Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Continuing Legacy at Ravenseyrie

The Elementals create a magical scene in greens and lilacs at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve on a summer evening.

On my 2010 calendar I have it documented that after Zorita gave birth to Levada, she was settled by Altamiro on her foal heat less than a week later. This would have put Zorita's 2011 foal due in late June to early July and she certainly looked the part in these photos taken on July 4:

Zorita likes to sit like a dog and rub her bum on the short grasses.

by the Sorraia stallion, Sovina and out of the Sulphur Mustang mare, Tia

During this time her udder looked plump, but never taut, or waxy or dripping, and some mornings it didn't look like there was milk in it at all. When these uncommitted indicators continued, I knew for sure that a two day heat observed in Zorita in September of 2011 was not a fluke thing, but that somewhere between June and September she had aborted her fetus from the foal heat breeding and was resettled by Altamiro in mid-September.


Even on the evening of the 6th of this month, there was no significant change in the way the foal was being carried, nor in Zorita's udder. But come dawn on Sunday morning the 7th, there was a delightful light form standing with Zorita apart from the rest of the family band who had come up for their breakfast oats. I didn't have my camera on me at the time, but I brought a pan of oats out to where Zorita was waiting and was able to get a closer look at her new foal. I was delighted to see that this time she had delivered a colt!

Later in the morning I went back out to where the family band was grazing and took some photos:

And then in the evening of the same day, I went back out and took more photos, of course!

It is always a delight to see newborns get the feeling of what it is like to be a seemingly lighter-than-air quadruped, after being nearly a year suspended in fluid inside a beautiful mare. Zorita's colt enjoyed engaging in short sprints around his mother:

Then this stunning colt paused and gave me a very nice pose which showed off his leg stripes on both front and hind limbs:

Of course after exercise and posing for the camera, one must take a blissful nap:

In the following days, I went out frequently to get to know the new colt and get a sense of what name he might like to be presented with. Always he would look directly at me, with a lovely pose and a friendly, yet serious expression before tentatively coming close enough to reach his muzzle out to touch me. I felt as if he was trying to tell me something but hadn't yet found a way to share, other than to demonstrate a sort of calm assuredness beyond what one would normally expect from a days old foal.

I began to get the sensation that here in this perfect colt resides an amazing legacy which will be continued into future generations once he matures and sires his own offspring. Zorita's colt is endowed with a double dose of purebred Sorraia genes --not only has his sire, Altamiro, passed his amazing reliable DNA along, but through Zorita, the genetics of the purebred Sorraia, Sovina (living in the U.S.) are also part of this new Sorraia Mustang's heritage. Having been gelded a year or so ago without having left any male offspring who haven't already been gelded, Sovina's lineage can only continue to contribute through the few females he has sired, of which only Zorita possesses the Sorraia phenotype.

The genetic (and phenotypic) inheritance that has been bestowed upon the Ravenseyrie foals serves not only as a safeguard for the nearly extinct Sorraia and Sorraia mustang horses, but also demonstrates the persistence and durability these ancestors of the Zebro/Iberian Tarpan possess. These primitive horses have an important legacy to continue.

Their story--first observed emerging from Paleolithic rock art, later woven through medieval literature and in the modern era has been rescued from complete obliteration by a few devoted conservationists and private breeders--has more chapters to be added. Each of Altamiro's "kids" are contributing tremendously to this ongoing true, historic and iconic legend.

Whether or not they all contribute to carrying forward their genetics by being part of other Sorraia and Sorraia Mustang breeding programs, each of them--Animado, Fada, Interessado, Encantara, Silvestre, Segura, Pinoteia, Tocara, Levada, Esperanda, Altavida, Destimedo and also now Zorita's colt--add romance and beauty to this ongoing saga of the Form III ancestral equine by their reliably consistent forms and amazing individual personalities.

Because it has been Zorita's newborn colt that prompted me to more fully appreciate what a legacy he and his siblings represent, it was only fitting to offer up to him the name, Legado, which I am sure astute readers already have figured out is the Portuguese word for "legacy".

When I first spoke it to him last night, he and the rest of the family band were trotting up to come to the area where I had been spreading out "treats" for them. When I saw Zorita coming from behind the others, my eyes and the colt's eyes locked into each other and I tentatively called out, "Legado?". Even as the word was leaving my lips, this mythic colt angled himself directly to me, with Zorita following his trajectory, then both stopped right in front of me. "Legado!", I announced jubilantly to all that surrounded us. There was no point in asking for his approval, he seemed already to have laid claim to this name.

I know there are among the readers of the Journal of Ravenseyrie (from all across the globe!) many who will feel the call to help continue the legacy of these wild Iberian horses. We humans are part of this ongoing story, too...though the chapters we appear in haven't all been for the preservation of these types of horses. We humans can put our past misdeeds behind us and take positive action now so that the history we create today shows we support initiatives that aim to safeguard and strengthen the primitive Iberian Tarpan genetics still present in the Sorraia and Sorraia Mustang.

Whether you have land upon which you can begin your own preserve, or perhaps want to befriend a gelding or mare with no interest in breeding (or keep a bachelor group of stallions)--or even if you have no room for a horse in your life right now at all, you can still spread the word about the important roles the Sorraia and Sorraia Mustangs are playing in keeping a link to the ancient past alive into the future. All these things help Legado and his siblings (and all the other equines who possess these prehistoric genetics) continue their important legacies.


June said...

Oh wow, he is amazing. What a presence.

Kris McCormack said...

Welcome, Legado!
May you have a long, healthy, joyful life. May you enjoy your birthright of freedom to move and the bonds of the herd. May you be treated with love and respect by the humans you encounter.


Erin said...

Sovina wishes to welcome his grandson, Legado!
His last stud son was the Sorraia x Lusitano, he was gelded before summer as the owners do not plan to breed and focus on Ingo's Dressage for future Grand Prix. For your information, I do have frozen semen collected before Sovina was gelded. Meanwhile I do not plan to sell his semen til the economy improves as there are too many unwanted/free horses here in the USA. Zorita looks so much like her small dam Tia. She is the smallest of Sovina's offspring. :) Sovina is doing great, and loves his job working with me ponying client's horses and a lesson horse to children who just adore him.

eva said...

A belated welcome, Legado! How must it feel to be born into a balmy sumer night amidst sweet fragrances and flowers? He certainly has an impressive pedigree, and he looks like a creature of light. Beautiful pictures, Lynne.

Lynne Gerard said...

June wrote: "What a presence."

I felt that in him, too, June. I'd have to say that this is typical in these Iberian foals...they have a strong sense of "self" as soon as they find their legs and behind their doe-eyed innocent faces one often sees a very aware, "old soul".

Kris wrote: "May you enjoy your birthright of freedom to move and the bonds of the herd."

I'm very moved by this expression you've used here, Kris: "birthright of freedom to move...". Movement---more than just what can be had in a restricted box stall or turn out paddock--is such a vital thing for horses--indeed, is their birthright as you so meaningfully wrote. How unfortunate that many horses born in domestic settings never get to experience this "birthright", and suffer mentally and physically because of it. I take heart in the wave of awareness that prompts more and more people to give their horses more freedom and appropriate companionship.

Erin, thank you for sending a hearty welcome to Sovina's grandson. I am sure I am not the only one to appreciate your update on Sovina, too. It's great when you pop in with a comment or two!

Eva wrote: "...he looks like a creature of light."

You know I thought so, too, and had initially been thinking of incorporating some word to express that for his name, but when nothing came up in that regard and instead I kept getting a repeated sensation of "legacy", I needed to look no further for a name. It surprises me how many light grullas Altamiro has sired when those Polish studies done on the Koniks showed that dark stallions produce dark foals...

BTW, I, too, thought it would likely be more pleasant for the foals who are born in summer versus those born when winter is still preventing spring from arriving...but I honestly think the earlier foals have it great--they are born with warm coats and don't have to put up with flies. On day one, wee Legado was already pestered by flies--he looks so forlorn when they are on his face and scampers around his mom to brush them off.

Anyhow, one has to hold fast to the feeling that whenever they choose to be born is the right time for them. :-)

Don'Qui said...

I love the consistency, the coherence and the homogenity in your herd, still jealous, eager enough to put up a sorraia-project, but the jigsaw is still a wreck....
Like your new avatar !

Lynne Gerard said...

Peter wrote:
"I love the consistency, the coherence and the homogenity in your herd"

It is a telling feature, I think, and something that naysayers who wish to limit the Sorraia horses as being simply a modern manmade breed need to recognize as something that certainly lets the air out of the bubble of that erroneous postulating!

That a purebred Sorraia stallion from Europe living a semi-wild existence in Canada with a harem of various strains of North American mustangs and each one of their offspring bears the phenotype of the Zebro/Iberian Tarpan is a very exciting thing! This is something obviously not tied to "breed" but validates how strong ancestral genetics are to recombine so readily.

I find it improbable that should someone put an old-world Arabian stallion with a group of mustang mares that showed a tendency to Arabian phenotype that their offspring would emerge with the same homogeneity as we see in true primitive equines.

"...still jealous, eager enough to put up a sorraia-project, but the jigsaw is still a wreck....

Just knowing there is a desire among others to consider a "sorraia-project" in a way furthers the cause, so thank you, Peter for sharing this!

"Like your new avatar !"

So does my mother...finally a photo without my hair tied back and my face obscured by a hat! The authoress has been unmasked at last!

Don'Qui said...

mothers are allways right haha !
I can hear an echo of mine ....


eva said...

I find it improbable that should someone put an old-world Arabian stallion with a group of mustang mares that showed a tendency to Arabian phenotype that their offspring would emerge with the same homogeneity as we see in true primitive equines.

Lynne, i'm not sure. The Arabian breed is very old, some think several thousand years. Perhaps the breed has been messed with too much, and I don't think they bred Arabians into the US mustang population. Apart from the primitive types, you see thorough-bred look-a-likes and draft influences. But i have not seen a BLM mustang that looked like an Arabian.