One Tough Cookie

free range horse photography of a mare eating a thistle flower head
Delicately, a mare bites the flower heads from a milk thistle plant, thorns and all. You can see several headless stalks on the plant she’s biting.

 

free range horse photography of a milk thistle plant
Milk thistle. does not appear the slightest bit palatable but horses gladly eat the flower heads, thorns and all.

The seeds of Milk Thistle have been used to support the growth of new liver cells and aid in the health of the liver, kidneys, and other digestive organs.

I have read conflicting information about the benefits and dangers to horses who eat thistle. Most horses love to eat the flower heads off late spring milk thistle plants. The thorns of the plant are most unforgiving but horses gingerly bite the heads off, chew, swallow and then eat every other mature thistle flower in sight as well. Their behavior leads me to believe they consider it somewhat of a delicacy, like a delicious cookie.

Occupation: Motherhood

free range horse photography of a wobbly newborn colt
When I first laid eyes on this newborn foal my first reaction was that he would make a perfect Hollywood movie horse, he has such a great coat color and flashy white markings.

 

free range horse photography of a mare bonding with her new colt
Exchanging nickers of love.

 

free range horse photography of a beautiful mare and her flashy new colt
A beautiful mare and flashy colt make an effortless family portrait.

 

free range horse photography of a proud mare and her new colt
She is the very picture of a proud mother.

Birth is not only about making babies, but about making mothers as well. New mothers and old mothers contend with birthing risks; in older mares and mares who have had several foals, the risks are higher. Mothers sacrifice their own lives for the lives of their babies; this is a reality as old as time. This sacrifice may come in the form of protection from predators or perceived dangers, or it may come in the form of not surviving postpartum complications. Heroic sacrifice and tragic sacrifice leave admiration or heartbreak in it’s wake.

Participating in creation makes every mare the author of a story full of potential. However. the tragedy of a lost mother cannot be measured, not by the baby, the bystander, nor the new care-giver.

After keeping careful watch and waiting with much anticipation for each mare’s new offspring, I remain ever reverent to the occupation that they must take on year after year.

Stealth Grazing

free range horse photography of a mare and foal concealed in tall grass
Stealth grazing.

This is not the tallest mare of That Herd but she creates a realistic picture of how tall the grasses have become. The ear tips are the only evidence of her foal beside her.

Interestingly, the mare seems to be peering through the shield of a single stalk of mustard weed pretending she cannot be seen at all, which aptly matches her daily desire to be left alone.

Pride and Joy

free range horse photography of a wobbly newborn colt marching by with his proud mother
Wobbly marching, two words that don’t usually go together unless you’re this newborn foal.

 

free range horse photography of a new foal and his beautiful mother
Day number two is celebrated with tall oats for this new colt.

 

free range horse photography of a brand new colt and his slick mother
Looking more than ready for “life on the outside”, this newborn colt parades confidently with his strong mother.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn foal parading with mare through tall grass
Born into a virtual paradise mother and newborn foal stroll chest deep through tall oats.

Proud mares parade their newbie foals.

One colt, velvety and wobbly with a bent ear and the other a sleek model of born-ready foal. Welcome to your new world babies.

These colts are a month old now and the contrast between Day One and Day Thirty is a reminder of just how quickly they grow.

Making a Statement

free range horse photography of a newborn with a lot of head to grow into
She’s beautiful, really. A real stand-out.

Don’t be fooled by the toucan-esque appearance. Her face is her best feature.

Born on April 11th, she has grown into a sturdy, good natured foal in just a few weeks.

Current pics coming soon.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn filly with a strong facial feature
The prominent facial feature on this newborn is camouflaged by her white marking.

Truly a newborn, only hours old, she really stands out as a foal that will grow into a horse who makes a statement. She is quite sensible and endlessly loveable.

free range horse photography of a distinctive mare
A wonderful mare of distinction; she will be a solid mother.

Mother looks fresh as a daisy after having her first foal, only tousled a bit in the mane. Just look at that soft yet noble expression!

Patiently Carrying Their Heavy Load

free range horse photography of a mare heavy in foal in the last light of day
The last light of day shines on a mare, a beautiful mare, heavy with foal, bearing her responsibility of new life.

Blessed Are the Broodmares

Blessed are the broodmares in the field,
Patiently carrying their heavy load
Without complaint waiting for the big day,
When they, without a sound, lay down in the straw

And then the most amazing thing happens,
The miracle of a brand new life.
Now the everlasting circle is complete,
The amazing wonder of a living thing.

The foundation stock of every breed,
How fast we all happen to forget,
Where all our champions came from.
How fast we are to discard the blessed ones.

When they get too old or unproductive,
The most tolerant members of every breed,
Raising their young without ever a mumble,
Loyal beyond everyone’s compare.

Till they go on to raise the next one,
When will we finally wake up and see
How enormously grateful we should be
For the blessed ones we so easily forget?

E.M.S

 

 

 

Challenges Met, Newborns Rule

free range horse photography of a brand new colt and his wary mother
A nice family portrait of a pretty neonate colt and his watchful mother.

 

free range horse photography of a mother and her neonate colt
A lovely spring morning welcomes a new colt who wins style points for his mature muscle tone and refined head.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn colt's face
A few hours into his first day he was bold and frisky, as if he were happy to finally be free of his maternal confinement.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn colt whose coloring is matching his mother
The similarity in coloration is evident in this first family portrait of a newborn colt and his mother.

 

free range horse photography of a flashy newborn filly
In a couple of days she will look quite different; she has a sturdy frame and interesting markings which will be beautiful.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn filly ready for a nap
She looks ready for a nap, the rigors of the first few hours are many.

These three foals were born within hours of each other on April 6th. I have written on previous posts for years about the many changes newborn foals experience in a small amount of time.

The challenges to their physical systems, perceptions, and environment are drastic. When three foals are born so close together, it’s impossible to not see some evidence of their dispositions displayed as well.

Three Matching Birthdays

free range horse photography of a mare and her new foal bonding
Not yet on his feet, this new colt meets his mother.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn colt on the move soon after birth
Shortly after birth, this newborn colt kept his mother busy with his bursts of athletic inspiration.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn filly absorbing her surroundings
An elusive subject to photograph, this newborn filly absorbs her new surroundings.

A break during rainy April days brought three new members to That Herd. And I must say, three very individual behaviors for the first hours in the babies lives.

Paradise

free range horse photography of a flashy colt in stunning scenery
Nearly three weeks old and this colt has his first real glamour shot.

The best playground ever!

Going Her Own Way

free range horse photography of a mare strolling through tall grasses
Heavy with foal, an elegant mare strolls through the bounty of spring.

“Nature goes her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.” –Geothe

 

Spring Showers and the Light of Her Life

free range horse photography of a rainy morning surprise foal
Lots of rain did not dampen the spirits of this newborn and her careful mother.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn foal exploring under her mother
Her mother is large and tall so walking around and under became a repeated practice route.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn foal on a rainy morning
Several days of rain in early April greeted this pretty newborn filly.

From womb-world to water-world for this filly. An exciting discovery on a dreary spring morning made the rain unnoticeable.

It was wonderful to observe the quiet nurturing of this elegant mother with her first foal. She is calm and attentive and seems quite enamored.

The New Pupil

free range horse photography of a newborn foal with her roan mother
Being an intelligent mare, she has chosen a beautiful morning to have her foal.

 

free range horse photography of a newborn foal on a beautiful morning
Welcome little filly, I predict you will become an expert at fleeing, like your mother.

 

free range horse photography of a foal napping in sunshine
After all that work learning to stand she finds a standing nap to be easier.

This newborn filly really wants to lie down but after all that work to stand up for the first time she doesn’t want to risk it.

Also, she needs to be at the ready to follow her mother who has a lot of ideas about creating distance.

 

All Star Mare Mother

free range horse photography of a large newborn with his tired mom
The mother appears disheveled and for good reason, she has huge foals and this newborn was no exception.

 

free range horse photography of a large newborn with his tired mom
This is not a photo perspective trick, this newborn (only a couple hours old) is huge.

 

free range horse photography of a large newborn colt
He was born with an astonishing amount of maturity; handsome devil, isn’t he?

All I can do is bow down each year in astonishment to this mare. She is an average sized mare herself, but she successfully gives birth the the largest foals in the whole herd every year. She has an enormous capacity for carrying and birthing very mature babies. Although mother looks rumpled and tired, she bounced back in no time. Feeling sorry for herself is not in her genes. She and the new foal are fine; he was born on the last day in March. There is nothing plain about this colt, no white markings needed; his appeal is inherent. He is regal and casual at the same time.

Lucky Number Seven

free range horse photography of a newborn filly in the early morning light
First day for this newborn filly.

 

 

free range horse photography of a newborn filly hiding behind her mother
The first day for this filly; learning to walk is harder due to tight front leg tendons.

 

free range horse photography of a veteran mare and her new filly
The first-day-of-life family portrait was hindered by numerous dry weed stems.

Born March 27th, a beautiful chestnut filly, to a veteran mare. She has lots of feminine charm and grit as well. My heart went out to her as she learned to walk on front legs that were not quite ready for walking. In a couple of days she was fine, everything loosened up and she is motoring around just fine. In fact, she is one of the more energetic and daring foals so far.

Dynamic Duo

free range horse photography of a young mare and her new foal
These two are easy going and curious. The filly is a couple of days old.

The first days of March brought this little beauty.

I should mention I’ve been getting a lot of emails with no message attached. I have looked into the contact form mechanics for any errors or problems.

If you have sent messages or made comments lately, I thank you but I have not seen what you submitted. My apologies for any frustration this may have caused. I can be

reached directly at unaphoto805@gmail.com. Please don’t SPAM me.

Rejoining the Herd

free range horse photography of a new mother rejoining the herd with her newborn after giving birth
After some much needed privacy, this new mother strolls quietly back to her herd mates a few hours after giving birth.

 

free range horse photography of a new mother rejoining the herd after giving birth
Surveying the scene, a new mother cautiously rejoins her herd mates with her newborn foal.

Most mares find a quiet place away from the rest of the herd to give birth. Usually, the other horses are within sight distance, a normal expectation for a flight animal that depends on cues from herd mates for safety. Sometimes it takes days, or even weeks, for a mare to introduce her new foal to the rest of the horses. More often than not, a few hours of solitude to give the foal a chance to get steady on it’s feet and nurse are enough before the comfort of the group is required again. A wise stallion does not interfere with the distancing the mares seek to give birth and bond with their newborn.

Masterpiece Moment

 

free range horse photography of a mare & new foal in spring landscape
This year spring has not let go of winter for That Herd.

“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.”

–Claude Monet

Encouraging Nuzzles

free range horse photography of a newborn foal being welcomed by his mother
Within minutes of birth, already tired from repeatedly trying to stand, this newborn gets some encouraging nuzzles from his mother.

I happened to be in the right place at the right time and witnessed a morning birth. The mare simply laid down among her herd mates and had a baby.

With the placenta sack still covering half it’s body, this newborn began his attempts to get to his feet.

After about ten minutes of testing gravity with instinctive efforts to stand, he relented and caught his breath.

In this moment, the mother licked and nuzzled her new baby paying particular attention to his floppy ears.

Within thirty minutes of being born, he managed to get one leg under all four corners, so to speak. Swaying unsteadily with his front legs propped stiffly out in front he experienced balance for the first time. I was struck by how thick his legs were; they were like posts. I have rarely seen knees that big on a newborn. Uneven terrain, gusty wind, and mother’s attempts to impede curious herd mates complicated his locomotion but he persevered as a flight animal must. Witnessing birth in a natural setting is intense because the hazards seem countless and the little victories essential.

Late March Arrivals

 

free range horse photography of a spotted mare and her new colt
Beautiful weather brought a new member to That Herd; a sturdy colt.

This mare put a lot of effort into keeping a lot of distance between us. After some quiet waiting,

I got close enough to observe the foal’s  distinctive nose bump and a strip that runs off to one side.

It looks like white paint was dribbled on his forehead and the bump on his hose forced the stripe to run off to one side.

He was probably born the day before this image was taken.

 

 

free range horse photography of a fuzzy newborn colt and mother
A mare and very newborn colt bask in springtime warmth.

Evidence of a very recent birth showed the newborn was barely dry when the early morning sun arrived.

The brown colt is quite fuzzy and has unusual eye color; he seemed rather confident in his ability to navigate with his new land legs.

The mare had no problem with showing off her new foal to me which was a welcome difference from the other mare.

I love it when the mares and babies strike a pose. While I was enjoying watching this new guy, a mare laid down to give birth nearby. What an event-filled morning!

Spooning

free range horse photography of two mares napping together
Horses are social animals but napping together this close is unusual.

After lots of rain I saw many horses napping in the sunshine. This sight, however, was a surprise. I’ve not seen mature horses lie down together so closely that they lean on each other. Even more surprising is that these two mares don’t necessarily hang out together. The brown mare is quite old and the paint is not. It may not be a perfect picture because of the stems but it is worthy of sharing simply for the unique moment it captures. Because they appear to be spooning the scientist in me wants to bring up anthropomorphizing, but I won’t; the sight was simply too cute to not share.

anthropomorphism | ˌanTHrəpəˈmôrfizəm | noun    the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.