THE LEAD STALLION
The medicine of Horse is Power and Freedom, and a Wild Mustang Lead Stallion is the epitome of these qualities.
The lead stallion is the patriarch of the wild mustang family unit, which is called a “family band” or “mustang band”.
His job is to protect and hold together his family band, which consists of several mares, their foals and sometimes another stallion or two, which are called “Lieutenant Stallions”. This stallion is standing between the photographer and his family band in a stance of the protector.
|Stallions spend a good amount of their time working to gather mares with which they breed.|
The first mare they choose usually becomes the “Lead Mare”, who partners with the stallion to lead the family band.
This stallion is displaying the Flehmen’s Grimace, where he curls his upper lip to expose olfactory glands that he uses to detect the scent of a mare in estrus.
Sometimes stallions vie for mares, demonstrating an impressive display of posturing and if necessary, fighting to win the possession of the desired mare.
I have observed many encounters between stallions out on the range, and I am impressed by their wise use of energy in these challenges. They exert only the necessary amount of pressure and aggression to ward off their opponent. Once one of the stallions submits to the other, the fight is over. No grudges held, no vindictive retaliation.
When I visited the Wild Kaimanawa Horses in New Zealand, I witnessed a chase between two stallions that went on for over thirty minutes. When it was over, the two stood together and grazed - an exemplary example of efficient conflict resolution.
When a fight does occur, it is a brutal display of biting and kicking, rearing and pursuing. Injuries can occur, which may result in fatal infections or crippling.
At some point, the aging lead stallion acquiesces his rank to a younger, viril bachelor stallion. He leaves the family band, and lives out the rest of his life, mentoring young studs in a bachelor band.
A brave warrior, indeed
I offer much gratitude to Marianne Martin, of Real Life Portraits - www.reallifeportraits.com for allowing me to use her photographs in this blog post.
I am filled with joy for the opportunity to share the magnificence of these powerful creatures.
Madly in love with the Mustangs,