Monday, February 7, 2011

Romance on the Range " Sky and Storm" SWB HMA Mustang A Day Challenge #42

"Star Gazers"
Sky and Storm
of Sand Wash Basin HMA
8 by 10  Watercolor
by Linda L Martin

Since it is a week before Valentines Day I decided to spot light some of the parings that I had seen through the photographers watching the horses on the range. Stallions when given the opportunity and time will  find a mare, gently nurture that mare and eventually grow a herd via her children.

Because of the regular roundups to manage the Sand Wash Basin HMA horses and their frequency of every 5 years there are often times upsets in family groups. This is due to separation  of herd members and release at different times and sometimes different locations,and the frequent removal from the range all together. In this regard sometimes horses who are rounded up very often will chase their offspring away at younger ages say before they are a year old. More study needs to be done to understand why this is happening. 

Another thing that happens is that in order to slow population growth stallions out number mares at about 3 to 1. That generally means there will always be more stallions than available mares. This keeps the herds small sometimes only one mare to stallion and it also assures that the strongest stallions are the ones that breed and keep their herds intact.

In the perfect order of things a colt would not leave the family band until he is chased out by his band stallion until the age of 2 or sometimes 3 years of age. It is very unusual that a stallion would allow a colt to stay in the band until  its 4th year as by that time it would begin to compete with his own father for mares in the herd.

Storm and Sky
detail of  Photo by Nancy Roberts
used by permission

In the case of fillies they sometimes stay longer but are generally bred by 3 or 4. With the introduction of  PZP, the equine fertility drug that prevents mares from coming into foal, it is possible that mares wont produce offspring and that would mean that a stallion and mare might stay together with out offspring until such a time that another stallion challenges and steals her.

The herds at Sand Wash Basin, according to horse watcher Nancy Roberts, are currently in the middle of a study that will record the effects of  PZP on the horses and how to manage the herd better so that they do not become overpopulated in their management area.
This study is being conducted by interns through the Humane Society of America for the Bureau of Land Management.

I will be painting severals of these small family groups over the next week to celebrate their partnerships, devotion and loyalty of the Band Stallions to their prized mares.


  1. Linda, I really love this one. Storm fought hard to get her from Lightning. I saw them a few times after, but he is very wary of people and keeps her hidden. The HSUS reported she had a foal. They were having a hard time getting close to PZP her. I hope they are safe...together. How sweet this painting is.

  2. Thank you so much Nancy. I knew there must be more to the story than I had seen. You filled in the blanks nicely. We will be waiting to see what foal she brings in the spring when the weather improves. I saw from the photos that these single mare stallions tend to treat their mares very precious. Its a beautiful thing in so many way. Thank you so much for all you do. =0)

  3. I love the dark colors you used in this piece.