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The welcoming committee

The welcoming committee

One of the great joys we have is taking our own horses for rides out in wild horse country. Just going for an enjoyable ride is great, but riding out here is fascinating when you come upon a herd. It was no different this past Friday when we took our two boys out west. Driving down the back trail to where we wanted to unload, we were met by this group sunning themselves around a mud hole.

Getting ready for the trail

Getting ready for the trail

Just after unloading we could hear some crunching in the bushes and looked up to see four young studs peering through the bush at us.

Curious neighbours

Curious neighbours

Unafraid and very curious they came in to within 30 feet of us to see what we were doing. They stayed in the immediate area while we saddled our horses and were still there as we rode off down the trail.

Wyley, the wildie, and our Akitas

Wyley the wildie, and our Akitas

One of our horses is Wyley who was rescued many years ago and has turned into an exceptional trail horse. The most amazing thing about him is that he will always let you know when there are other “relatives” of his around. His calmness and trail sense now makes it a joy to take him back into the country he was born in. We had a great ride under ideal conditions. Then upon returning to our trailer this was our greeting.

A large contingent to welcome us back

A large contingent to welcome us back

As you can see by this picture, there are no yearlings in these three herds. It is a fact that not only us, but many others have also noticed and are taking note of this. The other distressing point is that a large number of foals born this spring are no longer with their herds. That is the case with the herd in the middle of the above picture.

Just gone

Just gone?

This is a little filly that was with the herd just five days previous. Leaving our horses tied to the trailer we went for a walk around the herd to see whether it was just lying down. Unfortunately it was no where to be found and had succumbed to either sickness or predators.

WHOAS strongly believes and will be pushing the ESRD not to have any capture season this coming year due to the large number of horses lost this past winter, that there are very few yearlings left with the herds, and now the loss of a large number of foals this spring.

Wandering through a grassy hillside

Wandering through a grassy hillside

One of the things we noticed on this ride was the abundance of grass growing throughout the whole area we rode.  This is a key point because not only were there lots of wild horses but also a large number of deer in the area. The only trails we rode on were ones made by the horses and they were all in good shape and not torn apart by overuse.

A week ago, we were riding down in Sandy McNabb, which has an excellent equestrian campground, horse facilities and trails. This area is used extensively by not only equestrian riders, but also hikers. What we found was that the cattle which had only been allowed in there for approximately 10 days, had decimated many of the lower trails. Also all the small creeks in the valleys were running brown from the disturbance caused to the banks by the cattle (there are no wild horses down here). So when people bring up the argument about horses destroying the environment, anyone would just have to witness what we and many others we spoke to had. Many of the other equestrian campers were upset with the cattle being allowed in this area and the damage they were doing. The individuals and so called experts  that make these claims against the wild horses would not be able to substantiate any of that nonsense if they had been able to witness this damage. Don’t get me wrong I do not begrudge the cattle leases or allotments as long as these cattle ranchers stop blaming the horse for their perceived problems on our public lands and recognize that their cattle have more of a negative impact on the environment than any other creatures do.

Sunset and Angel coming along well

Sunset and Angel coming along well

WHOAS had to take in more wild horses this summer  than we ever had to in previous years. This is due to several reasons but it is still part of our mandate. However, we are limited to the number that we can take in due space and financial considerations. It is expensive caring, as any knowledgeable horse person will tell you, for a horse. Add on the time that has to be devoted to the gentling process to make these horses adoptable, it can become onerous. We are doing the best we can right now. Hopefully when we have our own facility up and running, and our charitable status, we will be able to work with more rescues as needed.

Angel and Sunset will have to remain with us for a period of time yet to allow the filly to be properly weaned and the mare to get back into proper condition. This costs money, but we are not complaining but welcome any support. And for those that have donated, WHOAS and our foster charges thank you.

A new treat - black oil sunflower seeds

A new treat – black oil sunflower seeds

We had a good laugh as Timber walked up to taste what was in the bucket. We made sure he did not get too many as he took an immediate liking to this delicacy! He is doing extremely well and loves to be bathed with the hose. It is nice to know that he has a home to go to as soon as he is gelded, which will be soon. He leads well, goes into the barn calmly to a tie stall, and does love to be scratched.  The saddling process is just a short time away.

Rex and Dan

Rex and Dan

Rex too is coming along very well, becoming socialized and accepting of humans and all the steps he is put through to make him adoptable. WHOAS is still looking for a forever home for him. He still has to be gelded. He displays his wild horse intelligence and willingness to learn. This is what makes a wild horse such a good mount and such good trail horses, just like Wyley.

Coming in on the run to check us out

Coming in on the run to check us out

WHOAS continues to look for the support of those who love the wild horses as much as we do and wish to help us in our efforts to have all wild horses afforded a better life.

Bob

 

Mesa 1

Mesa 1

This is a photo of a young wild horse from the Mesa Butte area, west of Millarville, called Mesa.  Last year a couple were riding out there and came across a foal without a herd.  As they rode off the little guy began to follow their horses looking for company.  When they got back to their trailer he was still with them and acting out of kindness they loaded him with their horses and took him home.  They cared for him over the summer and then noticed he had a hernia.  The people this spring took him to Moore and Company where the vets there determined that although the hernia will not affect his health, it was inoperable.

Mesa 2

Mesa 2

As you can see the hernia is large but you may also see it has not affected his growth or health as he is a yearling now.  The people who took him in had hoped to make him a riding horse but now that is impossible and so they are just looking for a new home for him where he can just live and grow.

Mesa 3

Mesa 3

If you would like to give Mesa a new home send me an email and I will put you in touch with his humans.

Bob

 

Halter is on and I'm okay

Halter is on and I’m okay

We just wanted to bring you an update on what has happened in one weekend to our two young stallions. This boy was named Rex. Working as a team, although it was a little bit of a struggle, Dan and Jack introduced him to his first halter. Here he is tied to teach him about what a rope is.

A soft touch

A soft touch

Part of the initial training is using a soft bristled broom to touch the new student all over. This lowers the stress on the horse and lessons the chance that one of the handlers could be injured. Rex was quite calm as Jack worked the broom over his face and neck.

There's treats in the bucket

There’s treats in the bucket

Dan has a bucket of oats with him as he allows Rex to become accustomed to his scent and that he is not a threat. The boy will soon learn of how delicious this treat can be! All this aides the horse in learning to trust humans.

Getting used to company

Getting used to company

This young boy is named Timber by his new owner. He will however remain with WHOAS as he is gentled further and later gelded. Here he is standing beside Jack with a young visitor looking on. As you can see Timber has progressed extremely well and is not fazed by any of this.

And you are who?

And you are who?

Another little friend

Another little friend

Timber has made two new friends and is quite curious about these little people. Seemingly unafraid he came right up to sniff at their hands much to the delight of both of them and Jack.

Afternoon snooze

Afternoon snooze

Unstressed by all that has happened to him in one weekend, and still with lots of people around him, Timber closes his eyes.

Angel and Sunset

Angel and Sunset

The mare and her filly also gained names this weekend as Mom is called Angel, and her baby is called Sunset. As Jack and Dan need more time with the boys, the gentling of these two will come later. They are both happy in their own pen and the mare is starting to put on some weight.

Close to Mom

Close to Mom

The mare is very protective of her foal.

Bob

A new life

A new life

On Tuesday June 24 another meeting of the ESRD’s stakeholders wild horse group was held.  This one took place west of Sundre as we learned about how the agrologists for the ESRD evaluate the status of rangeland health.  We first met at the Sundre Museum where a presentation was done on this information.  It was somewhat  satisfying that the wild horses are now listed  in the consumptive demands for the range.  Unfortunately they still rate the cattle as number one, followed by wildlife and then the horses.  Cattle also far exceed the number of horses on the range and probably the wildlife ungulates also. The legislation that dictates cattle stocking rates was put in place in the 1970′s and is still in effect now. Considering the vast changes that have taken place since then, sustainability should take precedence over this policy.

We travelled into the forestry and attended two assessment sites where we were shown the techniques used by Rangeland Management  to come up with the AUMs for each of the 10 grazing allotments in the Sundre zone.

I found the day informative, but still have questions in my mind about how this information is used to try to determine the number of horses that the range may sustain without negative impact.  The trip reinforced that there are many factors affecting rangeland health which must be managed, not just the horses. The wild horses continually move throughout the range including the areas we visited, rather than overgrazing one area.

The other  point was that the clearcut blocks and the grass within them are not counted in these equations.  We were given a map of the clear cuts throughout this area of the eastern slopes which shows such a very large area of clear cutting that has and continues to happen in our forests.

Even in this presentation it was pointed out that the wild horses prefer the cut blocks for grazing.  WHOAS agrees with this point and believe that it should be taken into consideration when determining wild horse populations.  Even though it was stated that the horses prefer these areas, only the negative aspects of the horses  being in these cutblocks were presented.

1/ The horse will eat tops from the seedlings – scientifically disproven in several other jurisdictions.  We also question what other species inhabit these same areas that do or will eat pine seedlings (e.g., moose).

2/ That the wild horses cause damage by stepping on and damaging the seedlings. However, Dr. Irving’s research here in Alberta shows that this impact from horses is extremely small. It was pointed out that the timber companies are legislated to reforest.  I then wonder about the recreational users, (quads, muddders and dirt bikes), who do far more damage, why it was not brought up.

My biggest objection to using this argument against the horses, is the record that the forestry industry has in what they are doing to the forests in our eastern slopes. There are many positives of having the wild horses in the cutlblocks that were not brought up. One being that they do eat the grass from around the seedlings, lessening the competition for nutrients and helping with the seedlings growth. It was also learned that day that the forest companies do not reseed for grass and it is up to natural cycles for these areas to come back, which includes the reseeding by wild horses through their droppings.

On a oil lease road through a clearcut to get out of the flies.

On a oil lease road through a clearcut to get out of the flies.

WHOAS however is very appreciative of the input we are allowed to give the ESRD in regards to wild horse management.  We continue to work with them toward some solutions that will be beneficial to all stakeholders, but especially the wild horses.  We have two proposals currently before the ESRD and the Minister in regards to this.  We hope to hear back soon on being able to proceed with our ideas for wild horse management.

As indicated previously, one is a contraception program that will target eligible mares within certain areas where horse numbers are a concern.  We would sincerely like to see this program operating by early fall this year.

The other one is the adoption program in which WHOAS will only when and if necessary, move into certain areas to remove young wild horses.  Using proper sorting pens we would only remove one or two youngster from a given area.  Any other horses would be released, thereby keeping the herd dynamics intact. By doing this the mature stallions and mares do not allow for indiscriminate breeding therefore lowering the reproduction rates in the overall population. This fact has been proven to be a key to managing the numbers of wild horses in many other jurisdictions throughout the world.

These young horses would then be taken to our handling facility to be gentled and then adopted out to forever homes.  We would love to see them all remain free and wild, but with the policies that are currently in place within government, we may have to do this.  At least they will be alive and loved. WHOAS feels that it is for the betterment of your wild horses that we continue to work with the ESRD instead of against them.

Our three year old stallion.

Our three year old stallion.

We hope to have our rescue facility in operation later this fall. One of the reasons is that in the last 3 weeks, we have had to take in 6 wild horses that had strayed onto private land. Current regulations do not allow us to relocate these wayward wildies. This boy here was taken in 3 weeks ago and we hope to start soon on the gentling process for him. As with all the stallions and colts we take in, he will be gelded by a veterinarian prior to leaving to his new forever home. The good news for the boy is that he already has a place to go.

Muddy

Muddy

This 3-4 year old was just taken in this past week and as it had rained a lot, he is covered with mud.

Oh, that feels so good!

Oh, that feels so good!

This is the reason he is not shiny and glossy in presenting him to you. Again the gentling process is just about to start and we hope to have a home for him soon too.

Pretty lady

Pretty lady

A young black beauty

A young black beauty

These two were rescued in the Bragg Creek area. The mare was 5-6 years old and the boy was only about 2 years old. They were causing trouble for the domestic horses that were on the property and therefore WHOAS stepped in to resolve the problem, operating under a permit from the ESRD. The good news about these two is that they both have a new home and are doing extremely well being gentled by their new owner.

White angel with her filly

White angel with her filly

Many people had seen this mare just inside the forestry boundaries and worried about her for a period of time. She had migrated onto private land and unfortunately the alternative for her was for WHOAS to step in and rescue her and her baby. So along with her, the filly and the first two stallions, we have four horses we are babysitting right now.

All these horses are being sheltered at one of our member’s home property. So this highlights the reason that WHOAS needs to have their handling facility up and running as soon as we can possibly do it. We hope to get support from all wild horse supporters to enable us to do this. You can buy a membership to help.

Bob

 

Grass and yuch lots of bugs

Grass and yuch lots of bugs

With tails swishing and heads bobbing we found these three boys in a lush, green clear cut meadow  trying to ward off the swarms of flies and mosquitoes. With lots of rain and some warm temperatures the grass is growing thick and tall and of course along comes the insects. The bugs seem especially abundant this early in the year. In order to alleviate some of the stress of enduring these pests, you find the wild horses rolling in the mud and in areas where the wind can keep some of them away.

High on a hillside

High on a hillside

In our travels yesterday we put on hundreds of kilometres checking on the status of the wild horses and the rangeland that they inhabit. No matter where we went we found vast tracks of untouched grass with only a few deer and the odd horse. This disputes the claims that the horses are decimating the range prior to the great number of cattle being turned loose to graze on their summer leases and allotments. To us it also shows that no matter what there is adequate forage for all. Don’t forget that the grasses are the fastest growing and yearly renewable resource out there.

Elk making a comeback

Elk making a comeback

One of our other observations is the increase in the elk herds that we are coming across. In finding a lot of these elk they are intermingled with the horses sharing the same range. In one small area there was close to 150 head of elk with numerous calves. The University of Alberta has students conducting research on these elk populations. Maybe one of the reasons they are moving lower is that in one of the prime calving grounds that we know about, has been taken over by dirt bikers who conduct races throughout this area. This activity has not only disrupts the elk, but other wildlife including the wild horses.

No Mom, but company

No Mom, but company

One of the things we also noticed was how few yearlings there were around. We came across these two – the yearling on the left and a three-year old boy resting in another clear cut area. It is obvious to those of us who spend a lot of time out west that this past winter severely affected the herds. This also is pointed out in the number of mares we see right now that must have aborted their pregnancies in order to survive themselves. This is nature. We also know that this spring mares have died giving birth and foals that were born have not survived.

Normally this yearling would still be with its mother. What happened to her? We can only assume she perished in the harshness of winter. Sadly this is proven by the number of carcasses of dead horses we and others are also finding.

Companioned up

Companioned up

Here is another young boy that should be with his mare and herd but he only has his buddy, maybe a three-year old, with him. He was such a curious young fellow, that when we were taking pictures of him, he walked right up to within 8 feet of us. Certainly a heart grabber!

The "nursery" at rest

The “nursery” at rest

On the positive side we are finding some of the herds, but not all, have foals with them. In some cases it may be only one, but here in Thor’s herd, we have 3 healthy young foals. With the grasses and warm weather coming it is hoped that they will grow strong along with all the other babies born.

Cheering for the arrival of green grass

Cheering for the arrival of green grass

This young fellow seems to be indicating how happy he is that sunshine and abundant feed has finally arrived.

Bob

 

Galahad

Galahad

This is a photo of the four year old stallion that WHOAS rescued in the harshness of this past winter.  Here Jack is explaining how the boy has progressed and how to handle him.  We had transported him to his new home where WHOAS has placed new panels, on loan to his new owner, in order to provide a good handling/training pen for “It’s-All-Good”, aka Galahad.

Softness of the eye

Softness of the eye

As with all of the wild horses we have dealt with over the years, Galahad is an extremely intelligent horse.  He listens to the softness of the voice and responds  to it as he gains his trust of us humans.

Looking like a champion

Looking like a champion

As with all colts and stallions WHOAS gentles down and handles, Galahad has been gelded in order to make his transition to having a human companion, a little easier for all involved.

He is in for a very good life.  The training he is about to undergo is going to be excellent for him and other wildies.  This journey is being documented by his new human companion and we will shortly put a new link on our site so that you can follow also.

At home on sweet green grass

At home on sweet green grass

The next one to update you on is the mare that was with Galahad. Being an older mare, it took quite a bit of extra time for our 2 horse gentlers, Dan and Jack, to take her to the point where she could be handled safely. Awaiting this stage in her training was the person who adopted her. Patiently he would await our updates on her progress. In early May her new human companion drove all the way up from the Lethbridge area to pick her up.

 The mare, "Chance"

The mare, “Chance”

He had fallen in love before he laid eyes on her as she was going to allow him to relive an earlier point in his life. Then when he saw her he was totally enthralled and the lady was give the name “Chance.” Here she is in her new home having put on considerable weight.

Paying attention

Paying attention

Chance is responding well to her training and has adapted well to her new environment.

The third rescue was a little filly who was named by her new owners, Gracie. She was the foal of Chance.

Who's smiling more?

Who’s smiling more?

Here is Gracie with one of her new human companions who have put in lots of time working with her to gain her trust and eventually one of their riding mounts. She ponies along with their other horses on the trail. She is happy to have a saddle on her back as part of her training.

Gracie under saddle

Gracie under saddle

Although she is a baby still and is a long way from being old enough to be ridden, she is responding happily to all the new things being introduced to her. Again this shows the intelligence that is prevalent among our Alberta wild horses.

No sooner had we delivered Galahad on Tuesday to his new home, than WHOAS was asked to take in another young wild stallion. This boy too had got into a group of domestic horses on private property which was causing trouble.

The new arrival

The new arrival

This young boy again typifies our Alberta wild horses and is only about three years old.

Showing off

Showing off

Untouched by human hands so far, he is about to embark on a new journey. He will be gentled and gelded and then placed in a forever home.

Sizing the humans up

Sizing the humans up

The process of gentling this boy will take some time. WHOAS is hoping that we can attract younger people who would be willing to learn about the gentling process necessary for wild horses. This will become increasingly more important in the future as we progress with our plans for a proper handling and educational facility.

Checking out the new neighbours

Checking out the new neighbours

Bob

 

 

The culprits

The culprits

Several times during a year WHOAS receives reports of wild horses that for one reason or the other wander outside the boundaries of the forestry reserves. One of the activities we have actively pursued over the years is helping land owners or even just the wild horses move them back to safety. This was the case on a beautiful spring day, May 6th, minus 2C with snow flurries! Spring? We had received word that there was a small group of these wayward horses that were wandering out on a busy roadway west of Sundre. Due to the heavy snow and fallen trees on fence lines they had found an opening onto the road. Desperate was their search for feed.

The team of volunteers has arrived

The team of volunteers has arrived

WHOAS responded to this and issued a call for volunteers to help move these beauties back onto the forestry land. There were four horses altogether. We found these two beside the roadway and the other two just in the trees behind some broken fencing. The land they were on was private land thus the reason for moving them. Often we just have to repair the fence but in this case that would not suffice.

The herding has begun

The herding has begun

Using volunteers on foot and in vehicles aided by the mighty Badger, we started moving to where we knew there was an open gate leading into the forestry. It was about a mile and a half that we slowly pushed them along trying not to get them too upset. Ahead we had more volunteers waiting to make sure they turned into and through the gate.

Almost there

Almost there

It seemed the horses recognized where they could go and be safe because without hesitation in they went. Right away there was some exposed grass for them and they began to feed. This made us feel relieved that they were off the road and had obviously not undergone much stress.

Yummy green grass

Yummy green grass

The stallion even took time to have a good roll and shake himself out. It made us smile.

Oh that felt good

Oh that felt good

What remained to assure that they now stayed safe was to repair some fencing right at this area. Armed with our fencing pliers, fence stretcher, barbwire and fencing staples, the crew set about securing the fence.

Crew at work

Crew at work

Once this was done we observed them for awhile before we left them free and safe. As you can see, winter is not over for the wild horses. There was at least six inches of fresh snow blanketing the ground out here. We travelled a little bit farther into the forestry and found these two young mares with no stallion seeking out food.

So thin

So thin

Usually by this time of the year, the wild horses have begun to rebound. Not so this year as you can see by the condition of these two mares.

I need more green grass

I need more green grass

Let’s hope it warms up soon for all the wild horses and other wildlife. WHOAS is proud of our volunteers and the work such as this that we do to save your wild horses. Thanks to all of our supporters.

Bob

 

 

Keeping up through all the deadfall

Keeping up through all the deadfall

On Tuesday, April 29, 2014, another meeting of the ESRD stakeholders meeting was held in Red Deer.  WHOAS had two of our board members in attendance to represent the wild horses and for all those that care about them.  At this meeting WHOAS had two wild horse management proposals being presented to the committee.

First off the final count of this year’s census was released with the population for the six equine zones being 880 head of wild horses.  This is down from the previous year’s total count of 980 horses.  In opposition to the cull that was called for this past winter, WHOAS had argued that with high foal mortality in the previous two years and then with the hardships of trying to survive this past winter, Mother Nature was good at managing wild horse populations, it was not necessary.  This fact also plays an important part in our proposals for a better and more humane way of population control when and only if necessary. 

The first one was the contraception program as presented by Dr. Judith Sampson-French.  WHOAS is fully supporting the initiative both with volunteers, tracking information and 100% financial backing.  Dr. French’s proposal was submitted for review by the ESRD prior to this meeting for their consideration.  In this program a targeted area would be selected where the wild horse numbers may be higher than in others.  A target population of 18 mature mares from different bands would be selected for injection of the PZP vaccine.  This vaccine is a safe drug to use on wild horses and if used correctly will only take a mare out of production for three years.  This way, after the final application through darting, the mares would be able to produce foals again.  It has been successfully used in other jurisdictions for control of their populations of wild horses and within the world’s zoo communities for control of their selective breeding programs on a variety of animals.  Along with Dr French and her team, WHOAS volunteers would be on the ground to track the selected bands, administer by dart injection PZP and recover the darts used.  The ground teams are an important part of this program and I am sure there are enough knowledgeable people who would be willing to help, where and when they were needed.

Our second proposal is an adoption program.  With this initiative WHOAS would be solely responsible for the securing of  only the younger wild horses in areas where their numbers may have to be controlled.  We would use proper and humane relocation pens with sorting capabilities.  Thus we could select only the younger horses that entered the pen and release all the others that may have entered.  By releasing the more mature animals, it would assure that the herd dynamics and stability stay in place which would assist in the health and survival of the herds.

WHOAS is currently in process of going ahead to build a proper handling/education facility where these younger horses would be taken.  Here they would be under the care of WHOAS volunteers and a veterinarian.  The facility would allow for the safe and humane handling of these horses to assure their welfare.  All animals taken into our facility would then be gentled by trained horse knowledgeable individuals and then when ready, they would be adopted out to new forever homes.  We have done this in the past by utilizing one of our member’s property but if we are to be responsible for the preservation of the wild horses and their environment, we need to have a facility such as this to properly do what has to be done. There would be a meeting area where information sessions would be held to further enlighten the public about our wild horses.

WHOAS strongly believes that this is a very viable and humane alternative for population control of the wild horses, where their numbers may have to be controlled.  Again most of the reasons for controlling the populations of the wild horses is that they are said to be having a negative impact on the environment and grasses.  WHOAS still argues that there is an extremely limited amount of scientific data to substantiate any of the claims of this negative impact that the horses are alleged to be having on the ecosystems in our Alberta foothills. Our proposal is better and far more humane than the current methods or reasoning to reduce wild horse numbers.

WHOAS is willing to take on the role of stewards of the wild horses and assume responsibility of keeping the wild horse population under control.  The cost to the Alberta government would be nil.  We would willingly work closely with the ESRD to assure that all factors of their concerns involving the wild horses are addressed.

These proposals were discussed at the meeting and no decision was made as to their implementation.  Another meeting will be held in June to further discuss these and other issues revolving around your wild horses.

WHOAS is concerned though that there is still a resolve within the ESRD and the other stakeholders that the number of wild horses in the Sundre and Ghost Equine Zones have to be reduced.  It is unfortunate that even by their own admissions, the ESRD does not know or have good scientific data to prove what affect the horses may be having on the rangeland or how many horses the range can adequately sustain. We do find it hard to accept that arbitrary decisions are being made of how many wild horses would be removed in any given zone or season without good scientific evidence. WHOAS is still willing to support any unbiased research project to assess any impact that the wild horses have on their environment.

It would also appear that other horse capture permit holders are still going to be allowed to participate. WHOAS believes that our proposal would negate any need for this.

WHOAS is in this for the long term to assure that the wild horses will be there for future generations. We are hoping to continue to recruit new members and look for volunteers to help us in all our endeavours to protect and save your wild horses. We are also hoping soon to receive charitable status that will assist us in our fundraising efforts.

We believe a very positive step has been undertaken and we hope to be able to work closely with the ESRD to fully implement our programs.

Bob

 

Blog 1

Getting close to time for a new beautiful wild horse foal

It seems that winter just does not want to let go this year.  Further to the west the Chinook winds have lessened the snow pack and throughout wild horse country the warm sun, when it shines, has started to bare up the sidehills.  This is allowing the wild horses access to some of the grasses that were hard to find through the deep snow.  As is the photo above with one of Raven’s mares, many of the wild horse mares are getting close to foaling.

A few days later

A few days later

In our travels yesterday, we found Raven’s herd again and two of the roan mares, including the lead mare, had foals at foot. It was amazing to watch these young new babies managing to stay close to mom through the deadfall in the area we found them feeding. At such a young age it is amazing the dexterity that they show.

I can fly!

I can fly!

As we watched them, with Raven standing guard, it was amusing to see the youngsters galavanting along with the herd.

Come on, I'll show you where to go

Come on, I’ll show you where to go

So unafraid you can tell they are so adapted to the landscape into which they were born. To us again shows that these wild horses belong.

Most of the wild horses we have come across recently have definitely showing the signs of the hardship of this past winter. Very skinny with ribs and hips showing they are true survivors. Their versatility shows through in their ability to find the food that they need in order to sustain their bodies while they wait for the new grass to emerge.

End of winter condition

End of winter condition

Here you can see that even the stallions’ body reserves have been substantially depleted but they still in all their magnificence put themselves between danger and their herd to defend them.

They found an open hillside

They found an open hillside

The herds have moved quite a bit this winter in their continuing efforts to find enough feed. It has been sad though to see that many have perished as we have seen more dead horses than ever before. Again, though, this is survival of the fittest assuring that the genetics of the wild horse herds stays strong.

Itchy

Itchy

This young horse has been rolling some mud and also is using the log in front of her to scratch on. One of the reasons for this is that helps the horses lose their winter coats and at the same time conditions it. Another scourge that is afflicting some of the wild horses are ticks. These parasites cause considerable irritation and in a winter such as this can also quickly have a negative impact on the body health. Fortunately the ticks do drop off. The mud that the horses roll in assists greatly in ridding themselves of these irritants.

Rolling in some sand

Rolling in some sand

It was great to watch this small band of horses as they took turns along a creek bed to roll in some exposed sand. They seem to take such great joy in this activity, as the sand probably felt so good against their hides.

Car prowler

Car prowler

Returning to our vehicle we found this young boy prowling our vehicle. We had to laugh at the expression on his face when he was “caught” licking the salt from our car.

We sure hope that mild weather continues and that the green grass comes quickly and the mares in foal are successful in bringing new life to our wonderful Alberta wild horse herds. We will keep you posted on all the new life we find.

Bob

 

Bear Valley Rescue, (Kathy and Mike), has done great work rescuing horses from throughout the province.  They have worked with WHOAS on numerous occasions to save wild horses and are also a great supporter of our ongoing efforts to have the Wild Horses of Alberta, afforded better protection.  I hope that many of you can now support them continue the work that they do by buying tickets to this event or by donating to them.

 

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