It is the time of year that spring surprises pop up all around us. Trees and flowers blooming, grass greening and leaves starting faintly to show in the cottonwoods along the river. It is also the time of year that the wild horse bands start showing up with new members. I took my camera out yesterday and was fortunate to find several mares who were amiable to having a family photo taken.
The big seal brown horse with the large white star is a stallion that I have been photographing for 5 years. His band of mares changes membership from time to time but he has always had the same red roan mare alongside him. He passes that big white star on to many of his offspring. I have included a couple of photos of his foals with the distinctive white mark on their face.
The stallions are constantly fighting over mares and stealing them when they can. I caught a couple having a bit of a scuffle on their way to water. I liked the way the dust in the evening light softened the look of the battle.
Click on the ( i ) in the left hand corner of the photos to read captions on the photos.
I found an old friend this last week while out stalking deer to photograph. I looked up from the cottonwood groves flanking the river to the dry hills and saw three horses headed to water. Even from afar I thought that I recognized the distinctive markings of one of the horses. I hurried to catch up with them, any thought of sneaking up on deer forgotten as I hoped I could intersect with the horses without spooking them. I was able to get down wind and into some thick sagebrush and waited along their return path as they drank at the river.
Peeking at them through the brush I was thrilled to see that the paint mare trailing her colorful foal, was well-known to me. I had taken quite a few photos of her and her band the summer of 2009 when she was born. Her distinctive markings made her easy to recognize. I had last seen her in the fall of 2011 a good 12 miles to the west of this location. At that time, she had still been with her mother and several other mares. Her sire was still in possession of his band of mares. I took some photos of them and then did not see her again until this week.
Obviously she was now a mother herself. I looked at the condition she was in and that of her foal and my heart fell. The drought we have been having is taking a terrible toll on all of the wild horses but especially mares and foals. The lack of snow and rain last winter has left very little for the horses to eat. I saw the foal trying to nurse and I am not sure she had any milk to give. They are walking great distances to find feed everyday and burning a lot of calories. I have been praying, along with everyone else for a good winter with heavy snow this year but that will surely mean a lot of these horses are not going to make it.
Yesterday I think I saw the paint again with her stallion. I looked in vain for the foal. They were very far away so I can’t be sure it was her at all. I did not see a foal trailing them.
I was finally able to get out and find some bands of horses again this week. I was happy to find this blue roan colt who is wrestling with the sorrel in the photos. I have photos of him as a foal and had not seen him in a year. Nice to see him doing so well. All of the horses in this band looked healthy and well fed. I have been worried about how they are faring with the drought we are having but so far so good. Summer may have a grimmer tale to tell.
Got up early today with the intention of taking photos of deer. I found this band of wild horses at the water hole instead. They were not very happy that I was there but after banging around for a few minutes they settled down and let me shoot them for about 15 minutes until the Stallion had had enough.
Abandoned, they thrived in forgotten corners and the out of
Where others had died they survived and made the outback
their own place,
Here to stay.
Now hunted and harried, they have done too well.
There are too many to hear others tell.
They don’t belong
To see them in the wild you can’t help but hope
That their nobility and spirit will grace the desert forever
Running out there, fleet and strong,
Not relegated to dreams and songs.