A New Year

A new year is upon us and the winter so far has been fairly kind to the wild horses. In our travels we are finding the horses to be in excellent condition. This beautiful boy was in an open muskeg meadow where the horses are able to find exposed grass under the bushes. So far there is very little snow throughout the foothills area and the horses are able to move around readily in order to find suitable forage. We certainly hope more snow is yet to come in order to diminish the lingering effects of last year’s drought and help prevent another one this summer.

Along with the lack of snow there has been plenty of warm temperatures and sunshine which also helps keep the horses in good condition. These two mares are soaking up the afternoon sunshine on an open hillside.

Blue skies, warm temperatures and an open hillside to feed upon. So beautiful and tranquil.

This beauty blends into her surroundings and being in foal we hope that the rest of the winter months are kind to the her and the other horses, enabling the pregnant mares to have strong foals come spring.

WHOAS and HAWS along with other horse advocacy groups are working hard to ensure that the needless persecution of the horses by those that oppose them being on the landscape stops. Both WHOAS and HAWS are part of the Feral Horse Advisory Committee (FHAC) which is an Alberta government led committee composed of those who are deemed to be stakeholders and tasked with the purpose of coming up with a population management strategy. Meetings continue to discuss what this plan should entail and to try to come to a consensus on the future of the wild horses. One of the biggest roadblocks is coming to an agreement on the number of horses that will be allowed in each of the equine zones.

Some of the cattle lease holders are unwilling to compromise stating their old and unsubstantiated argument that the horses are taking grazing away from their cattle. WHOAS has carried out our own observations throughout the years showing that there is plenty of grass available to the cattle, to the horses and to the other wildlife until the cattle have been out on these leases for a period of time. One of our big observations is that you can go into other areas of the province where there are no wild horses and by the end of summer the cattle have eaten the grass down to the ground. So we say quit blaming the horses for being the culprits in the equine zones where the wild horse management plan is proposed.

WHOAS does agree that a sound, unbiased management plan is needed.

We wish to see the heavily pregnant mare pictured above being able to roam free and wild with her foal. Here she has her beautiful stallion standing guard but pushing her along to keep up with the rest of the herd.

The point that WHOAS is trying to get across is that the horses cannot be blamed for destruction of the ecosystem where they live. There are too many other contributing factors including climate change, drought, industrial use, logging, a substantial increase in recreational use and the cattle. We believe we must all share in the responsibility of taking care of this precious environment. There needs to be more thorough research into what effect if any the horses are having on the environment. Alternately there also has be research into what other activities, including cattle grazing are also having on the ecosystem. Its not good enough to keep doing the same things over and over again, based on old biased information.

One of the most important issues WHOAS has been advocating for in the 20 years since our inception is that the wild horses of Alberta be given a distinct designation and governing legislation. We have always agreed that the population must be humanely and properly managed. The term “feral” which is currently used to describe them by the government is derogatory and hinders the process of having them properly managed and protected. Several stakeholders have agreed and put forth the point that they are in fact “naturalized wildlife.” This means that they have lived and reproduced in the wild for several decades untouched by humans. Currently they are managed under the Stray Animal Act which is totally inappropriate since they are not strays and belong to no one. By considering them as naturalized wildlife they could be given a distinct identity such as the Alberta Mountain Horse. This would enable them to be given their own distinct legislation in order to manage them responsibly and protect them. They have a right to live there too.

The other point is that no one can blame one species, including humans, for the degradation that is taking place in the ecosystems of our Alberta foothills. In fact, the six equine zones represent such a very small part of the total public lands here in Alberta.

This young colt needs your help in order to remain free and wild.

WHOAS is committed to assuring that wild horses like this mare and her little filly will always be given the chance to stay free and wild. We will do all that is in our power along with groups like HAWS to make sure this happens. We will not waiver!

Merry Christmas!

On behalf of WHOAS Board of Directors, but especially from the wild horses, we want to wish Merry Christmas to all our supporters. We wish you a happy and safe holiday season and look forward to your support in furthering our efforts as we work with the government to get these beautiful horses better protection. Thank you so much and stay safe.

Winter Is Here

The fall weather was long lasting and kind to our Alberta wild horses, but winter has now arrived. The snow has started to accumulate throughout the wild horse range but snow depth varies greatly depending on where you are. Going into this time of year, all the horses we have been following are in very good condition. Even the snow is here, it is easy to paw through to find forage.

Underneath the pine trees the grasses are still exposed. This young mare obviously has been under the trees in search of something to eat. Just look at my lovely white scarf! One thing about horses, whether wild or domestic, the cold does not bother them that much as long as they are healthy. With snow, it also doesn’t affect them unless it becomes very deep or crusted over. Right now even the youngsters are not having any difficulties.

Look closely and you can see these horses enjoying the solitude and quiet of an open clearcut. Winter is actually a wonderful time of the year to visit the wild horses because everything is so pristine and beautiful. Taking pictures of horses and other wildlife in winter conditions can yield some fantastic images.

This is an example of the different birds and wildlife you are able to see in the winter months. This little Northern Hawk Owl keeps a close eye on us as we walked out to photograph some horses.

Even at this time of year with the sun so low on the horizon, this boy takes advantage of a nap while standing in the sunshine. At ease and relaxed, the sun does warm him up and provides some energy.

This young foal was with his small herd feeding in this winter sunshine. It got to be too much for him and shut went his eyes and he snoozed under the watchful gaze of his mare and stallion.

Dad stares us down. His facial colouring is unique – he has white eyelashes on his left eye. He moved around to ensure his mares and his foal were safe but was not too concerned with us admiring his beauty.

What a stunningly beautiful this mare is! Dappled grey with a silver mane and tail. But on her muzzle you can see some brown, roan colouring too.

This mare was part of the same herd. Absolutely beautiful to see and watch.

In the area where we found these two boys, the snow wasn’t that deep yet. As is typical with young studs, they were having a discussion of who was the leader.

A day later in another location, this magnificent roan stallion was with his good sized herd on an exposed power line. The chinook wind was howling and he put his butt to the wind as he dozed off in the sun. He such a powerful, mature stallion and his genes can tell a story of what makes our Alberta wild horses unique in the world.

As we ended our travels for the day, we were fortunate to be bid farewell by this stunning young stallion and his friend. One thing about the wild horses is that they can sense from a distance whether or not you mean any harm. We were allowed to get close without disturbing them because we believe they can sense our admiration and love for them.

No matter what the temperature, we will be out there again, because what better way to spend a day than with nature and the wild horses.

Our calendars are sold out and we want to thank everyone for supporting WHOAS and our work to save and protect these wonderful horses for future generations.

November 2021 In Wild Horse Country

2021 certainly has been a year for different weather patterns in Alberta. It is now November and we are still waiting for some significant snowfall to arrive. The forests and open hillsides are extremely dry and moisture is desperately needed. However the horses are doing very well and enjoying not having to paw for any feed.

The drought this year has definitely affected the amount of forage available and therefore we are finding that the horses are moving around a lot.

This year’s foals that have survived have grown and are thriving. This beautiful herd is taking advantage of the late fall sunshine. In open areas like this they are still able to find tasty morsels of green grass around the fallen logs.

We found this herd around a natural mineral lick and it was such fun to watch these two youngsters play fighting mimicking some young bachelors that were close by. Meanwhile the other members of this family were trying to rest in the afternoon sun. This went on for quite some time until one of the mares came over to stop this nonsense!

The black mare behind these two has a very distinctive facial marking. It is features such as this that we use to identify individuals and keep track of the different herds.

While all this commotion was going on the stallion patiently stood guard and made sure the bachelor group did not come close to his mares. He is so gorgeous and proud and shows the unique beauty of our Alberta wild horses.

Another beautiful black stallion with a few battle scars, feeds in an open, sunny meadow but is always on alert for possible dangers.

This boy unlike the other stallions has no herd at the moment and had joined up with a younger stallion for company. He is absolutely magnificent and come springtime will be likely looking for some mares of his own.

We have to travel far and wide at this time of year in order to find the different herds we are monitoring. Back in a far valley this herd had found a quiet, undisturbed area to feed in. There is feed to be found even though they are in a clearcut area. They have learned to be very careful, even the young ones, when navigating through these areas.

WHOAS is part of the Alberta government’s Feral Horse Advisory Committee along with HAWS and we are working very hard to assure that scenes such as this will always be for future generations of horse lovers to enjoy.

We are happy to announce that we have now sold out of our fund raising calendars. We wish to thank all of you who have supported the wild horses and WHOAS work to protect them by purchasing a calendar.

Lest We Forget

On November 11 you may take time out of our busy day to remember our brave men and women that have died or fought for our freedom and those that still serve our country. Thank you.

I would hope that we can also take a moment to remember the millions of horses that also died on the battle fields.  Horses throughout the history of mankind have always served us with little thanks for the important part they have played in our heritage and history.  Some of the wild horses that roam our Alberta foothills are descendants of these horses that served our country and the world. In the Glenbow Museum archives they have pictures of horse wranglers rounding up wild horses in the Red Deer River/Ya Ha Tinda areas during the First World War. These are the areas where our Alberta wild horses still roam free and wild. That is also one of the reasons I fight so hard to protect and save them.

For over 100 years the red poppy has signified our remembrance of the men and women who have served to protect our freedom. In recent years there is a purple poppy that is being used to signify remembrance of all the animals that have also served their country to protect our freedom. Besides the horses who served our country, there were donkeys, mules, dogs and so many other animals who died during these wars and conflicts. The purple poppy is for them.

Run free little one and thank you.

Fall Ramblings

The fall season is upon us and the wild horses are busy moving around to find as much forage as they can in order to build up their body reserves for the cold months ahead. It is a wonderful time of the year to be travelling the back roads, photographing and observing our beautiful wild horses. This is “White Lips”!! She has a very distinctive white lower lip, thus her name.

This little colt is enjoying the afternoon sunshine while his family feeds around him in an open clearcut. Like the rest of the members of his herd he is in excellent condition and has grown quite a bit since we first saw him in early June.

Travelling the very dry backroads and trails this day was totally enjoyable, with the warm October sun adding beauty to the countryside and vistas. With the sun lower in the horizon at this time of year it highlights the coloring and the beauty of the horses we came across. That can be seen by the highlights shown on this magnificent roan stallion as he approached us to protect his herd. You can tell by his large neck and muscular build that he is mature and in his prime. What a beauty!

This mare has a unique facial marking and features such as this on many of the horses that helps us to be able to catalog and follow them. Two other members of her herd including the stallion had very distinctive markings as well.

These two youngsters even though sired by the same stallion show the wide range of coloring that occurs throughout our Alberta wild horse herds. As sunset neared we ended our travels enjoying the images of this beautiful herd of horses. So peaceful and tranquil and truly unique to Alberta.

We were so happy when our little orphaned colt was adopted. He has found a new home in the loving care of Amber Marshall from Heartland. Here you can enjoy a video of the day he was picked up from WHOAS rescue/handling facility. He will have a very good life going forward.

Everything that WHOAS does is funded through generous donations and especially the sale of our fundraising calendar. These funds help us to take of the horses we have had in our care and will allow us to continue to protect and save our Alberta wild horses. You can find a link on how to purchase a calendar at the top of the page. Your support is appreciated and needed. Thank you!

WHOAS 2022 Fundraising Calendar

Sold out

WHOAS is happy to report that our yearly 14-month fundraising calendar is now available. We have ensured that the dates are enlarged to make reading the months easier.

This is our 19th edition and we are able to price them the same as last year with the generous support of our printer, Copy Repro. The price remains at $25 which includes postage and handling, this cost is only for Canadian addresses.  This is our major fundraiser for the year as other opportunities have been cancelled because of COVID-19. You can order yours now with PayPal or send a cheque to:

WHOAS
Box 4154
Olds, AB   T4H 1P7

We can also accept e-transfers only if your mailing address is included. They can be sent to WHOASalberta@gmail.com.

Thank you for your support and interest in our efforts to further protect and save our Alberta wild horses. All funds raised goes toward our work with the horses. Your support is so important to the horses and we thank you sincerely.

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September Update

Fall is here by the feel and look of it and so we thought we would provide an update on the horses under our care at our handling facility. Our little rescued foal, Garside is doing quite well. He is still getting his milk and now he is also being given other foal supplements to help him grow strong and healthy. Here is today enjoying some sunshine after a very cool evening.

We made sure he has lots of clean bedding and some protection from the weather. We are working hard to minimize his human contact, but look at him he is so adorable, in order for him to better learn how to be a horse. Since we are closed due to COVID, it is only our regular volunteers who have the contact with him. He will soon have one of the other horses under our care join him for company.

Part of our gentling process is having the horses learn to safely load and unload from our horse trailer. When they are ready to go to their new home, they have learned how to do this safely for both them and their new owner. Here is Gordy standing calmly.

Our volunteers are very experienced and knowledgeable on how to bring a horse along to this point. Being led into our stalls before hand definitely helps get them ready for this next task. Here Danny is quietly moving the little mare, Ella, toward the trailer. Here she is surveying where she is being asked to go. She was calm but careful and stood for a few minutes to check it all out. We do not force the horses, but rather let them figure it out on their own time.

After 3-4 minutes, it was first one front foot, then the other. Looking at Gordy for reassurance, she walked in and waited to be tied. During this whole procedure she was never overly excited. This is wonderful because this Sunday she gets to go to her new, forever home.

This is Ghost who has been adopted and he will soon also learn the loading lesson. He will be gong to his new home by the end of the month.

Here are buddies Galahad and Galloway taken in the warm sunshine while enjoying some fresh hay. We have a potential adopter who is planning on taking both the friends together. We are just waiting for confirmation.

A little muddy after a rainy day yesterday, Gizmo, who is waiting to be adopted, is enjoying the morning sunshine and his breakfast. He is a very friendly horse, is two-years old, has been gelded and freeze-branded. He is small in stature but big in heart. He has progressed well with the gentling process, ties into a stall, and loves to be brushed and fussed over. He has had is feet worked on and he has been vaccinated and just wormed as well. If you are interested in him, please act quickly as of right now, he is the last horse available for adoption.

The adoption application can be found on the website at the top of the page – http://www.wildhorsesofalberta.com. And you can email us at WHOASalberta@gmail.com.

Orphan Foal Update

We just wanted to update everybody on how this little guy is coming along. He is doing extremely well and is quite the attention getter of any of our visitors. He loves to run and jump around, playing and kicking the balls he has in his pen. He especially gets excited when the mighty Portero comes to check him out and seems unafraid of this huge stallion. This bravery probably comes because there are a couple of pens and panels between the two, but it is so cute to watch.

After a little bit of time, he has taken quite well to foal milk replacer out of a bucket. He gets several feedings a day and has started to munch on hay and some grass. In an attempt to ensure his wellbeing, a couple of weeks back we tried to introduce him to a friend’s lactating mare. The mare was willing but he was not. The mare, herself, was rescued from Ontario by one of our directors and is an Ojibwa pony, named Miskozin. The mare was so patient with this little colt. We allowed them to try and get used to one another before we tried to encourage him to nurse. Candice would milk the mare with her hand and let him lick it from her fingers. That was okay but he would not do this on his own. Next we tried to put the mare’s milk in the bucket which was also okay. Here is a short video of our efforts.

After of this, in order not to stress him out, we continue to feed him by the bucket which is working out well. He is gaining weight and thriving and loves the attention from our wonderful volunteers. He has a home to go to in a few months where his story will continue.

We encourage anyone who may be interested in adoption to arrange for a visit. You can contact us at WHOASalberta@gmail.com.

This beautiful filly is 3-year old Ella who needs to find a new home too.

Orphaned Foal Rescued

Late Thursday WHOAS was informed by a photographer that he had come across a young foal whose mom had died. Our volunteers responded right away and followed the person to the area where he had come across the foal. The poor little colt kept trying to go back to his mom but she could not respond to him. It had been at least a day or more the young one had been on it’s own.

Wasting no time the volunteers and concerned citizen went into the timber and managed to grab him. He was then carried out of the woods by them and taken to our handling facility. Here immediate care was administered to the foal who was extremely dehydrated and also constipated. Working well into the night some electrolytes were given to him and an enema administered to help him poop. Placed in a stall we have for cases like this he was lavished with attention and started to respond to this loving care.

This morning he was drinking foal milk from a bucket when it was presented to him. His energy increased as he took on more nourishment.

I was able to make it out to visit him and he captured my heart right away as he raced around the area he was in. He would come up to everyone to smell them and to see what was new. As I knelt down to take a picture and he came right up to investigate me.

I had little to do with this wonderful story but I am so grateful to everyone of our volunteers worked so hard and gave the young boy a chance at life. I know when it is time he will find a fabulous home and win the hearts of whoever it may be the same as he did with me.

Here is a short video clip of him investigating his new surroundings.

Finally after thoroughly checking everyone and everything out he was tired and started to fall asleep on his feet and so it was time to put him to bed for some more rest. We will keep you posted on his progress and more video of his rescue will be posted in a day or so.