Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Embracing Chaos

"From seeming disorder, creativity pulsates...Chaos is a natural process, a dynamic dance of essences essential to the continuous birth of beauty." --Lynne Gerard

When horses are allowed to live as autonomously as possible in a wilderness setting, some surprising things can be learned and the lessons are not necessarily for the faint of heart! I would not have thought myself to be stout-hearted or an embracer of chaos, but since having established our Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve, these qualities have have spontaneously developed in Kevin and me and have saved us from going completely insane.

With springtime finally taking its rightful place on Manitoulin Island, the rush of equine hormones has completely disrupted whatever stability we imagined was ours. Herd dynamics have altered substantially in response to the higher levels of testosterone our stud colts are feeling this year as well as those enticing pheromones the fillies are generating. We knew we were taking a chance on holding back separating young boys from the young girls last year, but since none of the fillies had been showing signs of heat, nor were the colts showing any sexual interest in their half-sisters, we felt it was better to let the youngsters continue to run together. We remained hopeful that Altamiro's offspring would sell before these youngsters "came of age" allowing us to avoid adulterating the big wide open spaces with separate pastures.

As it turns out, Fada (2008 filly out of Belina) did come into heat as a two year old and was covered by one or both of her brothers. How could this be when we never observed any signs that she was in estrus? It seems there are from time to time mares and fillies who do not display outward signs of sexual readiness, a condition that is termed "behaviorial anestrus" and more commonly referred to as "silent heat". The horses of Ravenseyrie are not in our line of vision all hours of the day and it seems that Fada took a lover in secret. The result is a handsome bold colt we have come to call Destemido, which means "fearless" in Portuguese. It is good the little fellow is fearless, because his arrival stimulated quite a drama of chest thumping among the males.

Animado stepped forward to claim Fada and her foal (though we will need blood tests to truly determine patrimony) and in a blink of an eye became her protector against daddy Altamiro (now a grandsire!) in a spectacular display pitting firstborn son against his sire. Altamiro accepted Animado as leader of a new family, and both stallions retained their individual dignity with no injuries, though with the rough aggression they engaged in one wonders how they managed to avoid bloodshed. (It must be that tough zebro hide their genetics provided them!)

Below are photos some of the manly shows Altamiro and Animado put on (Animado is a lighter shade of grullo than is Altamiro):

It is hard to believe that the horse on the right is our firstborn here at Ravenseyrie, just over three years ago! He's amazing!

So now the alternate group of older offspring presently has sorted out a tentative equilibrium and continue to live as one group, with the fillies Segura and Encantara helping Fada keep appropriate space around Destemido, while Interessado is still tolerated in the band by his brother as long as he takes to the parameter when Animado directs him too. For one brief day, these roles were reversed and Interessado was in tight with Fada, while Animado was kept on the parameter. By nightfall of the next day, Animado was back in charge.

The draft mules seem able to come and go as usual, but Mistral, Zeus (our two domestic geldings) and Silvestre (2009 colt out of Ciente) had come under severe harassment by Altamiro, Animado and Interessado to the point where they made repeated escapes by finding their way around the fencing extending to the lake and found quiet refuge on the neighboring cattle range. By special arrangement, we were able to pasture them there for a few weeks before the rancher needed them removed so he could turn out his cows and young calves. At this writing these three boys are in the holding pasture and corrals which we will soon be using to get Animado, Encantara and Segura ready for to be exported to the United States. Against our original vision and desires, Kevin is building about a ten acre pasture on the the southwest sector of our property. At least it does not cut across the more beautiful northern expanse which we see out our windows providing such spectacular wildlife viewing.

Here are Mistral, Silvestre and Zeus in the holding pasture

Here Altamiro runs the length of the double line electric fence (which has a four foot buffer between lines to prevent nose to nose or hoof to hoof contact.)

Altamiro seems surprised to not be able to physically harass Mistral, Zeus and Silvestre anymore.

The family band crosses the northern grasslands

When this new enclosure is ready, Zeus, Mistral and Silvestre will spend the summer there. And after Animado, Encantara and Segura leave, we will be scheduling Interessado and Silvestre for castration. Very difficult decisions for us to make...

Note: (If anyone following this journal has been interested in either of these half Sorraia/half Sorraia Mustang stud colts, you have roughly six weeks to connect with me before they are gelded. In the hopes that they find homes where they are kept as stallions, we offer them at half price. After gelding they will remain for sale at their former price.)

Add to this chaotic mix the fact that several days ago Altamiro expelled Pinoteia (2010 filly out of Bella) from the family band you can pretty well imagine we have had non-stop dramas keeping us very busy and prompting us to be very fluid in our responses. Pinoteia is still going it alone (perhaps on a mission to find her inner filly?) and hasn't yet joined up with the alternate group, but if she does so in a timely way, she may be going to the states as well, once certain interested breeders know she is no longer part of the family band and has joined the alternate group.
Yearling filly, Pinoteia, expelled from her family band, but not ready to join the alternate group yet.

If readers are having a difficult time following the shifting of the herd dynamics and the rethinking of our original vision that is manifesting itself, I am not at all surprised as we have been struggling to keep it all straight, too. It has been an incredibly stressful spring and rather than allow myself to believe that all this disruptive energy is generating nothing but problems I have been reading up a little on chaos theory and implicate order. I've written several little ditties that I am using in my work at the studio--they are helping Kevin and I find the beauty within all these unknown elements converging upon us as we await for the new order sure to be on the other side of this chaos.

"When surrounded by chaos, make a pause--breathe like a forest, melt your resistance into pleasing colours and trust in the spontaneous emergence of a new harmony."--Lynne Gerard


JEN-SKA said...

I can imagine you're experiencing a lot in there, as I have been many times quite confused with my horses and I only have two of them! Spring does bring some interesting wibes. Hope you will continue to believe it's all happening for a good reason. Take care!

June said...

Wow. Quite fascinating. How about that Animado!

Love that last photo with the crazy manes going all electric.

Guess it was time for a shakeup, eh?

June said...

Is it just me, or do Animado and Altamiro not look particularly angry?

eva said...

The footage is spectacular, Lynne, a stark reminder how far we have gone to diminish and belittle the equine race through castration and incarceration.

My neighbor’s two black fox trotters confined to a 1/4 acre square dirt lot stand side by side. Standing. Eating. Standing. Day in-day out. “Can you give me a reason to move from A to B please?”

We are cutting the life force off our animals, the same force that now blankets Ravenseyrie with lush green and colored dots like a painter’s pallete, and we restrict their movements to make them “fit” into our lives. Compatibility at what price?

You are clearly out on a limb, Lynne. Contemplating the implicate order is a fascinating intellectual pursuit, perhaps even a comfort, but living the chaos you must be fearless.

Destemido: A name well chosen. Welcome to the world, little one!