Galena’s blocking felt more like she was trying to protect the other horse.  The question is: which horse was she trying to protect?  Did Galena notice Brumby’s unhappiness and move in to help her sister from another mister?  Or did she see that Doc was about to be in a world of hurt and stepped in to try to keep him safe from the wrath of Brumby?  Both/and?


Truly this is a chicken and egg conundrum.


Brumby is so over all the nonsense
Brumby is so over all the nonsense


On top of his girl troubles, Doc still has the threat of Jackson looming on the horizon.  Well, not literally.  Jackson has actually been keeping to himself and away from Doc at the moment.  He is playing it smart, in my estimation.  Jackson has definitely not given up, but he is giving himself time to heal and grow strong again.  He is not even dogging his band.


So how do I know he is not giving up?  In the late afternoon, Jackson happened to be in the same area as Doc’s band.  This was a pure coincidence.  Well, either that or Brumby.  I don’t put anything past that gal.  Jackson was grazing along, minding his own business, when Doc & Co. marched up to the same region he was in.  They were still a fair distance apart from each other, and Jackson was making no moves to come any closer.


When Doc noticed Jackson, he charged across the field towards Jackson at full speed.  Jackson did not run to greet him.  But when Doc attacked, Jackson fought back with full force.  It was short and neither of them really hurt the other (which is to say it was ultimately posturing), but the confrontation felt gritty and foreboding.

Doc confronts Jackson
Doc confronts Jackson





I would give the victory to Doc, but it was one battle. When Jackson is at full strength and prepared to really take Doc on?  All bets are off.  I just hope that they won’t kill each other.


Two powerful stallions – each a mighty warrior in their own right.  Both are after the same band.  Doc has youth and health on his side, but the mares are not loyal to him.  Jackson has the respect and love of the largest group of mares on the mountain, but this past winter took its toll and trying to take on Doc is a monumental task.




Little Okomi is the youngest of Jackson’s progeny.  Hopefully he will not be the last.  While his father faces the harsh realities of this life and struggles to return to his rightful place in the herd, Okomi is just beginning to experience all that life has to offer.  Okomi is so fiery and filled with boundless energy.  Everything is an adventure, with the added benefit of having his family to watch over him after he exhausts himself and needs a proper nap.  Okomi has protection and stability,for even without Jackson, Firestorm and the rest of the mares will keep him safe.


Okomi & Firestorm
Okomi & Firestorm

None of us know what will happen in the future.  One day Jackson’s time will come to an end.  It probably won’t be tomorrow, or the next day, or even a year from now.  But none of us can escape death.  When that day comes, Jackson’s story will lie in the hands of Okomi and Nye and all the rest of his children.  Jackson’s entire life can be brought down to a series of events, driven by the need to create their lives.  Maybe we are still caught in the middle of Jackson’s story and each of us is holding our breath and waiting for the denouement.  Maybe that moment passed years ago and we did not have the knowledge to recognize it for what it was.


But no matter what, I promise you all that this is not the end of the story.  For this story has no ending.  Not really.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you: the future of the Pryors!
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you: the future of the Pryors!


...Wait.  This squirt is "the future"?
…Wait. This squirt is “the future”?
Maybe we should start praying for the good Lord's mercy now before this nutjob grows up to be large & in charge?
Maybe we should start praying for the good Lord’s mercy now before it’s too late?

Published by Rachel Reeves

I am a photographer who currently lives in the great state of Colorado. I love going out and photographing wild horses in their natural habitat, and look forward to being able to share a glimpse their world with you.

26 thoughts on “The Untying of the Knot

  1. Jackson is mine favorite stallion. Hopefully, he will get Firestorm, Okomi, Nye and Brumby back. I love your stories and beautiful photos.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you! I am hopeful that Jackson can get at least some of his band back as well, though I feel a little guilty admitting that, because I like Doc too. Jackson is a clever fellow, so I am sure there is more to come as everything continues to unfold!

  2. Rachel, is that Nye rolling with Okomi dancing? Great story, fabulous photos! Anxious to see how it progresses.

    1. Good Morning. Livi is correct. The horse rolling is Jasmine. Okomi was dive bombing her while she rolled. He would run right up to her, spook at the sight of her flailing hooves, then jump away and run off at the last minute. Okomi did this a couple times before Jasmine got annoyed enough to get up and leave.

  3. Ah, Rachel. It’s like curling up with a good book whenever I read your posts. Have you thought about turning them into a book of short stories? With photos!!
    What a mighty fine & successful trip! The Pryors and Pringles…it just doesn’t get any better than that!!
    Those horses are so special and your lively update on them is so appreciated. You put a different spin on things, so to speak!
    Okomi is the cutest little babe! Those last pics are priceless, for sure.

  4. I’d say Jackson and Doc are Knot to be triffled with, but I think it may have to do more with the mares in this case. Ginger also reported Aztec defending Firestorm and Okomi from Doc, but I think Galena’s a little different. I’d like to say she’s defending Brumby, but I bet even Okomi knows Brumby will let her displeasure be known. If I were Galena I wouldn’t want to get between Brumby’s hooves and the object she’s aiming for.

    1. I saw that as well, now that I think on it. Aztec mostly kept to herself, but there was one instance where Doc was trying to snake her in a direction Aztec did not want to go, and she did not back down. Galena’s decisions will be interesting, I think. She is really close to the other mares, but she clearly likes Doc too. I do not know what she will do if Jackson succeeds in winning the band back.

  5. I’m sure Jackson enjoyed your awkward and ridiculous victory dance! I think Jackson will end up with some of his mares back. How they will end up being split up, I’m not sure. I’m sure Brumby will end up back with Jackson. Ha it wouldn’t surprise me if she led them over to the area that Jackson was in. I think he is playing it smart and putting on weight and biding his time. Heritage seems to spend a lot of time around Firestorm and also a lot of time around Jasmine. Aztec and Jasmine are obviously bonded and Aztec and Firestorm are bonded too. I have a feeling the four of them will try to stay together. I have no doubt Aztec and Jasmine will stay together. Hopefully however they split up Nye will end up staying with Galena. I’m glad little Okomi has such a great group of mares looking out for him. Like you said, even with the changes happening, those mares will keep his life stable. Do the mares let Doc get close to Okomi. He is such a little cutie! Seems like a spitfire too! Heritage looks so much like her mother in these pics!! Love that picture of Galena too. She is so beautiful. And that’s a nice profile shot of Jackson. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Sarah! I think this situation is the most interesting thing happening on the mountaintop right now for good reason. For such a large band, the mares are extremely tight knit. I have yet to see any encounters with this group where one mare clearly does not like or avoids another mare. I’ve never seen another band that large which still has mares who get along with each other so well. So while I can’t see how they don’t break up eventually, I really don’t know who is going to be willing to leave the gang. Aztec and Shadow have wandered a bit in the past years, but both of them get along extremely well with Firestorm and High Noon which may be why they keep coming back to the Brumby gang. Galena really does like Doc, so if Nye stays with her, she might be willing to split. I just don’t know, though.

      The mares tried to keep Okomi between them and away from Doc. However, keeping that boy still and in one central location is an undertaking I would not wish on my worst enemy. So Okomi did end up wandering around. Doc was gentle enough, if a little strict, with Okomi we he was nearby.

      1. I like Doc too, so I hope he does keep some but I would also like to see Jackson get some back. With Galena seeming to like him so much, her and Nye may very likely be two that Doc holds onto. I hope that the mares he keeps will learn to trust him in time. He was great raising Ketchikan, London, and Mandan. I be the bands closeness was a factor in Jackson being able to keep his big group intact. With the current stallion situation I figured Jacksons large band would attract some unwanted attention and that he may lose some. I didnt anticipate him losing the whole band though. In addition to the six mares he had four offspring he was trying to keep of, three of which are no longer with the core group. When he started losing some members over the winter I had a feeling we might see a permanent break from the band, but they always seemed to find their way back. I dont think Jacksons band stallion days are over just yet, but Doc is a strong stallion too. I hope Jackson can be content with a smaller band. I also wonder if Doc will go back after Demure when her and Jasper come up the mountain. Theres been quite a few exchanges this spring/summer already and I have a feeling we will be seeing more before things start to settle down again

  6. Another wonderful blog post Rachel! I just love the way you write and tell these dynamic stories taking place on the mountain. Well done! And your photos are just the icing on the cake! 🙂

  7. A wonderful update, just love how they bond together and protect each other. I can see why you like Jackson. He’s just gorgeous and hope he’ll get stronger to make his come back.

  8. Jackson’s former band (I still can’t quite manage to think of them as Doc’s, though I have nothing against him) is simply gorgeous. They are all beautiful and make a wonderfully colourful group. I love how close they are too. Brumby is hysterical, I love her attitude. Did you see Moorcroft?

    Heritage looks great and it would be wonderful if she had another foal 🙂 I can’t believe how grown up Nye looks, she’s a really pretty filly. Galena’s actions are really interesting, I’ll be curious to see how that all works out. I’m guessing she was acting like a mediator, for everyone’s sake! I love the series of pictures where Okomi is being just the biggest goof-he’s adorable! Lucky him to have such a great mum and several great aunts! Was Nye interested in playing with him at all?

    Glad to hear Jackson is doing alright, poor guy must really be feeling the sudden loss of his whole family. I’m sure he’ll manage to get some of them back though, especially as they are all so close. I really hope he and Doc don’t cause each other serious harm.

    I was also wondering, did you see Horizon’s group while you were there?

    1. Hey there! I did see Horizon & Co. but they were all fleeting glimpses while they marched past. So I don’t have much to comment on. Everyone looks happy and fat. Lariat is getting along well with the others. She is still a little gangly but I’m sure she will grow into herself eventually. Fiddle and Cloud got into it a little. Cloud approached him to play a bit. That was cool. Jewel is growing up gorgeous.

      1. I think Jewel may be one of the prettiest mares on the mountain-she’s just stunning! But then, I find a lot of them stunning haha 🙂 glad to hear they are doing well and Lariat is fitting in! I think she makes a good addition.

    2. Oh! Sorry, I’m on my phone and missed some things.

      What if we all just call it Brumby’s band? 😉 That is easier to remember and keep track of through the changes. We did not see Nye and Okomi play while I was there. They didn’t even really stand near each other much. Nye is gorgeous and sweet to boot but I can’t recall ever seeing her playing any time.I was up there. I’m sure she does and I’m just unlucky.

      I did not see Moorcroft. Most of the M bachelors were staying hidden below the treeline. We caught a glimpse of who we think was Matoska and that was it.

      1. Not a problem, there were lots of questions embedded in my comment haha 😛 I think calling it Brumby’s band would actually be quite appropriate-she seems to call all the shots anyways 😉

  9. You have some unbelievable BEAUTIFUL pictures. You are so Lucky to beable to be out there with such magnificent horses

  10. From my seat behind a laptop many hundreds of miles away in Pennsylvania, all I can say is for some reason I am crazy in love with Doc. I love seeing and reading about him – even his love troubles. Thanks for writing this delightfully informative post. Your photos are awesome!!

  11. Jackson has a special place in my heart and mind, so I especially appreciate this post, and love your narrative style—and pictures. I am so very thankful that he has not been injured badly in all the goings on, after having seen first-hand the seriousness of what happened to Lakota. I know some of the older stallions have not coped with losing their families and have disappeared not long after, so fear for him still lurks in the back of my mind, but I prefer to be an optimist and I’m going to keep my mind open to the MANY possible scenarios that may take place in his future. No matter what that is, he’ll always have a place in my heart as a proud and supreme example of what the Pryor herd is all about. I’m know his mares are not happy to have all this change forced on them, but life does go on, and they’ll all have to deal with the realities, however they unfold. If Doc is able to keep his place as their man, I’m sure it will not have been an easy task. 🙂 I love how most of the mares out there are such individuals with amazing personalities. Along with their esthetic beauty, and that of their homeland, it is the behavior of these magnificent animals that calls me to return, again and again. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Oops! I didn’t intend to be “Anonymous”. 🙂 I see I also didn’t edit correctly on the sentence that should read “I know his mares are not happy…” thanks again for sharing!

  12. Thank you for sharing these moments with us. You have a way with words that make me feel as if im watching a movie in exceptional detail.Awesome!!

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