July 14, 2009 – 2009 Foals Update

As I’ve said a number of times, there are usually around 30 foals born per year. The survival rate of foals has dramatically fluctuated in the past ten years. In the early 2000’s, the Pryor horses were going through the “mountain lion years” when only a handful of foals were surviving from all of those cohorts combined. In 2005 things started to turn around, but a number of the 2005 foals were removed as yearlings during the 2006 gather. By 2007, the foal crops were very successful. Just a few years prior to 2007, only a few foals per cohort were surviving. Starting in 2007, only a few foals per cohort were going missing. We now come to 2009, when things could possibly be returning to how they were in past “normal” years – Some foals, but not the majority, are going missing while others are doing just fine, for now.

In 2009, we have found 33 foals born. 14 of these were females, and 19 of them were males. Of these 33, we have found 8 foals missing. Of these 8, we have found 3 of them; and they just seemed to have died of their own natural causes. With the 25 foals still surviving, 10 are females and 15 are males.

We’ve had a few foals born recently that were surprises to me. One of these foals gets a good amount of attention due to an injury he has on his neck.

On the left side he looks like a nice healthy foal.

On the left side, though, he’s got a pretty good gash on his neck.

Despite this injury, he really is healthy.

The other day, someone told me about a new foal in Baja’s harem – They said it belonged to the three year old grulla filly in the harem. We sort of thought she was pregnant, but it was difficult to be certain as this filly is still in her birth harem with her parents. I was able to find Baja’s harem a couple days later, and I found a new foal. However, the foal was obviously not out of the grulla; it was out of a two year old dun filly, a younger sister to the grulla.

This foal was just hours old – His mother still had blood on her tail, and he was pretty wobbly.

I did get to see the other foal too – He is a very striking colt.

It’s been interesting for me this year to see the young mothers, like these above, having foals. I haven’t been watching the horses closely for many years, but I am now seeing females I saw as foals having their own foals. One third of the foals born this year have been born to mothers that are 4 years of age and under.

As we approach the end of this summer, when the Bureau of Land Management plans to have a potentially large gather, it is important to understand population issues like these above as the BLM removes horses as a method of population control.

On this note, the adoption for the Pryor horses this year will take place on September 26, which is National Wild Horse Adoption Day. If you have any interest in adopting a wild horse, please visit the Adoption Day’s web site to learn more information. More specific information on the Pryor adoption will be posted here as it becomes available too.

Published in: on July 14, 2009 at 4:41 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Matt,
    Somewhere amongst all the bull$%^& the Blm wrote they want to have the stallion to mare ratio to be one on one. I am not a genius but I do not think that herds can survive with a stallion having only one mare. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    • tpoling — A 1 to 1 ratio would not result in each stallion having one mare. As always has been the case, the more dominant and successful stallions will acquire and maintain more mares and the less dominant stallions will have little or no mares. Most stallions that are going to be successful acquire mares by age six or seven, however Several years ago one particular stallion didn’t acquire mares until he was over nine years old and even then I don’t believe he maintained the mare for very long. Such is the dynamic of wild animals. The behavior of this population is very complex with multiple variables affecting the distribution of mares amongst stallions. Hope that helps shed some light on the issue. It is way more complicated than what is perceived by the general public.

  2. Matt, do you know what HAPPENED to the poor little guy’s ‘gashed neck’? Who’s foal is he? and is he still OK?

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