As busy as things are just now at my Ravenseyrie Studio Art Gallery on the village waterfront, I still make time to visit with the horses, even if it cannot be the long hours of co-mingling which are my luxury during the off season. I am stronger in the morning, more clear headed and enlivened by the coolness of the dawn and so during the summer months, this is primarily the time when I get to connect with the horses. Typically, in the evenings, after a tiring day at work and the 45 minute commute home on my bicycle, I've little left to give, save making a meal for Kevin and myself, and I only hike out to see the horses if we cannot spot them grazing in the open through our field glasses.
It is important for us to know that before night falls all the horses are accounted for and that there are no apparent injuries that might require our attention. When we are expecting a foal to be born, our diligence in checking in with the horses is even more pronounced.
With Ciente (our Kiger Mustang mare of Sorraia phenotype) having decided to skip a year for foaling, and with both Bella and Belina having delivered their foals earlier in the spring, this left for us just Zorita to complete her gestation and bring forth a new entity to the landscape of Ravenseyrie.
My 2009 calendar notes that Zorita delivered her filly, Segura on August the 21st and that she was covered (and settled) by Altamiro during her foal heat which started on August 27th, with no further heat cycles being observed. That would have her ready to deliver eleven months later on or around July 27th in 2010.
When a mare is still nursing the prior year's foal and nears the time when one expects a new foal to be born, I find it impossible to detect any changes in her udder that assist in helping pinpoint how close she might be to delivering. The diagnostics I work with in such a case then are limited to her overall bearing and behaviour, the shape of her abdomen and the tone of her pelvic muscles.
When Zorita's calendar date of delivery was a little over a week away both Kevin and I heightened our powers of observation, and when a few times Altamiro's family band did not come into view in the open during the evening's grazing either he or I would hike out to find them and assure that all was in good form.
On Friday, the evening of July 16th, after having mentioned to Kevin that I believed Zorita's pelvic muscles had looked slacker in the morning, even though I was extremely exhausted, I hiked out to find the family band when they didn't come out into the open to graze as usual.
While walking out, the magic of the landscape altered my perceptions in such a way that all the human chatter lingering in my head from the busy day at the studio completely dissolved and was replaced by the sound of the wind in the summer grasses and the occasional cawing of Ravens and clattering of Sandhill Cranes. Everything moved slower, with a dance-like quality. Though I began my hike expecting to find the family band peacefully grazing with no foal born yet, midway through crossing the Scanty Field, I knew that tonight was different--intuitively I knew that when I found the family band there would be one member more than before.
It was a spectacular sensation...this feeling of "knowing".
Zorita and her 2010 filly, born during the afternoon of July the 16th
It doesn't matter how often foals are born here at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve, each time it feels like a miracle...each time I am moved on a very primordial level as I recognize how significant and important it is that we have brought together these wonderful mares with Altamiro and can follow their lives on this special landscape.
These next photos are from the following day:
These next photos are from the following day:
I have received emails from my friend Eva and also from Ruy d'Andrade's great-granddaughter, Constança who have both expressed a desire to learn more about our special mustang mares. I am working on a journal entry devoted to Bella, Belina, Ciente and Zorita for some time in the future. As dynamic and inspiring it is to revel in the charisma of our purebred Sorraia stallion, Altamiro--it obvious the mares deserve equal accolades, so I will deliver on that very soon.
"The unique thing about the Sorraia horse is that it is not a breed, but a relic; a horse which largely embodies the indigenous South Iberian wild horse, and the prehistoric form-III horse.""The fact is, that we can find individuals among today's mustangs which resemble the Sorraia to such a degree that one cannot tell them apart.""If horses mate who all carry many of the genes of a certain form, and live in an environment ideal to the needs of this form, it is only a matter of time until individuals result which represent that form completely."
(excerpts from BORN SURVIVORS ON THE EVE OF EXTINCTION)