I Got 99 Problems (But A Mare Ain’t One)

Finally! Inspiration! Earlier today I had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite authors, Hilari Bell. I like her stories so well that I cannot bring myself to be even a little ashamed of openly admitting how much I love Young Adult novels. Hey, I can’t spend all my time reading nothing but America’s Last Wild Horses or The Wild Horse Conspiracy, people! I would end up in a perpetual cycle of crying, drowning my sadness in ice cream, gaining 100 pounds, feeling really guilty and trying a fad diet that would work for a while but ultimately fail, and repeat. Actually, I think I would be okay with all that but it might make it harder for me to have enough energy to spend as much time with the wild ones.

Anyway, after a lovely conversation, I finally felt like I got my groove back to write something other than a quick Breeze & Whatever-the-heck-I’m-Gonna-Name-Him update. Let’s hope I can get through this before giving up and digging into a book.

Wait. What was I going to talk about? Oh yeah. Bachelors.

Everyone loves bachelor stallions. What is it about bachelors that is so fantastic? It’s pretty simple: they are just too darn fun to hang out with. It’s like being in a frat house. Everytime is party time.

White Mountain bachelors Gawaine and Rafa.

Not all bachelors are created equal, however. Most wild horse boys are kicked out at a young age by their fathers. That way they will not have a chance to become a threat; presumably, a mare would be more willing to take off with a younger horse they have known for years than with an immature goofball that is itching for a fight.

The initial transition has to reallly suck. You have a family, a mom, someone else calling the shots and helping keep you safe when suddenly WHAM! You’re father is treating you like dirt and threatening to kick the snot out of you if you come back. Suddenly, the poor youngster is all alone trying to figure out what the heck to do on his own.

Little London was kicked out of his band after his mother died. It was sooner than it should have been but he found a good surrogate family.
London’s new family, Jasper & Indigo Kid.

Thankfully, horses are very social creatures. Unlike me, they don’t have to be conned into reading nonsense like How to Win Friends and Influence People.(Hint: learn how to use the internet & get into wild horses) Very quickly they create bands of their own.  These basically amount to a bunch of teenagers roaming the wilderness with no authority figures to hold them back. How could that possibly go wrong?

I does what I wants

They aren’t completely on their own, mind you. Many dramatic photos come out of band stallions chasing encroaching bachelors away from their mares. So many, in fact, that I went into wild horse herds assuming that would always be the case.  Not quite. Sometimes I see band stallions grooming or playing with bachelors who do not pose a threat. It is a bit like coming home from college and going out for a beer with Dad.

Mostly they get into trouble.

Bachelors are the true symbol of what a person imagines a wild horse to be. They don’t have any responsibility so they can just have fun; go where they want when they want & to heck with the consequences. How wonderful it must be!

We can go where we want to – a place they will never find

But they are still boys. Which is to say that they like the ladies. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that their hormones and natural instincts lead them to the conclusion that they are willing to put up with a lady if it means they can get a little something-something out of the bargain.

Smells like lady

The bachelor gets older and with that age comes bigger muscles, stronger bodies, and, ahem, a drive to succeed. It starts out innocently enough. They start calling the shots amongst their fellow bachelors in a band. When they come across other band stallions, they aim to maim.

Quicksilver’s band of bachelors. He would protect his boys by chasing band stallions away from his boys. Most of these guys were removed, but you can vaguely see Flax & King hanging out in the middle of the pile.

At some point, a stallion will leave his fellow bachelors to strike out on his own. Some stallions keep to themself for a bit to bulk up. Others will go straight to stalking another band, waiting for the right moment to take the competition out.

The last time I was in Sand Wash Basin, Cowboy was by himself and staying well away from other bands – he is most likely was preparing for battle.

If only they knew that they were probably better off sticking to bachelorhood. Poor sods.

Skipping over years of polygamous bliss: if a stallion is lucky and very good then they survive long enough to grow old. With age comes experience. You would think that the ladies would like that. But no. Eventually a stallion is weak enough that he does not have the strength and agility to keep the mares he spent his life working for. It’s back to bachelorhood.

Three generations of bachelors. Sort of. I hope that Chance (the red roan) will win his band back soon!

Old bachelors are my second favorite category of wild horse (first being cranky mares). This is mostly because they are absolutely adorable. The stallion gets to play Grandpa and babysitter for the youngsters. If a younger bachelor is smart, then they will learn from an older stallion’s experience.

This is my favorite older time, White Out, from Sand Wash Basin.

If Gramps is smart, he gets the heck away from the youngsters and finds some other geriatrics. Kids these days are crazy! Bachelors had much better manners back in the day. It’s just further proof that the country is going to hell in a handbasket, I tell ya!

Starman doesn’t need any youngsters cramping his style!
An older White Mountain stallion. I have not named him. I fear he only has a couple good years left, and naming him will only make it hurt more when he eventually disappears.

Published by Rachel Reeves

I am a photographer who currently lives in the great state of Colorado. I love going out and photographing wild horses in their natural habitat, and look forward to being able to share a glimpse their world with you.

11 thoughts on “I Got 99 Problems (But A Mare Ain’t One)

  1. Right on Rachel! You’ve been so consistent with posting these days, I’m lovin’ it! I know how hard it is to put your books down for a blog session. I’m reading a YA book too. You’ve probably read it. Shapeshifter. She has the ability to change herself into a deer!
    Meanwhile, back at the bachelor pad…
    I enjoyed this post very much. I like learning about the wild ones, bachelors vs band stallions, who gets “the ladies”, the antics of them all and who’s who and where they live. I’m especially fond of the two, Gawaine and Rafa. Can you tell me where the name Gawaine came from? He’s GORGEOUS. Well, they’re ALL gorgeous. And that group of horses, with Flax and King? Really? They’ve been removed? Are they in LTH somewhere? I only hope I can see some of these guys in their freedom, before they too, are taken away.
    Your photography Rachel, is some of the best I’ve seen, and you girl, are delightful!

    1. I actually haven’t read Shapeshifter, but I did just save it to my bookmarks to check out later! I am so weak for shapeshifting stories; it’s probably because I used to wish I had the ability myself.

      Gawaine comes from the King Arthur legends. He was Arthur’s nephew. I’m rubbish at naming horses, so most of my names come from fantasy books, famous Mathematicians, or a physical characteristic. Gawaine is only three, which meant he was two during the roundup. His size and color is probably what saved him and led to his release. I think he is going to make a fantastic band stallion some day, so I wanted to give him a memorable name that hasn’t (to my knowledge) been used for another wild horse yet.

      I know the two sorrels in the front were removed. They are young enough they stand a very small chance of finding a good home. Excluding King and Flax, the others most likely were removed as well. I spent the entire summer expecting Quicksilver to pop up somehwere but he never did. He may just be keeping a low profile in a less accessible part of the range but… I’m not getting my hopes up too high. He really wouldn’t be an adoptable horse, in my opinion, which makes it all the sadder.

  2. Lovely write up about those wild and woolly boys! They do appear to have more fun than the poor band stallions…and the mares tend to be a bit more serious (must have to do with motherhood…). I love Gawaine’s distinctive head, that big old Roman nose.

    1. I have a post that is half written about the mares. They have much more responsibility than the stallions, but I think they have fun too. It’s just in different ways.

      I too am a total sucker for a good Roman nose. It makes a horse look so noble and proud.

  3. This posting was a great distraction from the political race! The photos are beautiful! The descriptions were very funny!

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