Wildness is not defined by the absence of certain activities, but rather by the presence of certain unique and invaluable characteristics.
If it could be like this always, abundance, independence, golden hues, leisure, temperate – peaceful.
The growth a foal is exponential after birth. Not only their body tissues and functions, but their brains transition at an impressive, and necessary rate. These horses are quite comfortable with standing water and running water sources when available. Even this colt, only in his first day of life, seems right at home in the water. Observing horses in water is always mesmerizing, maybe because water is not a usual environment for horses and this makes them appear almost magical in that setting.
After the initial shock of a swatting horse tail, new foals soon recognize the protection their mother’s tails and their flinching is replaced by relief.
The grey colt fell in love with this filly the first day they met. He has shadowed her ever since. Rarely leaving the filly’s side, he is a model of devotion. The mother of the filly tolerates his affections entirely.
Color genetics in horses is not without complexity. Without getting into the science of it all, a new buckskin in the herd made me brush up on color genetics. In the simplest of terms, black and red are the two basic equine color pigments. A horse’s ability to reproduce these pigments in an inherited trait, with red being recessive to black. Each pigment can be modified by other genes, including dilution genes. Buckskin color is a dilute version of bay, which is another black-based coat color. White markings are, simply stated, a matter of chance.
Time well spent leads to life well lived.
The sunshine was like powdered gold over the horses and oats.
“Summer afternoon–summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Personal favorites, this duo browses through a beautiful location on a summer morning. How fortunate to have water return to That Herd landscapes and how fortunate to have the early morning fog burn off moments before we shared this place.
Special attention is given to a responsive mare. Once her willingness is confirmed, things move rapidly from there. The mare is much larger than the stallion in this case, so a few logistical steps had to be taken. The young colt by the mare’s side is a bit confused by this activity and sticks tightly to his mother.
Nothing like a “mare moment” to energize an otherwise laid-back stallion. In this setting, the stallion interacts continuously with his mares. This horse often tends to the mares in a companionable partnership. Sometimes he completely ignores them, at other times he’s commanding, and sometimes moved to aggression. A veteran stallion, he is often gentle and detached. He has a somewhat permissive relationship with the mares as far as their movements as a group are concerned. Interestingly, when the moment calls for it, he has their complete attention and obedience.
While there have been lots of new foals to meet, I am still spending time with the older foals. They never cease to entertain me with their mix of bravado and caution. Many of them are old enough now to be fully independent so their explorations of me are constant and surprisingly intense. I have so many photographs of the horses to share but I simply am short on time these days. My thanks to the frequent blog visitors who remain as interested in That Herd as I do. There are many pages of past observations to explore if you have the time. Time spend outdoors is an effective stress reliever. At the very least, I hope this site inspires you to get some fresh air and dirt on your shoes.
“Does anything in nature despair except man? An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair. It is too busy trying to survive. It is all closed in, to a kind of still, intense waiting. Is this the key? Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain … ”
–May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
The will to live is strong in this one.
Hidden in the woods, a veteran mother keeps a close eye on my approach as her newly foaled buckskin colt delicately explores the world. As the mare’s due dates approach, anticipation of discovering a new foal escalates into pervasive distraction. On those few mornings that reward you with a new baby to meet, life is good.
Only in his first day of life and this new colt wades right into the pond with his mother. So far, every newborn foal that encounters the pond carefully steps in without hesitation. When you have no life experience I guess everything is possible. It is amazing that with every passing minute and hour they are completely able to learn balance and obstacle negotiation on land as well as water, along with every other new sensation and bodily function that comes with life in the “outside world”.
Just looking at this image you cannot tell how tall the foal is. The mare is substantial in size and height. This is her first foal, and he is quite large for a newborn. He is all legs and (I mean this in a good way), all face. I have no doubt that he will grow into his parts and be a beautiful colt. I think he’s striking and he has an air of intelligence, like his mother.
Her enthusiasm for her foal is adorable. Her constant nuzzles and touches are met with trust and matched adoration from the filly. They are the perfect cure for anything that may causing you stress.
With the courage of a veteran, this newborn filly takes the plunge.
I know what you’re thinking; no spots. Well, I must say, he is spectacular anyway. He’s big, and solid, and long legged, with flashy white; what more could you ask for? And, yes, he’s a colt. Colts are in the minority this year, so let’s hear it for the boys! Welcome to the long legged, handsome boy! The white on his face looks like some sort of royal symbol …
With her first day behind her, this new filly purposefully marches beside her mother, matching her every turn and pause. Soon she’ll be investigating her surroundings with confidence.