First the thundering of the hooves, then the thumping of my heart. Here they come! Bands of galloping, bucking, leaping steeds, one after another until they all circle around. Wheeling and lunging to and fro, they are magnificent.
The very last rays of daylight behind a group of young horses fade as nightfall lands. The first days of fall have continued with hot, dry weather. The horses are scouring the hillsides and and mountain tops for forage before their long treks to the few remaining water sources.
These horses are fortunate to have vast acres to roam and explore. I cannot express enough times how this allows the horses to become the very best version of themselves. They are constantly challenged mentally and physically which makes them strong and able thinkers. The foal is annoyed in this moment because his mother will not stand still for him to nurse.
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.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings
A fresh face in That Herd. He has loads of vigor and high spirit.
Any one of the recent realities: excessive heat, intense thunderstorms, earthquakes, wild fires, and a near total solar eclipse could explain the wacky behavior of these young mares one morning. However, like a pack of twittering girls, these fillies are tuned into any excuse to giggle and skitter about for frivolous reasons. It should be noted though, this is still evidence of real herd behaviors that lead to success in the wild. Sticking together and fight or flight are essential tools. Even so many generations removed from authentic wild and feral ancestors, horses that are given the opportunity to live and problem solve in a wild environment tune into their instincts in a relatively short span of time. The information is still in their DNA.
Aurora Musis amica. (Dawn is friend of the muses).
There is no heat yet from the sun; the only hour of this day that won’t be hot until well after sunset. It was not cool, just not hot yet. This put a spring in her step, and doesn’t that light make her look pretty?!
Moments like this have such poetry in them; one is inspired to breath deeply and be grateful. I see a story, a painting, a lesson, a memory, math, mystery, and more.
Farther than most would go, that’s where you will find them.
Quiet leadership from the herd stallion, on a day to day basis, can seem like an annoyance. All that driving and gathering of the mares sometimes seems without purpose or need. It’s as if the stallion is just being imperious. That being said, in times of confusion or stress, the leadership of the stallion can be life-saving. All that daily enforcement of his will is necessary when real danger is present. Leadership is a thankless role, until truly needed. Then you’re a hero.
The behavior of a herd stallion changes often and with a moment’s notice. One minute, he may doze alone in the shade, the next moment he may thunder into the mares, head high, bellowing, marching about, with his tail sweeping from side to side. He may turn from quiet grazing to rambunctious patrols in an instant. Often, his expression may turn from gentle acceptance to fierce commander, as in this image.
This carefree romp is brought to you by the That Herd stallion. Life is good.
This scrappy mare, small in stature and big on attitude, is always the first, or far worse, the last, to cause a disruption in any form of control over the That Herd lifestyle. It’s that last-minute-disruption-drama that gets her equal admiration for cleverness and frustrated curses from those she thwarts. Because of this history with her, I love this image. She is on high alert since the birth of her new colt, twitching and wheeling at every turn of feather or blade of grass, but her foal has the demeanor (so far) of casual indifference, even to her constant dramas.
The herd stallion, looking quite fancy.
This is a lovely mare. She is large and independent. Her face is expressive and refined for her size. She has been lauded on this photo blog for her achievements in bringing some very large foals into this world. She is my most liked subject on Instagram and other media. This year she has a large colt with four stockings and a blaze; he is a beauty. The colt also sports some interesting blue spots in one eye. He is shy and serious, so far. Unfortunately, she is chewing in this image but I liked the light and tall oats.
I have taken my time in introducing the That Herd stallion this year. He is a new individual to me, and I wanted to get a sense of what kind of horse he is. At this point, he seems very tolerant of my visits and displays a wide range of attitudes toward the mares. From aloof, to tolerant, to nurturing, to dismissive, he has shown many sides. Granted, I am only observing for very small pieces of time in the grand scheme of a 24 hour day. It is interesting to have observed so many different characteristics in these small moments though. It is evidence of how complex and individual horses are, especially when they have the freedom to interact and express their personalities among other horses.
There are no foals yet, but evidence of spring in abundant. Marching through a sea of insects, these young fillies are nearly slick with their summer coats, and filled with vitality after winter rains brought lots of new grass.
Hello friends, I’ve been away from my computer for a couple of weeks. Springtime means new foals, so I expect to be posting on a more regular schedule now.
This horse might easily be underestimated due to his quiet, standoffish manner. I expect there is quite a lot going on in his mind though. He is observant and absorbs every nuance of his surroundings. He likes to be left alone, so I like this image of him, looking handsome and solitary. He does mingle and cooperate with his herd group so his alone-time is his preference.
Horses are naturally curious. Investigations are alert and often poised for flight. In a free range environment, there are so many opportunities for investigation the horses become relaxed and steady when exposed to new stimulus (most of the time).
Several rainy storms have passed through this winter, creating lots of mud and green grass after many years of drought. For a time, paradise is being celebrated by all of the That Herd horses. This three-year-old colt is an example; any excuse to run and buck is exploited.