Far From Ordinary

free range horse photography of a unique white ear tip on new foal
Besides the length of his face from eye to muzzle, he has a white ear tip, making him doubly unique.

Ordinary is not a label that fits this colt. He was born with an extra velvety hair coat, a distinctive long face, pale eyes, and a tiny white ear tip with long white hairs.

He is one day old in this image, that was about four months ago. His mother is mostly a loner, she takes to the company of one chosen horse for as long as possible. This year she spends her time with the palomino mare so her colt and this one spend a lot of time together. They are half brothers connected by the same sire and full brothers connected by companionship.

If Days Had Halos

Free range horse photography of a newborn foal and mother in tall green grass
The foals born in April will not be ticklish on their bellies after all the tall-grass-marching they did.

In direct contrast to today’s wildfire and extreme-heat ravaged California, this memory is connected to a glorious California morning in mid April. Mild in temperature and robed in glittering dewy refreshment, the morning was so beautiful and the native grasses so lush, I didn’t discover this new foal for some time. This spring (when removed from the pandemic devastation) was sweet. Sweet for casual observers and a sweet time to be born without fences. Cheers to this colt’s day of birth, a divine day indeed. If days could have halos, this one surely would have.

Around the Mountain

In an amusing trick of nature, this colt’s white face marking drips down his face seemingly detoured by the large (noble) bump on his face.

When you can’t climb the mountain; go around it!

His coat is dotted with foxtails from napping in the grass. Among the herd he seems like a solid citizen, not too dramatic and not too laid-back.

free range horse photography of a colt with an unusual face marking
Like an ice cream cone dripping down a child’s arm, this colt’s face marking drips down his face and pools at his muzzle.

Born For Adventure

I had my work cut out for me on the morning this foal was born. Mother followed the herd on a round trip of a couple of miles, over hillsides and through the woods, all in about an hour. There were a couple of opportunities to document some great vistas with a new foal, which does not happen often. The new colt was a trooper, never faltering and never lying down. While I can’t know exactly when he was born, it had been less than 24 hours since I’d seen Mom and she still had baby on board. So, I guess he was not more than several hours old when he accomplished this hike with his herd mates.

free range horse photography of a newborn colt on a mountain top
Lord of all he sees; in this setting even a newly born foal looks like a king.

 

free range horse photography of a mare on a hilltop with her newborn colt
Majestic setting for a newly born foal’s first field trip.

 

free range horse photography of a mare communicating with her new foal
Rising mist hides the scenery behind this mare with her new foal.

 

free range horse photography of a mare and hours-old foal covering some territory
It was quite a journey for this new foal to follow his mother up and over a couple of hilltops so soon after being born.

Lying Low

The mare off by herself was an indication that she might be hiding a surprise. The tall mustard stalks made it challenging to get a peek at this new kid without getting too close. He was lying quietly in a thick patch of flowering mustard, his mother standing guard above him. Eventually, he stood up and I took a couple quick pics before the mare moved away. Somehow the colt had a puffy eye but he was none the worse for wear otherwise. He was quite a large newborn, so entering this world may have been a bit bruising for all involved. I kept my distance throughout the morning as the mare was needing lots of space to feel comfortable.

free range horse photography of an early morning arrival: a nursing colt
Early morning arrival; a new colt nurses before the sunrise.

 

free range horse photography of a very strong new colt
Not quite comfortable in his new world, his face shows determination and concern keeping up with mom in the tall mustard weed.

 

free range horse photography of a moment in the sun for a mare and new baby
Venturing out from the shade of thick trees, a moment of bright sun shows the new foal’s puffy eye and mom’s alert vigilance.

Textbook Mom Anchor

free range horse photography of a mare and new foal resting in the shade
Taking a break from the glaring morning sun after a long morning of birth and bonding.

With her usual “keep your distance” glare after giving birth, I get the stink-eye from mom. I must admit she was more generous with her distance requirement this year. Usually, she is on the move to disappear as soon as she sees me approaching after she has foaled and she tests the limits of my telephoto zoom lens.

free range horse photography of a newborn foal marching to keep up with mother
Marching to navigate the tall grasses, a newborn sticks close to mom.

With a determination visible by the set of his jaw, this little guy dutifully maintains close contact with his mother in the first hours of his life.

free range horse photography of a pale palomino newborn
Being born is hard work; at a few hours old, this colt’s expression is not a care-free one.

 

free range horse photography of a tired newborn colt
At this point he just wanted a nap. A drip of milk visible in his nose.

Many times newly born foals maintain close contact with their mothers, as if they were still connected by a cord. This colt, born May 19, was no exception. He had a very busy morning and seemed a bit flustered with all the complexities of “life on the outside”. Mom was his anchor in these trying hours.

 

Chillin’

free range horse photography of a colt using his mother as a backrest
Look who’s at ease using his mother as a backrest.

A brief recess from my ongoing parade of newborns allows me to show you this laid back little dude.

He looks quite comfortable leaning on his mother’s front legs, as if propped up on pillows. Mom doesn’t seem to mind; she stood like a statue until he popped up.

The colt is quite a brute these days, size wise. This was in early April, and the green grass was abundant.

(‘Chill’ is a North American informal adjective for easy going or very relaxed for all you international viewers).

Little Jackrabbit of a Foal

free range horse photography of an older mare and her pint sized newborn foal
A steady older mare welcomes a cute little-jackrabbit-foal.

 

free range horse photography of a portrait of proud mother and tiny new foal
Portrait of a proud mother and tiny new foal.

 

free range horse photography of an older foal greeting a newborn foal
An older colt greets a newborn foal highlighting the difference four weeks can make in size.

The color of the grass gives away how behind I am in keeping up with new birth announcements. Now, in the first week of June the grasses are golden and dry. The last days of April brought a couple new foals, this wee filly was one of them. Born to a solid older mare, her small size is nature’s kindness to a veteran mother. Not to worry, the new foal has grown quickly and is as solid as any of her older siblings and definitely holds her own like a champ. The third image shows an older herd mate greeting her kindly while her skeptical mother stands guard over the colt’s manners.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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)

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.

Not Just Another Pretty Face

free range horse photography of a handsome colt
Lots of white, a flaxen mane and tail, and an expressive face give this colt lots of eye appeal.

This image was taken about a year ago at age three. I have not seen this colt for many months but I look forward to seeing who he is becoming. Below is an image from his first hours of life. He is wet from a trip into the pond with only a few wobbly hours under his belt. If you go way back into previous posts (May, 2015), there are some stories about his first day. To get you started, if you click on the title of this post there is a link at the bottom of the page to a previous post about this foal titled What a Morning!.

 

wild horse photography of an intrepid newborn colt
Rapidly absorbing so many new sights and sensations, this newborn is well on his way to being a clever native born herd member.