Horses are deemed by some to be “the most beautiful animals”, and while beauty is 100% subjective, you can’t really dispute the beauty of a horse. They have an elegance about them that looks nearly magical. They’re about as popular domestic animals as cats and dogs, being a mainstay in our art and culture.
They don’t just look pretty, either. Horses are nearly as sweet and lovable as a big dog. The moms are just as protective too, and we’re about to see just that!
Mares are every bit as caring about their children as a human mom. A foal is pretty small and helpless, so mama horse has to be on standby nearly 24/7 for them. This includes grooming, guarding and nursing duty. In this 18th century estate, they have accommodations for a mother mare and a foal right in the barn area.
The foal is tiny, skinny-legged and about as clueless as a human toddler. It’s as demanding as one too, crying and seeking out mom’s milk and attention all day. It needs all the care and nutrition it can get if it wants to grow as big as its mom.
But with that said, where is its mom?
The foal is about 11 days old, according to one of the family members keeping it company outside. About half of its body is just the legs.
It seems to grow a bit nervous from all the attention. Understandable, since it barely knows what grass is. And like our moms tell us not to talk to strangers, this foal knows to call mama when strangers are around.
“Mama help! There are strange, two-legged horses crowding around me!”
With about as much strength that its little, skinny body can muster, it gives a neighing call for its mama. The mare hears it from wherever she was off-camera. Clopping and trotting echoes in the distance until she finally arrives in full view.
She’s easily several times bigger than her foal, and with most adult horses weighing 400 kilograms (881 pounds!) I wouldn’t want to get in her way.
As a matter of fact, horses’ ability to be caring parents has garnered some scientific attention!
Horses as nurturing parents have been looked into in many studies, like this one. A bit of observing and some disciplines of behavioral ecology might paint a brighter picture of how horses, Equus caballus, look after their young. For example, following catastrophic events, foals can recover much better and survive longer if they have adult horses around them.
But baby horses aren’t totally helpless. They are what’s called precocial animals – species where the young are, in relative terms, pretty capable of moving around and seeing things despite their age.
Imprinting is also an incredibly important part of a horse’s life. Much like ducklings and chicks, foals will imprint on their parents and follow them around constantly for the first part of their life.
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Photo: @melissafarlow @thephotosociety | Photographing horses is somewhat like photographing people…I learned to move slow and build trust if I wanted to get close. This muddy mare was contentedly basking in the sun after rain at ISPMB in South Dakota. The Gila mustang herd has primitive markings of the original Spanish mustang brought to North America in the 1600's.@theimagereview @natgeo @natgeocreative #wildhorses #mustangs #wild #horses #wildlife #muddy #nature @wildhorsephotos
As adults, horses have little to worry about. A herd of horses in the wild can number up to 20 individuals, usually with a stallion leading them. Being capable of hitting 88 kilometers per hour in a gallop, not many things can keep pace with an adult horse.
Speaking of galloping, there are also other words to describe the way a horse moves. There’s the walk and the trot, with the trot being a little faster than a walk. The sort of movement in between a trot and a gallop is called a canter.
Whereas cows have four-sectioned stomachs, horses have a smaller, one-chambered stomach. And they can’t vomit either, thanks to the muscle band around the esophagus that completely prevents the food from going back up the way it came.
But that’s enough horsing around.
If you’re not in the mood to learn about horse vomit (or lack thereof), and instead came to watch how quickly mama horse trots to her foal, then the video is right down below. Now you get to appreciate it more after learning some cool horse facts.
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