Tag Archive for Horse Behavior

Courtship

free range horse photography of courtship between a mare and stallion

A receptive mare is courted by the herd stallion.

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.

Vigorous Display

free range horse photography of a mature stallion looking vigorous

A mature stallion, one moment quietly grazing, and the next a vigorous display.

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.

Bravado and Caution

free range horse photography of three fillies peeking around an oak tree

Three fillies looking innocent by a failing oak tree.

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.

A Star is Born

free range horse photography of a mare sheltering her newborn foal in woods

An early morning surprise is tiptoeing about in the woods.

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.

Can Do

free range horse photography of a newborn colt in a pond

Newborns fearlessly venture into water, which is amazing.

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”.

Absolute Devotion

free range horse photography of a new mother's devotion to her new foal

Horse hugs.

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.

From Womb to Water

free range horse photography of a newborn foal in a pond with her mother

Less than 24 hours old and this newborn filly is experiencing her new world with mature confidence.

With the courage of a veteran, this newborn filly takes the plunge.

Her Journey Begins

free range horse photography of a one day old foal strolling with her mother

Sporting a cropped mohawk and a determined face, this one-day-old filly strolls beside mother.

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.

The Filly Streak Continues!

free range horse photography of a napping newborn filly under her mother

Late day naps are in order on your birth day.

It’s a girl! Again! 2019 Fillies are running in a strong majority for That Herd. Several summer foals are still expected so we will see if that continues. Mother and newborn are just fine. The mare’s roaming patterns were not in my favor today; many tall grasses and mustard seed obscuring my view. She did, kindly, let me approach her and the filly even though she’s only several hours old.

A Little Horse of Her Very Own

free range horse photography of a devoted mare and her first foal

An attentive mother checks in constantly with her newborn foal.

This mare is impossible to dislike. She is curious and gentle. She’s a bit of a lovable goober, though I hate to use a term that’s so hard to define. Motherhood should suit her; she has always wanted a little horse all to herself to play with. The newborn filly, looks almost exactly like her, which makes this even more fun.

Time Flies

free range horse photography of a newborn colt with lots of white

The first foal of the year for That Herd came in January.

A newborn image of the first foal of 2019 for the nostalgia of his cuteness. Now he’s a rough and ready brute of a colt.

Is’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Super Colt!

free range horse photography of a young colt leaping out of a wooded location

A young foal bursts from the woods in an inspired leap.

Conjuring visions of unicorns in mystical forests, this colt displays wondrous confidence and agility for one so young. He was not startled or fleeing, he was simply filled with the joy of life, and acted out with impulsive, light-hearted energy. He was only five days old on this April morning.

Offender Number Two

free range horse photography of a grieving mare taking possession of another mare's newborn foal

A mare who tragically lost her newborn foal takes possession of another mare’s newborn foal.

Still grieving over the loss of her own newborn many weeks prior, this mare took possession of a newborn filly along with an additional thief-mare for several hours. Every opportunity she got, she swooped in to take control of the confused newborn. In a true wild situation, the outcome for this foal would have been calamitous. Human intervention reunited her with her mother and separated her from the others. Both are doing fine. She is the ninja foal from the previous post.

In Love With a Ninja

free range horse photography of two foals meeting nose to nose

A delicate meeting between herd mate foals.

free range horse photography of two foals meeting tenderly

The colt closes his eyes to heighten his sensory meeting with a new filly.

free range horse photography of two foals coming to an understanding

Several weeks his inferior, this filly is a force to be reckoned with for this sturdy colt.

With lightening speed, she rises up to administer a (mock) fatal jab. He never saw it coming.

Understandably Peeved

free range horse photography of an angry foal circling it's mother that stole a newborn foal

A well-meaning mare steals a newborn from another mare and her own foal is (understandably) quite irritated.

(Another picture of the sassy filly shown defending the dirt pile a couple posts back.) In this image she is circling her mother with confusion and irritation over the attention given to another foal. Her beloved mother has stolen another mare’s newborn foal and everything got really weird after that. This event required intervention and I’m happy to report that the confused newborn was reunited with her mother and they were separated from the herd for a while to bond. All is well for all the horses and the brief disruption to the sassy filly’s esteem is corrected.

Defending the Dirt Pile

free range horse photography of a foal rearing in mock battle

She’s a scrappy little filly.

In defense of her dirt pile, this filly shows her “I mean business” side. Her quick temper has been displayed with old or young herd mates, and her tireless and doting mother for many weeks.,

Reluctant Introduction

free range horse photography of a black mare and black newborn filly
A new mother reluctantly presents her newborn foal.

Looking a bit disheveled and weary, this new mother skirts the perimeters of the herd with her newborn filly. The foal is a day old and still has the wrinkly, albeit dry, wavy patterns in her black hair-coat.

Happy Girls are the Prettiest Girls

free range horse photography of a smoke colored newborn filly
A flashy smoke-grey filly has arrived.

Hey look! She’s the same color as the oak tree bark! At one day old this filly is a joy to observe. Bouncy and independent, her mother follows her carefree explorations instead of the normal foal-follows-mare arrangement.

Launching a Friendship

free range horse photography of two foals meeting
A younger foal braves the first introduction to a reluctant herd mate.

These two foals are not more than a few days apart, but the bigger foal is shy about introductions. The delicate filly is willing to frisk about with her herd mate, but first she must win him (and his mother) over. She’s a charmer, so I’m sure she succeeded.

Capacity to Care

free range horse photography of a mare and newborn foal
A newborn foal is reunited with it’s mother after a long afternoon of herd movement.

Mourning the death or disappearance of a wild animal has always been something that weighs on me. An animal hit by a vehicle, coming upon a dead bird or animal, discovering evidence of a decomposing woodland creature, these seem like things I should encounter and easily forget. I have discovered some wise words, which I will share here, that speak to this topic that pulls at my attention often.

” …Would anyone grieve the death of an animal they had never known, much less loved? And yet some people do feel sad encountering an animal who seemingly died without witness, ceremony, or support. Sorrow for such a commonplace death with no connection to us reveals important dimensions of our emotions. The death of a close relative or friend entails the complex loss not only of a person we admired and loved, but also the end of a meaningful relationship. The death of a pet represents the loss of an animal we cared for and who had given us unconditional acceptance, comfort, and companionship. The death of a wild animal doesn’t deprive us of anything. The animal had given us nothing and had taken nothing from us in return.

Grief for such an animal might be considered one of the purest experiences of compassion, based only on the sense that an innocent life has ended. It reminds us of the importance of our relationships, the give-and-take that lends meaning to our lives. We know that an animal in the wild is inherently incapable of human expectations and emotions. But we might wish anyway that we could extend the comforts of social bonds we enjoy to this one animal we have discovered. It is as if our discovery constitutes an encounter that reminds us of the interconnectedness of life. In any case, our wish that we could share the best of being human reveals our capacity to care altruistically without expectations of anything in return.”

–Krystine I. Batcho Ph.D., Why Should We Grieve the Death of a Wild Animal?, Psychology Today