Wild Horse Week-Friends and Family Bands
If you follow me on Instagram, or Facebook, you know we have been visiting the wild horses.
We spent 3 days last weekend with them, plus a day the weekend before. Love them! It was one thing that made me excited about Utah again. Consequently, I have literally thousands of photos and I felt a Wild Horse Week was the best way to show you guys how wonderful these wild horses are.
Each day this week I will talk about a different aspect of wild horse life. Be sure to check out each days post, because towards the end of the week, there will be a giveaway.
Today is all about friends and family bands.
This herd is about 170 horses total. But within that herd, are separate and distinct family bands. Each band has a stallion, sometimes two, the mares, and of course the foals.
We watched this little family interact, and at first we thought the gray one was the mom. I took some photos of the gray horse being so gentle and nuzzling the foal, then we realized it was the dad and the mom came sauntering over. This little guy is well loved and cared for by both parents. And this is the norm in each family band.
This is a perfect photo of a family band. The stallion works hard to keep everyone together.
This is the same little band as the first photo, with the other mare included this time. This little foal kept pestering his mom to stand up so he could get a drink. It’s like he was saying, “Mom, Mom, Hey Mom I’m thirsty.” She did stand up for him.
This was one of the smaller foals out there this time. They don’t get too far away before mom and dad usher them back into the group.
The last evening we were there, we hiked way up a hill to where the herd was. The horses are constantly on the move, grazing, or socializing. So if you stay in one general area for a while, they sometimes wander near you. These two foals did just that. The darker pinto behind them is the second in command of their band, and the lead stallion was below the hill with his mares. He neighed at the foals, and the small pinto answered but they didn’t go anywhere. About 10 minutes later the lead stallion came charging up the hill, circled around these two, and herded them back to the rest of the band. I think he was mad they didn’t listen to him the first time. Teenagers, the same everywhere.
The horses are incredibly social, and there is always a lot of nuzzling and contact going on, between foals and adults, or just adults. This social structure they have, is what makes rounding them up so devastating. Imagine being terrified, forced in to a cage, and separated from your family.
The horse on the left is a cremello. There are two of them in this herd, and I love them. They have blue eyes, but are not albino. This pinto is the mom to this yearling.
Look closely at the cremello on the left, and you can see almost the exact same marking as the pinto. She is the mom to both these horses.
Within the herd there are horses who are just friends. These two old stallions were never far from each other, no matter when we saw them. The white one is one of Al’s favorites and is clearly an old guy. When the herd is on the move, they are usually near the back.
Another part of the herd hierarchy is the status of each group or band. We would see the same horses in the front, or in the back of the herd when they were on the move, or going to water. The same horses we noticed in the same places last spring when we visited.
Outside the family bands are the bachelor stallions. The bachelors hang out together until they get the chance to either steal another stallions mares, or gather up their own. These two stallions are clearly brothers, and were always in the very back of the herd. We saw them a few times completely removed from the herd too. They did spar with each other once or twice, perhaps practicing their moves.
Right before we went to visit the horses last weekend, I bought a gently used Tamron 150-600 lens. I have wanted one of these since last year when we were in Wyoming. I was thrilled with the performance and reach I had to capture the horses this time. Not every photo session had the best lighting conditions, but that’s part of wildlife photography.
And honestly, just hanging out with these guys is what it’s all about.