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.

Drought In The US A Danger For Wild Horses

This is a news feed from the National Post, where the BLM in the United States is in process of rounding up and removing 18,000 wild horses from several states. The reason given is that drought has so deteriorated their range and the lack of water is causing a large number of horses to die and suffer.

Efforts are on going by several wild horse advocacy groups to help bring water and feed to the horses but the round up is continuing. In the US they have banned the slaughter of horses and so the outcome for these horses is to live out their lives in large holding facilities. It is estimated that there are already 40,000 horses living in these conditions right now.

From the National Post:

U.S. land managers are expecting to catch double the number of wild horses than originally planned, due to the withering droughts in the West.  The additional haul is set to include 6,000 animals from Nevada, Oregon and Colorado. In total, close to 18,000 wild horses will be rounded up from ten western states, spanning from Montana to California.

The Bureau of Land Management said the capture began in Oregon on Sunday and in Nevada on Monday, concentrating on places where “chronic overpopulation” of the herds “already has stretched the available food and water to its limits,” Associated Press reported.

“As one of the agencies charged with the responsibility to protect and manage America’s wild horses and burros, the BLM is prepared to take emergency action where we can in order to save the lives of these cherished animals,” Nada Wolff Culver, the agency’s deputy director for policy and programs, said in an announcement on Monday

BLM will “continu(e) our efforts to reduce overpopulation across the West and achieve healthy, sustainable herd sizes that are more capable of withstanding severe conditions, including prolonged drought, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change,” she said of the effort in the announcement.

However, advocates say the decision fails to rein in the number of livestock competing for the same land and resources and continues to prioritize big-money interests.

“Profit-driven interests ravage the landscape, and we blame the horse,” Laura Leigh, president of nonprofit group Wild Horse Education, told AP. “Absolutely nothing has changed under the Biden administration except we are being spoon-fed a dose of greenwash that they ‘care’ about the environment and wild things,” she said.

Ranchers are already rotating cattle and reducing grazing voluntarily in order to maintain ecological balance, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association insisted.

Stretched the available food and water to its limits

“These removals are critical for the horses as well as the health of the rangelands,” Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of resources with the group, said in an email to AP. “Even in times where resources are plentiful, these overpopulated herds cause serious damage to the landscape.”

The drought this year has been “more pervasive and dramatic than we have seen in years,” she added.

BLM announced last week additional steps to ensure the horses being put up for public adoption don’t end up in slaughterhouses. The announcement was met with mixed reactions among horse advocates, said AP, who say it didn’t go far enough, explaining as long as the government keeps offering $1,000 incentives, the horses would continue to be slaughtered.

From 2013 through 2017, fewer than 4,100 mustangs were gathered. The total rounded up this year would more than double last year’s numbers. The peak this decade came in 2018, with 9,749 gathered.

Only 1,400 of all the wild horses rounded up will be roaming free once again after they receive contraceptives.

Advocates have further criticized BLM for not prioritizing the use of birth control in the past two decades since it has become available.

“This situation further illustrates that the status quo does not work,” Nevada House Rep. Dina Titus said. “That is why I led an effort to provide funding in this year’s Interior appropriations bill for safe and humane birth control.”

Here in the Alberta foothills we have not seen the severe drought conditions other areas of the province and the country are going through. Neither is our wild horse population at a level even to close being a problem. WHOAS is part of the Alberta Government’s, Feral Horse Advisory Committee as is another major horse advocacy group and both of us are working hard to ensure nothing like this ever happens up here. If necessary population control can be done without the large round-ups and removal of horses. Contraception can and does work. WHOAS and the other group will be providing the FHAC with ideas on the use of contraception as a long term management strategy here in Alberta. Although some people object to the use of contraception vaccines it is because they do not understand how they work, but look at the alternative. Here in Alberta, horse slaughter is a booming industry and we are working our best to prevent any of our beautiful wild horses from such a fate.

Our WHOAS handling facility continues to take in wild horses that need to be rescued, work to gentle them down so they can be adopted to loving and forever homes. With the support of other groups and our wonderful public we will continue to do this, assuring the legacy of the wild Alberta horse will always live on.

One of our latest adopted horses travelled all the way to Ontario, where he is enjoying a new life. The new owners will be using him in the equine therapy program that they run. He will make a great ambassador.

Loading for his long trip to Ontario and his new home and this was done by a professional horse transportation company.

Ready for his long journey to a great new life in his own little stall.

A record number of visitors have come through the WHOAS site to visit the horses and learn about the Alberta’s wild horses and the work that we do to protect and save them. WHOAS is committed to do anything we have to in order to assure the welfare of our beautiful wild horses. We continue to receive requests and you can arrange a time for a visit by sending us an email at whoasalberta@gmail.com.

The Hot Days Of Summer

Kind of a long post but it mostly pictures for our followers to enjoy.

The summer of 2021 has turned into quite a different season than in past years. The unrelenting heat and the smoke from forest fires has subdued a lot of the normal activities of our Alberta wildlife. Fortunately in our foothills we have had some rain and until just recently the grasses were still green and abundant. There has not been the forest fires here like in British Columbia. This certainly has helped keep our wild horses safe, although as of this past week there have been a couple start up in prime wild horse country.

In our numerous journeys we noticed the horses adapting to the current conditions which they have always done. From fire to floods to drought these strong and adaptive creatures continue to thrive and add joy to our lives.

Cow birds are always around and taking advantage of the horses work in scarring up insects.

Every summer in late June or early July the herds of wild horses will come to a certain area to congregate and the herds maintain a relatively peaceful co-existence. I like to think that they are come together to see old friends and new family members. Pictured above is a meadow where there are groups of bachelor studs feeding close to family herds led by their respective stallions. Only if they get too close will they be chased away from the herd mares and babies. In this meadow there were 9 family herds and 3 bachelor groups. Quite tranquil and heart warming to be able to sit there and watch.

In another area on a different day we came across another gathering where there was also several family groups and 2 bachelor groups all peacefully feeding along side each other. The herd stallions will always make sure that another herd or young stud keeps their distance, but quite often it will be the herd mare who decides who is too close and leads the rest of the herd away.

This short clip shows what typically occurs when two herd stallions confront each other because one got too close to the other’s herd. A lot of marking, bluffing and squealing and then off they go. No wonder I so love these beautiful and spiritual animals.

This magnificent boy was feeding in a clearcut along with his small herd of three mares, a foal and a yearling.

His mares were deciding what to do or where to go next. All the horses we have been coming across are in exceelent condition and the foals we see are strong and healthy.

It was nice to come across a stallion, Alleycat, that we had not seen for a while. He has gathered together a nice herd with several mares, with three of them with foals.

One of his mares with her foal sound asleep in the lush grass behind her.

Some more members of his herd and all the foals are sleeping in the sun.

In our trips out to visit the wild horses is also fun to come across and photograph other wildlife in our Alberta foothills. Here are a couple of pics of birds that we rarely see in our travels.

A great grey owl gives us “that look” for disturbing his hunt.

Momma Osprey quietly sits on the eggs in her nest while dad is just a short distance away feeding on a fish.

So far this year, with the hot temperatures and dryness there are a lot fewer bugs pestering the horses and so they are staying more out in the open, letting the wind cool them down. This beautiful young boy barely bothered with us and went back to feeding right away.

This mature herd stallion, displays his natural fly mask. What a gorgeous horse he is.

Mom standing guard while baby snoozes in the loose dirt which also keeps any bugs that may be around away. The wild horses have several different techniques that they use to deal with the heat, sun and insects. They also always know where the hidden springs and other water sources are.

This pretty young filly lays out in an open clearcut where the winds can swirl to also keep her cool and take care of the bugs too.

The one thing that stands out to most people who get to know the wild horses is, how resilient they are. This year we have had more reports from concerned individuals of horses that have been injured. Many wonder what can be done to help the injured animal and in reality, they are wild animals and so little can be done. As hard as it can be sometimes nature has to take its course.

To show this here are a couple of examples.

We had some campers report a young colt who had a huge amount of flesh torn and hanging down from his left hip.

Despite this injury the young foal was moving well and keeping up with his herd. The stallion was quick to move the herd off when we tried to get a closer look. We tried to keep an eye on the boy which can be difficult considering the terrain they live in and the size of their range. We were unsure of what would happen to him.

This is him a few weeks later. The wound has healed over and is barely noticeable. He has grown quite a lot and is doing extremely well. Mom is still very protective of him.

The life of the wild horse is not an easy one and the country side they live in is full of hazards, This young mare must of caught herself of a branch while travelling through the timber. Again she is fine and healing nicely. She too will be okay. So despite some serious injuries the horses manage to survive and again show why I have so much respect for them. Simply amazing animals that deserve our efforts to protect and save them.

When we take people out to view the horses they are always amazed of how good the horses look and the many different coat colourings. On one trip last week we came across a herd we are quite familiar with. In this herd their are two roans that are always so curious and unafraid of us.

We hiked in a short distance and sat down to enjoy the company of the horses. It was so peaceful as we snapped away with our cameras. The younger mare of the two was very intrigued by these humans and started to move toward bringing along the whole herd. with the 5 foals that were part of the herd.

Even the newest member of the herd came along to visit. Maybe 3 weeks old but doing extremely well with mom’s milk and nice soft grass it has started to nibble on, mimicking mom.

Finally they got too close and we did not want to startle or interfere with them and so we quietly backed off leaving them to graze peacefully. What a wonderful way to end a day visiting our truyly unique and wonderful Alberta wild horses.

Please remember that our forests and the home of our wild horses and other wildlife are tinder dry. Be careful out there when camping or travelling around. Keep our lands and the horses and other creatures safe from fire.

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.