The Warning

free range horse photography of a mare's warning to stay away from her colt
This is her normal warning face. Can you imagine how ferocious she could become in the face of a life or death threat?

Being a prey animal, a horse’s natural defense response is flight. However, there are occasions when standing their ground is a choice. Mares with more dominant natures will challenge any violation of their space comfort zone, especially if they have a young foal. New foals stick close to their mothers in the first days and weeks of their life. The protective instincts of the mares is greatly heightened at this time.

In the case of this mare, this is her lowest-threat-warning-face, based on that, I would not want to confront her dire threat response. The “dead eye” is an ominous indication of intent.

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.

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.

 

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.

Bright Star, Bright Future

free range horse photography portrait of a new January foal
Her star marking is blinding me.

 

free range horse photography of a mare and January foal
A January foal keeps pace with her skittish mother.

New foals in all their freshness bring thoughts of potential. Possibilities are endless when all of your talents are not yet formed. May all her strengths be mighty in mind and body.

Unsettled

free range horse photography of a young, hot-blooded mare
A hot-blooded young mare is disconcerted and insecure by her temporary loss of herd mates.

With a white-hot summer sky behind her, this head strong mare is showing a lot of emotion as she realizes the main herd has left her behind. Big and strong and dark with unique white markings, she stands out in a crowd. She had been distracting herself with water-play and most of the herd had trailed off to evening grazing sites in the meantime.

In Love With a Ninja

free range horse photography of two foals meeting nose to nose
A delicate meeting between herd mate foals.
free range horse photography of two foals meeting tenderly
The colt closes his eyes to heighten his sensory meeting with a new filly.
free range horse photography of two foals coming to an understanding
Several weeks his inferior, this filly is a force to be reckoned with for this sturdy colt.

With lightening speed, she rises up to administer a (mock) fatal jab. He never saw it coming.

Understandably Peeved

free range horse photography of an angry foal circling it's mother that stole a newborn foal
A well-meaning mare steals a newborn from another mare and her own foal is (understandably) quite irritated.

(Another picture of the sassy filly shown defending the dirt pile a couple posts back.) In this image she is circling her mother with confusion and irritation over the attention given to another foal. Her beloved mother has stolen another mare’s newborn foal and everything got really weird after that. This event required intervention and I’m happy to report that the confused newborn was reunited with her mother and they were separated from the herd for a while to bond. All is well for all the horses and the brief disruption to the sassy filly’s esteem is corrected.

Defending the Dirt Pile

free range horse photography of a foal rearing in mock battle
She’s a scrappy little filly.

In defense of her dirt pile, this filly shows her “I mean business” side. Her quick temper has been displayed with old or young herd mates, and her tireless and doting mother for many weeks.,

Giggle and Skitter About

Any one of the recent realities: excessive heat, intense thunderstorms, earthquakes, wild fires, and a near total solar eclipse could explain the wacky behavior of these young mares one morning. However, like a pack of twittering girls, these fillies are tuned into any excuse to giggle and skitter about for frivolous reasons. It should be noted though, this is still evidence of real herd behaviors that lead to success in the wild. Sticking together and fight or flight are essential tools. Even so many generations removed from authentic wild and feral ancestors, horses that are given the opportunity to live and problem solve in a wild environment tune into their instincts in a relatively short span of time. The information is still in their DNA.

free range horse photography of wacky mare behavior
Like synchronized swimmers, That Herd mares twirl and prance about.

Adrenaline Queen Meets Casual

This scrappy mare, small in stature and big on attitude, is always the first, or far worse, the last, to cause a disruption in any form of control over the That Herd lifestyle. It’s that last-minute-disruption-drama that gets her equal admiration for cleverness and frustrated curses from those she thwarts. Because of this history with her, I love this image. She is on high alert since the birth of her new colt, twitching and wheeling at every turn of feather or blade of grass, but her foal has the demeanor (so far) of casual indifference, even to her constant dramas.

wild horse photography of a clever mare and newborn foal
The causal attitude of the foal in this image directly conflicts with his mother’s reputation as a trouble maker.