Monday, January 3, 2011

Kiowa Bachelor Stallion Sand Wash Basin HMA Colorado MADC Painting# 17

Kiowa Bachelor Stallion
 Sand Wash Basin HMA
Oil on gessoed Matte board
By LindaLMartin

Kiowa is a band leader at Sand Wash Basin. This does not mean that Kiowa is a band stallion. His band is  one of bachelors consisting of  4 other stallions in ages ranging from yearlings to adult stallions. However being a band leader doesn’t mean he is the top horse. That honor belongs to the head stallion in the band. Usually an older stallion who has never had a herd or who has lost a herd to other stallions.
In a normal healthy herd of wild mustangs the family band would consist of  mares and their female offspring ranging in age from 3years to new born and their male offspring usually ranging from 18 months to newborn. Generally the males are kicked out of the herd and join other bachelors that band together in a bachelor band. During this time of weaning the young males learn to fight by playing with each other, grow in strength and basically learn to become self-sufficient and also work together as a herd.

Photo Reference by Sally Wright

In a band the pecking order or hierarchy is usually determined by experience, age, temperament and the ability to convince all of the band members that you are to be reckoned with on each and every decision; from eating, to drinking, to where to sleep and all other important variables. The job of lead horse in a band usually goes to the dominant mare in a family. And this lead horse generally decides who stays and who goes, as well as other decisions. She may even decide when its time to move to better grazing. A Stallion with a very good and loyal lead mare will actually be able to go out and fine more mares because no matter who tries to steal his band, his lead mare will always lead the band back to the stallion.

This is surprising team work you can see illustrated in the Ginger Katherine’s series about Cloud seen on PBS.
While horse behavior is often very predictable, there is no such thing as a standard precedence in how relationships will play out. The only constant is that individuals in the herd survive and thrive no matter what because of the independent thinking and ability to adapt to their circumstances in the wild.  Imagine the surprise of the horse watchers at Sand Wash Basin HMA when they discovered Sparrow, the little yearling mare, had been adopted into this band of bachelor Stallions.
Sparrow, as you will remember from previous posts, is the little underdeveloped mare that everyone is concerned may not make it through the winter. Sometimes harsh are the elements that wild Mustangs thrive and face.  Yet in October of 2010 there she was in a video taken by Mustang Watcher Nancy Roberts.  Kiowa leads the heard into view followed by  Moon ,   Willie, Nick and then Sparrow being protected by the current dominant stallion of the band, Roper.
In a normal horse family band the stallion will take up the rear to protect the weakest in the group and make sure they don’t stray while the lead mare leads the family boldly forward. In this great video by Nancy you will see this protection behavior.
Again Kiowa is a major part of this ongoing drama of little Sparrow.

Notice how the two horses with the strongest personalities protect the herd and stand between the photographer ( possible danger) and the weakest member of their band. Had Kiowa been a mare then his foals would have been following right with him: a yearling, weanling and new born.
Special Thanks to Sally Wright for the Reference Photo and to Nancy Roberts for the Video Clip. You can read more about the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses on  Nancy's Blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment