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
A new foal, only a day or two old, accepts some harsh realities about life outside the womb. Rain and wind have been a constant for her so far. At least I think it’s a filly; not acceptable weather for camera gear either.
A new foal for a first time mother, this filly benefits from a second protective mare who adopted her and her mom. She is a beautiful dark color with a delicate face. Not afraid to boldly lead the way for one so new, she will only grow in confidence.
Normally, all the foals are born by the end of June, but this year a late birth has brought new life to That Herd. Within several hours of his birth he faced many confusing situations. Some of the challenges he faced were hard to watch. Dealing with heat, and dust, and very dry surroundings, was already a lot, but he also became the easy mark for horse flies. Because of his lack of life experience, the absence of a long tail, and thick skin, he endured several bites. The grown horses in the group were also tormented by the blood-sucking flies and retreated to the branches of on old oak tree to scrape off the flies that they couldn’t knock off. While under the tree, the newborn foal toddled into the hollow trunk of the dying tree. For many minutes I observed as his initial investigation turned into a real dilemma for him. Unable to navigate his way out of the tree trunk, his mother became concerned and circled the tree over and over, encouraging her colt to come to her. When the other horses eventually wandered away, the mother became frantic. Seeing as she is a first-time mother, I also became concerned that she may pursue the other horses and leave the foal in confusion. I intervened and pulled him out of the tree. All’s well, that ends well. A positive ending overshadows any problems that precede it.
A horse fly finds an easy mark and wakes up a sleeping newborn foal.
Without a long tail or life experience, this newborn become the target of a horse fly.
A horse fly finds every possible indefensible spot on this newborn foal.
A newborn foal finds himself in a dilemma when he toddles into a hollow tree.
Raw, uncut, no-ego, take-it-as-it-comes face of a newborn. These moments, when absolutely everything is a lesson in living, are precious. Nothing inspires thoughts of positivity and hope like a brand new life. Good luck, little guy.
A very strong newborn who attempted to stand, even when still robed in placenta mere minutes from birth, made balance look fairly easy when he stood up. He didn’t try and fail over and over, he simply stood. He teetered briefly, then wobbled around his mother. What a champ! What a scene to fill a horse lovers heart!
A very large, and very newly born colt, makes his first attempt at standing.
Foals are born with their disposition already developed. This week-old foal makes is clear he will not be intimidated. Several mares and foals were moving about under the shade of a large tree, and any horse that tried to push through this guy’s space got a side-eye-wrinkle-face with the standard head bob and pinned ear warning. This behavior is both a marvel of instinct and giggle-worthy at the shear absurdness of it.
A new foal stands up for himself with a strong attitude and a sour face.
Even though That Herd horses are accustomed to my appearances, sometimes they don’t want anything to do with me. I don’t take it personally when mares keep their distance with a newborn foal. I can respect the enormous responsibility they face. In a free range environment, one cannot be too careful. In this case, her distance makes for quite a wonderful scene. It’s a filly, by the way.
A mare keeps her distance with her one-day-old filly.
A new colt, first seen at about a week old, is doted on by his mother. She is not keen on my getting close, and moves away often. The colt amused me by making a mad face at all the horses, foals or mares, who ventured too close to him. He looks innocent enough in this image though.
A new colt gets special attention from his mother.
Roaming in a natural environment allows for rapid and constant skill building that sharpen confidence, stamina, problem solving, and survival reflexes. This new colt is probably a couple of days old and he is already comfortable exploring away from his mother.
Growing up wild enhances all of the abilities of the foals.
I’m adding another picture to honor this valiant mare for giving birth to such a sturdy foal. Large joints and pointy shoulders were no match for the grit of this Super Mare. Not to mention, it was probably raining at the time too.
Congratulations to a valiant mare for giving birth the such a sturdy foal.
A rushed evening check on the mare herd reveals a new foal! This leggy bay colt is probably a couple of days old. Night was arriving so I did not have a chance to spend any time observing the new foal. I will reveal, however, that he was not the only new foal.
An early evening check on the mares reveals a new foal.
This mare is a good mother. She has had many foals, and they all have benefited from their mother’s nurturing disposition. Even in this image, shortly after giving birth to a rather large filly, she looks bright and proud.