Live streaming of That Herd–the real life version–not the internet type.
The first light of morning is just hitting the hill behind a few young horses investigating a broken oak tree. They are curious, not unlike any child. The broken oak tree evokes a sense of poignancy at the fall of such a mighty tree but also a sense of acceptance; such events are nature’s duty.
Social grooming is an important part of a horse’s healthy herd life. It is a way to give comfort and show affection to other herd members. This type of dorsal, neck and wither grooming is said to reduce the heart rate of the recipients, among other benefits.
This behavior is known as reciprocal allogrooming. It occurs in many animal species.
These two colts spend a lot of time together. They have a special companionship.
For quite some time I have wondered if the off and on pacing gait these horses travel with means anything. Pacing is when both legs land and rise on the same side, working as a lateral pair, as opposed to the more regular diagonal lifting and landing of the legs. Some information I have discovered offers a hypothesis; they say it is a sign of greater fitness when horses that are not naturally gaited breeds travel this way, even if only in a brief or random frequency. Oldtimers say a “running walk” is the sign of a sturdier horse and is essential for efficient mileage. I don’t know. Two beat, three beat and four beat patterns all occur naturally in horses depending on speed but horses with freedom over uneven terrain exhibit an unusual mixture of them all.
The close bond between this mare and colt never waned as the colt grew older. They were inseparable.
This good mother remains serene if I keep my distance when she has a new foal. I respect her boundaries and she ignores me, it works for both of us.
Fresh spring grass proves to be more enticing than just about anything else they could be doing.
“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” – William Wordsworth
There are so many things to like about this image. For one, the foal’s expression after many up and down maneuvers, proud but a little exerted. Second, the little black bird near the mare’s head which are often seen on the horse’s backs. Also, the mud on the mare’s back legs that show evidence of a spring or seep drinking hole. The light colored manure pile indicting recent rain is a subtle clue. Finally, the clever shielding of the foal between the mare and the thick brush and the healthy glow of the mare’s flesh and coat; all are signs of successful horse lives. On another note, I don’t name all the foals but I call this one Glitch.
This stallion meets each moment with intelligence and interest.
Both horse have pleasant, if not impish expressions, they are just horsing around.
Early morning put a spring in their step.
This mare appears unconvinced that my presence is nothing to be alarmed about even though she has watched me observe her many times.
(of an animal or person) play and move about cheerfully, excitedly, or energetically
There is a poise and composure to this horse that is just beautiful.
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!
It’s not personal. Acceptable space boundaries change when a newborn foal arrives.
The stallion is feeling a greater sense of urgency in this image exhibited by the exaggerated low driving posture.
About to be introduced to the rest of the herd for the first time, this mare reassures her new foal.
It’s not every year that the oats grow so abundantly, but it’s glorious when it happens.