Last year she had a foal that looked just like her. This year, she has a foal that looks just like the sire. She couldn’t be any more proud.
The color of the grass gives away how behind I am in keeping up with new birth announcements. Now, in the first week of June the grasses are golden and dry. The last days of April brought a couple new foals, this wee filly was one of them. Born to a solid older mare, her small size is nature’s kindness to a veteran mother. Not to worry, the new foal has grown quickly and is as solid as any of her older siblings and definitely holds her own like a champ. The third image shows an older herd mate greeting her kindly while her skeptical mother stands guard over the colt’s manners.
Birth is not only about making babies, but about making mothers as well. New mothers and old mothers contend with birthing risks; in older mares and mares who have had several foals, the risks are higher. Mothers sacrifice their own lives for the lives of their babies; this is a reality as old as time. This sacrifice may come in the form of protection from predators or perceived dangers, or it may come in the form of not surviving postpartum complications. Heroic sacrifice and tragic sacrifice leave admiration or heartbreak in it’s wake.
Participating in creation makes every mare the author of a story full of potential. However. the tragedy of a lost mother cannot be measured, not by the baby, the bystander, nor the new care-giver.
After keeping careful watch and waiting with much anticipation for each mare’s new offspring, I remain ever reverent to the occupation that they must take on year after year.
Proud mares parade their newbie foals.
One colt, velvety and wobbly with a bent ear and the other a sleek model of born-ready foal. Welcome to your new world babies.
These colts are a month old now and the contrast between Day One and Day Thirty is a reminder of just how quickly they grow.
Don’t be fooled by the toucan-esque appearance. Her face is her best feature.
Born on April 11th, she has grown into a sturdy, good natured foal in just a few weeks.
Current pics coming soon.
Truly a newborn, only hours old, she really stands out as a foal that will grow into a horse who makes a statement. She is quite sensible and endlessly loveable.
Mother looks fresh as a daisy after having her first foal, only tousled a bit in the mane. Just look at that soft yet noble expression!
These three foals were born within hours of each other on April 6th. I have written on previous posts for years about the many changes newborn foals experience in a small amount of time.
The challenges to their physical systems, perceptions, and environment are drastic. When three foals are born so close together, it’s impossible to not see some evidence of their dispositions displayed as well.
A break during rainy April days brought three new members to That Herd. And I must say, three very individual behaviors for the first hours in the babies lives.
The best playground ever!
From womb-world to water-world for this filly. An exciting discovery on a dreary spring morning made the rain unnoticeable.
It was wonderful to observe the quiet nurturing of this elegant mother with her first foal. She is calm and attentive and seems quite enamored.
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.
All I can do is bow down each year in astonishment to this mare. She is an average sized mare herself, but she successfully gives birth the the largest foals in the whole herd every year. She has an enormous capacity for carrying and birthing very mature babies. Although mother looks rumpled and tired, she bounced back in no time. Feeling sorry for herself is not in her genes. She and the new foal are fine; he was born on the last day in March. There is nothing plain about this colt, no white markings needed; his appeal is inherent. He is regal and casual at the same time.
Born March 27th, a beautiful chestnut filly, to a veteran mare. She has lots of feminine charm and grit as well. My heart went out to her as she learned to walk on front legs that were not quite ready for walking. In a couple of days she was fine, everything loosened up and she is motoring around just fine. In fact, she is one of the more energetic and daring foals so far.
Most mares find a quiet place away from the rest of the herd to give birth. Usually, the other horses are within sight distance, a normal expectation for a flight animal that depends on cues from herd mates for safety. Sometimes it takes days, or even weeks, for a mare to introduce her new foal to the rest of the horses. More often than not, a few hours of solitude to give the foal a chance to get steady on it’s feet and nurse are enough before the comfort of the group is required again. A wise stallion does not interfere with the distancing the mares seek to give birth and bond with their newborn.
I happened to be in the right place at the right time and witnessed a morning birth. The mare simply laid down among her herd mates and had a baby.
With the placenta sack still covering half it’s body, this newborn began his attempts to get to his feet.
After about ten minutes of testing gravity with instinctive efforts to stand, he relented and caught his breath.
In this moment, the mother licked and nuzzled her new baby paying particular attention to his floppy ears.
Within thirty minutes of being born, he managed to get one leg under all four corners, so to speak. Swaying unsteadily with his front legs propped stiffly out in front he experienced balance for the first time. I was struck by how thick his legs were; they were like posts. I have rarely seen knees that big on a newborn. Uneven terrain, gusty wind, and mother’s attempts to impede curious herd mates complicated his locomotion but he persevered as a flight animal must. Witnessing birth in a natural setting is intense because the hazards seem countless and the little victories essential.
This mare put a lot of effort into keeping a lot of distance between us. After some quiet waiting,
I got close enough to observe the foal’s distinctive nose bump and a strip that runs off to one side.
It looks like white paint was dribbled on his forehead and the bump on his hose forced the stripe to run off to one side.
He was probably born the day before this image was taken.
Evidence of a very recent birth showed the newborn was barely dry when the early morning sun arrived.
The brown colt is quite fuzzy and has unusual eye color; he seemed rather confident in his ability to navigate with his new land legs.
The mare had no problem with showing off her new foal to me which was a welcome difference from the other mare.
I love it when the mares and babies strike a pose. While I was enjoying watching this new guy, a mare laid down to give birth nearby. What an event-filled morning!
After what surely must have been a trying few hours for both mother and filly, they gift me with an image like this.
Emerging from the shelter of the trees, touched by the early morning sun, these two troopers quietly walk to a new resting place.
With their legs in perfect opposite synchronicity and relaxed manner they made an endearing parade of motherhood and new life.
A solid little foal, she was surprisingly composed for only being a couple of hours old. I was struck by how big her knees were/are.
Mingling with the mature mares as if she were a seasoned member of the club, this filly is completely nonchalant.
No signs of confusion or anxiety appear as she strolls amongst her superiors.
This new filly showed appropriate signs of humility when met with nods of domination from the mares she wandered too near; she was respectful but never seemed to question her choices.
She is immediately likable for her complete refusal to be seen as less than.
moxie | ˈmäksē | (also moxy) noun North American informal: force of character, determination, or nerve
” … The future was an infinite horizon over which the sun still glimmered its early morning promise.
Everything has a smell and every smell was fresh — the morning air, the sun on the bitumen, the evening rain.
There was just today and that felt like more than enough. … ”
– Richard Flanagan, First Person
(replace bitumen with earth)
Everyone welcome the first new That Herd member of 2020; a chestnut colt!
Deer and other wildlife mingling near the horses is a common occurrence.
I have long debated with myself about sharing images of an incident that was traumatic.
It took me almost two years to be able to review the images that are shown in this post; I was deeply upset by what I witnessed.
I am accustomed to observing a wide range of wildlife and equine behaviors and interactions; nature is often surprising in good and bad ways.
Wildlife photographers are usually powerless to intervene and/or know they must not.
I won’t post images that are any more graphic than these, but I want to honor the courage of the mares that defended a newborn foal.
A couple years ago, on a routine scouting mission to check on mares close to foaling, I observed this small group for a while.
I suspected a mare was close to giving birth, unusual in the daytime, and I lingered to capture the scene. Usually, these hours are filled with
wonder and captivating observations, but the birth event was disturbed, then chaotic. The foal, still robed in the placental sac, was investigated by curious herd-mates, much to the mother’s disapproval.
Usually, a heavily pregnant mare wanders away from the herd in the night to quietly give birth and remains secluded from the herd for hours, or days, and sometimes weeks.
This time, however, that was not the case. When a young stallion burst upon the scene, his investigations of the foal became violent. He had no experience with the birth of a foal and was agitated by the
complexity of sensory cues and defensive behavior of the mares. Most of the mares fled the location when danger became evident, but three veteran mothers fought valiantly for the victimized foal.
Without giving more details, I’ll skip to the part where I felt I must intervene and pressured the stallion to move off, which was risky, but I could not simply watch and hope for a favorable outcome.
This was too intense and the foal was in grave danger of being savaged or trampled to death.
In the end, the mother, newborn foal, and other mares were separated safely. The mare and foal recovered from their trauma and are both thriving.
Normally, social and environmental issues are sorted out as a course of nature, but this time, for better or worse, intervention occurred.
… Nature can be cruel. Predators are everywhere … in the wild the female species can be far more ferocious than their male counterparts. Defending the nest is both our oldest and strongest instinct …