Alberta’s Unique Horses

DNA studies conducted by both the University of Calgary and University of Texas show that our Alberta wild horses are indeed genetically unique. They have DNA related to the draft horse, Indigenous ponies and the original Spanish horse. There are multiple genetics found, but these studies show that this blend of genetics is only found in our Alberta wild horses. Leading scientific researchers have stated that if we were to lose these horses it would be a very large loss to Alberta.

Every spring new foals are born carrying on the unique traits of our beautiful wild horses. This little one will have very good hearing…look at his ears! He catches the warm sunshine next to his herd feeding around him.

This is a wonderful time of year to be visiting wild horse country. The grass has finally come in abundance and the horses are able to build up their body reserves. Although most foals are born in a tawny colour, some of the unique genetics come to light when you see a lovely grulla coloured baby like this one. Mom may look this colour too but she is covered in wet mud having recently rolled to her delight in a muddy pond. This helps to protect her from bug bites and also conditions her coat.

This is what it looks like! A day at the spa!!!

And this is what they look like after such a luxurious mud bath.

Other are more refined and choose a roll in the dry dirt.

Along with mud and dust baths, the wild horses will seek the shelter of the trees in order to escape the onslaught of insects and this also provides protection and relief from the heat of the sun. Herds will find their favourite spots and utilize them throughout the summer months.

In certain areas that the horses inhabit you will find different colours and in this part of the forest the pinto colour has emerged. This colouring disappeared for a long period of time in the west country but again the genetics are always there and now we are finding these beautiful pinto horses. These two mares could be related. They certainly stand out and are wonderful to see.

In our travels it is always nice to come across old friends just like this white mare. It is amazing that you will see the horses a few times in a row and for the longest period of time you can never find them as they roam throughout their territory. We often wonder…where do they go?

Hello world. I’m only a few days old. A very curious baby from the herd that was not concerned with us taking some pictures. When we come across a herd feeding contently with newborns around, we always maintain our distance in order to assure that we do not disturb the families or cause any stress to them. We use our camera lenses to get these close-ups and are thankful we have such opportunities. If the herd is disturbed, it could cause them to run off to protect the babies and there stands a chance that the foals could injure themselves due to the rugged terrain they live in. Again this year we have heard accounts of foals with broken legs as their bones are still soft and growing. So, please keep a respectful distance when you are out viewing these magnificent creatures.

These horses have found a beautiful open meadow to graze and grow in. The horses prefer an open area in order that they can see potential danger. Sight, smell and hearing are so important to them. One of the reasons horses are more spooky when it is windy is that they cannot hear approaching danger clearly and the wind disperses the scent of other creatures. Horses are herd animals depending on their members to help keep them aware and safe especially when foals are on the ground.

Feeling safe and secure.

Another member of wild horse country, this young black bear thought that we couldn’t see him if he stayed still behind the bushes. One of the wonderful things about our foothills is not only being able to enjoy with wild horses, but also being able to see the other wildlife that lives there.

An offspring of the stallion we call Socks, who we haven’t been able to locate for awhile, is dozing in the sun alongside his family. It is nice to see the genetics of colour and strength passed along from Dad to this boy. We will spend the rest of our summer travelling the back country enjoying the serenity of being with these horses.

5 thoughts on “Alberta’s Unique Horses

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  3. Gerard Farell-Baril

    Hello. The article mentions tracing the DNA to Spanish horses and Indigenous ponies. I am quite interested in what you call “Indigenous pony” and if it has a DNA relation with the Icelandic pony. A hypothesis is that Vikings in Iceland and Greenland may have also shipped their ponies to their Canadian settlement – now known as L’Anse aux Meadows, a United Nations (UN) World Heritage site, on the northern tip of Newfoundland.


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