NOT having a roundup in 2014 spared 9 horses that were born in 2013 and 23 from 2014, that would have most likely been removed from the park. While leaving those horses was good, leaving such a large age group was something that was not done in the past and would mean changes for this herd that many have never seen.
When we moved here in 2016, there were only 8 bachelor stallions in TRNP. 6 of the 8 were former band stallions. Only one of them, Stallion Gray Ghost, would gain back a band for a short time. The only 2 young bachelors were Arrowhead and Ollie Jr. This is significant because years of culling the herd on the basis of numbers meant that there had not been many bachelors to challenge the band stallions. This is why we have so many older band stallions today: Red Face is 20 years old. Copper is 19. Brutus and Sidekick are both 17.
Over the last couple of years, we have watched the once young colts that were left rise up and start to challenge the band stallions. Arrowhead and Ollie Jr, as a powerful bachelor duo, probably caused the death of Stallion Blaze. Blaze presumably fell to his death, either as a misstep/slip or fighting off the young stallions. He died when he was 15. The majority of his band is now with Stallion Arrowhead.
2014 Bachelor Stallions Remington, Maverick, Gunner and Flash spent a year or so learning and sparring with the older band stallions. Then they got serious.
Maverick, Gunner & Flash spent a good amount of time fighting with 2004 Stallion Brutus. Again, the youthful stamina of not one, BUT three young bachelors, 10 years younger, took its toll on Brutus. Eventually Mavericks persistence paid off and he took Brutus’ entire band. Former BFF’s Flash & Gunner, fought an intense battle that seemed to last for weeks over Mare Perdita and her new filly in 2019. Just when it looked like Flash was successful, Gunner came back with a vengeance and took Perdita and her filly from Flash.
Gunner and Remington also took advantage of 19-year-old Stallion Copper’s attempt to hold onto a band of approximately 17 horses after Stallion Mystery died. Remington managed to get Mare Democracy and Copper’s Colt Bart from Copper in the summer of 2020. Gunner managed to get the majority of his late father’s band by the end of the summer. After the dust settled, Copper managed to keep most of his original band, only losing one of his original mares, Mare Democracy and managed to hold onto Mare Grace. Copper was (thankfully) only slightly injured during these fights.
After FINALLY being kicked of his natal band at the age of 4, Xander continuously challenged his 20-year-old father Thundercloud. While Thunder held Xander off for a short time, with the help of Sidekick and other band stallions, Xander’s youth, strength and stamina eventually overpowered his father. An injured Thunder was hanging on the outskirts of the band for about a year and has since been asked to leave. He now walks alone through the rugged terrain of TRNP.
Guardian and Half Moon went back and forth for YEARS battling each other once Half Moon successfully kicked Guardian out of his band. The difference in this story is that Half Moon is in his prime. I have to say, he moves and acts A LOT like his late sire, Stallion Mystery. Remember: horses learn by watching and it is evident that Half Moon did that.
This past year we watched with great heartache; Stallion Satellite lose his entire band to Stallion Flash. While no one witnessed the battle in real time, the remnants of the battle made it clear that it was one heck of a fight that probably lasted for DAYS. Both stallions had very visible scars all over their bodies. 20-year-old Satellite was not able to overpower a 7-year-old stallion to keep his band. It is very clear that he tried as hard as he could.
While all of this is very normal bachelor activity, what is NOT “normal” is that for YEARS these older band stallions had no one to challenge them. Now many of them are older and at an age that understandably makes it hard for them to compete with the youthful stamina of horses more than half their age.
Nature is always working to keep things in balance. We are witnessing this in real time now in TRNP. While we understand that the changes that are happening are in fact normal, we are praying for our older stallions – both that they are not badly hurt in these fights and that we do not lose anymore like we lost Blaze and Mystery. We also hope that they find their way. The older former band stallions SHOULD be mentoring the upcoming younger bachelor stallions. This was clearly seen with Stallion Wind Canyon and Trooper and also Stallion Granite’s Boy and Yoakum.
Photos shared on this post include the “East Side Bachelors” they included bachelor stallions Remington, Gunner, Maverick and Flash.