Sadly, this video also serves as a loving tribute and memorial to many of the horses captured on film here, that didn't make it to 2012. (you can read credits below to find out which ones were killed)
(video can be seen on Home page)
Many in these herds have bloodlines intact that date back to the 1500s and horses brought from Spain; serving in and surviving the Conquistador era, through the Indian wars to finally finding refuge in our pristine wilderness mountain areas of the Northwestern United States and Canada. But it is open season on them in some areas.
here are some emails Sandy has shared with me:
The last shot of the mare and foal,(Duchess and Kalika, I helped ID their bodies..) they died this past winter. The first shot of the stallion,(Admiral) he along with his son were killed by a drunk driver this summer, I was there right after it happened... the second shot, that is the Stallion Cabaret, the band leader of the mare and foal in the last shot. and on and on. Deep meaning in those shots. Slow motion of the grullo stallion, that is Ferdinand, died last winter.... Thank you Sharon for giving me a beautiful song to put to their memory. It really means a lot!
I have a filly Valerosa at my ranch with stripes on her legs. I adopted her Sept, 2009. She is from the Pryor Herd. Her coloring is actually called a grulla. She has many primitive strips, dorsal stripe, should bars, zebra stripes. So you see my love for these horses runs even deeper! So, not all horses with these zebra type stripes are necessarily coyote dun. Some people (including myself) actually think that these traits go back to a more primitive horse than the Spanish Line. Spanish horses did not actually have these stripes. Goggle Tarpan Horse, Or Sorraia. There you will see what I am talking about. I love the history of this herd!
you can sure learn alot about the horses by reading SANDY'S BIO. I helped her write one for an upcoming video contest (hope Wild Caballo wins and thus garners some attention for the horses) and i found her history to be rich with experiences and beautiful stories about the horses. It is very sad in spots, as she has lost some very dear to her in very unfortunate ways. But, it is a great read, and will stir you in a very uplifting way after all. She has a courageous heart, and acts upon her convictions. That takes alot of fortitude..to get up out of 'armchair philosophy' and into the middle of it all.
SANDY ELMORE BIO:
Sandy Elmore is a rancher in Montana, who likes to sneak off into the Pryor mountains to rendezvous with friends like Admiral, Duchess, Kalika, Ferdinand, and Stallion Cabaret; all of whom were members of an endangered wild Mustang family taking refuge there in the pristine mountains under the “Pryor Mountain Mustang Center” umbrella of protection.
She knows their histories, bloodlines, the children they have had, their ages, what challenges they have confronted, and the magnificent courage they have shown in a beautiful but unforgiving land. She sorrows to lose them, as she has recently all of the above mentioned. She is a champion to these kindred spirits, these brothers to mankind. They have been our war horses, our tools for survival, our friends, and our very symbols of freedom. And one woman is trying to help them survive; caring for them as a sister or mother would. She brings her video camera and camps among them, talking softly to them, laughing with them, and merging blissfully into this timeless unbridled aura of freedom that thrills to the very core of one’s being.
Her capabilities in video production and her keen artistic senses couldn’t have been more appropriately directed than to land her onto the Northwestern prairies and the tranquil ranch life; where her reflections run deep, and her inspirations nurtured so fully as to feed a heart as big as the stunning backdrop that is the Wild Montana sky.
So, what is the essence of this woman who is now in her 50’s and has entered into this video contest with this artistically rendered historical snapshot of a dying breed’ s moment in the sun..
Sandy Elmore lives Potomac, Montana, (about thirty miles from Missoula), with her husband Bill, her nine horses, two miniature donkeys, seven dogs and four cats. She has been in Montana for 20 years, growing up in Michigan. Sandy has two grown daughters, Amber and Nicole Bushnelll.
She has always loved horses, but it wasn’t until her adult years she was able to do something about that love. Realizing the potential they held for bringing to her life a deep contentment, she has been able to incorporate them into her lifestyle..indeed she created a lifestyle for their includement, and for over 25 years now has been active with these animals. She now owns 9, two of which are wild horses. One Mustang is from Stewart Creek in Wyoming and the other is from the Pryor Mountains of Montana.
Sandy became passionately involved with the Pryor Horses starting in 2009. She attended the roundup in September of that year and 3 weeks later adopted her beautiful grulla filly Valerosa.
She travels to the Pryors several times a year now, camping at the very top of the 8,500 foot mountain. Not only does she take photos, but she also is a videographer. Her current entry is a video project with Singer/songwriter Sharon Anderson. Together along with Randy Nagel and Chas Williams they produced a beautiful music video; “Wild Caballo”, to honor the wild horses. It can be seen on youtube: (link) The song and footage of these horses is an amazing sneak peak into their days of leisure, play, confrontations, wanderings, and sheer love of running the wide open landscape to their hearts content.
This project is also Sandy’s way of honoring those horses that are no longer with the herd. The winter of 2010-2011 was especially hard on the horses. Thirteen horses are no longer on the range, including an entire band of 5 horses (one of her favorites). That particular band lived in the Custer National Forest most of their lives. The band- Cabarets’, could not get to their normal wintering grounds because of the newly installed fence that the National Forest Service erected the fall of 2010. Three of their bodies were discovered less than 200 feet from the fence, the other not too far away; at about 300 feet. One from the band has yet to be found. Cabaret and his band were one of the first bands that Sandy saw on her first trip to the top of the mountain in the summer of 2010. You can see footage of this band in this “Wild Caballo” video. She was able to see them one last time alive in the fall of 2010. On her first trip to the mountain top in July of 2011, she set out searching for them anxiously. Again in August she looked for them. After talking to Ginger Katherns assistant; Erin, she realized that the 4 bodies that they had found were most likely Cabaret and his band. Went she returned in September, she and her husband Bill located and finally Identified the bodies to be that of Cabaret and his band.
Sandy innocently picked up a video camera 4 years ago, not having any inkling of the passion it would inherently unfold for her. Not only did she begin to take beautifully inspiring footage, but she also uncovered a talent for editing and producing her work as well. She began her “youTube” debut by recording her oldest daughter Ambers’ mountain bike race. From there she was enticed by Alex Brown to enter his “Horse Slaughter” video contest. At that time the state of Montana (in 2009) was trying to introduce a bill to re-install horse slaughter to the state. She not only made several videos for that subject, but also testified in Helena against the bill. (Canada’s government in the northwest sadly,currently has an open season policy on the wild mustangs) One of her videos “America’s Wild Horses, A Living Legend in Peril” was shown at The International Wildlife Film Festival as an Honorable Mention ( 2010).
Two years later she picked up a camera (other than a point and shoot), and started taking still shots so that she could learn more about each horse personally. She noted each of their markings, colors and personalities. It was really more of a technique to keep records of the horses and learn their names. It initiated her too, into a practice of deep study as to the authentic bloodlines of these bands; linking them directly to Spain, the Conquistador era, through the Indian wars, and into the current age where they now need our help to assure their survival in the refuge mountains they have reached.
Such an irony it is that after having served mankind for so many years, the best our society can come up with for an answer as to how best to co-exist with them, is to punish them for having had the fortitude to survive the severe climate and perils of such an unforgiving place. It is beautiful pristine land, but they have made it their home at a great price, and we have not embraced their presence. Governments have focused primarily on what was problematic with our structure and ideals. In short, our society has not come up with constructive ways to integrating them into our wilderness areas. These horse familes do, however, help the ecosystems in many ways, and are not just menaces to the land.
And, they have a deep link with man himself. With each shot Sandy took, she fell more in love with each horse and forged deep connections.. Her shots show the love she feels for them behind the camera. Because of her intimate knowledge, she has sometimes been given the heart wrenching task of identifying some of the horses that have died. Still, she is eternally grateful for the two years she has spent photographing them. Her shots have become more and more beautiful. Sandy is especially grateful too, for her new friend Alex,(not Alex Brown!!) who helped her get to know the horses and their histories. She hopes that she will be able to take Alex on his first trip up the mountain.
She sure enjoys taking people up the mountain for their first visits. The excitement on their faces when they see the horses for the first time is a moment to treasure as a memory of a lifetime. Sandy has been told by some people that they have not seen a single horse when they have gone up the mountain. With every trip that Sandy has gone one, she has seen many horses. They always seem to find her. Small wonder.
The Pryor Mountains are very rich in Native American history too. One of the photos that is shown here is a view from the Native American Vision Quest Site. This view can be seen from a short 1-2 mile hike from the campsite that Sandy stays at. Although the BLM wants to make an established campground on the Pryors, she does not see any reason to do this. Most of the time when she is there camping, she is the only one there on the top staying the night. Most people just do day trips to the mountain top. But hearing the horses whinny and eat grass right outside your tent during the night is an experience she feels people need to have. A campsite would take this authentic frontier experience away. Waking up and having your morning coffee ( or in her case her morning camera), is a happiness that words cannot express.
When Sandy is not camping in the Pryors she can be found playing with her horses or riding in the mountains on the miles of trails surrounding her home.
Sandy’s goal for her photography and video work is to share her experiences and allow as many people as possible to get a glimpse into the lives of these beautiful animals and also to reach out and communicate with ALL sides involved with them. She can be reached by email: email@example.com (Sandy, you really need a website!)
Her many video productions can be seen at her youtube channel (http) and you will find there some of the afore mentioned projects, as well as this new effort “Wild Caballo”. You may take note too, of the stunning footage Sandy provided for a backdrop to Canada’s favorite son; founder of the rich musical heritage of the recent Canadian northwest with it’s iconic free spirited wandering minstrel Cowboys; Ian Tyson. You can find there his unique tribute in song to the wild horses he loves, entitled “La Primera”.
Like Ian Tyson, Sandy is in it for the Horses, always has been, always will be.