Throwback post from February 2019.
We have been known to do desperate rain dances because of long years of drought. No dancing has been needed in 2023.
This winter we have had a lot of rain. I am not complaining. California needs water and lots of it, but we often get too much water in short amounts of time. That pattern leads to lots of runoff and lots of flooding.
That Herd has no new foals yet this year that I know of. At this point it is not possible to easily get to the horse’s territories.
Sidebar: Life has highjacked my attention and my computer needs expert attention. My access to posting new images is, for the time being, paused. There is much to be seen about That Herd by scrolling back in time. Most of the images that I posted over the years are still available to enjoy.
Persevering through another drought year in California and having un-weaned colts in December has not ruined the enthusiasm of these mares.
August and September births have these girls separated from the larger mare group because the foals are not old enough to be independent yet.
A couple of short rain days have helped the grass to begin sprouting, but we are a long way away from any real feed to sustain horses in a free range environment.
That Herd is looking forward to a successful and healthy new year with abundant grass and water. Many thanks for all of you who have remained loyal to That Herd through some challenging times from the side of the horses and the side of the photographer.
There is lots of good content to revisit under Related Posts or by simply scrolling backwards if I am not posting enough to keep you interested. Cheers!
It seems we are both a little behind.
Myself behind in sharing new posts, and this mare behind her striding colt.
Born in August, late for That Herd, here is the first foal for this mare and she is smitten with her new role as mother.
She is closely followed by a filly six months older than her new colt.
This image was taken many weeks ago. Now our days are shorter and water and feed are scarce moving into fall. As always, we are hoping for rain each day.
Without the noise and control of a domestic lifestyle, horses manage to get along just fine. This first-time mother had an early fall foal. Born practically on the vernal equinox, she is months behind her young herd mates, but that won’t matter. The fall and winter months here do not have harsh weather and these are free range–not wild–horses so they are not without help when it is needed. Like many birthing mothers in a natural environment, this mare secluded herself for a period of time then rejoined the increased safety of the herd. This image was taken nearing the end of their first day together. The filly is a duplicate copy of her mother, which is endearing. Directly before this captured moment, a group of wild turkeys and a black-tail buck appeared into the same frame as the mare and foal, they were all mere feet from each other. It reminded me that the horses live in direct closeness with a wide range of wildlife and natural rhythms, which contributes to a natural horse, a better horse.
In a more polished moment she looks rather delicate, nonetheless, she can be a real wack job. Not only does she take after her independent mother but she had a rather rough beginning.
Delicate and tiny as a new fawn, she was stolen from her inexperienced mother by an old mare yearning to raise a foal again. Once the situation was righted, she got busy getting tough.
She may not be the biggest mare, but she is all business. You can’t sweet talk Katy Wack.
In an open meadow, with no place to hide, one does the best one can.
Are they wild? No, but they live as if they were wild. That Herd horses are free range horses. They are privately owned and lightly managed. The horses mainly exist with no assistance quite well. When there is a need, the rancher steps in to administer care or support.
Can you pet them? No, but they are often approachable. For the most part, consider them wildlife with all the considerations that goes with encountering a wild animal.
Do I cue them, use rewards or treats, or try to alter their behavior in any way to get the shot? No, but there have been occasions when I intervened when a newborn foal was in danger.
Do they roam freely? Yes! Their territories are fenced, but most of the spaces they live in are hundreds, or thousands of acres bordered by private ranches or federal lands.
Do the mares live with a stallion? Sometimes, but the stallion is not part of the herd year-round.
Do they spread wonder and joy to anyone who is fortunate enough to observe them? Yes, always.
It is common for the foals, from their first day, to traverse all of the rolling countryside where That Herd roams, even steep ascents and descents.
This duo popped up out of a deep canyon to an early sunny horizon. The filly is greeting her second day with sturdy determination.
After a morning of labor and birth, this mother needs to lie down and pass the placenta. Freed from her internal burden of several months and the bright morning sunshine, she is not easily roused. The foal, a filly, was energetic and bouncy right away and persistently and almost comically circled, nickered, and leaped about in an effort to unlock the mystery of her low mother.
I cannot seem to put into words how beautiful these little moments are. His journey has begun.
Like a lucky omen, this filly has lifted our spirits and excitement for what is to come.
True to That Herd form, she has already crammed a lot of living into the few hours since her birth.
I think they would rather run me over than the cactus if it came to that.
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night;
to be elated by a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring–
these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”
Wild horses and domestic horses are genetically the same. Roaming freely, living in herd groups, and foraging for feed and water are all
actions natural to horses. The majority of stabled and confined horses would adapt to a free range environment if given the opportunity.
Even the new foals that horse owners often over-protect are quite capable of stamina and social interactions from the first hours of birth.
The first day for this filly was filled with roaming surrounded by herd mates, and varied terrain. She is quite content after a full day of life lessons, resting on a hillside with her mother standing guard.
For years now, I have shared important emotional bonds with That Herd members. Present at a large number of their births and early foal-life days, I have become invested in their continuing success and maturity journeys. Each visit brings joy, wonder, pride, and a renewed sense of stewardship, if only in the eyes-on/peace-of-mind kind of way. Each horse is an individual with their own unique qualities, most endearing and inspiring. Their life strategies and strong wills are a testament to equine instinct and resilience.
This filly reminds me of her mother in all the best ways. Foaled near an old wooden picnic table in the middle of no where, she and her mother lingered in the shade of the oak tree that sheltered the table. When her mother chose to move back toward the broodmare herd, her newborn filly casually paused to inspect the picnic table as they passed by. A small observation, but one of the life events that we share; she will always be called Picnic in my mind because of this.
Unseen by me for quite some time, I was happy to relive a familiar pose with this stand-out filly, now a mare of six years. She is and always has been independent and unflappable.
This mare is new to That Herd and so far accepting of my visits. She was, however, adamant that I would not get near her new foal.
I didn’t try hard but she did run away a lot which is why the foal looks tired. I took this image from quite far away.
I like to share images from the first days of the foals’ lives if I’m fortunate enough to get some because it highlights how quickly they change and grow.
This is the filly I call Dot from a post several days ago where she is shown with her constant companion Wheaties.
This was mid April and the meager spring grass had started to turn to brown. The succession from spring green to crispy brown grass was rapid this year.
After many weeks eagerly observing all the mares that foaled before her, this wary mare had reasons to be on alert this day. Finally, her foal arrived but it was a long day for the duo. Unlike the mares that foaled before her, she had the complication of a stallion being added to the herd. The stallion was quite eager and busy asserting his authority with the group. He was a reasonable stallion, behavior wise, but he kept the mares tightly bunched which left this mare and foal no room for seclusion or distance. Also, they were moving quite a bit and I could see the weariness in the new foal. Even in calm periods when the foal figured out how to lie down, she was quickly roused by the constant alerts from mother each time other horses got too close. This kept the filly on her feet and moving in anxious hastiness. The mare did her best to keep them both on the outside of the bunch so she could ease away from the activity of the other horses so her foal wouldn’t get stepped on or separated from her. Everything turned out just fine however, and within a couple of days the new filly was rough and ready as any other foal in the herd.