Explaining His Intention

Stallions can be curious creatures, sometimes almost romantic and sometimes brutish. In a moment of introduction, this stallion confirms the receptiveness of a mare.

When clicking on this individual post, a list of some other moments on this blog about mare and stallion interactions is easily accessed under the main image.

free range horse photography
The herd stallion greets a receptive mare.

Five Years With A Favorite

It has been five years since I first laid eyes on this ordinary bay colt. One of the last foals of the year, born with tight front leg tendons, this newborn colt caught my attention. He was not flashy or attention grabbing in the usual ways. It was the valiant effort he made to keep up with his mother, his expression one of earnest concentration, his resilience in navigating his bent knees over the challenging terrain and through the vegetation, that stood out. In a few days, his tendons were normal and he marched about with curiosity and good-natured acceptance of whatever presented itself to him. At five years old, he has the same thoughtful expression and pleasant disposition. He remains respectable in every way. He has remained a personal favorite of mine in the herd.

wild horse photography of a five year old colt
A favorite That Herd colt turns five years old.

The Commander

The behavior of a herd stallion changes often and with a moment’s notice. One minute, he may doze alone in the shade, the next moment he may thunder into the mares, head high, bellowing, marching about, with his tail sweeping from side to side. He may turn from quiet grazing to rambunctious patrols in an instant. Often, his expression may turn from gentle acceptance to fierce commander, as in this image.

wild horse photography of a commanding stallion
The behavior of a herd stallion is complex and changes in a moment.

Thistle Eating 101

I have a lot to say about horses eating thistles when surrounded by other (seemingly better) choices, I just don’t have a lot to say right now. In the mean time, here is a delightful, good-natured mare eating a thistle with plenty of other grasses underfoot.

wild horse photography of a thistle eating mare
Horses eating thistles when there are plenty of other choices is always a wonder.

Welcome, Your Largeness

Well, she’s huge, and I don’t mean the bay filly in the background (who I call Chunk), I mean the newly born filly. She is a day old in this image. Again, and still, I am forced to marvel at the fact that she was, just hours before, rolled up inside the mare. Inconceivable!

wild horse photography of a large newborn
A very large day-old filly.

Wonderful Relief

“Where the waters do agree, it is quite wonderful the relief they give.”

–Jane Austen, Emma

(Even for a horse)

wild horse photography of a paint mare in a pond
Warmer days make the pond a wonderful place.

Attitude Is Everything

An underdog in age and size, this new colt is all powerful when perched on this dirt mound. Hilariously, all of the foals spent time exploring the power of elevated position on a couple of mounds of dirt one morning. They strode confidently around the pinnacle of the mound, defending their position from curious herd mates.

wild horse photography of a rearing foal
Attitude is everything for this young foal.

Daily Dose

Here is your daily dose of cuteness. I could provide an hourly dose of cuteness, if I only had more time to devote to this archive. I am delighted to report that there are many moments of foal cuteness and discovery to come.

wild horse photography of a fine featured new colt
The delicate features of a new colt disguise his toughness.

Dreamscape

This carefree romp is brought to you by the That Herd stallion. Life is good.

wild horse photography of a romping stallion
A carefree moment for the herd stallion.

Self Confidence

Bravely standing right in the middle of somewhat tense communication between a stallion and his mother, this colt correctly displays the submissive mouth gnashing behavior. Many foals are intimidated by the stallion and keep their distance out of respect, but this colt has had no problem with greeting and interacting when the stallion is in close proximity. Even in this moment, he stands squarely in the middle of negotiations.

wild horse photography of communication between a stallion and mare
Communication between a stallion and mare observed by an intrepid colt.

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.

Lookin’ Good

The herd stallion, looking quite fancy.

wild horse photography of a fancy stallion
A stallion shows he’s got some moves.

Isn’t She Lovely

This is a lovely mare. She is large and independent. Her face is expressive and refined for her size. She has been lauded on this photo blog for her achievements in bringing some very large foals into this world. She is my most liked subject on Instagram and other media. This year she has a large colt with four stockings and a blaze; he is a beauty. The colt also sports some interesting blue spots in one eye. He is shy and serious, so far. Unfortunately, she is chewing in this image but I liked the light and tall oats.

wild horse photography of a lovely mare and serious colt
A lovely mare and her serious colt.

Three Wins With a Bonus

I call this a That Herd trifecta. Scenery, and an alert mare with a newborn foal, the knee high grass is an added bonus.

wild horse photography of a mare and new foal with scenery
A very capable mare and her newborn foal in a lovely setting.

Willing and Able

The first hours and days of a foal’s life are my favorite to observe. They overcome a steep amount of obstacles, both physiological and cognitive in a very short space of time. Absolutely everything is new and negotiable.This particular little guy is only hours old in this picture and is already willing and able to bounce about and boldly explore between moments of wobbly uncertainty. I loved him immediately.

wild horse photography of a flashy newborn colt
Only hours old and this colt is able and happy to frisk about, even with legs that are still straightening.

Boundaries

A mare enforces her personal safety boundary by moving away when I arrive. I respect their comfort zone with my visits. Most mares are less comfortable when they have a new foal, and sometimes they are aggressive about getting near. Usually, as the foals get older, the mares become more at ease with personal boundaries for themselves and their foals.

wild horse photography of a mare and new foal
Keeping a close eye on me, this mare moves her new foal further away.

New Presence

I have taken my time in introducing the That Herd stallion this year. He is a new individual to me, and I wanted to get a sense of what kind of horse he is. At this point, he seems very tolerant of my visits and displays a wide range of attitudes toward the mares. From aloof, to tolerant, to nurturing, to dismissive, he has shown many sides. Granted, I am only observing for very small pieces of time in the grand scheme of a 24 hour day. It is interesting to have observed so many different characteristics in these small moments though. It is evidence of how complex and individual horses are, especially when they have the freedom to interact and express their personalities among other horses.

wild horse photography of a large dark stallion
The herd stallion appears quite large in comparison to an average sized That Herd mare.

Flattery

Newborn foals appear in a wide variety of weights, and sizes, and proportions. This colt looks darn cute here, but he will need a little time to grow into his head and ears. Some of his first photos are downright hilarious due to his pointy angles, large-furry-bent ears and his generally likeable demeanor.

wild horse photography of a newborn colt
Newborn foal’s sometimes need a day or two to fill out and straighten wrinkled ears.

Nature’s Pretty Neat

Many mares, new to motherhood, have never even seen a baby horse, so how do they understand their own birth experience and nurturing of their own foal? A strong mix of sensory, hormonal, olfactory, and visual cues combine to ensure new mothers are capable of caring for the birth of their first (and subsequent) offspring. Witnessing the birth and bonding of the mares and their foals is always awe inspiring. So many changes, in rapid succession, are required for the success and health of both the mother and the baby in a natural setting, that every success seems a miracle. But it’s not a miracle. It’s the magnificent efficiency of nature and body chemistry perfected over time. It occurs over and over in nature with all animals. Do horses love their foals? It is uncertain if animals are capable of the variants of love that humans experience. Certainly, they form strong attachments and are often very nurturing and attentive; a form of love, to be sure.

wild horse photography of a new mother and her colt
The expression of this mare shows her concern and bewilderment with her new foal.

Sorting Things Out

Even the experienced mothers of many previous foals seem on edge this spring. The mares have been wary and reticent to share their offspring so far this year. Patience is always required, but this year extra patience seems necessary. This is a new foal and though she looks a little disheveled and bent-leggy here, is quite pretty. The newborn foals get things sorted in a matter of only a day or two.

wild horse photography of a cautious mare and new foal
A new foal has this veteran mother in full-alert mode.