Jumping, Part II

5 03 2011

This was too cute not to share right away (and then I got carried away …). I was looking back for pix of Gideon with the big boys after I did the last post and found these. He came across the arroyo and was sniffing noses with Twister when Mister Mouse came striding up and sent Gideon went scurrying around to the other side of Storm.

I just adore this:

Mouse sniffing Twister, Twister sniffing Gideon over Storm’s back while Storm looks up the ridge at Hook’s!

Talk about jumping around. And this would probably have made for exceptionally interesting video to really tie it all together as I’m obviously failing to do. This, right here, is how I know without a shadow of a doubt the boys’ “fighting” was play – practice for a year or so in the future when it will be for real – to win or keep or add mares – to prove their strength and courage – and intelligence. That really struck me as I watched them spar. There’s definitely *thinking* at work – it’s not just brute strength – there’s craftiness and cunning – and obviously learned behavior. They circle – closely – shove their shoulders into each other … What do we do when walking behind a horse? We give them a LOT of room – or “don’t walk behind the horse,” parents tell children at the fair – or we talk to them, keep a hand on their side, hip, hindquarter, tail, as we walk right around them – close – too close for a kick to land.

Play and learning, youth and exuberance – a little showmanship? They learn their moves, they learn the moves of their peers. Steeldust is the only one I’ve ever seen with his courbette move – charge – rear – vertical leap. How did he learn that one? Fighting against bigger stallions? It certainly seemed to have helped him (and the chaos of the last roundup, too?). He had the biggest – by far – band after the last roundup.

The “before” pic to the top pic … Mouse approaching while Twister greets Gideon during a break in his play with Storm (behind).

Mouse is the lone bachelor left following Steeldust’s band – which is really Luna’s band. Spoiler: Mahogany, Sundance and Aspen are together – separate. (Only distance pix for documentation.) Mouse has been with the band since before Gideon was born. Gideon has never not known Mouse, though he’s always been on the outskirts – and always protective.

When Mouse got closer, Gideon spooked and ducked behind Storm (who is family) – and then the top photo. I couldn’t tell what sparked that … and what was Mouse’s motive to walk over in the first place? Protection? Curiosity? “Pick on someone your own size”? Though clearly Twister was not threatening the little guy in any way.

A few moments later:

Mouse wandered off again, Storm turned around. Storm and Gideon are the same ages (about) as Pinon and Fierro.

And here comes Mouse again. Isn’t that interesting?

Wide view (how *exquisite* is that light on the far hills!): Mouse and boys in the lower foreground, and above, left to right: Pinon, Fierro, Hook, Sable (Ember and Hannah behind).

I missed the “drama” of Steeldust hustling Fierro back to his band because I was so focused on the interactions of the closer boys, but …

Gideon takes advantage of the action to sneak a sniff of Mouse – they’re watching as Fierro walked past Hook and seemed on his way down the ridge to join the fun … but Luna and Butch and Alpha and Steeldust are at right – Steeldust on duty. Steely Dan put the kibosh to curious George’s track … and then this:

Check out Hook’s look – directly at Steeldust. Is that a “hey, thanks, man, I owe you one”? It appears I wasn’t the only one distracted by the play of boys. πŸ˜‰

(Again, that light in the background!)

And that’s all I have time for – work calls. More to come!



2 responses

5 03 2011
Linda Horn

Lots of posturing and checking out future rivals. I’m sort of surprised there wasn’t more agressive interaction. Are the men and boys are saving that for foal heat?

I went looking for Steeldust’s “courbette”, and found your amazing (and VERY scary!) sequence of photos.


How old is Steeldust? It certainly looks like he’s had more than his fair share of battles over the years, but scars always seem to show more on lighter horses.

5 03 2011

Oh, there was more “aggressive” action all right. πŸ™‚ I gave warning in the first post, and we’re getting there … I want people to know there’s an education component here. As far as I can tell, this didn’t have anything to do with mares or “rivals” even – simply boys being boys – “meet-n-greet” in the sand lot. πŸ™‚ Do they see each other as rivals yet? It didn’t seem to me such a checking out of rivals as it was horses meeting from different families – “who are you all?” – and that’s part of the greeting process – especially among the young guys.

Do they know yet what their play is leading to? Is it just buildup of hormones? Twister seemed to know what he was doing – whatever his “goal” – and he was in the thick of things – the whole time. Storm is big – but a year younger and still with his family. Cuatro is two years younger – but out with the boys already. Mouse is – still – a bachelor. Warm weather? Longer days? Feeling good? Brisk wind? Just an opportunity to “hang” with boys from different families who met along the sidewalk on different journeys?

I don’t know how old Steeldust is. Older than 10, likely. Younger than 15? Clearly mature after the roundup – had the big band. But whether he had that band – and kept it together – through (from before) the roundup? I don’t know that, either. Maybe they were all scattered, and he took advantage and was then able to hold them together. Are Butch and Sundance his sons? They look similar and similar to Steeldust, though SunD is a little more refined (and there’s a resemblance to Chrome, too), while Butch takes after Steeldust. Who are their dams? How “weird” would it be if Luna was SunD’s mom and Mahogany was Butch’s mom? (Would that be “weird”? Because those stallions have now claimed the opposite mares?) Or were their dams some other mares … rounded up? The boys were probably about 2 that year … Getting into all kinds of questions – that I don’t know the answers to. πŸ™‚

Interestingly, Steeldust shows his scars more than any other stallion in the basin. I don’t know why that is, either. None of the others are so marked.

The interesting thing to me about his courbette is how and/or why he does it. How/why/from whom did he learn it? Did he figure it out on his own? Did it give him an advantage to be able to rear and also leap to gain an advantage over his (taller/bigger?) rival(s)? (Why/how did warriors “teach” it to their war horses – to see over enemy lines. Did they witness it among their herds, and a light bulb went off?) It certainly gave him an advantage that day. THAT’S what I want to learn from “stallions fighting” – witnessing it or seeing photos of it. So much more to learn than just “stallions fighting”! πŸ™‚

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