Just a Horse

No big deal. Just a horse picture, you say? Well, I say you have not looked close enough. I see a horse who is at ease but alert, well fed but not fat, hair coat thick but not rough. His hooves hard and round but never shod or trimmed, he holds reserves of stamina even after traveling with purpose all day, knows where and where not to put his feet, he knows when to run and when to walk, when to drink and when to pass by. He is clever, he is healthy, he is adaptable in social groups, he is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Okay, I went too far on the last one but, really, a horse with the freedom to do what horses do best is a wonder to behold. He survives successfully, actually thrives, without management, diet supplements or fabricated shelter. Behold, observers (!) a horse, just being a horse!

wild horse photography of a strong horse standing in contrast to his layered terrain

A winter day visit with high clouds made for a nice shot of a strong pale colored horse standing in contrast by the layers of his daily terrain.

Protective

It’s not personal. Acceptable space boundaries change when a newborn foal arrives.

wild horse photography of a mare protective over her newborn

It’s not personal. The mares mainly live in harmony but when a newborn arrives personal space rules are strictly enforced.

Herding or Driving Behavior

The stallion is feeling a greater sense of urgency in this image exhibited by the exaggerated low driving posture.

wild horse photography of a stallion demonstrating herding behavior

In this image the stallion is exhibiting herding or driving behavior. The posture is one of lowered head, stretched neck, ears pinned and sometimes a snake-like back and forth head movement. There is more intensity here demonstrated by the exaggerated low posture and fast gait; the stallion was feeling some sense of urgency to redirect the mares.

Introduction

About to be introduced to the rest of the herd for the first time, this mare reassures her new foal.

wild horse photography of a mare approaching with her newborn

Early in the morning, the fog just lifting, a mare cautiously rejoins the others after the birth of her foal earlier that morning. The foal’s ear was still a little lopsided from time spent pressed in the womb, which was endearing. I like this picture because the foal is making a scrunchy face as the mare constantly reassures him as they approach. The foal was intrepid and the one I later dubbed Zig Zag.

Floating on a Sea of Oats

It’s not every year that the oats grow so abundantly, but it’s glorious when it happens.

wild horse photography of a mare and young foal in an oat field

When the oats are in abundance, it is common to find the mares and foals grazing there each morning.

 

Before and Later

The infamous “whisker foal” at a couple of days old and about 18 months later. He has matured out of his mop of whiskers.

wild horse photography comparing a foal and yearling picture of the same horse

These images show the “whisker foal” at a few days old and about 18 months later.

 

 

Bright New Day

Peace.

wild horse photography of mares and foals under oak trees in the early morning

A group of mares and foals take a break from grazing in the early morning hours.

Affable and Keen

Two brothers hangin’ in the ‘hood.

wild horse photography of two colts interacting

These half brothers are only a couple of weeks apart in age but already there is a noticeable difference in size. The big blaze faced colt is unassuming, an affable big brother, and the bay colt is earnest and keen.

Taken by Surprise

In search of the mares one spring morning, the fog just burning off, I finally had some luck. These three mares and their new foals were the first to be seen; we surprised each other on this hilltop. I was marching up one side and they were cresting the hill from the other. The sky freshly revealed, all of us caught off guard and a brand new foal made for an unusual and spontaneous shot. The mares were on a mission and proceeded to jog straight past me and the rest of the mares and foals followed directly behind them. This brief encounter left me a little astonished. They were found and gone all in a matter of seconds.

wild horse photography of three mares and their new foals cresting a hilltop

On this spring morning I had to search quite a bit to find the mares. After marching across a field and up a second hill, I suddenly met the mares coming up from the other side. This surprised all of us. These three were in the lead. You can see the attentive concern the dark mare on the right has for her new colt, the bold new filly in the lead and a brand new paint colt, only hours old, pressing to his mother for guidance.

A Glimpse

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” – John Muir

wild horse photography portrait of a bay horse with an expressive face

This young member of That Herd has an openness to his face, a subdued curiosity.

Introductions

The stallion presents himself to a mare and foal.

wild horse photography of a stallion greeting a mare and foal

Stallion and mare responding to each other with matching postures while the young filly displays submissive gnashing in the presence of the stallion.

Mellow

The expression on a horse’s face is an indicator of their mindset. This beautiful young mare is in a happy place inside and out.

wild horse photography portrait of a beautiful young mare

Beautiful expression on this young mare.

Glacial Blue Eyes

Try to tear your gaze away from the mesmerizing eyes on this young horse.

wild horse photography portrait of unusually bright blue eyes on a dark colt

It is impossible to ignore the unsettling gaze from this two year old. I’ve seen him many times but each time I marvel anew at the shocking brightness of his eyes in contrast to his dark coat.

Misty Meeting

The face of acceptance; the softness in her face shows no anxiety about my being there.

wild horse photography portrait of an old mare

This old girl met me on a hilltop. The entire area was shrouded in fog; she and some other mares and foals were filing up and over the hill and she stopped and considered my presence then ambled off.

Ground Thunder

Passing in close proximity, even a small thundering herd evokes primal thrill.

wild horse photography of several young horses running

I can only imagine what it feels like to have a great herd of animals stampede past because just several horses thundering by at close range is awe inspiring.

Under the Magnificent Oak

One of those quiet moments that soothe the soul.

wild horse photography of mares under a giant oak tree

Quiet mare moment under a magnificent oak tree.

Not To Worry

A favorite That Herd member is found after a long period of no sightings.

wild horse photography portrait of a weanling in the rain

I once did not see this colt for months. I always look for this one because he is my favorite That Herd member. Was I worried? No, not really, it is not uncommon to not find members of That Herd every time you look for them. When I did find him, he was happy, unharmed, and completely unaware that his absence had tugged at my piece of mind for many weeks.

Dreaming of Horses

“That night he dreamt of horses in a field on a high plain where the spring rains had brought up the grass and the wildflowers out of the ground and the flowers ran all blue and yellow far as the eye could see and in the dream he was among the horses running and in the dream he himself could run with the horses and they coursed the young mares and fillies over the plain where their rich bay and their rich chestnut colors shone in the sun and the young colts ran with their dams and trampled down the flowers in a haze of pollen that hung in the sun like powdered gold …”

– Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

wild horse photography of a mare and new foal running in a meadow

They ran past for the sheer joy of running. It was a moment when nature can only be praised.

Are You My Mother?

When a filly wakes from a nap and cannot immediately find her mother, she makes several mistakes while soliciting each mare she comes upon for comfort. It was comical to see the foals much more upset by this than the mares. The images are explained in the captions.

The River

wild horse photography of a herd at a river bank

Horses traveling along a river bank. In times of scarce water the horses adapt, sometimes traveling long distances and sometimes not drinking every day.