Every year, without fail, this grey mare befriends the oldest mares in the herd. There becomes one individual that she is with constantly. This year, it is this brown mare. In the past, she has outlived some of her friends. Because she is only a middle age mare, it is certain that she will outlive her other chosen few. This creates a sadness, but acceptance is always in our days, horse or human.
Part of the daily routine for That Herd mares and foals includes the march to water down a dusty path. Also, a late foal is dwarfed by an older sibling in the queue.
Well blog fans, it’s been over a month that I have lived without access to my image files. Even I could not have predicted it would take this long to repair and upgrade my system so I didn’t mention the reason I have not been posting lately. This is an image I took this spring of several mares and fillies browsing in a beautiful location.
Receptive body language and soft expressions greet this young stallion when several mares are willing at the same time. Interestingly, on this occasion, he bred none of the mares. The estrus cycle in mares ripens into perfect timing for optimal conception, so often, the stallion waits when his service is spread thin, so to speak.
Shrouded in mist, our feet wet with dewy grass, we couldn’t be happier.
Farther than most would go, that’s where you will find them.
Summer has set in with it’s usual severity. The burn of the sun and the wind have forced a slower pace to the longer days.
Horses often have favorite companions. Sometimes alike dispositions align and sometimes opposite dispositions associate. Horses buddy-up in pairs or small groups and spend a lot of time together moving throughout the day. These relationships have longevity if given the opportunity to live together, long term. Even after long absences, horses that like each other come together again. It is also just as common for horses that live together to simply coexist among fluctuating partners according to need or mood and pecking order. Some horses do, however, seem to make real friendships.
These mares (and now the addition of a foal), are long time companions who have grown up together and prefer each others company. Included in their chosen group are one or two other individuals who seem to be somewhat less attached constantly to the group.
Here is a brief video clip of some young mares approaching with curiosity, then bursting away. Another fair winter day highlights the absolute beauty of the meadow where they were discovered. Unfortunately, some of the location’s brilliance is lost due to the video being shot into the direct sun.
Scenes like this evaporate the most troubled and busy noise that collects in one’s head. Nature, in it’s quiet moments, has a power that is both undeniable and indistinct. The collection of scenes like these, over a lifetime, is fortifying. Yes, even simply viewing a beautiful scene like this online has the power to lower stress. You’re welcome.
The winter grass was late making an appearance this year, but now that it’s sprouting, the horses are enjoying the fresh change in their diet. A long, lazy afternoon of warm February temperatures had all the mares amiable and content.
I has only been in more recent decades that horse breeders recognize what a great influence the mare has on creating a superior foal. Greater even, than the stallion, some would argue. Obviously, the foal receives 50 percent of it’s genetic information from both the stallion and the mare, but more emphasis and attention, traditionally, has been credited to the stallion choice in regard to the foal’s inherited traits. Because stallions typically produce far more offspring for consideration than individual mares, there is a greater percentage of evidence to ascribe to a stallion in a given lifetime. Conformation, athletic ability, disposition, and lineage are all strongly evaluated when breeding horses; many of these traits have been more heavily attributed to the stallion’s accomplishments and physique. It is the mare, however, who spends far more time influencing the behaviors, disposition, and social experiences of the foal in addition to the genetic contributions. This extended contact impacts the success and attitude her offspring. This fact, specifically, relates to horses bred, born, and raised wild. It is the mare that teaches the foal, through longterm, constant contact, what successful horse behavior looks like. Quality stallions contribute good genes and quality mares contribute good genes and raise quality foals.
I like this image of three different generations of That Herd mares, looking content, bathed in a golden glow.
In an opportunistic moment of acquisition, this old mare stubbornly defies the new mother’s claim to her foal.
The pensive face on the new mother shows her confused concern with the situation.
Interactions between mares and stallions are surprisingly varied. While some meetings are boisterous, squalling, dust-raising, kicking and pawing affairs, others are gentler, less obvious and barely noticeable. Often, the quieter mares merely glide in beside the stallion and present themselves without being pursued at all. Their communications and actions are subtle, demure even.