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9/15/10, San Luis Valley, CO - Today was an enchanting day, searching the wild country for even wilder horses.  Our search was centered around a large piece of BLM and private land, along the banks of the Rio Grande River. Approximately 300 hundred wild horses and some burros occupy this territory.

On today’s ride we didn’t get a chance to get too close to any herds, but saw several off in the distance. When Melissa went out Monday, she got a chance to get real close to a wild stallion that was paired with a mare and her year old foal

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The closest we got to any mustangs today was about a mile off. It’s difficult getting up close when you’re in a vehicle or on horseback, as they are used to being chased.  However, on foot, it’s possible to get quite close, as they don’t perceive you as a threat.

Our trip today took us down some BLM and private land, along the banks of the Rio Grande River (this is the same river that is in Texas, just way upstream). Melissa had a goal in making the trip, as she had to check some fencing along the riverbank and look for wild horses and trespassing cattle. I came along for company (thanks Obama).  The scenery was spectacular and it was a fantastic horseback ride.

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‘Pete’ and I on the bank overlooking the Rio Grande River, about 12 miles east of the town of Manassas.

We rode about 4 miles up river looking for mustangs. Although fresh sign was all over the place we didn’t see any along the river.  I did however, spot some good fishing holes. As this section of river is almost completely un-fished, it’s a great place to catch some monster catfish, pike and carp, which are suppose to frequent the waters.

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‘Tweeter’ and ‘Patch’ really enjoyed coming along for the ride.  They rarely passed up an opportunity to cool off in the river. They set a good role model for the girls when they want to stick their feet in the river.

3 or 4 miles up the river, we stopped for lunch at some cottonwood trees growing at the high water mark. I tied Pete, while Little Man was allowed to walk around and graze on the riparian vegetation.  Melisa and I really enjoyed our lunch on this lonely stretch of river.

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Melissa, walking Little Man back up from the river after lunch.  I know Pete would have loved to graze alongside him, but Melissa and I didn’t relish the Idea of walking back to the truck.

There are few things that compare to the having lunch with a couple of horses, along the banks of a deserted river. We didn’t have any of the fancy French food, or even a good bottle of wine, but the ambiance could not be equaled.

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Untying Pete after lunch.

When lunch hour was over we hit the saddles and rode another mile upstream.  We then cut inland about a mile searching for mustangs.  Their sign was everywhere, but the only herd we saw was about two miles distant, at the base of some mountains.

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Some large stud piles (piles of manure that wild stallions leave to mark their territory).

Not finding any horses up close, we cut back to the river and decided to cross and check out the territory inland on the way back.  The countryside is deceiving when you look at it. There are dozens of canyons and arroyos that intersect the apparent flat lands, which may hold dozens of mustangs from view.

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Walking up the river, before crossing and heading inland for the trip back.

On our trip back, we saw a lot more wildlife than on the way out along the river.  On the way out, all we saw was a coyote, some eagles and ducks.  On the way back we spotted mustangs, wild burros and a pronghorn antelope.  But overall, the trip along the river was a heck of a lot better.

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A nice Pronghorn on the trip back to the truck, in the dry country.

On a scale of 1 to 10, this trip was way off the scale on the top end. With as much fun as I had, I imagine Melissa was doing a little better, since Obama was footing the bill for her ride through the wilderness along the Rio Grand River.

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A wild Jack and Jenny. Several years ago, there were four burros released by someone to this part of the country. Over the years, their numbers have dwindled to two.

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A day at the office for Melissa.

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This was a photograph that Melissa took Monday on BLM land along the river.  The Black Stallion in the middle was a mustang that had settled in with a mare and her year old foal (that were probably illegally grazing on BLM land).  The stallion had probably been cast off from his herd by a competing stallion.

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The mustang stallion moving through the sagebrush with 14,000 foot Mount Blanca in the background.  By getting low and appearing to be uninterested, Melissa got the paint mare (wild for several years) to approach within a few inches of her hand.  The stallion (completely wild) came to within about 50 feet!