I may have had more relationships with horses than people. I do miss them when they go.
” … so delicate, but potent. It makes us a bit more human–is that ache in your heart for a place (or someone) that no longer exists … a sneaky magician.
One that takes us by surprise in the most lucid way possible. ”
Persevering through another drought year in California and having un-weaned colts in December has not ruined the enthusiasm of these mares.
August and September births have these girls separated from the larger mare group because the foals are not old enough to be independent yet.
A couple of short rain days have helped the grass to begin sprouting, but we are a long way away from any real feed to sustain horses in a free range environment.
That Herd is looking forward to a successful and healthy new year with abundant grass and water. Many thanks for all of you who have remained loyal to That Herd through some challenging times from the side of the horses and the side of the photographer.
There is lots of good content to revisit under Related Posts or by simply scrolling backwards if I am not posting enough to keep you interested. Cheers!
Once in a while there are herd-mates among the mares and foals and they don’t always appreciate their youthful attention. The schooling of the youngsters occurs with good nature, for the most part. This particular young mare is just grouchy most of the time. The foal’s open mouth chewing or teeth clacking is a sign of submission to a higher ranking herd member.
A glimpse at some of our neighbors for the American Thanksgiving holiday.
They do, however, seem to compete for similar forage. No matter, the birds mostly go where the horses are unlikely to travel.
It seems we are both a little behind.
Myself behind in sharing new posts, and this mare behind her striding colt.
Born in August, late for That Herd, here is the first foal for this mare and she is smitten with her new role as mother.
She is closely followed by a filly six months older than her new colt.
This image was taken many weeks ago. Now our days are shorter and water and feed are scarce moving into fall. As always, we are hoping for rain each day.
Even though the colt is a few months old and capable of being quite independent, this good mare still keeps a close eye on him. The colt is one of only a few who have white markings this year. He’s a cool little dude.
It has been amusing to observe the quiet guardianship role a yearling colt has assigned himself to a late newcomer to That Herd.
Fortunately, the mother tolerates his attention and close proximity. The yearling seems like a gentle soul and causes no disruption or annoyance.
This gelding thinks his been gifted a band of mares for his very own.
Sadly, these beauties are heavy in foal and this is as close as he is allowed to get.
“When I see a horse grazing on the skyline it seems a spirit. I think of it as ascending to the sun.”
–N. Scott Manaday, Earth Keeper
There is an older saddle horse that roams with the mares. I have never seen the mares accept him or interact with him unless it’s to chase him away, until now …
As if they have been friends forever, this mare approached and groomed with the gelding. Of course it’s possible that this behavior occurs when I am away, but I have only seen a lack of tolerance with all the mares in regard to closeness with the gelding. He’s a good guy so I was happy to see this.
I wondered what was inspiring the snorting and animation in this cherished mare. She’s always amusing me with her bright expressions and amiable manner. One this occasion, she had every right to be on alert. She had noticed a large snake; it was as big around as my arm and at least six feet long. I didn’t see it’s head but I saw the rest of it and the tail as it disappeared down a hole. I’m guessing a gopher snake.
Our society is familiar with the office water cooler as a place to hang out and talk about work while not working. The same types of water cooler moments occur with herds of horses. Community hang out spots are normal for horses living in large territories. Even though there is lots of space to roam, certain places become a common area for groups of horses living together to hang out. Often, low growing branches are essential at favorite resting spots. As if at a hitching post or leaning on the top fence rail to observe or converse, horses congregate and pacify themselves by rubbing, chewing, and resting on and near these low oak branches. This image shows one of those places for That Herd. It also shows only two members, but normally the whole bunch (just outside of this shot) clumps together to swat flies and take turns rubbing on the branches. The large grey colt will be two-years old in March and the bay filly will be two in June.
Early on a March morning I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. Two mares had given birth a couple hours previous to my arrival. I love observing newborn foals and their million discoveries about life on the outside. During my quiet jubilation at my good luck, a third mare laid down and gave birth to a notably large colt without moving away from the herd for solitude, which is unusual. A perfect morning, cool and sunny and a little breezy allowed for a serene birth and initial 20 minutes of terrestrial time.
The first image shows the colt’s first successful standing moment. Because of his numerous attempts to rise and sort his long legs out to stand, some curious herd mates approached to investigate. The other mare in the sequence is a sweet mare who has been a doting mother in the past. This year, however, she would not be having a foal of her own. She becomes instantly taken by the vulnerable newborn and won’t accept the fact he is another’s baby. Grievously, the orientation of the wobbly foal was directly in between the ensuing aggressive assertions. He was tossed about and when the mares squared off and spun to kick each other with deadly hind hooves I had to intervene. Risking the safety and kidnapping of the newborn was not necessary since I could interrupt the situation. Motherhood instincts are strong and especially so in nature. I have discovered this type of stealing behavior is not rare in natural situations. In the wild, and/or when unmanaged, the outcome for the foal is fatal. Because these horses live in a free range, natural environment they have heightened senses of survival and their innate abilities are strong, but sometimes behaviors can still go wrong.
With a little time, grass, mother’s milk and energizing sunshine this colt has bloomed into a uniquely handsome ready-to-wean lean machine. Notice how cute and determined he was from day-one to be a successful little soldier to his restless mother.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles, wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
… girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, the snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, silver white winters that melt into springs, …
Songwriters: Oscar Hammerstein/Richard Rodgers My Favorite Things
and moments like this with That Herd.
This is one of my favorite things.
Big strong foals and mares, young and older, with spark and verve.
In stark contrast to current late-summer-blast-furnace conditions, this lush springtime scene is a refreshing reminder that greener days will come again.
Young horses of varied ages frolic in the watershed ponds that come and go during the rainy times. Currently, every living creature is looking for relief from the intense heat and poor air conditions due to wild fires and record breaking temperatures.
” … I am in a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow, I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain.
Of birds circling in flight, I am the starshine of the night.
I am the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room.
I am the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing. … ”
–Mary Elizabeth Frye
I have many images of her. Her qualities as a horse stood out in memorable ways.
Even at an advanced age, this image from nine months ago shows her irresistible, ever-present spark.
“Nature goes her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.” –Geothe