I met the first of the foals in April; he was a colt named Muskogee (the BLM
names the Mustangs for tracking purposes). Born in late March, he was all legs,
and blessed with the strength and ability to keep up with the herd almost immediately after birth. He had the good fortune of being born to a loving mother
and a protective band stallion. The ever-vigilant stallion worked tirelessly keeping
contending stallions a safe distance from his colt. As a result, Muskogee quickly
became the healthiest and strongest of the foals born to the herd.
In contrast to Muskogee was the second colt of the season, Wahkan, born in early
April. Wahkan was also the offspring of caring and protective parents, but he simply was not as strong at birth as Muskogee, particularly when it came to fighting
Wahkan was initially able to keep pace with the herd, but he became plagued
by illness, which over time weakened him. It was heart-rending to see him lying
nearly motionless in the sagebrush. I fought back tears watching him fight for life,
his belly covered with ticks.
But miraculously, a few days later as I prepared to leave the range to return
home, he rallied and began running with the herd again. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
A few weeks later I received news from a photographer friend that the cold,
lifeless, trampled body of Wahkan was found lying alone on the range. How had it
happened? Had he gotten sick again and been trampled by the herd? Had he been
caught in the middle of a ferocious battle between stallions? We may never know.
A Filly With No Name
As sad as Wahkan’s story is, it pales in
comparison to the tragic story of the
herd’s third foal, a filly so young when
overtaken by death in late May that
she was never named.
Unlike Muskogee and Wahkan,
who were born to protective parents,
this filly was not so lucky. The initial
bond between mother and foal was
beautiful and strong. However, within
hours of the filly’s arrival, the band
stallion became noticeably agitated at
the new mother, continuously lashing
out, leading to a slashing, kicking and
biting battle between the two. The
filly valiantly tried staying close to her
mother’s side for protection, but in
doing so was caught in the melee and
kicked to the ground.
The next day the stallion again
approached, this time his eyes fixed
on another nearby stallion. A battle
ensued, with the weakened filly con-
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