Monday, 2 June 2014

A Rodeo and the Mustangs

Cody, Wyoming

Cody is named after Buffalo Bill – William Cody. The Buffalo Bill Museum is about five museums which cover Buffalo Bill, the Indians, Wildlife in the area and firearms. Your ticket covers you for two days but we didn’t need that long. During the morning we were at the right place to be ushered outside for a showing of the local raptors, so we got to see some of them very close. The red tailed hawk, Osprey, Great horned owl and the US version of our wedge tailed eagle. All of them had been injured in some way, rescued and now lived at the museum. The photographic section of the museum was disappointing, whereas the photos depicting the pronghorn migration were fantastic. A group followed their migratory habits by foot to see what obstacles they encountered and have rallied to have land (only a mile in width) put aside for them. The bottom barbed wire on the bottom of fences has been replaced in many areas to be bar-less so that they can crawl under without harm. And where they cross the highway, an overpass has been built.

That night we went to the “nite rodeo”. The winds picked up and we were nearly bowled over in the carpark. Normal weather for Wyoming apparently; we debated whether we should leave it for another night but decided to stay. Lindsay took his camera as he wanted to get some shots of the bull riding.  Unfortunately with the combination of overcast skies and the time that they came on, at the end – the light was too dark and his pictures didn’t come out sharply enough. He did get some other great shots of the horses.

Having got the touristy things out of the way, the following morning we went in search of the wild mustang horses. We went down two different dirt roads and a few other tracks off them, but found nothing. Later that day we caught up with Klaus whom we thought was still in Yellowstone and he asked how many horses we had seen that morning as he had seen about 120. Even though it had been raining for a few hours and the skies were very grey, we agreed to meet up with him to see if we could find them together. It took a while as they weren’t where he found them that morning, we had to abandon his car in case it got bogged as it wasn’t a 4WD. Klaus was worried that the storm was coming towards us, but Lindsay could tell it wasn’t. He put his camera gear in our truck and sat in the tray to look out for the herd, it’s a wonder he managed to hold on! Finally we could see them in the distance, but we had to work out another way to get to them as we didn’t know if the track we were on would lead us there. The rain clouds disappeared and the sun even came out. There were over 100 wild horses and we photographed them until the sun went down and the bugs came out. There were many groups and some stallions had three to four mares each that they kept careful watch over. Other stallions would try and muscle in, which meant the other stallion would have to fight back. So there was lots of grazing, sex and fights over females – pretty much what happens with all species. We were hoping they would head down to the waterholes which would create more activity, but they were content to stay around the same place that we found them. We constantly had to be on alert to make sure we weren’t in their way as the stallions chased other stallions away from their mares, or they might round their mares up with their noses to the ground – it was fascinating to watch. There used to be more than 500 until they rounded them up by helicopter and sold them off Then they darted the females so that they won’t fall pregnant for a few years.

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