Thursday, September 8, 2011

Challenge Painting #187 Honor Band Stallion of the Steens HMA

Honor Band Stallion of the Steens in Oregon:
Honor of the Steens
5 by 5 inch Watercolor
 by  LindaLMartinArtist

When I saw the reference shot for this painting I was in awe. Maggie J Rothauge, also the heart behind Oregon's Wild Side, had captured the Steens Band Stallion Honor managing his mares. In the behavior known as snaking, a wild stallion will lower his head, flatten his ears against his head, purse his lips, always ready to nip if need be" and move his head in the direct he wants his mares to  move in.

This snaking behavior can also infrequently be seen in dominant mares in domestic or wild herds. Lead mares are the mares who are in the front of the herd leading the way. They also are more dominant and as such they reach food first and drink first and  their foals tend to be more favored .

Generally the lead mare will lead the band  to their next location often choosing when and what to east, while the stallion takes up the rear, fighting off challengers if they appear. He also is  ready to nip at the heals of the slow, reluctant and rebellious. While the band stallion  protects the herd front he back, the lead mare keeps the band moving forward. A good lead mare can make or break  a stallion trying to attain breeding rights to more mares, as she will lead the band to the stallion if they are separated and she will help him in defending the young.

Honor Snaking by Maggie J
Used by permission

While the dominant mare is leading the band, the stallion will also use the snaking motion to run around the outside of the band and keep them tightly together. This behavior reminds the mares and young that he is the boss and is to be obeyed. It also prevents a mare from lagging  or being separated from the group and thus an easy target for another stallion to steal.

To see more of Maggie's Photography please check out her page Oregon's Wild Side on Facebook 

There are more photo's of Honor there and many of the other horses of the Steens.

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