Introducing Rue!!

 

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This morning our group had the great joy and privilege of discovering the most recent Pryor foal. Sometime on July 16th, Jacinta gave birth to a sturdy foal. Baby is already showing dun factor stripes, and has a big blaze, just like mum!

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Family photo!

At the beginning of the summer I had mentioned to Sandy that I would like to name a Jacinta foal “Rue.” We both adored the name, and have often questioned throughout our trips just exactly when little Rue would finally introduce him or herself! I picked the name to tie in with the plant theme of Jacinta (a flower), and her dam Rosebud. I am so thrilled to finally have the opportunity to discover and name a Pryor foal!!

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I can’t get over how cute he is!!

It’s hard to put into words just how excited Sandy and I were this morning. As we hadn’t seen Garay’s band the previous day, we had our suspicions that Jacinta may have foaled. But I have to admit it didn’t seem likely that we would find a new baby with so few born this year.

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Still working out those new legs!

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As though Jacinta had planned to show off little Rue, Garay’s band made their way towards our campsite where we had just finished eating breakfast in the company of Gringo and Tecumseh’s family. Jacinta absolutely dotes on the new foal, and is a very protective mother (no surprise there, here is a recap of full-sibling Patriot’s dramatic birth day). She is a diligent mother, and both mum and baby look fantastic!

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Jacinta is a doting mother!

We believe that Rue is a colt, though of course we were at quite a distance and unable to confirm. I cannot wait to watch Rue grow and develop in his beautiful mountain home.

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Bath time!

Welcome to the world little Rue!! ❤

Family Matters

As exemplified by Tecumseh in my last post, paternal care is often just as important as maternal care in mustangs. While it is true there is more maternal investment in the offspring (after all, the dam is the one carrying the foal, going through labour, nursing the foal etc.), a good stallion certainly has his fair share of responsibility in caring for offspring. Interestinglu, quite often stallions find themselves raising the offspring of other males. While animals like lions are notorious for killing unrelated young, stallions will raise unrelated foals born into their bands, and also frequently raise young that are brought along by a new mare. While there are of course exceptions to the rule, particularly if the foal is very young, in general stallions make pretty good step-fathers.

This short post, however, is about Hamlet, who is the actual biological sire of Penn. Poor Penn had very freshly been weaned by a rather large (and grumpy!) pregnant Audubon. While the filly was certainly old enough to be weaned, it didn’t stop her from missing her mother’s milk! Since Mum kept rejecting her, she sought out other options….I think the following photos speak volumes for what a patient Dad Hamlet is!

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Penn gets creative….
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Poor, confused Hamlet….
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Is this really happening right now???
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Kudos to Hamlet for using the death-glare approach over kicking out or biting!

Niobrara was the next target, but at least she was the correct sex to produce milk, even though she has never lactated (as a mare who has yet to foal). Niobrara was also very patient with the confused yearling.

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You can almost see the thoughts running through Penn’s head
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Going for the sneak approach…..
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The face of defeat.
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Penn resigns herself to her milk-less future and begins grazing with her family

Never a dull moment

Sometimes people will ask me what I do all day on the mountain, and question whether I ever get bored with “just watching horses.” And the honest answer is “No.” As many visitors to the mountain can tell you, just sitting and watching the horses interact in their normal life is fascinating, and often supremely peaceful.

Of course, life isn’t always quiet on the range. When Sandy and I reached the top on our first trip last year, we set up camp under the watchful eyes of Jackson, Mandan, and Nodin. I was itching to get pictures of these guys observing me building a tent, but, alas, tent construction and photography don’t exactly go hand in hand!

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Nirvana investigates the fire pit outside Penn’s Cabin

Once camp was set up, we headed towards Penn’s Cabin, which isn’t somewhere I had spent much time at previously. Here we found the bands of Morning Star, Horizon, Garay, Galaxy, Gringo,Tecumseh, and Blue Moon. I was delighted to finally “meet” Orielle and Innocentes as they had been in the Dry Head when I was on the range in 2015.

The peace was first disturbed by Tecumseh when Grijala showed up with Graciana and new band member, Oceana. Oceana was born in the fall, and many of us were surprised to hear that she had joined Grijala’s band at only 1.5 years old. This was especially surprising as her sire (Tecumseh), dam, uncle, and “aunt” all doted on her; Oceana was the apple of the four adult horses’ eyes. On this day, while Grijala was distracted, Tecumseh made his move to retrieve his daughter and snaked her back to her mother, Galadriel. Almost as though it was planned, Galadriel moved off with Gringo and Beulah, Oceana behind her and Tecumseh bringing up the rear. Oceana gave a little of her typical sass, but otherwise agreeably rejoined her former family.

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“Fineeeee Dad”
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The double band makes a subtle break for it
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They really are the cutest family

Tecumseh’s plan worked fairly well, until Grijala noticed his latest lady had gone missing. He charged after them and Gringo and Beulah decided they were bailing on Operation: Retrieve Oceana. While Tecumseh was fairly defiant at first, he eventually decided not to risk fighting a much younger stallion over his wayward daughter. Grijala collected Oceana and drove her back to Graciana, his only other mare. While Oceana kicked out at her beau a few times, she went back more or less willingly and peacefully to her new band.

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Tecumseh tries to head Grijala off
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Gringo and Beulah decide they don’t need to be involved in the drama!
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Oceana can take care of herself!

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The newly established peace didn’t last long as Bolder and his family drama (aka Killian and Lobo) showed up. Bolder was constantly running between sons, scolding Killian for hounding Sapo, and stamping on Lobo’s plans to court Celt (though Celt was doing a fairly good job of that herself!) But what really drew my attention was chaos among the bachelors.

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Take the hint, Lobo.

A lone coyote dun stallion had appeared and in near-disbelief Sandy identified him as Johan, a stallion rarely seen, let alone on the mountain top. While I missed the initial action, Dawn Ness described how Johan had separated young foal Quintana (whom I refer to as Quartz) from her dam, Feldspar, in a recent Facebook post. Daddy Mescalero went charging after Johan to retrieve his daughter and was able to return her safely to Feldspar.

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An anxious Feldspar checks over Quartz, who was unharmed
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Feldspar shields Quartz from the continued drama

Meanwhile, many of the other stallions in the area, including the bachelors, banded together to chase Johan clear out of the area. This was incredibly fascinating to watch, as a bunch of stallions and colts joined forces to drive out another male that had presented a threat to a young foal, even though none of these boys were part of her band. This was a fantastic example of the horses working together as an overall herd to protect one of their own. While they do live in distinctly separate bands, ultimately it is still one herd. I saw a couple more examples of this altruistic behaviour during my trips last summer.

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I never said they were an *organized* group of vigilantes…..
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Johan flees the mob
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The young boys followed to make sure the job was done (and probably for a bit of extra fun!)

It was hard not to feel at least a little sorry for Johan. I do not think he had any intentions of harming Quartz, but perhaps had hoped to lure Feldspar away from her band so he could claim her and her daughter for himself.

 

P.S. Sorry for the poor photo quality-lighting was bad and most of these were taken at quite a distance!

Love is All Around

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One of my favourite aspects of watching the horses is observing the bonds between individuals. Whether it’s interactions between a stallion and his band, long-term friends, dams and offspring or bachelor buddies, these quiet moments are what truly stick with me when I come home. As it was recently Valentine’s Day, I thought now was an appropriate time to expand on the relationships among the horses.

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Tecumseh dotes on Galadriel

If you follow my Facebook page, you might remember that I shared a picture of Tecumseh and Galadriel for Valentine’s Day. These two are one of the most rewarding pairs to observe. Tecumseh fought long and hard to get Galadriel back after he lost his band and, it seems clear to me, that he hasn’t forgotten that struggle. Tecumseh is incredibly tender with Galadriel, he dotes on her and absolutely adores Oceana, their daughter. While I was sad to see precocious Oceana leave her parents relatively early (she really was the apple of their eyes!), Grijala is doing a good job of taking care of her. For such a large stallion, he is supremely gentle with the filly. His mare, Graciana, has also taken Oceana under her wing.

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Grijala: equal parts band stallion and baby sitter!

Fiesta and Horizon are another well-known pair. These two were bachelors together, and when Horizon claimed Juniper as his first mare, Fiesta tagged along. Up until this fall the two stallions remained together, with Fiesta as a clear lieutenant stallion but part of the band all the same. The roan stallion took his duties very seriously, and rushed to defend his little family at every opportunity. Fiesta has not been seen in recent months, though I am hopeful that he has simply decided to go his own way and will show himself in the spring!

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The two stallions often spar together, but always make up in the end

Firestorm is one of the most prolific young mares on the mountain, though sadly she only has two offspring currently on the range. She is a fantastic mother, and her sons and daughter have all inherited her kind and affectionate temperament. Okomi recently became a bachelor but over the summer Firestorm was still as affectionate as ever with her son, and from the pictures I saw this fall, Okomi doted on little sister, Quietstorm. Okomi was also an excellent ‘stepbrother’ to Petra.

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Okomi and Firestorm share a quiet moment

Pride is another wonderful big brother. He and little sister Quartz (Quintana) were seldom apart this summer, though I’m not sure which of the two was the leader in most of their adventures (though I think it was Quartz!)

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Three guesses who the more affectionate one in this relationship is!

With the implementation of PZP (fertility control in order to curb population growth) it has become less common to see multiple juvenile horses in one band. Orielle and her dam, Inoccentes joined Blue Moon’s band in the fall of 2015. When Halcyon’s son, Quanah was born the next year all the horses in the band doted on the baby. Orielle and Quanah have a really fun relationship, and it was a daily occurrence to see them tearing around together, having a blast.

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Orielle is very tolerant of baby Quanah!
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Terribly blurry, but they were having a blast!!

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It’s hard to talk about relationships on the mountain without mentioning Nimbus and Knight. While it was certainly a rocky start for the two young horses, Nimbus has clearly come to trust Knight and the two are very sweet with each other. Nimbus may appear quiet, but she certainly keeps Knight on his toes!

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While relationships among stallions and mares generally get the most attention, mares in the same band often form strong, lasting bonds. When Doc took Jackson’s band, all the mares stuck together, in spite of many of them seeming less than pleased with Doc, who, to be fair, had a very different attitude towards them than Jackson did. A few years later, the band has started to break apart, but this summer they were still a very close knit group. Doc can be a dominant stallion, and oftentimes the other members of the band would get between him and a mare he was courting if that mare showed signs of being uncomfortable.

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Jasmine steps in to tell Doc he was getting too rough
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Okomi comes over to help

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that family means the world to wild horses. As social, herd animals, family is everything: social bonds are what keep them safe and allow them to exhibit their full repertoire of natural behaviours.  When considering management strategies, whether they be a form of fertility control or removals, I think it is very important to remember this.  While management of mustang herds is currently unavoidable, it is imperative to take into account social disruption when evaluating the impactx of various management strategies on the horses. Sadly, there is by no means a perfect solution, though tools such as PZP are promising, so long as we implement these strategies carefully. It is important that we continue to explore methods of minimizing social disruption to the horses while we manage the herd.

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Love bites!

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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Aztec

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.

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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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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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Brumby

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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Aztec
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Jasmine

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Jupiter isn’t even sorry.

Please write to OSU to oppose spaying experiments on feral mares and fillies in short-term holding

  • Check out this link for more details:

http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=b16d80346618d3ce64e8e9877&id=0b5957533f

Below is the text of my email. Please consider writing,emailing or calling to oppose this unethical proposal. Contact information can be found in the link above.

“To the OSU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee:

I urge you to reconsider involvement in the proposed sterilization experiments on captive mustang mares in Hines, Oregon. While I understand that population control is necessary, the surgical sterilization of mustang mares in holding and/or on the range is certainly not the answer.

There can be no doubt that the proposed research is inhumane. The BLM itself has acknowledged the risk to the individual mares, and of course any unborn foals. The risk will only increase for fillies selected to undergo surgical alteration.

I work in the veterinary field and am well aware of the follow-up and recovery period involved when spaying small animals like dogs and cats. These animals have at least a week long recovery period in order to minimize the risk of tearing their stitches and are given pain medication and antibiotics. The risk of complications, such as sepsis, in these formally feral mares is high.

Not only is the proposed research barbaric and cruel for the mares in holding, but it also opens a potential gateway for management to propose spaying mares on the range. Spaying is both dangerous (at the individual and population level) and unnecessary. PZP can be used successfully in both captive and feral populations. Once spayed, there is no undoing the potential genetic loss to a herd.

Finally, the spaying of mares in a population would likely disrupt the balance of bands and thus the herd at large. The mares’ behaviour would undoubtedly change, and it is unknown how this would impact the stallions and their relationships with now consistently anestrus mares.

It is for these reasons that I simply cannot condone the proposed surgical sterilization research on the mares and fillies in Hines, Oregon. I ask Oregon State University to please reconsider their support and involvement in this unethical study.

Thank you for your consideration”

 

 

These are a (lot) of my favourite (horses)

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Baja leads his mares Bacardi and Washakie. 

You might wonder what place a subjective word like “favourite” has in an objective field like wildlife management. And truthfully, it shouldn’t really have a place. However, we would be remiss to forget that these horses are managed, followed and advocated for by people, and people are not wholly (or even mostly) objective.

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Inquisitive, distinctive and a rare colour, Pride is a natural candidate for favouritism. He is also likely the last offspring of his famous sire, Cloud. Representation-wise, however, he is a prime candidate for removal this coming year.

There is nothing wrong with having favourite horses, so long as this is not allowed to impact the overall health of the herd. The danger comes when people make management decisions that favour certain horses and their offspring, or a particular colour or other characterstic, leading to an over-representation of certain bloodlines and traits. This dilutes the genetic diversity in the population. In such a small, isolated population this is extremely risky, not only to the long term viability of the herd, but also to the health of the future offspring of a more concentrated gene pool.

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Oro (Odyssey). Because who doesn’t love Oro? 🙂

That’s not to say that it isn’t 100% natural (no pun intended) for the topic of favourites to come up in human conversation. People have their own preferences and emotional responses and that is nothing to be ashamed of. I love chatting to people about their favourite Pryor horses. And people ask me the same question all the time! To be honest, anyone who has ever asked me which horse in the Pryors is my favourite has received a very long-winded answer because, every time I find out something new about one of the horses, it further develops their character. I think they are all my favourites, though inevitably some do stand out  a little bit more to me.

At any rate, here is kind of highlight reel (part 1, at least) of, not so much my “favourite” horses, but the ones that particularly touched me on my first trip to the Pryors.

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Nimbus gets first spot, because she was the first Pryor Mustang I ever saw in person. It’s not hard to understand why a lot of people love Nimbus, she’s simply stunning! Not only does she look like a unicorn, but she has a very Romantic story. Separated as a yearling from her natal band, she was claimed by a group of bachelor stallions. It is not hard to imagine why this wouldn’t be the ideal situation for a young filly, but against all odds she managed, and wound up with a devoted young stallion (Knight, pictured in my blog header).

I saw Nimbus every day I was on the mountain, and she never ceased to amaze me with her beauty  and personality! Click here for more about Nimbus on my sister blog.

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Gaelic Princess is another beautiful mare. Naturally shy, she often gets overlooked in reports on her large band. One morning in camp we found her watching a couple of us rather closely. We were amazed to see her actually move towards us. Gaelic Princess was getting so inquisitive we actually had to retreat, but I’ll never forget meeting her eyes and seeing the battle between wariness and curiosity flickering there. It was an honour to me that she felt comfortable enough to let the curious side of her personality win out, even just for a few seconds.

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Jasper is tall(ish), dark and handsome so what more could you want? Not only is he positively stunning, but he has a very striking air about him. I really fell head over heels for this guy as I watched him interact gently with his band of young mares and two “step sons,” Okiotak and Oklahoma. Jasper clearly loves his family, and made this quite clear when he felt the stallion Fiesta had crossed a line by telling off his two youngest charges.

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Okiotak and Oklahoma were not born in the same band but they obviously wasted no time in becoming best friends!! These two were positively precious to watch. Because of the population control in the Pryors, it isn’t very common to see a band with more than one yearling or foal at the same time.

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Hamlet, Audubon and Niyaha were majorly elusive throughout my trip. Audubon was heavily pregnant at the time, and we spent a lot of time scanning the horizon for any sign of this small band and a new member! I saw them the first day I was on the mountain, and then not again until an hour or so before I left the mountain. It was very exciting to see them coming over the crest of a hill and completely unexpected. I haven’t met Audubon’s little filly, though!

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Limerick and Nirvana are sweet young mares in Galaxy’s band. We spent a lovely early evening watching them interact and pose for us until Galaxy decided that they’d had enough publicity for the evening.

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Tecumseh, Galadriel and Oceana are a tight little family band. Tecumseh fought long and hard to win back Galadriel, and absolutely dotes on his daughter, Oceana, who is certainly a daddy’s girl!

 

 

Welcome: Part 2

Many of you know that I am going to Graduate School to study the impact of artificial management, particularly PZP, on the Pryor mustangs.

I am interested in determining the long term impacts of PZP on the horses as individuals and as a herd. I’m looking at influences on genetic diversity, behaviour and welfare. My goal is to assess these factors in a scientific manner so that we can most humanely and effectively protect and manage the herd. As the horses are social mammals, I believe impacts on behaviour are particularly important to identify and address.

The research has wider applications to several populations of social mammals, such as wolves, elk and deer.