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.