Still the Happiest Horse in the World

This flashy fellow has found a place with That Herd. Born an American Mustang, this gelding was adopted and trained, but now is enjoying a wild lifestyle once again. He truly looks like he enjoys himself and he makes a pretty picture.

wild horse photography of a flashy paint
This tri-color paint, born an American mustang, now lives with That Herd.

My Morning Traffic

As the sun was just about to rise above the shielding mountain, the mares and foals emerged from a steep woody area and filed past my position. This foal marched past, on guard, but not afraid when she saw me. What a beautiful, sweet face she had that morning.

wild horse photography of a beautiful young foal
What a sweet expression this two-week old foal has.

What a Morning!

A very new newborn colt tries to make sense out of a very busy morning. His first hours filled with following his mother into the pond, circling the meadow with the herd and being born all in about three hours. Whew.

wild horse photography of a mare and newborn foal
A very new newborn foal tries to make sense of a very busy morning.

Bonding

The nursing reflex in a newborn is strong. They experiment for hours even after they have had several successes at finding mother’s milk.

wild horse photography of a newborn bonding with her mother
The nursing reflex in a newborn foal is strong.

Snooze Behavior

I can’t say I’ve ever seen this particular behavior before. This is not the first moments of typical climb-on-Mom wackiness; it is more like sudden-snooze behavior. There was no climbing or frisking about like you see in rowdy, older foals. The foal is still quite young here, so this is just funny.

wild horse photography of a new foal resting on the rump of mother
I’m just amused by this behavior. It is not the typical, climb-on-Mom behavior, more like sudden-snooze behavior.

Evidence of a Good Mother

This mare, bless her heart, waited patiently with her sleeping two-day-old foal while the rest of the herd drank and played at the pond on a warm spring day. All the others took their time in the water drinking and rolling in the mud. Eventually, they ambled back up toward the trees. It must have been hard to resign herself to wait while her foal slept. Once the foal finally rose, the mother didn’t even wait for the foal to nurse; she headed straight for the pond. This surprised (and delighted me) because the stallion had long since moved the others a distance away. This could be considered defiance of his perimeter. After all that waiting, she marched right in and took a good, long drink. The new foal did not hesitate one moment when striding through the sticky mud to join her. Together they drank and waded and pawed in the water. The stallion had long since gathered and moved the other mares and foals away. When he came back for some unruly returning mares the new mother looked concerned. Avoiding discipline from the stallion is an ongoing worry for the mares and foals. The stallion, however, only took the single mares and left them to finish their time in the water. With apparent relief, she lingered another few moments then dutifully rejoined the herd. A couple of days earlier, when her foal was newly born, the stallion had again kindly relaxed his demands on her staying with the others. He did not enforce his herd boundaries on her, rather, he left her alone to bond with her newborn.

wild horse photography of a mare and new foal wading in a pond
A mare with her two day old foal take advantage of pond access on an extra warm spring day.

Mountain Top Grazers

Mountain top grazing turned to restless movement, then down the steep slope they went. That Herd moves with equal ease from high to low or low to higher territories.

wild horse photography of several horses crossing a mountain side location
Restless milling about high on a mountainside evolves into horses on the move to lower browsing locations.

You Go, Girl!

Just look at the buoyancy and light-hearted spirit in this very pregnant mare! With her eyes lit up and her positive disposition, she is a sight to behold.

wild horse photography of a very pregnant, very lively mare
Late in her pregnancy this mare still has a spring in her step and high spirits. Bravo!

Contemplating the Beauty

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserve of strength

that will endure as long as life lasts.

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-

the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

–Rachel Carson

wild horse photography of mares and new foals in late afternoon light
Late afternoon light highlights a beautiful, peaceful moment on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

A Million Distractions

Like any baby, this week old foal is willing to put anything it his mouth. Moving through a tall mustard seed patch, this week old colt seems entertained by the oddity of his surroundings after the more usual grassy hills.

wild horse photography of a new foal in tall mustard plants
A new foal in a forest of mustard plant stalks.

Perspective

“Climb up some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.

– Robb Sagendorph

wild horse photography of a buckskin horse near a mountain top with scenery
Just before sunrise and just after a lot of searching, this horse and several of his herd mates were found high above the valley floor.

A Parade of Yearlings

Wintering yearlings in a dramatic landscape march past in a well ordered sequence.

wild horse photography of a parade of yearlings in a rocky landscape
A few hairy yearlings march across my path as they move out behind the leading older horses.

Spring Palette

I couldn’t help but think this colt, with his brown on white spots, in this soft springtime palette, looked like an Easter Bunny.

wild horse photography of a flashy paint colt in a late afternoon palette of color
What a pretty lad he is in this image; flashy and showing some attitude.

 

 

 

 

Fitful Romps

Pouring rain energized these newly weaned colts and fillies on an autumn day. They alternated between brief periods of galloping in groups to nervous grazing on the fresh grass. The first week without their mothers is fraught with a million over-reactions which bloom into fitful romps.

wild horse photography of colts running in the rain
Pouring rain does not dampen the spirits of these newly weaned colts and fillies.

Burst of Friskiness

This foal caught me by surprise with it’s burst of exuberant energy; this spontaneous friskiness did not go unnoticed by a nearby herd mate.

wild horse photography of a frisky foal
This youngster’s spontaneous burst of friskiness does not go unnoticed.

Observable Evidence

A tender moment between a foal and it’s mother. The expression on the foal’s face is filled with fondness. Moments like these make it harder to not attach human attributes to animals. The perceptions about animal emotions and motivations have long been a topic of conversation; science, art history, mythology, religion, literature and film all have anthropomorphism entwined into their histories. I have long been cautioned to avoid assumptions that animals share any of the same social and emotional capacities of humans and I’m okay with that. Observable evidence is the term used with animal behavior. I have to admit, though, that sometimes the observable evidence looks very human.

This foal spent several moments touching and nuzzling it’s mother’s face, whiskers, eyes and neck. The foal appeared to be simply exploring and connecting with it’s mom. The mare seemed to enjoy the attention and reciprocated delicately.

wild horse photography of a foal nuzzling it's mother
A foal reaches out in a tender moment with it’s mother.

 

Good Mother, Two Versions

Mares give a quick nip to the hamstring of roughly nursing foals to remind them to be gentle. However, as shown in the second image, mares are more often gentle and attentive with their babies. This is the same mare and foal, in case that’s not obvious.

wild horse photography of a mare disciplining her rough foal
A quick nip to the hamstring reminds this foal to be gentle when nursing. A good mother is also one who disciplines her foal for rough or disrespectful behavior.
wild horse photography of a mare and nursing foal
A good mother gently nuzzling her nursing foal.

Night Was Arranging Herself Around Us

” … the redness had seeped from the day and night was arranging herself around us. Cooling things down, staining and dyeing the evening purple and blue black.”

— Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

wild horse photography of a mare under a dramatic sky
One mare strides past as dusk settles in; a dramatic sky suspended overhead.

Kids Not Running

Kids not running is just not going to happen.

wild horse photography of weanlings and yearlings running in the rain
Weanlings and yearlings rarely walk from place to place, especially if it’s raining.

Adaptability

“All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.”

–Max McKeown

This old mare manages quite well in her environment with the limitation of having only one eye. She has raised several foals and maintained a great attitude; she is an integral member of her herd.

wild horse photography of a one eyed mare and her foal
This old mare has adapted to a free-roaming lifestyle with only one eye with great success.