Saturday, May 23, 2009

Influencing Destiny

Sorraia x Sorraia Mustang yearlings, Animado and Interessado
(For more photos of our yearlings available for purchase see this journal entry.)

I am not the same person that I was when the idea of establishing a preserve devoted to the conservation of Sorraia genetics first became part of my earthly world. Studying the writings of Alexander Nevzorov and Imke Spilker have prompted me to evolve my thinking regarding my relationship with horses - something I see I was already headed for, in light of how I felt about other animals, plants and even the elements themselves.

Interessado running with Animado and Bella

The ethics of "using" a horse for pleasure, financial gain, or labor, without considering whether or not the horse would agree to this "use" if truly consulted and given an opportunity to express an answer, is not something that I had given too much deeper thought to, (which strikes me now as so strange). Do our draft mules want to pull logs out of the woods? Do any of the horses desire to learn haute école? Does Bella want to be pregnant? Does Fada want to move to a new home in Florida? How do I best hope to understand their answers?

Altamiro playing with his firstborn son, Animado

At the very least, I must now realize that all that Kevin and I envision for these horses deserves as much input and participation from them as is possible in determining things that impact their future.

Purebred Sorraia stallion, Altamiro, with Animado and Fada

Some people manipulate the breeding of horses down to the finest details, leaving nothing to chance and provide the horses no choice in any of it. Some people find the idea of breeding horses an unethical undertaking altogether. The Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve belongs to neither of these mindsets. It seems we will be forging our own way--a way which I will call "Influencing Destiny".


We think of horses that are living in the wild in North America (setting aside the perverted disruption of the United States' Bureau of Land Management practices) as having absolute autonomy over how they go about their affairs. They represent freedom, and our hearts swell when we think of them roaming their great open spaces...never feeling a rein of restraint, or the confinement of four walls - theirs is an unlimitative life . And yet, within the network of herd dynamics there are a great deal of limitations imposed on each of them. A lead mare determines where and when they should move to graze, take a drink, roll in the dirt. A stallion determines who is allowed into the herd, and when an established herd member should be expelled. A young filly brusquely driven off by her father has no choice in where she goes, but, rather, goes along with whatever stallion from a neighboring band lays claim to her.

The delightful, Half-bred Sorraia yearling, Fada

Of course, I am thinking of these matters as they relate to the dynamics of our herd living a semi-wild existence:

>>Altamiro has recently banished the domestic geldings to the outer parameter - will he do the same now that Animado and Interessado appear to be showing interest in sexual activity?

>>Will the young colts join up with the domestic geldings, or form their own "bachelor band"?

>>And when will Fada be driven off?

>>And if Fada is driven off, will she be claimed by one of her brothers?

>>In the wild is it possible that fillies are sometimes claimed by their half brothers?

Three hundred and sixty acres does not compare to the tens of thousands of acres that are the territory to multiple bands of wild horses. Ravenseyrie has a bit of room to take on more horses if Altamiro and his harem of four mares continue to reproduce, but it cannot expect to provide for the natural diffusion of offspring. We will have to influence destiny.

Sequence of morning playtime for Animado and Interessado:

We have a complex, self-imposed mandate here at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve. Our raison d'être initially was to bring together a breeding herd of mustangs possessing the Sorraia phenotype, provide them an environment in which to live as naturally as possible and send their offspring off to others who were also interested in conserving the Sorraia type. Being offered a purebred Sorraia stallion to be paired with mustang mares of Sorraia type was an opportunity that provided an exquisite boost to establishing an alternative genetic pool should the highly inbreed populations of purebred Sorraias in Portugal and Germany collapse altogether.

The noble yearling, Interessado
(Sorraia x Kiger Mustang of Sorraia type)

If our only interest were to spread Altamiro's seed as far and wide as possible, we would have begun to collect semen from him and sell it to those who have Sorraia-type mustang mares (and with a horse as endangered and rare as the Sorraia, we would have made a tidy profit as well!). Or we would book outside mares for breedings to him. Or we would send him out west on lease, where he could breed many more Sorraia type mustang mares than he could here in Canada. But Kevin and I feel that environment, living habits, herd dynamics, etc. all play vital roles in how genes express themselves and so we've provided living conditions that are as close as possible to those a small band of horses would find in the wild.

(Sorraia x Sorraia Mustang)

Further expanding our criteria, I now find it of great importance to consider as much as possible what the horses might prefer when we are faced with having to make a decision that affects them. This means that when contemplating the futures of Animado, Fada and Interessado, of much greater importance than what price they will fetch, is what kind of environment will they have to live in and what type of human handling will they receive?

Animado and Fada

If I am now understanding and relating to horses as equal beings, then it is obvious that while their destiny is influenced by me, it is yet uniquely theirs - they have a karma directing their present states of being even as I do. Though it may have little impact or perhaps it may have definite impression upon how events unfold, I am using today's journal entry to make a declaration on behalf of Interessado, Animado and Fada:

>>I believe that these young horses would prefer to live in a setting as similar to Ravenseyrie as possible; an expansive, varied environment among other horses and not in isolated box stalls or segregated dirt paddocks.

>>I believe these horses desire to be considered as equal beings and allowed to express their opinions and desires and have these appreciated and taken into consideration by humans.

>>I believe Fada, Interessado and Animado would enjoy learning new things with humans and will excel at and take pleasure in whatever they learn to do if the learning is self-directed with human guidance as opposed to being imposed, coerced or inflicted upon them by humans.

(Sorraia x Sorraia Mustang)

This journal entry makes known to the public that our half- Sorraia mustang /half purebred Sorraia horses are for sale, with certain prerequisites attached. Interessado, Fada and Animado are now officially available for purchase. Prices begin at $2,500 and are negotiable by private treaty. (Profit is not our focus here, however these are genetically valuable, half-bred Sorraia horses and potential buyers should not assume otherwise...therefore a starting price has been established on this basis.) Potential owners of these horses must be able to provide for them in the manner described in the above declaration. Those who are dedicated to conserving the genetics of the endangered Sorraia horse will be given first consideration. Contact us, via email at:

(Sorraia x Sorraia Mustang)

In response to Encantara's recent emergence, Kris commented, "May she live a long and happy life, and know only love and kindness at the hands of human beings." This is my hope for Fada, Animado and Interessado as well. May the expressing of our hopes and desires that their futures be filled with only good things make it so!


Kris McCormack said...

May Animado, Fada, and Interessado find homes that nurture their spirits, and allow them to know the feeling of freedom even in this unfree world. May they always have room to roam, wholesome food, and congenial companionship. May their bodies be strengthened, their minds expanded, and their hearts filled by loving interaction with human beings who honor and cherish them. So be it.


Lynne Gerard said...

Once again, thank you for providing a very moving comment. I believe these horses are destined to experience all the wonderful things you've articulated, and are going to have a most positive effect on whatever humans they share their lives with...meaning they themselves will experience wonderful things and will also share wonderful things just with others just by their special presence here on earth.

Maria said...

Lynn are you still interested in selling? I can't believe that I am contemplating it but I have fallen in love with one of your horses!!

Lynne Gerard said...

Hello Maria,
If you have carefully read through this journal entry and believe that you can provide the essence of what has been described, then for sure we can discuss possibilities.

I see you have sent me an email, I will connect with you further there.

Thank you, Maria for your interest and taking time to leave your comment here.