AMAZING WILD HORSE BEHAVIOR
June 2013
ISPMB would like to share with you the extraordinary behaviors we observe in our wild horse herds.  This information is intended to show the true spirit and magnificence of these wild animals which are fast disappearing from our American landscapes.  Your donations will help our work.

SAVING THE BLACK STALLION

With spring in the air, the stallions are more active than ever.   They are guarding their mares while bachelors are having mock battles preparing for the day they will achieve the status of a harem stallion.

These young bachelors begin to seriously play around the age of five.  They usually take over harems at the age of ten when they are truly emotionally mature even though their bodies mature at age five.

While observing the White Sands herd, a beautiful black stallion with a flowing mane and tail was barely walking on three legs.  There were bite wounds on the right side of his jaw but his leg showed signs of a battle that he lost.  One of the wounds was over his left front ankle joint.  Joint wounds are dangerous and are cause for immediate treatment with antibiotics.

The behavior that I am going to share with you is a behavior I have observed in many injured wild horses which I find completely extraordinary.

Day one begins on Friday when I found the Black Stallion down in the pasture.  I approached him slowly and spoke softly to him as he tried to jump to his feet, a real struggle for him.

Capturing a horse even on three legs is not always easy either but it was accomplished with the stallion eating flakes of beautiful green alfalfa placed in front of him, a treat they usually don't get.  As the panels encircled the stallion, he just stood there quietly eating but watching our every move.

Still speaking softly to this magnificent stallion after backing the horse trailer up to his capture pen, the stallion approached the back of the trailer and just within minutes he jumped in.  The stallion made this choice as there was no pressure put upon him.  It is easy for wild animals to assess their situation much faster than we humans can.  When gathering our injured animals, there is a sense of knowing that they are going to be helped and they acquiesce to our assistance.  I find this behavior amazing.

Off to the hospital barn we went and off loaded him.  He never hesitated and walked right into the barn which is often hard for wild animals to be in an enclosed area.  As the Black Stallion adjusted to his new surrounding, we prepared his antibiotics.  We made our usual makeshift loading chute and he stood there without fighting but on guard.  He turned to bite, if necessary to defend himself, but talking with him, he was reassured and turned away and stood quietly.  His leg needed immediate attention as it is an area that wild ones guard carefully and usually don't allow anyone to touch.  I started at the point of his shoulder and began to work down to the wound.  The warm water on his sore leg must have felt good.  Soon I was at the ankle and working on irrigating and cleaning the area.  He stood perfectly still and I reaped warm praises upon him.

Day two, I walked into the stall and he got up with difficulty again.  Always speaking to him softly, I walked up to his side and began to touch him all over and massaging him gently.  Knowing that he was allowing me to do this, I took the liberty to give him his two injections without restraint in a chute.  He allowed me to do so and again wash his leg with warm water and apply his antibiotic ointment.  Working so close to his leg, he could have easily swung his head and taken a great big bite.  But these beautiful stallions at all ages react the same way.  They know when you are caring for them and helping them.  And it is much better to do everything without restraint.  (In all these 30+ years working with wild horses, I have never had a stallion bite me.)

Day three, he is allowing me to massage him all over and he even got a kiss on his nose.  This I would not recommend to the novice.  His eye shows me he is still processing everything that happened to him as there is still a bit of worry there.  He is standing on his injured leg now and weight bearing slightly.  This is a good sign as we always worry about fractures.  He is in a soft bed of shavings and plenty of hay and water within reach.

This is day four for our black stallion.  He was receptive again to his injections and care of his wound.  Thank goodness the necks of these stallions are so muscled that the shots don't bother them as much as a soft neck.  Through this all, he remains respectful and I admire this great stallion's acceptance of me.

This is day four for our black stallion.  He was receptive again to his injections and care of his wound.  Thank goodness the necks of these stallions are so muscled that the shots don't bother them as much as a soft neck.  Through this all, he remains respectful and I admire this great stallion's acceptance of me.

Knowing the actual innate gentleness of spirit of these animals makes me realize that BLMs method of adoption and gathers must change which would result in less trauma to the animals.   The traumas that wild horses suffer are carried with them for a life time.

Karen Sussman




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