Sunday, July 18, 2010

Each Time, a Miracle

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.

Sovina's Zorita, half-purebred Sorraia/half-Sulphur Mustang

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".

Let's let the photos now speak for things themselves:
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:

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."

--Hardy Oelke

Altamiro (left) and Ciente

Zorita's new filly, with Ciente in the background


KimJ said...

Love the photos! However, I am a bit concerned about the length of Zorita's feet. I would hate for her ligaments to become stretched out and for her to be uncomfortable because her feet are too long. I know that my purebred Spanish Sulphur mare (whom spent two years in the wild) always appreciates a good trim and being able to move out better and normally than when her feet are overgrown. She is actually one of the best horses at the barn for the farrier. The farrier I use is a master farrier and is amazing! In fact, my trainer is trying to push me to use shoes to get more lift from my mare and my farrier told me that unless I put weighted shoes on her feet that it wouldn't make a difference. At which point he told me that if I wanted to do that then I need to get a different farrier as he will not do anything that isn't positive for the horse as those weighted shoes put a lot of pressure on the knee.

Anyways, cute foal! Happy that Zorita appears to be in good shape from foaling.

Kris McCormack said...

Congratulations Zorita, Altamiro, Lynne & Kevin!

Welcome to the world, little yet-to-be-named one!
May you have a long, healthy, happy life, and may you know nothing but love and respect from your encounters with human beings.

eva said...

Welcome to the world, little one! And congrats from me too, and my best wishes for a long, happy life.. This little fillies ears are prominent and most remarkable, and i love her little dark face mark.

What will her name be? I think with those ears, she's a born listener.

So nice to see the abundance of green grass and wild flowers to nourish the mother.

I definitely look forward to the mare's portraits.

Lynne Gerard said...

Kim, Kris and Eva,
Thanks for helping me welcome Zorita and Altamiro's new filly to the world.
She's definitely a listener, Eva...and a mover--all legs and ears! I'll put up some video soon showing how she's keeping her momma on the move.

Kim, I'm not at all concerned about the length of Zorita's hooves, considering how splendidly she navigates her environment. Here at Ravenseyrie, unless there is a soundness issue that they cannot work out on their own, I find myself disinclined to impose a static hoof shape upon our horses. Each horse has their own fluid shape that changes with the seasons. Zorita is long now, and in time, she will self-trim in just the right way to suit her own particular needs. Keep in mind, also that the hoof form that a horse might need in arid regions of the western states is not the hoof form that horses in a different region would naturally cultivate.

Check out this website for an interesting review two farriers made after visiting wild horse herds in the southeastern states:

Of course, horses that are kept in less than ideal conditions in man-made environments and subject to the various riding and driving disciplines humans impose upon them would suffer even more if their feet were not routinely trimmed. So surely there is a place for hoof management in certain situations.

KimJ said...

Riding around with a master farrier for only one week has taught me a great deal about hoof shape and what a proper angle of the pastern should be in order to promote healthy legs and feet. Not all farriers have a cookie cutter way of taking care of feet. The farrier I ride with certainly does not. He looks at each horse individually and accesses what they need with each trim in order to promote healthy legs and feet and to be sure that the horse is comfortable.

Even though your horses are not in stalls, they are still confined in the area that you have placed them. That means that you still need to care for their needs as though they were not in such a large area. There was a wild Corrolla horse that was captured maybe less than a year ago whose insides were totally destroyed by worms. Wild isn't always better. I recognize what you are trying to accomplish, but the fact of the matter is those horses are still confined in the space that you have provided and they still need routine care just like any other horse that is confined by people.

Tanya Mills said...

Ahh! So beautiful and wondrous! Congratulations on once again, bringing a beautiful miracle to this world.

KimJ, you are ridiculous. In looking through this website I see you constantly deride and oppose Lynne. If it bugs you so much, stop reading. It really bothers me, the reader, to see Lynne constantly trying to defend the most unique and beautiful animal preserve in North America. If one of her horses was being destroyed by worms, it's not as if she wouldn't notice.

Enough with that.

Oh Zorita, you are filled with splendor and beauty. I wish you and your foal long and happy lives.

Lynne, I can't wait to find out what you are going to name this new little one!

JEN-SKA said...

Oh my, she is georgeous!

Congrats! <3

June said...

What a sweetie!

KimJ's remarks made me think about other questions I have of "to do or not to do." For example, should I put sunscreen on Bridget's pink nose? Would it be better to put fly masks on the horses?

As regards hoofs, I think that if in your experience, Zorita will self-trim, then it's fine to leave her to do so. We have hard, dry ground here in the summer. Some horses will very effectively self-trim on it, but others, who have exceptionally hard feet, will grow, and stay, too long.

Máire said...

Lynne, thank you for posting those photos. They are all beautiful, but the photos of Zorita and her filly under the trees on that first day capture in a special way that sense of time slowing down that you describe. Just beautiful.

Annemiek said...

Congratulations Lynne and Kevin. She is lovely!!


Lynne Gerard said...

Tanya, Jenny, June, Maire and Miek--

Thank you each for your comments for Zorita and her new filly.

Today her and I settled upon a name, which is in a new blog entry.

Happy Summer!

Diane P. said...

Hi Lynne, A perfect little filly from my favorite little mare, who I knew as a young'un just a bit older than her foal, out of your marvel of a stallion. So very happy for you, she is a cute, gorgeous little one. Looking forward to continued pics and reports.
I think its time you decided that some people have their own agendas, and don't spend too much time responding. That's what other groups, on other public forums, have come to the point of doing.
Ciao, enjoy your beautiful homage to mother nature that you have established there.
Kindest wishes,