Without the noise and control of a domestic lifestyle, horses manage to get along just fine. This first-time mother had an early fall foal. Born practically on the vernal equinox, she is months behind her young herd mates, but that won’t matter. The fall and winter months here do not have harsh weather and these are free range–not wild–horses so they are not without help when it is needed. Like many birthing mothers in a natural environment, this mare secluded herself for a period of time then rejoined the increased safety of the herd. This image was taken nearing the end of their first day together. The filly is a duplicate copy of her mother, which is endearing. Directly before this captured moment, a group of wild turkeys and a black-tail buck appeared into the same frame as the mare and foal, they were all mere feet from each other. It reminded me that the horses live in direct closeness with a wide range of wildlife and natural rhythms, which contributes to a natural horse, a better horse.
In an open meadow, with no place to hide, one does the best one can.
Are they wild? No, but they live as if they were wild. That Herd horses are free range horses. They are privately owned and lightly managed. The horses mainly exist with no assistance quite well. When there is a need, the rancher steps in to administer care or support.
Can you pet them? No, but they are often approachable. For the most part, consider them wildlife with all the considerations that goes with encountering a wild animal.
Do I cue them, use rewards or treats, or try to alter their behavior in any way to get the shot? No, but there have been occasions when I intervened when a newborn foal was in danger.
Do they roam freely? Yes! Their territories are fenced, but most of the spaces they live in are hundreds, or thousands of acres bordered by private ranches or federal lands.
Do the mares live with a stallion? Sometimes, but the stallion is not part of the herd year-round.
Do they spread wonder and joy to anyone who is fortunate enough to observe them? Yes, always.
It is common for the foals, from their first day, to traverse all of the rolling countryside where That Herd roams, even steep ascents and descents.
This duo popped up out of a deep canyon to an early sunny horizon. The filly is greeting her second day with sturdy determination.
After a morning of labor and birth, this mother needs to lie down and pass the placenta. Freed from her internal burden of several months and the bright morning sunshine, she is not easily roused. The foal, a filly, was energetic and bouncy right away and persistently and almost comically circled, nickered, and leaped about in an effort to unlock the mystery of her low mother.
I cannot seem to put into words how beautiful these little moments are. His journey has begun.
Like a lucky omen, this filly has lifted our spirits and excitement for what is to come.
True to That Herd form, she has already crammed a lot of living into the few hours since her birth.
I think they would rather run me over than the cactus if it came to that.
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night;
to be elated by a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring–
these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”
Wild horses and domestic horses are genetically the same. Roaming freely, living in herd groups, and foraging for feed and water are all
actions natural to horses. The majority of stabled and confined horses would adapt to a free range environment if given the opportunity.
Even the new foals that horse owners often over-protect are quite capable of stamina and social interactions from the first hours of birth.
The first day for this filly was filled with roaming surrounded by herd mates, and varied terrain. She is quite content after a full day of life lessons, resting on a hillside with her mother standing guard.
For years now, I have shared important emotional bonds with That Herd members. Present at a large number of their births and early foal-life days, I have become invested in their continuing success and maturity journeys. Each visit brings joy, wonder, pride, and a renewed sense of stewardship, if only in the eyes-on/peace-of-mind kind of way. Each horse is an individual with their own unique qualities, most endearing and inspiring. Their life strategies and strong wills are a testament to equine instinct and resilience.
This filly reminds me of her mother in all the best ways. Foaled near an old wooden picnic table in the middle of no where, she and her mother lingered in the shade of the oak tree that sheltered the table. When her mother chose to move back toward the broodmare herd, her newborn filly casually paused to inspect the picnic table as they passed by. A small observation, but one of the life events that we share; she will always be called Picnic in my mind because of this.
Unseen by me for quite some time, I was happy to relive a familiar pose with this stand-out filly, now a mare of six years. She is and always has been independent and unflappable.
This mare is new to That Herd and so far accepting of my visits. She was, however, adamant that I would not get near her new foal.
I didn’t try hard but she did run away a lot which is why the foal looks tired. I took this image from quite far away.
I like to share images from the first days of the foals’ lives if I’m fortunate enough to get some because it highlights how quickly they change and grow.
This is the filly I call Dot from a post several days ago where she is shown with her constant companion Wheaties.
This was mid April and the meager spring grass had started to turn to brown. The succession from spring green to crispy brown grass was rapid this year.
After many weeks eagerly observing all the mares that foaled before her, this wary mare had reasons to be on alert this day. Finally, her foal arrived but it was a long day for the duo. Unlike the mares that foaled before her, she had the complication of a stallion being added to the herd. The stallion was quite eager and busy asserting his authority with the group. He was a reasonable stallion, behavior wise, but he kept the mares tightly bunched which left this mare and foal no room for seclusion or distance. Also, they were moving quite a bit and I could see the weariness in the new foal. Even in calm periods when the foal figured out how to lie down, she was quickly roused by the constant alerts from mother each time other horses got too close. This kept the filly on her feet and moving in anxious hastiness. The mare did her best to keep them both on the outside of the bunch so she could ease away from the activity of the other horses so her foal wouldn’t get stepped on or separated from her. Everything turned out just fine however, and within a couple of days the new filly was rough and ready as any other foal in the herd.
I secretly call them Wheaties and Dot.
Wheaties is a colt and Dot is a filly by the same stud.
Born within days of each other from mares that stick together, they spend a lot of their days together playing, grooming and roaming.
corker | ˈkôrkər | noun 1 an excellent or astonishing person (horse) or thing
I would bet you know a person who is completely cooperative and pleasant to be around.
The kind of person who you know will always be a team player and do the right thing.
Someone who never complains and always tries to be part of the solution.
A friendly face even when they’re not feeling their best. Well, that’s this mare as well. Meet Ruby.
She’s an amazing, resilient treasure of a horse and this is her ’21 filly at one day old.
Sometimes, fresh from the womb, foals have bent or curled ears. The ear tips straighten out in a day or two. Too bad, so cute.
After regaining her strength several days post giving birth, a veteran mother looks proud and calm in her motherhood role.
After many years without conceiving, and now several foals – all colts – later, she has a new filly to raise. With a history of giving it her all when raising foals I imagine I see a look of mental endurance-gathering this second day with her new foal. She has been known to hide away for weeks keeping a new foal all to herself. She is devoted; refusing to even lie down and rest when her foals are with her. This year she “hid in plain sight” avoiding the other horses as much as possible for the first days of May. She allows motherhood to drain away all of her reserves, her devotion is so great.
In a pure moment of free-spirited pluckiness, this newborn filly toddled straight away from her mother-shield and investigated me without hesitation. This is such an unusual occurrence that I was taken aback, but delighted. I do love the new foals and to be noticed, and in this case greeted, by the newest arrival made me feel like I was doing something right. Don’t let the seemingly nonchalant mare fool you, she is as protective a mother as any in the herd. In this case she was no match for her foal’s enthusiasm to discover everything and anything within sight. In the following moments my lens was filled with mother’s inquiring and vigilant face and a few cautious snorts. Try as she might to coax and maneuver her filly to her off side, the filly returned to nuzzle me. It was truly a natural connection experience.