Evan Bonner, a trainer who won the Trainer’s Challenge at the Mane Event in Chiliwack, BC, is coming this August 5-8, 2017. This event is being hosted at Sunset Outfitting, about an hour west of Sundre, Alberta.
Every year about this time the 2-3 year old studs that have been with their family band since birth are chased out of their herd by the dominant stallion. This is way it is in the herd dynamics of wild horses.
For the most part these young boys will wander around by themselves until they have the opportunity to join up with other bachelors.
Here they form bachelor bands that continue to roam free throughout their range. Usually causing no trouble except among themselves. You always see the young boys testing each other as they begin to mature. There is safety in numbers and so they are more brazen and don’t always flee from humans.
By banding together they are also a lot safer from the predators that share their habitat. Can you see the wolf next to the boy above? He was with four other boys all strong and healthy. The pack of wolves sensing this just wandered right past them looking for easier prey.
On the private land that borders the public forestry, some of these youngsters looking for their own mares or even other horses for company, stray onto this private property. Here they can cause a lot of problems for the landowners and their domestic horses. In the past they were just picked up and sent to the meat buyers.
WHOAS continues to respond to complaints such as this in order to rescue these trouble-makers. If possible we try to push them back into the forestry and assist the landowners with fixing their fence lines. Sometimes nothing works and these boys keep coming back and at this point WHOAS steps in.
Currently, government policy will not allow us to relocate these horses further back into the forestry. Therefore, we attend to where they are causing problems and rescue them. We then transport them to our handling facility where the gentling process begins to prepare them for adoption. This is Caruso who is coming 2 years old. He had jumped into the landowners corrals to find company. Once he is gelded and gentled so he can be handled safely, he will be available for adoption.
This is Comanche who is also about 2 years old. He too got into the pens of a landowner who had a very old mare and was causing her extreme stress. Again once he is gelded and gentled so he can be handled safely, he will be available for adoption.
This is Chinook who got himself into trouble on a rancher’s property. We have been working with him for awhile and he has already been adopted.
This is Crimson who was causing havoc in a provincial park and had to be removed. He too is lucky enough to already be adopted.
We also have beautiful Bernie, a 6 year old who we are still working with and getting ready for adoption.
We hope that the rest of these young boys stay out of trouble and don’t need our help. If you are interested in adopting any of these boys, contact us to come out for a visit to see them. WHOASalberta@gmail.com
It’s May and the hillsides have lost their covering of snow. Now the green grass, leaves and early flowers are coming adding colour to wild horse country. We can now hike or ride our horses into the more out of the way valleys and meadows. We are then able to find some of the more colourful horses that roam the land. This beautiful stallion has his two mares in one of those spots, but so far no foals. It will be soon however.
This stunning mare still has her foal, which is a sorrel, from last year at her side.
This young stud is still with his small herd of two mares and the stallion. He is growing. Soon though he will be forced out and have to find some other young boys to join up with.
This roan 3-4 year old boy was with his buddy as they search out the new grass on an open hillside.
In a valley bottom we came across one of our favourite herds. There are three pinto mares, two with pinto yearlings and one with her sorrel yearling. It was so nice to see all three of the young ones along with the rest of the herd had successfully made it it through the long winter.
We came across this golden-maned yearling travelling with his herd. He stands out even from a distance compared to the rest of his band. He is so beautiful but as you can see needs some groceries and green grass.
This yearling was enjoying a good butt rub on some willow bushes. His lips were just quivering as he got into it. It feels so good!
It is always wonderful to witness the new life that every spring brings on. This mare and her newborn filly were enjoying the evening and new grass finally emerging on the exposed hillside. It was cute to watch the little one mouth whatever Mom was eating. Her lips would just go with nothing much in them.
Far away from the roads we came across this magnificent black stallion with his one mare and buckskin yearling. What a beautiful specimen of a wild horse! So very, very proud.
Just to keep you updated, we have been unsuccessful in being able to capture the young stallion with the lasso around his neck. The biggest reason is there is now new feed available and all the wild horses are moving around a lot. The rope is broken off and is still around his neck but only about 4 ft. long. We will keep trying to see what we can do for him, but hopefully he may be able to rub it off himself now.
WHOAS had learned that some illegal roping and chasing of wild horses had occurred in various locations within the Sundre Equine Zone. The information that we received was passed along to the authorities in hopes that the perpetrators could be apprehended.
Last Thursday we received notification of the above young stallion having a lariat wrapped around his neck. Acting on this we spent two days tracking him down. We determined that the only way to help him to prevent injury to himself was to attempt to capture him in order to safely remove the lasso. We applied for a permit from the AEP and were issued one. The permit allows us to catch the boy, remove the rope and then release him.
We are in the midst of doing this and will update you of the progress.
Click on the Report to the Community at the top of the page which shows the latest wild horse counts done by the province in March of this year.
We think spring is finally trying to come even though it is hard to believe with some of the extremes of weather the last little while. It is enjoyable to visit the wild horses and witness all the new foals with the herds. One of our favourite little herds, a beautiful stallion with 2 mares, produced these 2 healthy foals. The first shows a little colt with his mom, and the second a filly, about a week younger, with her dame.
It is amazing to watch how quickly these little ones learn how to navigate through the old cutblocks.
This time of year the horses do quite a bit of rolling to remove their winter coats, dander and to help get rid of any parasites. This little girl can’t quite figure out what mom was doing so danced around all excited. The baby wanted her warm milk and wanted her mom to stand up.
At the WHOAS handling facility the mare we call Blondie” foaled on Easter Sunday. Her baby is little filly we’ve named “Chrissy” who is very healthy. Although Blondie has been darted with the contraception and had a pregnancy break last year, she is just one of those mares that is very fertile. Here is a short video of mom and babe taken yesterday when Chrissy was 5 days old.
As you watch you can witness Chrissy having the same reaction as the foal pictured above when Blondie took a luxurious roll.
Spring is trying its best to make its appearance, however, winter is still trying to hold on a little longer. Roaming the hills the other day we started at plus 11C and ended up in a blizzard. All the creeks and rivulets were full of rushing water as the sun rapidly melted a lot of the snow. The horses were seeking the warm hillsides and had left the bottom meadows because of the torrents of water. We found this stallion and his herd soaking up the sunshine.
This yearling and his family sit high above us calmly watching us drive past. We are starting to find a few new foals with the herds. Although this appears to be early, maybe they know something we don’t. These newborns are doing well.
Just a little further along we found our beautiful boy that we call the “Black Stallion” and his herd wandering through another area where little melting had occurred. Here the forage is still a little harder to find but as you see the horses are in excellent condition for this time of year.
This beautiful stallion has been roaming by himself all winter despite the fact we have seen other bachelor bands in the area. So we have named him “Lonesome.”
WHOAS has another wonderful video of our Alberta wild horses produced by Through the Lens Images we are pleased to share with you. Enjoy!
The life of our Alberta wild horses is not an easy one. They face many obstacles and events as they attempt to survive in what is sometimes a hostile environment throughout their life. We found this 2 – 3 week old filly looking healthy and nursing off of mom as she foraged for feed. A fresh snowfall had again blanketed the land making it a little harder for mom and the herd to find food and the foal to stay warm.
The foals from last spring are doing well as you can see by these three who were resting in the protection of the trees. No matter what age though injuries can be caused by a misstep or a kick.
Young studs are always testing each other and most times the skirmishes end peacefully, but occasionally one of the combatants will get injured. Most times too the horse will recover. Occasionally however the injuries can be severe and the chances, as is often the case in Nature, of the animal surviving can be slim. Many other factors affect life of the horses as well, from old age to severe weather, such was the case in the winter of 2013/14.
Some officials would like the public to believe that the horses have no natural predators. For those of us that spend considerable time travelling throughout wild horse country, documenting the horses we know this is not true. In fact one University of Alberta researcher who had collared a male cougar, documented that that it’s main prey was the wild horses. Bears and wolves if given the right opportunity will also take down an old, young or injured horse.
Most times though the wolf and the horse co-exist, such as seen here where this wolf walks past a very calm and healthy young stud.
On our travels last week we noticed ravens, the messengers of the forest, circling in the distance. We know from experience that this signals something dead. We went to find out what it may be that attracted them. As we approached, even a bald eagle singled his displeasure. When we arrived on the scene we found a wild horse mare who appeared to be old and likely killed by wolves. All the telltale signs were there to indicate this, including lots of wolf tracks.
We know this is just part of Nature and have come to accept this fact. We decided to set up our trail cam to see who came to feast. We left it there for a few days and just want to show you all the animals and birds that utilize what Mother Nature provides.
Of course there were many ravens. Those sitting on the ground feeding; those sitting in the tree keeping watch, and then those circling high above.
The bald eagle came flying in to take over and push the ravens out.
The camera also caught golden eagles coming in several times. Can you see the second one on the carcass?
During the nighttime the camera caught many different visitors. They included the wolves, foxes, coyotes and even a glimpse of a fisher, which is a very elusive, small nocturnal predator.
It was very telling by sifting through the hundreds of photos, the hierarchy of all the predators photographed.
The foxes would sneak in whenever the wolves moved away from feeding taking their turn. The first picture shows two of them arguing over who goes first!
The wolves would also move in during the night with two different groups. We believe they are from the same pack. These pictures show the group with the large black wolf.
The wolves would also visit the kill in the early morning and then back again in the late afternoon. As the black wolf moves off, the pictures show it did not take long for the ravens to come back in.
This young wolf came by himself and upset at the ravens, leapt in to chase them away.
Some say the horses do not belong out there. But after spending years documenting and observing them, it is obvious to us that they have become an integral part of the ecosystem as it exists on today’s landscape. Even in death they play a role. And everything has its place, including the wolves who are also persecuted.