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.

Mini Parade

free range horse photography of a strolling newborn colt and his mother
Like a mini parade, a new mother and very newborn filly stroll by like pros.

After what surely must have been a trying few hours for both mother and filly, they gift me with an image like this.

Emerging from the shelter of the trees, touched by the early morning sun, these two troopers quietly walk to a new resting place.

With their legs in perfect opposite synchronicity and  relaxed manner they made an endearing parade of motherhood and new life.

A solid little foal, she was surprisingly composed for only being a couple of hours old. I was struck by how big her knees were/are.

Pure Moxie

free range horse photography of an adorable new foal
This bold filly knows no fear in her first couple of days.

Mingling with the mature mares as if she were a seasoned member of the club, this filly is completely nonchalant.

No signs of confusion or anxiety appear as she strolls amongst her superiors.

This new filly showed appropriate signs of humility when met with nods of domination from the mares she wandered too near; she was respectful but never seemed to question her choices.

She is immediately likable for her complete refusal to be seen as less than.

moxie | ˈmäksē | (also moxy) noun North American informal: force of character, determination, or nerve

Fortitude

free range horse photography of a young black stallion in stormy landscape
Confrontational may be too strong of a general description for this young stallion, but sometimes he is.

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted.

It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility.

All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently,

builds up our characters, purifies our hearts,

expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable,

more worthy … ”

– Orson F. Whitney

Stormy times for us all globally coincide with stormy days (weather-wise) for That Herd.

 

 

Blessed Beginning

free range horse photography of a mare and her new foal in a beautiful meadow
Whatever comes next, his first days were sweet.

” … The future was an infinite horizon over which the sun still glimmered its early morning promise.

Everything has a smell and every smell was fresh — the morning air, the sun on the bitumen, the evening rain.

There was just today and that felt like more than enough. … ”

– Richard Flanagan, First Person

(replace bitumen with earth)

Ladies-In-Waiting

free range horse photography of mares and oak trees
Near these oak trees is a favorite territory for mares who will foal this year.

The most correct definition of ladies-in-waiting has nothing to do with being pregnant, but it suits this image. All of the mares in this image should have a foal within the next couple of months.

Baby!

free range horse photography of a newborn foal with deer
Only a day or two old and he’s already a master at loping around.

Everyone welcome the first new That Herd member of 2020; a chestnut colt!

Deer and other wildlife mingling near the horses is a common occurrence.

Ordinary-ness

free range horse photography of a horse in late day light
A fitting portrait of a tranquil soul in a magical setting.

“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” — G.K. Chesterton

While this horse may be considered “a valley compared to a peak”, there is worth in a demeanor of steady good=natured energy, especially within a group such as a herd or rowdies. His very ordinary-ness is infectious and relatable. Being big and strong and pretty aren’t ordinary, but when you’re those things and amiable as well, you risk being second string.

From his earliest days, this horse has at most, made me laugh out loud, and at least, brought a wry smile to my face as I observe his interactions with his herd mates and the discoveries in his natural environment. Well done, lad. Keep it up.

Little Nipper

free range horse photography of young horses provoking mock battle
The chestnut filly sneaks in a provocative leg bite to a herd-mate who is not amused.

There is a constant current of energy transferred from one individual to another with this band of young horses. Bumping, nipping, leaping, and sprints are evident nearly all the time. In this image, the grey is showing admirable tolerance toward the insolent filly. His choice is to sprint away or engage. She will keep pestering him until he makes a choice.

Boundless Energy

free range horse photography of two colts galloping over a hilltop
The boundless energy of these young horses requires that they run just about everywhere they go.

Spending time with the horses that are about four or five years old leaves me smirking in amusement over their endless cavorting.

They are constantly challenging and provoking each other in hopes of lively mock battles or jostling sprints.

Stepping Up To Defend Life

I have long debated with myself about sharing images of an incident that was traumatic.

It took me almost two years to be able to review the images that are shown in this post; I was deeply upset by what I witnessed.

I am accustomed to observing a wide range of wildlife and equine behaviors and interactions; nature is often surprising in good and bad ways.

Wildlife photographers are usually powerless to intervene and/or know they must not.

I won’t post images that are any more graphic than these, but I want to honor the courage of the mares that defended a newborn foal.

A couple years ago, on a routine scouting mission to check on mares close to foaling, I observed this small group for a while.

I suspected a mare was close to giving birth, unusual in the daytime, and I lingered to capture the scene. Usually, these hours are filled with

wonder and captivating observations, but the birth event was disturbed, then chaotic. The foal, still robed in the placental sac, was investigated by curious herd-mates, much to the mother’s disapproval.

Usually, a heavily pregnant mare wanders away from the herd in the night to quietly give birth and remains secluded from the herd for hours, or days, and sometimes weeks.

This time, however, that was not the case. When a young stallion burst upon the scene, his investigations of the foal became violent. He had no experience with the birth of a foal and was agitated by the

complexity of sensory cues and defensive behavior of the mares. Most of the mares fled the location when danger became evident, but three veteran mothers fought valiantly for the victimized foal.

Without giving more details, I’ll skip to the part where I felt I must intervene and pressured the stallion to move off, which was risky, but I could not simply watch and hope for a favorable outcome.

This was too intense and the foal was in grave danger of being savaged or trampled to death.

In the end, the mother, newborn foal, and other mares were separated safely. The mare and foal recovered from their trauma and are both thriving.

Normally, social and environmental issues are sorted out as a course of nature, but this time, for better or worse, intervention occurred.

 

free range horse photography of three mares fighting to defend a newborn foal
One of a series of images where three mares relentlessly protect a newborn foal from an aggressive young stallion.
free range horse photography of three mares fighting to defend a newborn foal
One of a series of images where three mares relentlessly protect a newborn foal from an aggressive young stallion.
free range horse photography of three mares fighting to defend a newborn foal
One of a series of images where three mares relentlessly protect a newborn foal from an aggressive young stallion.
free range horse photography of three mares fighting to defend a newborn foal
One of a series of images where three mares relentlessly protect a newborn foal from an aggressive young stallion.
free range horse photography of three mares fighting to defend a newborn foal
One of a series of images where three mares relentlessly protect a newborn foal from an aggressive young stallion.
free range horse photography of three mares fighting to defend a newborn foal
One of a series of images where three mares relentlessly protect a newborn foal from an aggressive young stallion.

… Nature can be cruel. Predators are everywhere … in the wild the female species can be far more ferocious than their male counterparts. Defending the nest is both our oldest and strongest instinct …

–Emily Thorne

Memory Lane

wild horse photography portrait of two foals
These two colts had just been running laps around a group of oak trees on a hillside. Several times these two and several others slipped and fell in the dry leaves but jumped up and played on, undeterred. All the foals perform feats of great sure-footedness and stamina from day one. They really seemed to be having fun that morning.
wild horse photography of two colts
Matching colors on these half brothers.

 

wild horse photography of two colts face biting
The colts are in a constant state of provoking, testing, and tolerating each other. The also bond with each other and have a hierarchy of status among their herd-mates.

The blaze-faced chestnut colt was a favorite of all the other foals in 2014. You can see him being lavished with attention by a few of his fellow herd mates in this trio of images. I went back to 2014 to remind everyone that there is lots of interesting content about That Herd that goes back for several years. Also, I should mention that I have lost the use of my computer as it is undergoing a costly repair (again). My photographic productivity is at a standstill. Fresh content will be coming along soon. We have 2020 foals to look forward to!

Every Man’s Birthday

free range horse photography of a group of mares and fillies
After several days of rain a group of mares and fillies emerge from the woods to investigate my arrival.

Every new year brings opportunity for each pregnant mare to fulfill her potential to create a sturdy and contributing life to That Herd. Once January arrives, expectation grows with each passing week, knowing that the mares carry a new life. In each pregnant mare, a waiting gift to be welcomed. Hopefully, next month will bring the first foal(s) to That Herd.

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.” –Charles Lamb (I just like the sentiment; welcome 2020)