Have it to the Full

This isn’t the blog post.  That one is coming.  It is half finished and I can’t really put it off much longer, but it isn’t the kind of thing you throw at people on New Years Eve.  There is also the minor detail that it’s just plain hard to write.  I don’t know how I am supposed to make sense of a single decision made by humans that has such a huge impact on life and how it functions in our “modern” world.

And really, that’s been the story of this entire year.  Life.  Figuring out how to live life through all the chaos. Watching new life taking its first steps.  Seeing lives completly change.  Watching with bated breath and trying to figure out whether or not those changes will be for the better.  Watching life fade.

00 june

In the beginning of March, it was very apparent that June was pregnant.  Now I freaking love June.  I just love her.  She is gorgeous and classy; June is smart enough to not trust humans but nice enough to not immediately run away and take the band with her.

So I waited.

00 june march ii-1

And waited.

00 june april-1

And waited.

00 june april 2-1

00 june june-1

I may love her, but this mare was starting to drive me crazy!  On August 8th, the last sunset of my “birthday visit” was upon me and still no baby.  I figured I had a few more trips before winter closed in and knowing my luck, June would foal in October or something equally ridiculous.

05 curl band-1
Psh, Curly’s band trying to look all innocent the night before…

So naturally I woke up to a surprise.

13 june

There is something that is so sacred about new life.  Whether horse or human, there is a quiet stillness; a sense of awe that settles over the world while everyone takes in the magic of that moment.  As with everything else in life, you have to drink in that moment and enjoy it, because it sure doesn’t last very long.

Mama’s new duties were split between bonding with her ittle one, eating, and chasing off any horse who dared to get too close.  This last part as a litle more complicated than you might think.  First June had to contend with members of her own band – the well meaning youngsters, other mares, and of course Papa who all wanted to meet their newest family member.

12 group shot ii

12 group shot

That can be a little more challenging then it seems, seeing as June was having to glare, threaten, and chase everyone off all while nursing a little one who still wasn’t 100% on how her legs worked and needed to lay down and take a nap every hour on the hour. None-the-less, mom passed her first tests swimmingly, and eventually her well-menacing comrades gave up.

14 angry

This, of course, was when all those annoying distant relatives decided it was time to show up and party.  Reimann’s band wandered up from their favorite nighttime spot and straight towards the meadow Curly’s band was occupying.

15 fuego
Reimann’s satellite, Fuego

June was… less than thrilled.

But let’s face it, babies are exciting.  The grownups may respect a Mama’s instincts to hide & protect her bouncing bundle of joy.  The kids… not so much.  All the ear pinning and charging in the world could not keep the ornrey brats away.

16 cuprits
The culprits

June was stuck with a personal entorage.

23 entorage


Everywhere June and filly went, Reimann’s yearling & two foals followed.  When the baby napped, they napped.  When the baby got up, they vaguely wandered in her direction.  Flustered, this actually led to June letting her own band back around the foal, if only so they could act as a buffer to keep the obnoxious looky-lou’s at bay.

17 chase


19 helen.jpg

20 june
One of the foals (far right) was able to sneak in while June was focusing on the yearling, Helen.


25 wont give up

Meanwhile, the mother’s of the curious onlookers were not happy.  Zara & Elaine wanted to keep moving, and kept hollering and hollering for their kiddos to get their little butts back “home”.  Apparently much like human children, wild horse foals choose to be selectively deaf.

24 reimann
If you three don’t get over here right now I’m gonna… well, Elaine didn’t actually do much about it beyond getting annoyed
27 helen and curly
Helen’s tenacity backfired a little bit after she caught the attention of Curly… who is also her father, though neither know it.

Their noise got the attention of some bachelors and another band and suddenly the meadow was filled with four bands, several bachelors, and cacophony of noise.

28 hp
It’s an awful lot of fuss for one so small

30 ears

There goes the neighborhood.  So much for a nice tranquil morning.  What started as a warm gentle breeze and then zen of a young mother suckling her first foal turned into the chaos.  There were horses everywhere, foals wandering wherever they pleased, bachelors sparring, stallions courting other mares, and above all the din, there was Elaine still squealing.  Seriously.  They are going to be in so much trouble when they go back to mom…


Baby shower turned frat party
Verity was particularly fascinated by the commotion and the foal.
Her Dad Curly chased her back to her band. It might actually be easier to describe which of these horses isn’t a child of Curly at this point… What can I say?  He’s good at what he does.


Back off, Dad
Curiously, the one horse June did trust with the newborn was Zara’s colt, the son of Zara (daughter of Curly) and Reimann, whose name is *not* Harry Potter.

Eventually June decided she had enough and led her filly to a corner, as far away from the others as she could manage without actually leaving. This almost worked.  Everyone seemed to settle down a little.  Vimes’ band moved off a little ways, and Reimann’s naughty brats returned to their own band.


June deserved a break, from horse & human alike, and I had work the next day and a 7 1/2 hour drive ahead of me, so I moved on with a song in my heart and a prayer for the newest addition to the White Mountain herd.

Fast forward a month:  The best wild horse watching buddy and I spy Curly’s band in the distance.  Sure enough, the foal is still around looking much steadier on her feet than she did the first time around.  She looked healthy only… something was not quite right.  June, ever wary, keeps a safe distance between us and her foal so it took a while for them to come close enough to see the problem.


The filly’s left eye was sunken and cloudy.  The faint line of a hoof print trailed behind it.


A wild horses’ life is not an easy one.  At least two foals in the southern part of the herd did not survive their first weeks.  In some respects, she’s lucky to ‘only’ have a serious eye injury.  After all, she is strong – infused with the blood of generations of wild horses before her who survived all that life threw at them.  Strong as steel and precious to boot.

There is still a long winter ahead.  Statistically, the first year of life is the one that wild horses are least likely to survive.  Survive to be a yearling, and the odds of having a good, long life, becomes less of a possibility and more of a probability.


If she survives the winter, there is still likely going to be a helicopter roundp to contend with.  Again, her odds are good.  Since she is a female, the BLM is more likely to release her (more details on that next blog post) so again, she has a better chance of staying wild.

Truth be told, I’m tired of thinking to the future.  I have spent years thinking of little else, especially as it pertains to White Mountain.

Whether she lives or dies, whether she spends her life seeing out of one eye or two, whether she stays free or is removed.  At least for now, in this moment, she lives.

18 foal

At her birth she was heralded.  Loved by her mother.  Honored by others who share these wild lands with her.  When she became a little less perfect, she was still as accepted and cared for by her family as she was on that first gentle day.  And in the end, her existence reflects everything that really mattered in 2015.  We can’t fix things.  We can’t get back those who were lost, or smooth out the lines and wrinkles that heartbreak drew on our faces.  But we can celebrate life and possibility and all the things that weren’t here in 2014 yet are now so special and beautiful in their own ways.

Happy New Years everyone!



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.

16 thoughts on “Have it to the Full

  1. Like Carol said, this a beautiful post! Poor June definitely had her work cut out for her! How sad that June’s poor filly has that eye injury, but as you alluded to, animals deal with such things much better than us humans! And she is alive and free! 🙂 May she make a full recovery and grow up to spend many years free and happy in her home 🙂 Happy New Year!

    1. Me too, Abbie. I have a good feeling hat she will make it through the winter and be just fine. I’ll keep younupdated on her as soon as the roads clear enough for me to get back out.

  2. I miss you, Rachel! This post, your writing is just what I was hoping for, a beautiful farewell in honor of the horses. Rachel style!
    Thank you. May all the wild horse families wake up to the promise of a better, fairer world for them in the coming years.
    Happy New Year to you.

  3. So good to hear from you, Rachel. June & her filly are truly beautiful – perfect in every way! My only worry is when (not if) there is a roundup – will her blind eye be an excuse for them to do what they always do to any animal that has some kind of physical problem? No matter if they have lived well & free all their lives!
    I hope these bands are allowed to continue to be free.

    1. I don’t know the answer to that, Maggie. I’m going to be mentioning her specifically in my comments. If she were to be removed, I can guarantee she would get a home. The WH specialist forn this herd is not so unreasonable a person and I think he could be convinced. It isn’t something that effects her health or quality of life; not really.

  4. Fabulous story and Happy New Year to you too Rachel!!! I share your worries for White Mountain HMA, but for today…we celebrate life!

  5. June is surely an extraordinary beautiful horse with a face full of expression. For me she is a perfect example for what wild horses mostly have: a very wide awake expression, coping independent with a life in freedom with all its challenges. I love your photos !!

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