Thursday, March 24, 2011

Barcus, Bachelor Stallion of Sand Wash Basin HMA Challenge Painting #74

6 by 9 inch Watercolor
by LindaLMartinArtist
Barcus is one of 6 black documented bachelor stallions on the Sand Wash Basin HMA. Two of them are very well known black pintos. Both of Which I have painted earlier in the Challenge. They are Lightening and Benson.  I chose Barcus for this painting tonight because he is a very powerfully built stallion that has presence.  Although I am not sure of his age,  I don’t believe he has yet had any mares as of yet.
Bachelor stallions are those who are newly chased from their family bands usually at two or three years of age . And they run together, play together and practice their herd dynamic skills together. Sometimes they establish bonds with previously unknown to them stallions, mostly they run together with older or younger brothers and band mates.  Almost always are they male.
Sometimes these bachelor bands are made up of a hierarchy of older and younger stallions. Each at various levels of development. Included in this group may be older stallions that once had a harem band but lost them to other stallions. Because horses tend to  be herd oriented these bachelor stallions gravitate to each other and aid each other in shared survival skills.
Bachelor Stallions tend to stay together until they are old enough to venture out and capture their own mare. Usually this happens when they are around 8 or 9 years of age.  In the case of the stallion Jimmy Dark Sand, the Sand Wash Basin bay I named, these young untried stallions will often seek out a band stallion and proceed to follow them around waiting for an opportunity to spirit away a mare or two.  Its not unusual to see a single stallion following around a small band until the band stallion makes his stand and chases him away.  This chasing can take place over a day or a week until either the band stallion is worn down or they younger stallion gives up and leaves. Several of the Sand Wash Basin Photographers happened to be on the range the day that Jimmy Darksand had finally pushed the Band Stallion Prince to his limit. Prince chased Jimmy for most of that day all while Prince's mares ignored the proceedings and continued eating.
Very shortly we will be coming into foaling and breeding season on the Sand Wash Basin.  A bachelor stallion such as Barcus may choose a specific stallion and dog him until there is either a fight or the stallion chases him away. Most of the time there is only posturing. Posturing means a lot of squealing and grunting and pushing each other about. This usually ends with the band stallion leaving a pile of dung to mark the spot where he will not allow the opposing stallion to pass. Should the challenging stallion not respect the marker, a battle will ensue until one or the other backs down.  On occasion both stallions sustain injury from biting and kicking. Only vary rarely will a stallion die in such a fight.
The interesting thing is that when a stallion is busy defending his herd in battle sometimes another opportunistic stallion will run in and steal a mare while the band stallion isn’t looking. One place that you can see this played out is in the Ginger Catherine’s Series for Nature on PBS about Cloud. She has filmed some amazing sequences of herd dynamics in the defending and stealing of mares. Another thing that happens is sometimes two stallions will work in tandem to help each other acquire mares. One will run in and make a nuisance of himself while the other sneaks in for the mare.  It is a very powerful stallion that can keep his mares from this type of onslaught each season.
Because of the situation on the Sand Wash Basin HMA where there is a ratio of about 3 stallions for every mare, each time a mare comes into season a band stallion will have to be vigilant to keep a bachelor from relentlessly perusing until a mare is stolen. This dynamic is complicated with the use of the birth control drug PZP.
While PZP may have the affect of preventing pregnancy in mares, it also allows the mare to come into heat every month that she is not in foal. Thus stallions must be extra vigilant in protecting their harems when the mares have not conceived.

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