Like Mother, Like Daughter

Of all of Doc’s reluctant ladies, it seems Brumby, Jasmine and Aztec are the most independent. This will come as no surprise to fans of Brumby; she even walked away from long-time mate Jackson on several occasions. While in the Pryors this year I often observed Brumby off, doing her own thing but keeping an eye on the band at the same time. I like to jokingly refer to Doc’s band as Brumby’s band….I think she would appreciate that. In fact, one morning Sandy and I woke up to find Doc’s band was missing Brumby, Aztec, Heritage and Firestorm. We thought the mares must have stayed with Firestorm to foal, but as Quietstorm was not born for a couple more weeks, we can only guess at why, and how, the group of four mares had managed to separate from the larger band. By the time we saw the band again, it was fully intact.

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Jasmine (Cloud x Aztec)
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Mother and daughter pair Aztec and Jasmine are also in the habit of walking away from their stallion. When Jasmine left her natal band to join Jackson, Aztec would often visit her daughter. Jasmine never seemed 100% settled with Jackson’s band as her band of choice, and it wasn’t unusual to hear that she wasn’t spotted with the band, even after it seemed that she had permanently moved on from her birth harem.  It seems like the two girls haven’t quite kicked the habit, even with Doc’s more domineering personality.

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Jasmine wanders over to band stallion Mescalero. Rosarita looks on in amazement. Interestingly, Jasmine was not currently in estrus.
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Jasmine reminds Mescalero that is she a strong, independent woman…

Aztec and Jasmine have been frequently sighted with Cappuccino’s band, and last year I did see Aztec with the dun stallion. However, though reports have indicated that the mares are still wavering between the two bands, in the 3 week time span I was in the Pryors this year I only ever saw Aztec and Jasmine with Doc. This wasn’t for lack of trying on the mares’ part.

Aztec and Jasmine make a bid for freedom. Cappuccino’s band is just out of sight.
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Doc suddenly notices two of his mares are leaving him

In one instance, while Doc was busy getting rejected by Galena, Aztec and Jasmine grazed steadily closer to Cappuccino’s band. Once they were close enough they started actively walking over to the other horses. They would have made it all the way but Jasmine suddenly gave a soft whinny to her “other” family and the cat was let out of the bag. A very stressed Doc burst out of the cover he was standing in and raced after the mother/daughter pair. The girls made a run for it but Cappuccino wasn’t interested in getting involved in the domestic dispute so Doc managed to swing them around and chase them back over to the rest of his band.

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Jasmine and Aztec
The girls head back to the band
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Doc chases after them

Unfortunately, at this point Doc was rather irritated and raging with testosterone, so he roughly gathered his mares and began pushing them around. It isn’t hard to see that Doc can get easily stressed with his large group of mares, nor is it tough to imagine why they resent his style of leadership. It will be interesting to see how Doc’s saga plays out.

Oh, Doc….

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Doc’s an interesting fella. For most of his tenure as a band stallion he’s been something of an underdog, a quiet stallion content to be one of the less dominant studs on the mountain. This all changed a couple years ago when Doc came roaring out of the background—scattering Cloud’s band and then claiming Jackson’s a little while later. While many people, myself included, were saddened to hear of Jackson losing his family, it was good to see Doc with mares again.

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Doc moves his band around seemingly constantly

Unbelievably, Doc is the only offspring of Winnemucca left on the range, and his sire, Littlefoot, has only one other offspring. You may have heard of Winnemucca-she’s only the oldest horse on the range at 29 years old, and likely the oldest horse that the Pryors have ever seen. The sad thing is it’s not as though Winnemucca didn’t have several foals. Unfortunately, all bar Doc were removed. So the idea of some more little Docs running around on the range was very exciting indeed. Until last year, London was Doc’s only living offspring.

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London, Doc and Gold Rush’s son

But with the change in Doc’s situation came a change in the stallion’s personality. I have often wondered if the pressure of having such a large group of mares was partially responsible for Doc’s change in attitude, but it should be noted that Littlefoot had a reputation as a somewhat aggressive stallion, so perhaps Doc’s inner Littlefoot has just come out.

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Now, Doc is a gorgeous stallion. He is also important genetically. But he’s kind of tough to love at the moment. He really has a good thing going, a band of highly bonded mares, a few of them not currently vaccinated with PZP, and a very smart lead mare (Brumby). Unfortunately though, none of his mares seem to like him. This group of girls was certainly loyal to Jackson, and it would make sense that they would be slow to warm up to a new stallion, especially when the change was fairly sudden. Doc is a very different stallion to Jackson, rough and tense where Jackson was always reported as collected and affectionate with his family. But it’s a couple years later and the band still isn’t comfortable with him.

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A Facebook friend pointed out that Doc would do well to offer this flower to one of his ladies, I happen to agree!

Galena was the only one of Jackson’s mares to show affection to Doc initially. However, it seems that she is now less comfortable around him and very nervous of his attempts to breed her. His aggressive approach is very intimidating to his mares. On several accounts I witnessed other members of the band, including 2 year old Okomi, stepping in to prevent Doc breeding with one of the mares when he got too aggressive. Heritage developed her own unique approach to the problem, refusing to stand and spinning in circles whenever Doc approached her.

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Doc isn’t quite sure where he went wrong….
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Jasmine steps in to give an unhappy Heritage a reprieve from Doc’s advances

I really wish Doc would lighten up a little with his band. They are such a tight knit group that none of them really want to leave their family. Aztec and her daughter Jasmine do seem to like Cappuccino’s band (more on that later), but somehow find themselves back with Doc’s most of the time. While I was on the mountain, which was over a 3 week period, they were with Doc the whole time. I can only think that they come back to be with their friends.

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Obviously I am still thrilled that Doc has the opportunity for more offspring on the mountain, and it is important that these offspring remain. Petra is a spitfire, independent filly, and his new filly Quietstorm (who I have yet to meet) is just gorgeous. But more importantly, they represent strong genetics that are on the brink of extinction. Here’s hoping these two new Doc daughters have the opportunity for a long, successful life on the range.

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Firestorm delivered a Doc foal a couple weeks after this photograph was taken.
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Petra sassing her sire.

Fickle is as Fickle Does

I’m sorry to say it, but Niobrara is just not that into Hamlet. I guess tall, dark and handsome isn’t really her type. Throughout my time in the Pryors this year, I witnessed Niobrara run off from Hamlet’s band several times, and Hamlet chase fairly good-naturedly after her. It may seem odd to us as observers, after all Hamlet is a calm and kind band stallion, but mares do have their own individual preferences. And Niobrara is making it quite clear that Hamlet’s band isn’t where she wants to stay.

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“Here we go again, I kinda wanna be more than friends….” Side note, Audubon is so over these shenanigans.


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Niobrara decides she’s heading off.

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Hamlet. He really is a handsome stallion

Niobrara is happy to graze next to Hamlet.
Hamlet is very gentle with Niobrara.



Niobrara’s main form of dissent is walking away.

What’s especially interesting is that Niobrara has no problem grazing next to Hamlet or even mutually grooming with him (she’s a bit of a tease, actually). She’s certainly not intimidated by him. But she is very unwilling to let him breed her. At first I assumed this was more due to her youth rather than any kind of individual preference. However, one morning Niobrara repeatedly rebuffed Hamlet (after grooming with him for several minutes) and the poor guy went off to play with a group of bachelors. While everyone’s attention was on Hamlet mucking about with the younger boys, I suddenly caught sight of Jupiter breeding Niobrara, and Niobrara standing very calmly. Eventually Hamlet noticed as well, and came charging over. While he did chase Jupiter off, there was only a small scuffle before Jupiter returned to his band, unscathed and rather pleased with himself. As for Hamlet, he decided to try his luck at wooing Niobrara again. The young mare wasn’t thrilled but around 15 minutes later did reluctantly breed with Hamlet.

Niobrara is generally comfortable with Hamlet.

It seems clear to me that, for whatever reason, Niobrara is not content in Hamlet’s band. Hamlet seems to be realising that, too. He did not make much of a go for Jupiter, and he is getting less and less determined when chasing after his wayward filly. For what it’s worth, Niobrara doesn’t seem particularly stressed when running away from her band, so I wouldn’t worry about her.

Jupiter isn’t even sorry.