Isadora is not a happy camper. Or a camper at all, really. Those child bearing hips of hers would have a heck of a time fitting into a tent, and zipping up a sleeping bag around all four legs would be challenging endeavor to say the least.
Our story begins on a windy Sunday morning. It actually has been going on for weeks now, but I cannot speak to events I have not seen. Flint’s band appeared through the binoculars, merrily grazing their way across the meadow with a level of intensity that only a hungry horse who has made it through a Pryor winter can appreciate.
But where ever was Isadora? After some more searching, Isadora was seen quite a ways away from the others. Flint was by her side. It was almost as if Flint had agreed to have a “date night” and spend a little one-on-one time with Isadora. I may have cooed over how cute I thought that was and how nice it was the Flint’s band was that secure when he was so far away.
Naturally, I was wrong. I usually am wrong. It may be a “capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence” but man is it fun!
Don’t get me wrong, sitting back and watching the show is great! If you don’t like sitting still and watching a lot of things happen from a distance then you probably are not going to last long as a wild horse observer. But (and this is a very small but) the hours of horses napping and eating is a lot more entertaining if you let your mind wander all over the place with wild speculation. Given enough time, any mare could be pregnant and just hiding it really well, and any bachelor stallion could be one step away from greatness.
Back to the story, though. The next day it was exceedingly clear that Isadora was not enjoying solo stallion time with “her man”. Nope. Isadora was wandering away and looking for an opportunity to leave him. I do not know how or why this came about, but she really wants to leave him.
This may be a time to hold up some lighters and whistle Stand by your Man. Flint is a handsome fellow, after all, and Isadora has been with him since 2012 which is more than enough time for them to be considered in a common-law marriage in the human world. Isadora can’t just up and leave until there is equal division of the assets! What a little hussy!
The above paragraph is what someone might think if they were a terrible person. Let’s not be terrible people. Rejoice! For the stallion that has caught the eye of fair Isadora is none other than Morning Star!
Isadora had very briefly been spotted in Morning Star’s band, but Flint had already taken her back before my visit. If only Isadora could successfully get away from Flint and go where she wanted! Morning Star did not seem too interested in picking a fight over Isadora while I was there, which is not a promising sign. Flint, meanwhile, has been relentless about snaking her back to the band and away from any dark bay stud muffins on the horizon.
Morning Star is a pretty happening fellow and let’s be real here, his band is way hipper than Flint’s. Morning Star’s band has the experience of Felina to guide them, three mares who are close to Isadora’s age, and one colt. It’s the closest Isadora could get to a fiesta without actually hooking up with Fiesta.
Flint’s band is absolutely lovely in their own right. Let’s be clear on that too. Sequoyah and Texas are beautiful mares with plenty of sass to go around. Who doesn’t enjoy watching Nomad and Miguel? Halcyon is lovely and sweet, and this year she looks better than I have ever seen her. Halcyon is also most definitely pregnant again this year.
And I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t a little bit of the problem. It’s impossible to really know what Isadora’s motives are. I wonder if the foal situation has something to do with it. Isadora has never had a foal with Flint. Isadora’s only foal to date died during the winter of its first year. She has been on PZP since then, and was just taken off the drug last year. So she has plenty of time.
While Isadora’s time on PZP has kept her infertile, Halcyon keeps popping out foal after foal. With foals comes attention. Texas and Sequoyah dote on their niece and nephew, and thus Halcyon by proximity. Flint is attentive to all his mares, but you cannot tell me that stallions are not just a little fonder of the mares that are giving them babies.
Mares who have foals also tend to have higher rankings in the band’s hierarchy than mares who of the same age who do not have foals. That is a generalization and it is not always like that, but it does seem to be true in the case of Flint’s band. Basically, Isadora is on the bottom of the chain right now.
Morning Star’s band is different. Three mares are off PZP but there is still little to show for it. Honey just had her second foal, Oracle. Shadow was just taken off PZP last year year, and has never had a foal. Neither she nor Gaelic Princess look pregnant this year. At the very least, Isadora would be on pretty equal footing. She could spend time with mares who are around her age, who are very affectionate with one another, and who do not have any advantage over her.
Or maybe she just thinks Morning Star is hot.
A little ways off, a different kind of drama is playing out with Isadora’s distant cousin, Dove. Dove is a lovely little buckskin mare that is currently in Red Raven’s band. That whole situation is a little awkward in my opinion. Red Raven’s mother is Dove’s grandmother. Dove’s sire is Red Raven’s full brother, Diamond. Talk about a relationship that belongs on Maury! That family tree needs a little more forking and a little less spooning going on! (I don’t even know what that means)
Having lost Jackson’s old band, now Doc’s new band, Santa Fe has returned to old habits and is dogging Red Raven. He did this last summer as well without success. It is Dove who has caught Santa Fe’s eye. Dove, who seems completely indifferent to both stallions. I’m not really sure how or why they would fight so hard over her. What if that is the secret that I’ve been missing out on all these years to successfully attracting a worthy mate… Huh.
Anyway, Red Raven and Santa Fe are being more than a little ridiculous right now. Red Raven is constantly having to snake his band away, chase Santa Fe away, rear at Santa Fe in impressive fashion… hour after hour, day after day it just keeps going.
Mostly. Red Raven & Santa Fe do have a cease fire arrangement for mutually agreed upon nap times.
Neither stallion has any real injuries to report from this, but they are looking thin. It could well be that Santa Fe is inadvertently setting the stage for a completely different stallion to take over while he and Red Raven wear one another down. Then neither of them would win.
This song and dance has also made Santa Fe grumpy. The stallion turned perpetual grouch monster apparently thinks that looking like he swallowed a lemon is going to win him the affections of Dove? Or maybe Santa Fe is just tired of Dove ignoring him after all the effort he is putting towards this mission.
While Santa Fe’s advances have been ignored by Dove, he has caught the eye of Dove’s daughter, Morning Dove. Morning Dove repeatedly sashayed her way over to Santa Fe’s side. She would then back up and give him her best “come hither” look. Morning Dove is still a baby, not quite two years old, so I will forgive her lack of subtlety and grace.
You would think this would be a good thing that least someone in the band is interested in Santa Fe, right? Wrong. Every time this happened, Santa Fe rebuffed little Morning Dove. Sometimes he was polite about it, but other times he had to paw and pin his ears to get her to go away. This was always followed by Red Raven chasing his wayward daughter back to the group and blaming Santa Fe for the interaction.
Morning Dove is still nursing and is extremely attached to her mother. She is not going to leave the band without Dove if she can help it. I wonder if Santa Fe recognizes that, and that is why he is staying focused on stealing an adult mare?
Of course, Morning Dove is also teeny tiny. Part of me hopes that Santa Fe is being a perfect gentleman and thinks that Morning Dove is too young yet. I also recognize that such conjecture goes against everything I have experienced and know about wild horse society. Yearlings and two year olds are bred all the time in the wild, oftentimes without leaving their family band. At the same time, these horses never fail to surprise me. Their family ties are very strong, and stallions can be just kind and sensitive to the younger members of their society as the mares. It may be unlikely, but if there was any stallion out there that was classy enough to intentionally decide not to breed a younger filly, it would be Santa Fe. He is a kind-hearted and thoughtful. Maybe that is why the younger fillies have always taken to him?
Final thoughts: Relationships among wild horses are complicated. A stallion may like a mare, but he may not have the strength to win her. A stallion may be able to win a mare for himself, but if that mare is not interested then it will not last long before she finds an option she likes better. Similarly, a mare may really like a particular stallion, but that stallion may not like her well enough to fight over it.
Even if a mare and a stallion are interested in one another, there is still the rest of the band to contend with. Horses are polyamorous and live in their band structures year-round. It is not enough to have a mare and a stallion get along with each other. That mare also has to get along with the other mares in the band. The other mares do not always accept the new family member. The division in the ranks can prove disastrous for the stallion, who risks losing the entire band as a result. Adding a new mare can be a difficult choice for a stallion that has a tight knit band, no matter how much the new mare may want to join him
Love isn’t like a Disney movie. Not even for a wild horse. And isn’t that just a bummer? Finding where they will be happiest is an uphill battle. I guess that is why watching their stories play out is like catnip for wild horse lovers.