Monday, January 17, 2011

Picasso’s Mares: Monet, Mustang A Day Challenge painting #27

Monet’s Story:

~Storm Warning~
by LindaLMartin
8 by 10 Watercolor
While Monet isn’t actually a wild horse, she is an integral part of the existing herd at Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area.
Picasso was documented by wild horse watcher Nancy Roberts with his two mares, Olga and Mingo and their offspring in April of 2010, just before foaling season began on the Sand Wash Basin. By late summer a wiry light boned buckskin mare had joined the band.

In August,  Aleta Wagner  made her very first trip out to the Sand Wash Basin to see the Mustangs. She emailed me after seeing the painting, “ A Fine Romance” Aleta expresses her part in the ongoing saga:

Monet and Aleta
Close-up of Photo by Barbara Wheeler
Used by permission
“I am the one who name Monet. When I saw her last Labor Day weekend she walked right up to me and rolled in front of me! Barbara Wheeler ( Wildlife Photographer) got photos of it! I was about 2 feet from her. Picasso is my favorite stallion ever. Their love is one of a kind. Your painting is absolutely GORGEOUS and completely captures their love!”
Aleta told me that it was the thrill of a life time to be that close to the horse on her very first trip to the range. The magic of the moment intensified when Monet walk up to her.
As the Autumn approached more and more photographers documented the  blossoming relationship of the two horses and Monet’s special place in the band.

There was some concern expressed by the horse watchers, especially Nancy Roberts, about the mare being on the range in the winter. She is always worried about domestic horses on the range as many are abandoned or strays that are not adapted to the harsh winters.
Monet is branded with the Brand of the Sombrero Ranch and that is where the rest of the story is pieced together.  I had the great pleasure of speaking with the Horse Manager, Mark Bishop who manages the 600 head herd of Sombrero horses that winter on the range adjacent to Sand Wash Basin HMA.

Sombrero is possibly the biggest trail horse operation in the US. “We don’t breed any horses.”  Mark told me “We have a lot of quarterhorses, paints, appaloosas and a number of drafts and draft crosses.”  Among the Percherons, Suffolk, Clydesdales and  Belgains, according to Mark, there are even a few adopted mustangs in the herd as well.

Reference Photo by Nancy Roberts
Used by Permission
“There are a couple of ways she might have gotten out” Mark said regarding Monet, “ One of our biggest problems is that people passing through our land aren’t careful about shutting gates.”  He went on to say that when people aren’t careful and don’t keep the gates closed horses sometimes get out. “ Its goes both ways” Mark said “Sometimes our horses get out and sometimes the wild ones get in”

This poses a problem for the ranch.  “We winter our horses on the range From December1  until round-up in May.” According to Mark they are under certain regulations and agreements with the BLM (Bureau of Land Management, the entity who manages the wild mustang horses). “ We aren’t allowed to  go in and round up (stray) horses during mustang foaling season  because the activities might disturb the foaling mares.”

Because of the sheer size of the range, 157,730 acres of public and private land in the HMA range and the additional Sombrero acreage bordering the public road along the highway, they might not see a stray horse for months or even years unless they are spotted by a passing stranger or the animal strays back into the Sombrero land. Ideally they try to round up all the domestic horses and leave no strays behind. It is really important that people visiting the Sand Wash Basin Area act responsibly and do not leave gates open. Closing the gates when you go through them helps to protect both the domestic animals as well as wild animals.

I asked Mark about the wintering of Horses on the range. He told me that generally they check on the condition of the horses and how well they are foraging on their own weekly. “Depending upon the snow fall we begin feeding hay before the horses begin to loose condition. “  Mark said it usually takes 4 or 5 men to feed daily during winter. And they usually put out large round bales to supplement what the horses find on the range.

He assured me that all of the Sombrero horses are well acquainted with dealing with snow and looking for food in the adverse conditions found in the area around Sand Wash Basin.

"A Fine Romance"
8 by 10 Wathercolor
by LindaLMartin

The most likely explanation of Monet’s sudden appearance with Picasso’s band is that someone left the gate open and she simply took the opportunity. When round-up came in May and the Sombrero Horse’s were moved to their summer jobs, Monet was most likely already in the Sand Wash Basin and simply hadn’t connected with a band yet.

It is also possible that she was somehow missed during the annual May round up. Later when a tourist or ranch-hand went through the gate thinking no horses were around, she probably just walked through to join up with Picasso and his band since she was lonely. From much of the photo documenting from wild horse watchers there is no doubt that there is great affection between the mare the horse watchers call Monet and the mighty stallion, gaining daily in fame that so many of us love,  called Picasso.

Update on Monet: Monet was captured and returned to the Sombrero Ranch with three other mares who escaped to the range this spring 2012. According to photographer John Wagner Monet has spent most of June being used to give rides to children. Monet is an aged mare that ran with Picasso for nearly two years. She  is famous for the ongoing affection between herself and Picasso. Picasso is possibly one of the most photographed American Wild horses in the world.  We would like to help find Monet a forever retirement home to live out in retirement. To find out more information Please look on the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses Page on Facebook. I will up date with more information as it is available. ~Linda
UPDATE 6/28/2012 Sombereo Ranch has contacted Nancy Roberts and the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Club to help find Monet a home to live out her life.  If you are genuinely interested please contact the Club through this address: and they will help you purchase Monet. Only serious people please, thank you. If interested contact  
Nancy will be out to visit the mare tomorrow and will be taking photos to post on the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Club page on Facebook this weekend. Also we know now that Monet is 24 and has her shoes on to correct her foot problem.
Final Update: 7/30/2012  Several people offered to adopt Monet. Finally the arrangements were made. Unfortunately on the pick up date, as I was told, Monet Coliced during the night and they asked that they reschedule the pick up.  As the story goes the new pick up day was scheduled for the  following weekend. That morning Monet did not come up for feed. When Monet's care givers went to look for her, they found she had passed away during the night.

We who met her, and we who followed the accounts of her were all blessed by the many photos of her with Picasso and the stories of Monet's life as she ran with the wild horses of Sand Wash Basin, Colorado. Rest In Peace Monet.

If you would like to find out more about the Sombrero Ranch and their entire offering of trail riding activities please check out their web site:

Many photographers and advocates interesting in helping document and protect the herd at Sand Wash Basin HMA have now joined efforts and organized into the Sand Wash Basin Advocate Team (SWAT) of the  Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary (GEMS). You can connect  with SWAT and GEMS to see how to adopt any available wild horses from Colorado's Sand Wash Basin Herd by contacting them through Facebook: or through the GEMS Website:


  1. Another lovely painting Linda, and thanks for the background stories of the horses!

  2. Great story. I love learning the background of the horses.

  3. Thanks so much "MulberryLane" and Tracy. So glad you are enjoying this project and the stories surrounding them. =0)

  4. what a great story. I follow Sand Wash Basin and quite a few others on facebook. I am soon to get photograph the herd at the Moreno Mustang Sanctuary in New Mexico and I can't wait.
    peace n abundance,

  5. Im excited to hear that you are heading to Moreno Mustang Sanctuary. Ive heard a lot of good things about them too. CheyAnne