Thursday, February 28, 2013

Part 6: Alberta Canada Wild Horses Challenge Painting #385

 The Lonely Stallion
"The Lonely Stallion"
Alberta Wild Horse of Canada
5 by 7 inches  Watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist

~ On July 29, in a clear cut on the coal road heading, west to Sunset Outfitting on the Panther River, was this beautiful Stallion
~ He was the most sad, dejected creature of all
~ His scars attest to the life that he lived
~ Most remarkable - surviving the cougar attack that left his back end scarred and deformed. The muscle and blood loss from the attack should have been enough to kill him
~ But he obviously was a fighter
~ The bite scars on his neck speak to battles defending his own band. Battles he won
~ But now he has given up
~ Why has he lost his will to live
~ Has his band been taken over by a younger stronger stallion

The Stallion has recovered
From Multiple claw wounds.
Click the image to see it larger.
~ Or were they captured and slaughtered in the 2011/2012 cull
~ 218 wild horses died that winter, most in the Panther River area
~ Perhaps this lone stallion survived
~ Perhaps he spent the spring and early summer searching for others of his kind
~ And now, perhaps, finding none, he has chosen to spend his final days, defenseless, in wide open clear cut, waiting for mother nature to send a predator to end his misery
~ Life as a solitary creature is to much to bear
~ So he waits, unafraid, over whelmed by sadness, devastated, so very alone


The above are the thoughts and observations of Laura Smith when she happened upon this lone stallion and photographed him in July 2012. She has graciously allowed me to share her photos and use them as a reference for tonight’s painting.
A large wound  scar on
his rump interferes
slightly with his gait.
Click the image to see larger.

Unlike most of the wild horse herds in the USA, the wild horses of Alberta Provence in Canada are under continuous attack of predatory animals. These predators include black and grizzly bears, and timber wolves  and cougar. The number of predators in Alberta should be enough to keep the wild horse populations in check so they do not over run the habitat.   Yet up until this season trapping of wild horses continued and has devastated the populations throughout the region.   A lone horse, no matter its strength and vigor, will not survive for long without its band under these conditions. Horses by nature are gregarious  in normal circumstances.  A lone stallion would eventually meet up with other stallions for safety and protection against predators as part of the herd dynamic is to look out for each other.  A weakened, injured or depressed horse might not be able to keep up.

Something that stands out to me from Laura’s photos is that the stallion must be wise from all his life experiences and  seems to know better than to stand  under the trees bordering the clear cut area. These would be areas that a predator could easily surprise a lone or weakened horse. Probably he learned  this lesson he was attacked. 
The Lonely Stallion stands in the middle of the clear cut
lodge pole pine forest. He is amid the little left behind by
loggers. He, along with the remaining wild horses of Alberta,
is History Worth Preserving.

This is the second wild horse I’ve painted with puma scars since starting the  Mustang A Day challenge. The Lonely Stallion is a mighty fine animal and an amazing inspiration to all of us who fight and work to preserving all wild horses in North America.

Special thanks to Cac Betts, Ken Mcleod, Kimball Foord, and Laura Smith for contributing information and photos for this first part of my 2013 series of the Canadian Wild Horses.  I will be doing more on these horses  soon .  Please share these stories with your friends about the Mustang A Day Series, especially with those in Canada who can help in National Protection of the Wild Horses of Canada.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Part 5: Alberta Canada Wild Horses Challenge Painting #384

5 by 7 inches Watercolor
by LindaLMartin Artist

Tonights painting is of two young horses playing in the serinity of the grasses in Alberta 's Crown Land in Canada.  In addition to these wild horses that help protect the watershed of Calgary, prevent the erosion of the forested land  and help reforest the pine and fir forests. Their are pockets of wild horses through out the Provence of Alberta.

If you are interested in learning more about these horses, how to see them and what is currently being doing to help protect them another group that is working hard to make things happen is the Canadian Wild Horses Group on Facebook.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Part 4: Alberta Canada Wild Horses Challenge Painting #383

Alberta's Wild Horses vs Natural Resource Industries

The Bay Stallion
Alberta Wild Horse
5 by 7 inches Watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist

The wild horses of Alberta once numbered around 5,000.  Today their numbers are around 200. A group of concerned Canadian Citizens are working tirelessly to save these magnificent horses. Some of the challenges of these wild horses are the same as their cousins the mustangs in the South. Although mixed of the same blood of Spanish stock and  local releases throughout the years, The Wild Horses of Alberta  are also most probably of mixed ancient blood as well.

One thing these beautiful Heritage horses have that most  of , that the wild ones don’t in the USA, is that there is for most of the year plenty of rain and plenty of food. This means  lush green grass most of the year. Because they are forest horses, the Alberta horses also have the protected cover of the fir and lodge pole pines to protect them from fierce Canadian storms and the heat of the summer.

This beautiful bay stallion, with his
two mares and foals grazed in
the right-of-way around the natural
gas  pipeline. The area is frequently
mowed  by Shell Canada to keep the
sapling trees from interfering with
the lines. It also promotes new growth
of the grasses around the pipe line that
draw wild horses and other grazing
wildlife into the areas.  Shell Canada
posts the signs to keep people from
being harmed in case of a gas leak.
Click the image to view larger.
However, this pristine forest and grazing land is also providing competition for these wild horses. Natural gas wells and  pipelines crisscross their range. While providing additional opportunities for grazing in the right of ways around the pipelines it also puts the horses and other wildlife in danger should the lines spring a leak and release the highly toxic  natural gas into the environment.

The horses are also in competition and danger  with logging enterprises that move in for clear cutting. In a way, some of these primeval forests' very survival is dependent on the horses’ survival. The survival of the horses is dependent on the protection of a government who is undecided as to their importance. 

Up until this year anyone who could apply and be approved, was granted a permit to remove a set number of horses via live trapping. Once they were removed the horses could be sold at auction, or taken home to train, use or sell.

The Bay Stallion's Bay mare
and young foal race along the
grassy area under the Natural
Gas Pipeline.  Click the image
to view larger.

Unfortunately for the Alberta horses, a good many of those captured were shipped directly to auctions, untrained and unhandled, where it is believed, (and documented by some), that the horses perished or disappeared in to the slaughter pipeline. Sadly for the Alberta horses, they were valuable targets for slaughter for human consumption in Asia and Europe, because they were raised on prime grasslands and had never been medicated.

Thankfully, I was informed, just this month the Canadian Government has put a hold on all trapping permits for 2013, until further notice.

In the mean time, there are a number of people who are petitioning the government of Canada to make the Wild Horses of Alberta a legal Heritage Herd and protect them from further decimation. There is grave concern that if the capture and removal of the horses is not stopped permanently that any connection to ancient bloodlines will be lost forever.

The group is known as Wild Horses of Alberta Society
If  you are from Canada please contact them to see how you can help restore and protect these beautiful wild animals. Their page can be found on Facebook:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Part 3: Alberta Canada Wild Horses Challenge Painting #382

Alberta's Wild horses may indeed be the best hope for keeping the water shed protected and thriving in an era where providing fresh water is challenged  increasingly as development spreads through out the world.
"New Dawn"
Alberta Wild Foal resting on  the meadow of a developing new pine forest.
4 by 6 inches Watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist
This foal and her herd may be the best hope of protecting the watershed
for Calgary Canada and the surrounding area. Just another very good
reason to protect the Wild Horses of Alberta.
Wild Horses can play a big part in maintaining  Bio-Diversity,  especially in riparian areas where rain fall is plentiful. They aid in maintaining watersheds, replenishing depleted forests and re-building and strengthening  the health of marshes areas and grass lands.

I first heard about Wild horses being used to do these things about 10 years ago from a source in South America. Wild horses have been used to rebuild forests with the least impact and most benefit to the land in areas of fragile clear cut South and Central American Rain forests. Just last autumn I learned about the move to re-establish the European Wild Forest Horses in order to protect and reestablish receding  marsh and and grass park lands of  Europe.

Rather than try to rewrite the whole thing I am going to defer to the experts tonight. There is a wonderful video that Ken Mcleod shared with me of an ongoing study in the Crown's Forest of Alberta where the wild horses run. The video explains the benefits of maintaining the forests of Alberta using the existing wild horses with the least amount of trauma to the land.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Part 2: Alberta Canada Wild Horses Challenge Painting #381

Wild Horse Origins:
How does
Alberta's Wild Horses come into play?

"Spreading the Joy"
5 by 7 inches Watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist
Alberta Provence wild horse and foal graze in a clear cut
area of the Queen's Land amid volunteer Lodge Pole Pine saplings.
Not only do the wild horse help to keep the brush down around the
young trees their grazing helps to fertilize the ground and spread seeds.

There are many controversies regarding the origins of wild horses on the North American continent.  Science has seemed to establish that the modern horse has evolved to its present form here in North America.  So far the fossil remains of horses found on the North American continent are the oldest documented horse remains found in the world according to one source. Even to date horse remains from 8,000 to 11,000 years ago have been found in almost every state in the USA where fossils have been discovered.

There seems to be some disagreement as to if the horses became totally extinct on the North American continent  and were reintroduced by the Spanish and subsequent  European settlers or if they migrated to  what is now known as the Canadian province of Alberta during the receding of the Ice Age. The most widely held theory is that  the horse as we know it developed here, migrated to Asia then migrated to the rest of the world via a land bridge between Alaska and Russia. Then supposedly the horses died out due to some unknown catastrophe.

Ken Mcleod, the Canadian photographer collaborating with me for this series of Wild Horse Art, shared some very informative links with me to let me see the latest studies. This  recently published story in Science Daily suggests that some of the animals, including achient wild horses  moved north from the now USA and may have continued to live in areas of Canada and not died out at all. That theory and the evidence supporting it can be read here at the Science Daily Website:

If you would like to see  what these prehistory horses  in North America  might look like,  you can see them here:  This is a Florida website that shows living horses believed to be similar to North America’s horses.  There is no doubt that horses existed  in  North America with the last documentation showing them here well over 10,000 plus years ago. On the Florida site, it says that horses were not reintroduced until the 1500s by Spanish explorers.

I have an entirely different thought on the matter. One of the things that I have been noticing  since looking at the numerous( literally thousands) photographs of wild horses since 2009, is that every once in a while, a horse with some distinctly primitive markings will surface.  These markings are not dun factor markings but rather a reddish or yellow brown with light muzzles, bi-colored manes and tails and  light colors on the under side of their bodies and inside of their legs.

In at least one incidence  in the last 10 years  a horse with this pre-history marking was rounded up, and was acting decidedly different from the rest of the mustang horses. From a description of what happened it reminded me of an account someone shared with me years ago of , when  wild asses or zebra were rounded up in remote regions of Africa  and  had had no contact with men except to know them as hunters.  Those equines, like the wild mustang in that one round up, were of such a uniquely primitive mindset, that they could not be tamed or trained. Sometimes they frequently self destructed when in forced confinement.Wild horses such as Przewalski's wild horses (or Mongolian wild horses) had similar reactions when captured via traditional live stock methods.

It is entirely possible that horses of pre-history, or even the bronze age, could have been preserved in the DNA of horses now on the North American Continent in  such remote areas like Alberta's forrested lands.  Many of the supporters  of the Canadian Wild horses agree that that is what they suspect has happened. Obviously from the look of the wild horses of Alberta they have thorough out the years been mixed with the blood of many domestics released by European Settlers and businesses. 

 I had the pleasure of meeting a Heritage animal breeder local to me in Virginia in 2010.  One of the herds she  was working to help restore  is the Tarpan. The Tarpan is  a historic bronz age wild horse. Tarpan’s currently  can only be 99% pure because domestic stock had to be used to retrieve the genes as the Tarpans are extinct in the wild. Its the best any restoration breeding program could do.

Restoration Tarpan mare
I photographed in Virginia in 2011
These horses average 13 to 14 hands
and are predominantly Mousy tan
with reddish bi color manes and tails.
This color supposedly helped
them to blend in the European forests.

The story of the Tarpans is very similar to that of the Alberta Province wild horses. The Tarpan horses were important to the forest and field ecosystems of Europe, yet Farmers considered them as pests and eradicated them in the wild horses by hunting them to extinction.  At one point the only Tarpans were in a Zoo in Germany and a few descendants of the wild horses in private care. The photo stills of those Tarpan horses provided the breed standard for those trying to save  and restore the horses.  At this point these descendants of wild European horses are being used throughout echo-system restoration projects in Scotland, England, and numerous European countries.

Although it is illegal to hunt wild horses in Canada’s Alberta Provence,  according to one source it is an ongoing problem that the Government is having trouble preventing either from lack of manpower or lack of motivation.

There are so many intrinsic reasons to preserve the  wild horses of Alberta . First and foremost because  the history of the country is told in its wild horses. And second the possibility that they if protected, studied  and managed properly,  they might actually be a larger legacy of history.

To read more about what the people of Canada are doing to preserve their wild horses go to:

A treat from the blogger: I stumbled upon this  video of  the Dixie Meadow Tarpan Restoration herd in Virginia. This video was taken in 2012. The farm owner had been ill and was hoping to find a permanent home for the herd.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Part 1: Alberta Canada Wild Horses Challenge Painting #380

"The Logging Road"
5 by 7 inches Graphite on Paper
by Linda L Martin
Reference Photo by Ken Mcleod
Illustrates Mares and foals crossing a logging road,
amid the Lodge Pole Pine Forest in what as known as
the Queen’s Forest In Alberta Provence, Canada

The Wild Horses of Alberta Canada Part 1

The wild horses run through the forests and deforested grasslands of Alberta Canada like the primeval wild horses of Europe once did. Lush green carpets of grasses cover most of the open areas among the lodge pole pines where horses graze, stallions fight and foals are protected amid the volunteer seedlings of fallen trees.

The horses are protected but barely. Managed by an entity which is the Canadian Equivalent to BLM, according to their website if you apply for a license you may capture any you can within a set limit. But in order to do so you must also follow certain guidelines for humane treatment and capture.  Once the animals are removed, usually by bait trapping there is no limit to sale or use of these horses.

Photographer Ken Mcleod's Capture of a Wild Stallion
feeding on the forest grasses among the pine trees
in Alberta Canada

The horses closely resemble light draft breeds such as Cleveland Bay, Morgan, Irish Draught. Occasionally in some of the photography, I have also seen horses of finer bone as well with some obviously thoroughbred influence. The colors of Alberta’s wild horses range from light golden bay to dark bay, black, sorrel, dun, guerrilla, and roan.

According to the official government of Alberta website, the horses are descendants of the horses used in logging and from guide and outfitter businesses. With mechanization after WW2 horses that were no longer of use or older horses were simply turned loose on the land already deforested. As in the Lower 48 states on western lands periodically other domestic horses have been released into the land as well adding to their numbers.

To read more about the land use and the Wild horses of Alberta from the Government’s view point you can go to their website:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Challenge Painting #378 Working Mustang Bridleless Demonstraition Horse Sadie

Bridleless Demonstraition
Marrietta Roby's Mare Sadie from Beatys Butte, Oregon
5.5 by 8.5 inches  Graphite on #110 Paper
Original $50.00
Sadie is a 2000 mare from Beatys Butte, Oregon.  She was mishandled by her first adopter and became aggressive as a way of self preservation.  Marietta Roby was approached by  professional trainer. The trainer told Marietta that Sadie was she was dangerous (true), and untrainable (NOT true). Because the mare was considered untrainable and there were many wild horses that could be trained, Sadie was returned to BLM.

Marietta decided to take the pretty sorrel mare and find a suitable new home for her. Marietta was concerned about the mare because she was due to be sold as a wholesale lot because of her age and her untrainable status.  Marietta said that she and the mare bonded quickly and deeply, "She is the most awesome horse!" 

These days Marietta uses the mare on the ranch to help work with young untrained mustangs. Sadie is also a demonstration horse who works with Marietta in bridleless flag presentations. The mare that was untrainable and dangerous works bridleless, is a very useful working mustang, and has a become a wonderful working partner and companion with Mariette.