We Are the Champions

free range horse photography of three champion mares
A large mare by any standard; the mare in the middle looks small in comparison, but her herd mates are HUGE.

A graceful champion does not put on airs, she does not demand special treatment or crave supremacy. He comports herself with the utmost dignity, has benevolence, and sophistication. She gives and gives expecting nothing in return. She is awesome without attention simply because she can be no other way. Born with natural talent and a strong purpose, she is a champion with and without the trophies, ribbons, prize money, press, and fame. She boldly faces whatever is presented to her. Here’s to (a) champion female(s)! You make us proud.

Going Her Own Way

free range horse photography of a mare strolling through tall grasses
Heavy with foal, an elegant mare strolls through the bounty of spring.

“Nature goes her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.” –Geothe

 

Spooning

free range horse photography of two mares napping together
Horses are social animals but napping together this close is unusual.

After lots of rain I saw many horses napping in the sunshine. This sight, however, was a surprise. I’ve not seen mature horses lie down together so closely that they lean on each other. Even more surprising is that these two mares don’t necessarily hang out together. The brown mare is quite old and the paint is not. It may not be a perfect picture because of the stems but it is worthy of sharing simply for the unique moment it captures. Because they appear to be spooning the scientist in me wants to bring up anthropomorphizing, but I won’t; the sight was simply too cute to not share.

anthropomorphism | ˌanTHrəpəˈmôrfizəm | noun    the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.

Ladies-In-Waiting

free range horse photography of mares and oak trees
Near these oak trees is a favorite territory for mares who will foal this year.

The most correct definition of ladies-in-waiting has nothing to do with being pregnant, but it suits this image. All of the mares in this image should have a foal within the next couple of months.

Every Man’s Birthday

free range horse photography of a group of mares and fillies
After several days of rain a group of mares and fillies emerge from the woods to investigate my arrival.

Every new year brings opportunity for each pregnant mare to fulfill her potential to create a sturdy and contributing life to That Herd. Once January arrives, expectation grows with each passing week, knowing that the mares carry a new life. In each pregnant mare, a waiting gift to be welcomed. Hopefully, next month will bring the first foal(s) to That Herd.

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.” –Charles Lamb (I just like the sentiment; welcome 2020)

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.

A Study in Soulful

 

free range horse photography of a June rainy day newborn
On a rare rainy day in June a newborn arrives fuzzy and extra cute.

 

free range horse photography of a young mare with expressive dark eyes
A standout since birth, this filly has beautiful deep, dark eyes.

From Day-One who could resist the dark, expressive eyes on this beautiful filly? Even now, a few years later, she retains the most beautiful soulful eyes. She’s a little older, a little wiser, but still brightly curious and gentle in disposition.

Powdered Gold

free range horse photography of mares backlit in late day oat field
Backlit by the day’s last light, these mares look like a poster for summertime.

” … summer afternoon; to me those have always been the most beautiful words in the English language.”

–Henry James

Chosen Few

Every year, without fail, this grey mare befriends the oldest mares in the herd. There becomes one individual that she is with constantly. This year, it is this brown mare. In the past, she has outlived some of her friends. Because she is only a middle age mare, it is certain that she will outlive her other chosen few. This creates a sadness, but acceptance is always in our days, horse or human.

free range horse photography of two mare buddies
This grey mare, half their age, is fond of the oldest mares in the herd.

The Trail to Water

Part of the daily routine for That Herd mares and foals includes the march to water down a dusty path. Also, a late foal is dwarfed by an older sibling in the queue.

free range horse photography of mares & foals on a dusty path
The afternoon march to water.

Any Day Now

Well blog fans, it’s been over a month that I have lived without access to my image files. Even I could not have predicted it would take this long to repair and upgrade my system so I didn’t mention the reason I have not been posting lately. This is an image I took this spring of several mares and fillies browsing in a beautiful location.

free range horse photography of grazing mares
Mares and fillies browse in an oak filled pasture.

All the Single Ladies

Receptive body language and soft expressions greet this young stallion when several mares are willing at the same time. Interestingly, on this occasion, he bred none of the mares. The estrus cycle in mares ripens into perfect timing for optimal conception, so often, the stallion waits when his service is spread thin, so to speak.

free range horse photography of a stallion and receptive mares
A young stallion has choices when several mares are receptive at the same time.

Quiet Misty Mornings

Shrouded in mist, our feet wet with dewy grass, we couldn’t be happier.

free range horse photography of misty morning mares
Misty mornings and wet grass quietly start the day.

Welcoming Faces

Farther than most would go, that’s where you will find them.

free range horse photography of young mares in scenery
Young mares with welcoming faces.

The Burn of the Sun

Summer has set in with it’s usual severity. The burn of the sun and the wind have forced a slower pace to the longer days.

wild horse photography of two mares eduring early summer heat
Saying goodbye to the sun after a very hot day.

Companionship

Horses often have favorite companions. Sometimes alike dispositions align and sometimes opposite dispositions associate. Horses buddy-up in pairs or small groups and spend a lot of time together moving throughout the day. These relationships have longevity if given the opportunity to live together, long term. Even after long absences, horses that like each other come together again. It is also just as common for horses that live together to simply coexist among fluctuating partners according to need or mood and pecking order. Some horses do, however, seem to make real friendships.

These mares (and now the addition of a foal), are long time companions who have grown up together and prefer each others company. Included in their chosen group are one or two other individuals who seem to be somewhat less attached constantly to the group.

wild horse photography of three mares and a foal
These mares have grown up together and roam together quite a bit.

Leaping For Joy

Here is a brief video clip of some young mares approaching with curiosity, then bursting away. Another fair winter day highlights the absolute beauty of the meadow where they were discovered. Unfortunately, some of the location’s brilliance is lost due to the video being shot into the direct sun.

Scenes Like These

Scenes like this evaporate the most troubled and busy noise that collects in one’s head. Nature, in it’s quiet moments, has a power that is both undeniable and indistinct. The collection of scenes like these, over a lifetime, is fortifying. Yes, even simply viewing a beautiful scene like this online has the power to lower stress. You’re welcome.

wild horse photography of a beautiful backcountry grazing location
Backcountry splendor in a favorite location of the younger mares.

Lazy Afternoon

 

The winter grass was late making an appearance this year, but now that it’s sprouting, the horses are enjoying the fresh change in their diet. A long, lazy afternoon of warm February temperatures had all the mares amiable and content.

wild horse photography of two mares grazing on new winter grass
Two mares graze on new winter grass.

Motherly Influence

I has only been in more recent decades that horse breeders recognize what a great influence the mare has on creating a superior foal. Greater even, than the stallion, some would argue. Obviously, the foal receives 50 percent of it’s genetic information from both the stallion and the mare, but more emphasis and attention, traditionally, has been credited to the stallion choice in regard to the foal’s inherited traits. Because stallions typically produce far more offspring for consideration than individual mares, there is a greater percentage of evidence to ascribe to a stallion in a given lifetime. Conformation, athletic ability, disposition, and lineage are all strongly evaluated when breeding horses; many of these traits have been more heavily attributed to the stallion’s accomplishments and physique. It is the mare, however, who spends far more time influencing the behaviors, disposition, and social experiences of the foal in addition to the genetic contributions. This extended contact impacts the success and attitude her offspring. This fact, specifically, relates to horses bred, born, and raised wild. It is the mare that teaches the foal, through longterm, constant contact, what successful horse behavior looks like. Quality stallions contribute good genes and quality mares contribute good genes and raise quality foals.

wild horse photography portrait of a mare and her foal
This mother and filly paused to consider my presence which gave me an opportunity to take a casual portrait.
wild horse photography of a mare and filly showing social dominance
A young filly takes a dominance cue from her mother toward another mare.