Prickly Pear

” … I am in a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow, I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain.

Of birds circling in flight, I am the starshine of the night.

I am the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room.

I am the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing. … ”

–Mary Elizabeth Frye

free range horse photography of a mare that deserves honors
In honor of a life well-lived. Just a horse, I know, but I really admired her qualities; she was always sharp witted and self confident.

I have many images of her. Her qualities as a horse stood out in memorable ways.

Even at an advanced age, this image from nine months ago shows her irresistible, ever-present spark.

 

 

One Tough Cookie

free range horse photography of a mare eating a thistle flower head
Delicately, a mare bites the flower heads from a milk thistle plant, thorns and all. You can see several headless stalks on the plant she’s biting.

 

free range horse photography of a milk thistle plant
Milk thistle. does not appear the slightest bit palatable but horses gladly eat the flower heads, thorns and all.

The seeds of Milk Thistle have been used to support the growth of new liver cells and aid in the health of the liver, kidneys, and other digestive organs.

I have read conflicting information about the benefits and dangers to horses who eat thistle. Most horses love to eat the flower heads off late spring milk thistle plants. The thorns of the plant are most unforgiving but horses gingerly bite the heads off, chew, swallow and then eat every other mature thistle flower in sight as well. Their behavior leads me to believe they consider it somewhat of a delicacy, like a delicious cookie.

Patiently Carrying Their Heavy Load

free range horse photography of a mare heavy in foal in the last light of day
The last light of day shines on a mare, a beautiful mare, heavy with foal, bearing her responsibility of new life.

Blessed Are the Broodmares

Blessed are the broodmares in the field,
Patiently carrying their heavy load
Without complaint waiting for the big day,
When they, without a sound, lay down in the straw

And then the most amazing thing happens,
The miracle of a brand new life.
Now the everlasting circle is complete,
The amazing wonder of a living thing.

The foundation stock of every breed,
How fast we all happen to forget,
Where all our champions came from.
How fast we are to discard the blessed ones.

When they get too old or unproductive,
The most tolerant members of every breed,
Raising their young without ever a mumble,
Loyal beyond everyone’s compare.

Till they go on to raise the next one,
When will we finally wake up and see
How enormously grateful we should be
For the blessed ones we so easily forget?

E.M.S

 

 

 

Wildness

free range horse photography of a group of mares running across a grassy hillside
Room to roam inspires a gleeful gallop for a group of mares and foals.

Wildness is not defined by the absence of certain activities, but rather by the presence of certain unique and invaluable characteristics.

Sweet and Salty

This stallion is forced to stay light on his feet around this big mare. One minute she naps nose to nose with him, and in the next moment, she sets him back on his heels over control of the air space over a mud hole. Granted, water is scarce, but this was a crabby moment, not a desperate thirst moment.

free range horses challenging each other over a mud hole
A skirmish breaks out over control of a mud hole between a mare and stallion.

 

No Cape, But Super Just the Same

I’m adding another picture to honor this valiant mare for giving birth to such a sturdy foal. Large joints and pointy shoulders were no match for the grit of this Super Mare. Not to mention, it was probably raining at the time too.

free range horse photography of a mare and newborn filly
Congratulations to a valiant mare for giving birth the such a sturdy foal.

Indomitable

The end of the year brings inevitable reflection, and this mare deserves to be a poster-child to that end. She has suffered through the loss of her foal at only a few days old and then survived a terrible illness. Still in the recovery months, she shows tremendous spirit and bright promise for the new year. Good girl.

free range horse photography of a resilient young mare
That indomitable spirit still shows after a challenging year for this young mare.

Girl/Filly Power

(Simply replace the word girl with filly)

“Girl power in my mind is to let girls be exactly what they are. Let them be angry. Let them be resentful. And rebellious. Let them be hard and soft and loving and sad and silly. Let them be wrong. Let them be right. Let them be everything. Because, they are everything.”

–Amy Sherman-Palladino

free range horse photography of two older fillies
Filly herd mates strike all-knowing expression.

Beauty Before Beauty

A powerful mare emerges from woody terrain to investigate my visit. She is young and strong and good-natured. I think she looks lovely in this setting.

free range horse photography of a powerful mare in scenery
Emerging from a woody area, this mare is framed in scenery.

Morning Muse

Aurora Musis amica. (Dawn is friend of the muses).

There is no heat yet from the sun; the only hour of this day that won’t be hot until well after sunset. It was not cool, just not hot yet. This put a spring in her step, and doesn’t that light make her look pretty?!

free range horse photography of a paint mare
A beautiful mare in the first light of day.

 

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.

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.

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.

Fleeting Moments

I can take a hundred photos of the same horse, but only very rarely do I feel like I captured a picture of the horse I see in in that moment. The differences in the images are slight, and without anything to compare it to, you, as a viewer would not find fault with the horse’s portrayal. For example, this image spoke to me while several other images that are very similar, did not. This is a complex young mare, who often disappears in a crowd. She is plain looking and quietly lives among her herd mates. These observations contrast the very real fact that she is an amazing individual with intelligence and fortitude. The less obvious qualities of a horse, when captured in an image, are priceless.

wild horse photography of a young mare
A young mare considers my appearance.

 

Time Passing

” … She holds her breath. As if to stop any more time from passing, to stop the future happening. The peacefulness of the morning is almost heartbreaking in its fragility.”  –Glenn Haybittle, The Way Back To Florence

wild horse photography of a curious filly
A cold, early morning adventure lead to the discovery of this, and other, beauties.

 

 

 


Quiet Repose

I see lovely imagery of horses daily; often they are stout steeds with thick manes and tails billowing, flashy markings, arched necks, and animated limbs creating instant dreamy joy for any horse lover, myself included. The same effect can be achieved by a common horse in quiet repose in a familiar local setting. Horses are amazing.

wild horse photography of a filly in the woods
An early morning meeting with an curious filly.

See Far Enough

“The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

wild horse photography of a paint mare exploring the view
A painted mare casts her gaze over an improbable view.


Clever Mare

Disrupt, interfere, impede. This is what she does.

wild horse photography portrait of an intelligent mare
This mare shows signs of intelligence beyond the norm for a horse.

“The fact that the lower animals are excited by the same emotions as ourselves is so well established, that it will not be necessary to weary the reader by many details. Terror acts in the same manner on them as on us, causing the muscles to tremble, the heart to palpitate, the sphincters to be relaxed, and the hair to stand on end. Suspicion, the offspring of fear, is eminently characteristic of most wild animals. Courage and timidity are extremely variable qualities in the individuals of the same species, as is plainly seen in our dogs. Some dogs and horses are ill-tempered, and easily turn sulky; others are good-tempered; and these qualities are certainly inherited … ” – Charles Darwin, On the Origin of the Species

Then She Was Gone

A handful of blizzard snow and black as a high-noon shadow. Horses evoke such poetry, even a common horse has the potential to shine in moments of spirited eruptions; they just have that gift within them. To witness a triumphant horse is a guaranteed mood elevator. This mare was like that on this day–a gift–she gave repeated fleeting glimpses, and then she was gone.

wild horse photography of a pretty galloping mare
At ease and high-spirited, this pretty mare gallops around the other mares in a wide circle.

Narrowly Escaping a Bad Ending

I was surprised this meandering mare even noticed this passing tarantula. She briefly lipped the spider, and passed over it, probably narrowly avoiding a painful bite. Once cast aside, sheer luck spared the tarantula a smashing from her stepping hooves. After this hoof, then another, the spider negotiates a few other passing mares, is spared again and again, and goes about it’s charmed tarantula life.

wild horse photography of a mare investigating a tarantula
A colorful mare investigates a passing tarantula.
wild horse photography of a tarantula nearly under walking hooves
After discarding a tarantula with a flick of her lip, the spider is in grave danger from this mare’s walking hooves.
wild horse photography of a mare nearly stepping on a tarantula
Oh dear, danger, tarantula, danger! A mare nearly steps on a passing tarantula.
wild horse photography of a tarantula under the hooves of passing horses
As many mares pass, this tarantula dodges hoof after hoof.