Shaggy the Shimmering Buckskin on Nevada's Virginia Range

By Deborah Sutherland, AWHC Virginia Range Documenter

Shaggy was born in a canyon in the Virginia Range in 2012.  He has always had a beautiful copper shimmer to his coat that could be seen from far away, which is how I could tell him apart from the other buckskins in the valley.  His sire was the black and white Canyon Phantom who roamed the range for over 21 years and had many mares and offspring during that time. To tell the history of one horse always involves sharing about the lives of other horses on the range, as they are all intertwined in some way. Shaggy is connected to so many wild ones here in Stagecoach Valley.  

Maxey was Shaggy’s dam and one of the Canyon Phantom’s mares when Shaggy was born.  Shaggy’s “half-sister” Saddle Shoe aka Li’L Bossy,  was also born that year to Canyon Phantom’s mare Broken Hinds.  On summer days I would go to the canyon and watch Shaggy and Saddle Shoe play together, get drinks from the spring, and nap in the shade of the pinyon pines.  Shaggy and Saddle Shoe remained close for the first few years of their lives until Shaggy became a bachelor in 2014 and left his birth family.  Shaggy’s best bachelor buddy was Flashy and for over a year they would run together all over the range. 

Shaggy is connected to so many wild horses on the Virginia Range. He has several  “half siblings” still living in Stagecoach Valley.  His younger half-brothers, Godfry (born 2018), Dark Shadow (born 2019), Mini (born 2020), and Bryson (born 2021), all share the same dam, Maxey.  Maxey and her son Bryson are now living with Black Hawk’s band. Godfry and Dark Shadow belong to Glaze’s band and Saddle Shoe is with Tracker’s band after spending most of her life living with Two Socks.

Over the years of knowing Shaggy, I noticed he was very determined when it came to getting what he wanted. When he was still a bachelor, he fought his best buddy Flashy and other stallions, Goldie and Two Socks, for ownership of Bodie Braveheart’s band after Bodie suddenly died.  Bodie’s band wandered the range in confusion without him for several months until these stallions took turns trying to keep them, engaging in daily stallion battles.   

One evening I saw that Shaggy finally managed to win the band!  Two Socks and Grandpa, (Grandpa is Two Sock’s sire and also his Lieutenant) started up the hill to where Shaggy had his new band. Without hesitation, Shaggy went charging at both of them!  Shaggy fought the aggressive duo, chased them away, then returned to guard his new family.  Near the end of 2016, Shaggy did lose his family to Flashy for good. Sadly Shaggy was a bachelor again, and for several years I would see him once in a while and he was always alone.  

Two years ago I was in the canyon photographing some wild horses. Suddenly I realized that the large band in front of me on the hill with several mares and new foals was the Shaggy Family!  He wasn’t alone anymore and I was so happy to see him. Shaggy now has ten members in his band, including himself. 

In his family were Granny and her colt Dublin, Fergie and her fillies Krista and Jamille, Frosted and her filly Sutro and her colt Buckley along with Atsa who had just joined the family. Shaggy still has the same determination to guard his family. He watches them through his very shaggy forelock, hence his name, and his coat still has that beautiful copper shimmer making him easy to spot from far away.    

Shaggy’s Mare Granny

During a winter storm ten years ago on the Virginia Range, a beautiful mare stood in the snow with her family band. I didn’t know who she was or the band that she was in, but I noticed she had a very unique face. The band didn’t stay very long that day and quickly disappeared into the canyon and I never saw her or the band again.

It wasn’t until I was photographing Shaggy’s band with his mares and new foals some eight years later, that I noticed one mare standing in the sage next to Shaggy’s other mares. She seemed very familiar to me because she had a most unique face. As I watched her, I realized that she was the unknown mare who stood in the snow long ago. She was now with Shaggy and his band! She is known as Granny and I’m sure she’s Shaggy’s oldest mare.

I have no idea where she had been since my initial sighting of her in 2012.  I do know that Shaggy somehow claimed her in 2019, and they had a handsome colt named Dublin. Granny is just one of Shaggy’s beautiful mares, stay tuned to meet the rest along with some of his gorgeous offspring!

Shaggy’s Offspring Buckley and Jamille

A year after Sutro and Krista were born, Shaggy’s mare Frosted gave birth to a handsome buckskin colt named Buckley. Several months down the road, another Shaggy mare, Fergie, gave birth to a sweet filly named Jamille.  On spring and summer days I would watch Buckley and Jamille walk together side by side following their dams and family band, much like Shaggy and Saddle Shoe used to do when they were young. 

Sutro and Krista are still with Shaggy and their dams, even though they are older. All four siblings play, eat and travel together under the watchful eye of Shaggy. They are living close to Apache’s band on the Virginia Range. Apache is the stallion who stole one of Shaggy’s mares, Sissy and her filly Sunflower, a few months after Sunflower, Sutro and Krista were born. More on this to come!

Shaggy’s Mare Sissy and Her Fillies Sunflower and Sorine 

The same year that Sutro and Krista were born into Shaggy’s band, so was Sissy’s filly Sunflower.  All three were born just days apart in a canyon on the Virginia Range. At that time, Sutro, Krista and Sunflower were very close until the fall of 2020 when the stallion Apache stole Sissy and Sunflower from Shaggy.  Sissy and Sunflower were and still are living close to Shaggy’s band, under the watchful eye of Apache.  The funny thing is that when Apache and Shaggy were bachelors they used to run around the range together and now that they are older they both have become wonderful protective band stallions.

Several months after starting her new life in Apache’s band, Sissy gave birth to another filly, the beautiful buckskin Sorine. Sorine means thunder, as she was born during an early summer thunderstorm.  She looks very similar to her half brother, the stunning buckskin Buckley. Sunflower helps watch over her younger sister Sorine along with her dam Sissy, and band stallion Apache.  Every once in a while I see Shaggy and Apache’s band grazing near each other which is a beautiful sight to see. 

Winter With Shaggy’s Band

When winter comes to the Virginia Range and the air is filled with blowing snow,  Shaggy gathers his family with their fuzzy winter coats and heads to higher ground. There they take shelter between canyon walls which offer a break from the blowing snow and winter winds.  

I watched the band one stormy winter morning when Shaggy brought his family out of the canyon and traveled to a place they liked to graze.  It was sunrise and even though it was still quite dark, I could spot Fergie’s thin white blaze as she led their family across the frozen desert. I saw Shaggy bringing up the rear wrapped in his copper-colored winter coat. The rest of the band traveled in between Fergie and Shaggy for protection. Single file they walked following the zigzag horse paths made during the summer months.  

After they spent time eating, they huddled together and I knew they would be leaving soon since it was too cold for them to be out in the open for very long. I watched as they headed back to the safety of the canyon walls silhouetted against the snowy mountain range. 

Shaggy’s Temperament

Shaggy has one of the calmest temperaments of all the stallions I’ve known.  He doesn’t go out of his way to pick a fight.  He uses preventative measures to keep his family safe and away from other bands and stallions  However if another horse band gets too close to him or his family, he clearly displays his displeasure and protectiveness by putting his ears back showing his displeasure, issuing a warning.

This was the case on the day his foal Jamille was born.  Fergie was watching over their filly very closely when another band snuck up behind them. Shaggy immediately ran over to Fergie and Jamille, stood next to them, while at the same time keeping his eyes on the stallion showing his displeasure loud and clear.  Shaggy didn’t have to fight the stallion to get them to leave, he only had to put his ears back, take a few steps toward them, call out something in horse language and the band quickly retreated.  

Shaggy, being one of the older stallions in this area of the Virginia Range, is still healthy and strong but also cautious and smart.  When he sees another band coming he circles around his family and guides them in another direction avoiding confrontation. for this reason, he has successfully lived in Stagecoach Valley for over a decade.

The Shaggy Parade - Who’s Missing?

A few weeks ago while I was documenting, I was excited to see Shaggy’s band parading across the range.  As they approached me I videoed them and said their names as they passed by me:  Buckley, Frosted, Granny, Fergie, Jamille, Shaggy, Atsa, and Dublin. Then I counted them, and there were only eight in the Shaggy parade, but they had ten in their band. I kept the camera on waiting for the other two to pass in front of the camera but Sutro and Krista never came!  They were missing!  I turned the video off and searched for them but couldn’t find them. Earlier I had taken many photos and flipped through them to see if maybe the two-year-old girls were in another band. There were many bands on the range that day so I was hopeful, but I didn’t see them anywhere.  

Then I remembered a few days earlier Ozzy’s band passed by Shaggy’s family and Ozzy tried “to snake” (steal) Krista! I watched to see if Ozzy would succeed but “brother Dublin” came to her rescue and kicked Ozzy, freeing Krista and she returned to her birth band. 

After the Ozzy ordeal Krista rested in the sage while her family surrounded her with a wall of protection and stood watch over her.  Shaggy, was on guard and walked the perimeter of his gathered family ready to chase off other stallions who might have the same idea as Ozzy. Krista and Sutro were born only one day apart and since they are two years old now, they are at the age that other stallions might want to snatch them. 

A few days after I reported her missing Krista was found back with her dam Fergie and her “Grandma Frosted” in Shaggy’s band, but Sutro is still nowhere to be found. I took a photo of Frosted with her “daughter” Fergie and “son” Buckley and wished that Frosted’s “daughter” Sutro was also in the photo.  I’m sure another stallion managed to take the beautiful Sutro and I’m very curious to see who has her as part of their family now.