The best playground ever!
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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.
” … 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)
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.
“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.
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!.
Horses form close relationships that become subgroups within a herd setting. While it may be anthropomorphic to say horses have friends, they definitely form bonds and make choices within the herd about spending time with favored herd mates. This colt, as a foal, was often entertaining in his interactions with other horses. His personality was inquisitive and social toward not only the other foals but also the adult mares and stallion. Certainly, individual dispositions play a role in this subgroup/friend dynamic. Also, it has been said that horses of a lighter color are often less accepted in herds. There are a couple of theories about why that could be true, but I don’t see that happening as a rule within That Herd.
The growth of a foal is exponential immediately after birth. Not only their body tissues and functions, but their brains transition at an impressive, and necessary rate. These horses are quite comfortable with standing or running water sources. Even this colt, only in his first day of life, seems right at home in the water. Observing horses in water is always mesmerizing. Maybe this is because water is not a usual environment for horses and this makes them appear almost magical in that setting.
This is how you find these two foals, always together. The grey fell in love with this dark filly the first day they met. He has shadowed her ever since. Rarely leaving her side, he is a model of devotion. The mother of the filly tolerates his affections entirely.
Color genetics with horses is not without complexity. A new buckskin in the herd this year inspired me to revisit what I know about color genetics. Without getting into the science of it all and in the simplest terms, black and red are the two basic equine color pigments. A horse’s ability to reproduce theses pigments is an inherited trait, with red being recessive to black. Each pigment can be modified by other genes, including dilution genes. Buckskin color is black-based and a dilute version of the color bay, another black-based coat color. White markings are, simply stated, a matter of chance.
The marking on this colt’s face reminds me of a family crest or a royal scepter, a figure of royal authority. This seems fitting since he is handsome enough to be a prince.
Hidden in the woods, a veteran mother keeps a close eye on my approach as her newly foaled buckskin colt delicately explores the world. As the mare’s due dates approach, anticipation of discovering a new foal escalates into pervasive distraction. On those few mornings that reward you with a new baby to meet, life is good.
Only in his first day of life and this new colt wades right into the pond with his mother. So far, every newborn foal that encounters the pond carefully steps in without hesitation. When you have no life experience I guess everything is possible. It is amazing that with every passing minute and hour they are completely able to learn balance and obstacle negotiation on land as well as water, along with every other new sensation and bodily function that comes with life in the “outside world”.
Just looking at this image you cannot tell how tall the foal is. The mare is substantial in size and height. This is her first foal, and he is quite large for a newborn. He is all legs and (I mean this in a good way), all face. I have no doubt that he will grow into his parts and be a beautiful colt. I think he’s striking and he has an air of intelligence, like his mother.
I know what you’re thinking; no spots. Well, I must say, he is spectacular anyway. He’s big, and solid, and long legged, with flashy white; what more could you ask for? And, yes, he’s a colt. Colts are in the minority this year, so let’s hear it for the boys! Welcome to the long legged, handsome boy! The white on his face looks like some sort of royal symbol …
A newborn image of the first foal of 2019 for the nostalgia of his cuteness. Now he’s a rough and ready brute of a colt.
Conjuring visions of unicorns in mystical forests, this colt displays wondrous confidence and agility for one so young. He was not startled or fleeing, he was simply filled with the joy of life, and acted out with impulsive, light-hearted energy. He was only five days old on this April morning.