Monday, December 27, 2010

Let's Play

Imagine you are a 2 3/4 year old stud colt living at Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario. It's a cold winter's day, but you are soaking up the sun and feeling very mellow. Your human friend, Lynne, has just completed grooming you and you look pretty spiffy having all the burrs and tangles removed from your usually wild-kept mane and tail. The sun and the tender ministrations have lulled you into a very comfortable standing nap. Lynne moves away to get some photos of how handsome you look.
Though your eyes are closed, you follow Lynne with your ears and give her a pretty pose.

But then, you sense some intrusion...

It's that playful mule, Jerry, come to pester you and ruin a perfectly perfect nap.

You try to ignore him, hoping he will go away and leave you to your pleasant afternoon nap, but he is persistent in his overtures.

"C'mon, Animado, " Jerry cajoles. "Let's play."

"Thanks, but no thanks, Jerry...maybe later", you reply.

But that clever old draft mule knows just how to tickle you awake and make himself irresistable.

You give in and after a few sleepy gestures of the "nippy-face game" you move around the big mule and say, "Okay, want to play? We'll play!"

"Let's play a game where you pretend you are a mare and I get to be a big stallion!" And you mount that big old mule--no small feat considering Jerry is several hands taller than you!

This is one of the great things about the young stud colt, Animado (Sorraia x Sorraia Mustang) --while another horse might have retaliated with rancor having been awakened from a perfectly perfect nap, this splendid equine has a good heart and a fun sense of humor. "Why get angry? Playing is more fun than being mad at an old friend."

Mike and Sheri Olson of the Soul of Sorraia ranch are sure lucky to have purchased such a wonderful stallion. It will be hard, indeed, to let him go to Wyoming in the spring...

Documenting Altamiro's Offspring / Interessado

(Sorraia x Kiger Mustang)
Showing off his exquisite Iberian form, Interessado does his best to impress.
September 2010

By the time Interessado was born 04Aug08, Animado was already four months old. Two additional entries from the Journal of Ravenseyrie archives share more details about the birth of this soulful stud colt. You can access these entries by clicking here and here.

The first thing you will notice is how extensive the "crimped" hair effect is on Interessado as a foal, so dramatic and comprehensive one gets the impression a definite "zebro" has been born. But these stripes are not due to different pigments of hair colour, but rather to the way the light hits the "furrows". The texture is a bit like fine corduroy and the pseudo-striping effect is the same...a pair of grey corduroy trousers do not have an actual two-toned colour in the fabric, but the effect of the light hitting it makes it seem so.


By the 21st of August Interessado's pseudo-stripes had lessened considerably and he was already beginning to grow a bit of a winter coat.

Though the crimped hair and "pseudo-striping" had disappeared, one can see Interessado had a strong dorsal stripe and stripes as well on his front legs.

By the end of October, Interessado and Fada looked like two peas in a pod, all dark, with buff hair inside their ears.
(Fada is on the left, Interessado on the right)


During the early summer of 2009, Interessado (meaning "interested" in Portuguese) demonstrated just how interested he is in the elements of his environment by investigating a local porcupine, perhaps a bit too intensely! You can read about this episode in Interessado's young life, here.

As a yearling, Interessado's leg stripes were shrouded by black hairs making for solid looking, uniform colour, yet still a hint of his dorsal stripe could be seen. (Left to right: Animado, Interessado and Fada)


A characteristic I've noticed in Sorraia and other primitive horses is the way their hide is predisposed to wrinkles, reminding me sometimes of the way elephant hide is. Here, (see above photo) even on a black coloured Sorraia x Sorraia Mustang these skin folds or wrinkles are readily apparent.

Here they are as two year olds, with Interessado looking almost completely black at this stage of his growth. (Left to right: Interessado, Fada and Animado)

Interessado's extremely dark (dare I say black?) coat colour still from time to time gives the impression of showing his dorsal stripe. So much so that I often find myself taking photos of him from behind to see if I can spot it. I took quite a few on Christmas day, and frankly, at this point in this very attractive stud colt, I cannot detect a dorsal stripe any more.

And yet, I cannot say that this colt is a true black, since he retains the characteristic buff coloured interior ear hair that all dun-diluted horses have.

Interessado is a very ardent-minded, noble fellow...mysteriously dark and full of the right mixture of gentle-heartedness and dynamic vigor--the type of horse that would fight bulls by day, breed mares by night and in the early morning revel in the the empathetic touch of human friendship.