Jif

5 08 2011

Jif seems to have done it again … had a foal and then lost it before I ever saw it.

These two pix were taken July 6. I think she’s pretty obviously pregnant, and by her udder, I was thinking it was possible she’d foal by the end of the month.

This was taken July 14.

I saw her the week of the tour but didn’t take any pix. She was pregnant then.

This was taken yesterday, Aug. 4. That’s Boreas in the background, Two Boots’ almost-3-month-old colt.

I really have no idea why she’s lost either of her last two foals. It’s unlikely predator-caused; they’re in an area almost completely devoid of trees or other cover for a mountain lion, and I just don’t think even a couple of coyotes would be able to get to a foal in a band this size. Just another mystery. The band is isolated and has been hanging out in the same general area for quite a while now.

This makes six foal mortalities this year (we’ve also had more foals this year), and three mares are yet expecting. Chipeta is due Sept. 1, and Mona is due Sept. 15. Kootenai’s due date is unknown because this will be her first foal. She’s getting big but has no udder to speak of, so I’m guessing she’ll push into September also.

I have made sure BLM is well aware of these mares with regard to the roundup. Neither Mona nor Kootenai will be targeted because of their introduced status (let alone the fact that they’ll have very young foals), and Chipeta will likely be passed over both because of her location (deep in the southwest end of the basin – far from the trapsite) and because of her young foal.


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14 responses

5 08 2011
Julie Onshus

Is her udder gone also? It could also be possible if she did lose it that the sac did not come off so foal could breath.

5 08 2011
TJ

Yes – udder appears to have dried up. That could be a possible explanation about the foal. Anything could have happened … it’s weird to happen to her twice in as many years.

6 08 2011
maria chervenkova

This is oftenly seen case here in Bulgaria.We have mares on the mountain,and once you see them very pregnant,and next time they don’t have big belly,but there is not a foal with them.My father actually once found a newborn foal in a small hole ine the middle of a meadow.The foal could not get out.and if he was not there to pull it out,it’d die.But here there are many predators-wolves,bears,wild dogs.Last year only 11 foals survived out of 74, but This year most of them are still alive.

6 08 2011
TJ

You bring up a really good point. The basin is cut by a lot of “arroyos,” which can range from extremely narrow, shallow channels cut by water to very wide and/or very deep “ditches.” It’s certainly possible something like that could have happened, that a newborn foal wouldn’t have been able to get out of. It’s fascinating to hear about the horses in Bulgaria – are they wild or do you own them? Also interesting to hear about the predators.

6 08 2011
Lynn and Kathy

As far as the Basin’s topography is concerned, we know it pretty well. What we’ve seen, is that a new mother will not leave a newborn, unless there are circumstances we aren’t aware of. We saw Piedra only a few hours after giving birth to SAGE, in an arroyo – Hollywood never left her and no other stallions were in view. All we can say is how sad we feel – we’ve known JIF for a long time, since she gave birth to Hayden (the beautiful sorrel colt) in October, 2008 – the ONLY KNOWN, CONFIRMED male offspring of Grey

(Twister “could be” another, but we don’t know for sure). This is heartbreaking, as are all the deaths of newborns. One has to wonder why so many in the last two years… We know that about during the time of “foal heat commotion,” foals do get trampled to death. We also know that there are many other, unknown reasons for a foal’s death (unexplained abortions, etc.) Without any biological/necropsy information, there’s no way to know for sure what happened – that just can’t actually be done with the wild ones… Spook is another one that has never produced a live foal. This might be something that the NMA/CO (or whatever groups you are associated with) might try to investigate, along with the BLM….

We KNOW Jif and we appreciate her effort to survive in SCB. She did what she could. She reminds us of Mahogany. We hope Jif’s son, HAYDEN gets a “pardon.” Grey’s only “known” son deserves to stay.

7 08 2011
TJ

The circumstances of Jif’s foal’s death are ones we’re unaware of. The arroyos vary w-i-d-e-l-y throughout the basin, and as soon as I read Maria’s comment about her dad finding the foal in the hole, I knew that could have happened in this case. In the general area where Chrome’s band has been hanging out lately, there are numerous little arroyos that could have caused this. Where Piedra had Sage was very wide with “foal-easy” paths in and out. Chrome’s band also likes to hang out up on the very edge of the boundary, which is both fenced and has a major drop-off immediately outside it. If Jif foaled close to that fence, and the foal rolled under it …

I think you mean that of the horses currently in the basin, only Hayden can be confirmed as Grey’s son. Seven also is likely his son; Cuatro and Rio could very likely be his sons. Grey’s sire, Mr. Ed, and grey stallion Miguel – both introduced many years ago (with pinto stallion Spook, responsible for all our pintos) – are likely responsible for the very obvious dominance of greys now in the herd. Any of the horses could be offspring of Grey’s, grand-offspring, even great-grand-offspring – and/or related some other way. That said, I don’t disagree with you at all about Hayden. He is, in fact, on the “stay” list. (He was born around Sept. 22, 2009. … I just realized he would have been conceived at almost the exact same time Raven, Mona and Kootenai came – Oct. 24, 2008. πŸ™‚ Grey’s band was actually right below the catchment in the flats when the girls stepped off the trailer. He knew we were there, and I hoped he’d come to investigate or that they’d find him … but they went the opposite direction.)

I’d like to veer off-topic for a minute to briefly mention the rationale I’ve developed as far as which horses I’ll recommend to BLM for staying (and going) – and this probably should become the topic of its own post in the near future. It’s based on genetics, first and foremost. Because of that, the introduced mares (three from 2008 and one from 2001) stay. Not all of their offspring (Luna’s), however, will likely stay. Hollywood is likely a son of one of the 2001 mares – and his color marks him as “introduced” because we have no native duns, and he has reproduced his color (a shade of it) only once so far in (at least) three foal crops. That Grey – Traveler – is such an exceptional horse has been recognized by many more people than just me – and for much longer than I’ve been involved. I am NOT going to make public my lists. I know people have their favorites – so do I – but I need to make rational, logical choices that BLM is more likely to accept, and – to put it bluntly – I don’t think anyone else is capable of that. I will say that, on the advice of others who have gone through this decision-making process to make it as easy as possible for BLM, I’ve developed four “categories”: untouchables – horses that stay; horses that should stay; horses that can go; horses that can stay OR go. That last category contains the most horses, necessarily. BLM says the removal process will be selective. What it means there, I think, is that I will be intimately involved in that process of “selecting” horses for staying/removal. (To my way of thinking, bait trapping would be truly selective. Helicopter driving requires capturing most of the horses to make truly selective decisions; in bait trapping, we could actually select particular horses for removal without the necessity of capturing all of them.) “Adoptability” also plays a part, as far as I’m concerned. It’s far better to target horses for removal that have a good chance of adoption – either here (local adoption) or later, from Canon City – than to indiscriminately target horses that will likely go straight to long-term holding. As far as I can make it happen, at least one horse from each foal-crop year will remain (again – probability, depending on number of horses from each foal crop). I hold no illusions that BLM will adhere to my every recommendation, however, I think there will be significant reliance on the fact that I know the horses – and their relationships – better than anyone (that I know of). I also am prepared for the likelihood that the selection process will not be based on who IS captured as much as it becomes one of who is NOT (again, this is a (just one, obviously) problem with helicopter-driven roundups – it’s not truly selective). I can make recommendations based only on who is captured – and thus has the potential of being released. Only 10 horses will likely be released. That astounded me in 2007; I think – hope – I’m ready for it this time. If a horse on my “can go” or “can stay or go” lists is NOT captured, it’s possible that a horse on the “should stay” or even the “stay” list (and HAS been captured) must be considered for removal, depending on numbers. Something new, which showed up in the Decision Record with the final EA, is this: “The post-gather population would approximate the lower AML of 35 adult horses and five current year foals.” In 2007, 43 horses were left – more adults than 35 … and more foals than five. This is a numbers game to BLM; it’s a matter of life and long-term holding to me. BLM’s own precedent is obviously on our (my) side in determining those numbers in favor of horses … we’ll just have to see what happens at the time of the roundup.

As far as Spook, we don’t know that she hasn’t produced a live foal. As far as I could tell, she carried both foals to term. Neither of the foals survived long enough for me to observe them, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t produce live foals that lived for some unknown (though very short) period of time.

As far as why so “many” foal deaths in the last two years, I believe the answer is one of probability – the more foals, the more likelihood of mortality. And no one has known this until I started keeping track, so this is simply my theory, and with only four years of documentation behind me and a (relatively) small number of horses, it is, in fact, a theory. I don’t think there’s anything sinister going on; it’s simply a matter of more foals being born (as more foals of previous years grow to sexual maturity) = more probability of some not surviving. It’s important to note that even one catastrophic foal season (like on Pryor Mountain when only one foal survived) doesn’t mean the end of the world for a herd. And while yes, it is heart-breaking to think of the death of something as small and fragile as a newborn foal, it is nature, and it is a purely natural means of checks and balances within a herd – though it’s not enough to solely regulate a herd’s population growth. It doesn’t mean I don’t mourn the deaths of the foals I don’t see … just that losing the ones I do see is simply harder emotionally. It is interesting to note that the losses have been to fillies having their first foals as well as to mares that have successfully raised foals.

I come the closest to “investigating” this of anyone, but unless I’m out there absolutely full time and following each mare 24/7, there’s simply no way to know these things. As you say – it’s not practical with the wild ones. I came to accept fairly quickly that a lot of questions simply don’t – can’t – have human answers here. And that’s one of the things I love best about these mustangs.

8 08 2011
Pat Amthor

Thanks to you for being so thoughtful and heartfelt determining how to help the BLM with the decisions that are difficult to make but necessary for the health of the herd. Good for you and keep up the hard work.

7 08 2011
maria chervenkova

Actually all the horses on Bulgarian mountaintop(Stara Planina mountain) have owners,but most of the horses are born on the mountain and a man’s hand doesn’t touch them all their life.They are very tough horses and the mountain is the only place where they live,even in the winter.There are 6 herds in our part of the mountain(There are more then 4000 in Stara Planina mountain) and every herd contains at least 20 horses.Wolves are the main predators here.My father who goes to the mountain very often has seen them many times.I have uploaded some photos of the horses and the mountaintop on Flickr.com Just find ”americano23511″ or better give you a link http://www.flickr.com/photos/63125223@N02/sets/72157626968945221/
Just forgot to tell you about another case of dead foal. Couple a years ago my father was visiting the horses when he saw a newborn filly with our mare Lisa.Lisa also had a yearling colt.The yearling wanted to play with his newborn sister but she was still wobbly and he killed her.My father didn’t expect that and was very upset because he was there and could not do anything

7 08 2011
TJ

Wow – simply stunning landscape! And beautiful, hardy horses. Is that a bell on mares in a couple of the photos? When one of our foals was very new this year, there was some commotion, and he got separated from his mama briefly. The other mare (Jif, in fact) was fairly tolerant, but she did eventually raise a hind leg to him. I was nervous then … it’s easy to see how one kick could be the end. Thank you so much for this glimpse at your mountain horses! Just gorgeous!

7 08 2011
maria chervenkova

Yes this is a bell which we call “klopka”.The horses are easy to find(hear) if there are a 2-3 bells in the herd.There are so many reasons for a foal not to survive,they are so frail.But this makes them look cute.I really like this blog and the horses.The colours are so different compared to our horses’ colours.I really love buckskins and pinto.After learning the names of almost every Pryor mountain horse I’ll try to get more familiar with this herd. Luna is my favourite horse from spring creek basin.I really hope she won’t be removed.

7 08 2011
Lynn and Kathy

Thanks, TJ for the explanations. I think we may have misunderstood some of the things you’ve told us via email, during personal visits and then what’s said on your blog. We had no idea about this Maria’s father finding Jif’s foal. We just assumed a miscarriage or an accidental kick, or whatever. Speaking of Hayden, we were only speaking about OUR three + years of visits to the Basin and the foals we had seen during that time. Of course we know Grey’s contributions are considerable and yes, we have assumed Seven is also his son because of his extremely close resemblance – both stallions are stunning. We mentioned Spook only because, again, in our experiences with the Basin’s horses, combined with a statement from you, we have in our field notes that she has yet to carry a foal to term and have it survive. We also did not mean to imply that we thought anything “sinister” was going on, only that it has been a very “tough” year for newborns and your explanation, of course, fits the obvious – more foals – more chances for something to go wrong – the science of statistical probability…

As far as your ability to assist in this removal decision process, no one questions your expertise here. You ARE the only one who knows the horses so thoroughly. We understand your explanation of the BLM’s position on numbers and didn’t/don’t expect to see a “public list” of those that are removed. If not for you, it would be a ‘”crap shoot.” May be anyway. Again, we really do understand the “numbers game” involved in BLM removals and the lack of selectivity using helicopters. We pray that bait-trapping will be the next step/

For the most part, at least right now, we know who belongs with which band. When that all changes, we’ll try and figure how who remains to carry on the legacy of these remarkable wild horses that have so thoroughly stolen our hearts. You know how much they all mean to us and how strongly we support the work you’re doing. Thank god, they have you. We’re very proud that you have stepped up to help – we hope the spirits that surely live there give you the strength you’ll need. Please always consider us as true friends of the Basin and will continue to support you in any way that we can.

7 08 2011
maria chervenkova

Actually my father didn’t find Jif’s foal.Last year he found on of our foals in Bulgaria who was in a hole and could not get out

7 08 2011
TJ

πŸ™‚ This is why I try to be very specific in what I write … because misunderstandings are inevitable. It helps me know what to work on. I’m drafting a couple of posts that detail more fully what will happen at/during the roundup and adoption.

8 08 2011
Lynn and Kathy

Sorry for the misunderstanding… sometimes, we don’t keep up with the “flow” in blog comments as well as we could.

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