fused and unable to escape the whirling fight. When the dust settled and
she staggered to her feet, instead of
walking normally, she stepped forward
with her front hooves turned under.
After numerous charges, the stallion
viciously drove the mare away from
her injured offspring. Barely two days
old, the tiny foal found herself alone
in the world, injured and outcast from
her own band, forcefully banished
from her mother’s side.
The story, sad as it is, does not end
there. Miraculously, the filly did not
leave this life without experiencing a
small taste of love. Left alone to die
within eyesight of her band grazing in
the distance, she soon found herself
surrounded by three mares of a neighboring band.
While one might expect the new
stallion to immediately turn on the
newborn, finishing what the other
stallion had not, quite the opposite
occurred. Instead, he offered the foal refuge. One of his mares appeared to imme-
diately adopt the little filly, even encouraging her to nurse.
Despite the protection offered by her new band, the poor filly, badly injured,
died during the night. The next morning her adoptive mother continued to lay by
her motionless body through the early hours of the day.
The tragic story raises so many questions. What caused the stallion to turn on
a helpless newborn and mother from his own band? Had he acted ferociously
toward the filly simply because he suspected she was not of his bloodline? Or did
he simply sense the filly was too weak to survive, and thereby felt compelled to
force her mother to abandon her immediately?
Tokala & Shiciki
After leaving the range in May, I couldn’t wait to return in October to see the one
surviving foal I had met in the spring—Muskogee. After the deaths of the other
two foals, I was so relieved when I spotted him, and further elated to see how
much he had grown over the summer.
But much to my surprise, as I criss-crossed the range searching for other Mustangs to photograph, I stumbled across two brand-new fall arrivals to the herd,
newborn filly Tokala and a colt, Shiciki. I spent much of my remaining time on the
range watching and photographing the beautiful new foals.
Now I am a thousand miles from the range. From the warmth of my home, I
am reminded that the frigid Wyoming winter is now upon them. Every night, my
thoughts drift back to them, and I am reminded that their lives, like those of all
Mustang foals, hang precariously by a thin thread.