Leeto The Lead Stallion
By Deb Sutherland
Meet Leeto the band stallion. I was told his name means to “To embark on a journey”. The last time I saw Leeto was in the spring of 2020 when he was running around the Virginia Range with his bachelor buddies. Last weekend I took an outing in my jeep, the Rhino, and I saw him with other horses that I did not recognize. They weren’t bachelors either! No one knew who they were. As I photographed them I realized that Leeto was now a band stallion with four mares and four colts. I was fortunate enough to be able to document all eight of his family members. The team came up with great names for them to go with the meaning of Leeto’s name, so they now all have traveling names.
While I was watching them travel across the desert, I saw that the youngest colt, now named Rover, was stuck behind a fence while the rest of the band was outside the gate and leaving for the hills! Rover couldn’t figure out how to get out and cried out to his dam Saunter. His dam realizing he was stuck ran back to the corner of the fence and looked very frantic and helpless! Leeto recognized there was something wrong and that Saunter was very upset. He ran back to comfort her. They touched noses and it looked as if they were trying to figure out how to get Rover out from behind the fence.
In the meantime, the younger red roan mare, Hiker, saw the problem and knew how to get Rover to come out the open gate. She walked over to Rover then ran circles around him so that he would follow her out the opening. It almost worked but when he was almost out the gate his dam and Leeto called out for him! Rover stopped just short of stepping out to freedom, and ran back toward his dam still being on the wrong side of the fence! He paced back and forth toward the corner of the fence where Saunter and Leeto were waiting on the other side.
Finally, Rover ran full speed at the fence and jumped over it at the lowest spot to meet up with his damn and Leeto! He figured it out! They ran off wild and free again and caught up with the rest of their family band. When they got to an open field, Saunter was so relieved to have Rover back and was so tired she plopped herself down for a short nap while Rover watched over her. They were all together again and I watched while they headed back up the mountain.