Wild, band stallion, Cocoa’s, harem mare Autumn and her day-old colt, Voyageurs, deep in the backcountry of Theodore Roosevelt National Park at sunrise! The backdrop of the badlands with the early light gives this wild pair a rare sense of freedom! The story that occurred the evening before is even more powerful! A young girl witnessing her first foal being born, a wild foal at that! Here’s the story – The Future!
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Ahhhh….where to start! The day I wrote this was a Thursday! It all started on Monday, really!
Monday I drove back to Medora from Minnesota, my home. I had snuck back home to photograph a wedding, to see my husband, and hug my dogs! Oh our horses and cats too! Plus try and see my daughter and granddaughters and my mom! All of that was accomplished.
While I was gone so much happened here in TRNP! Two new foals were born, more mare swapping, another stallion lost his harem, and lots of rain! The park is lusciously green right now and wild flowers have exploded everywhere, along with the mosquitoes!
Leading up to today’s post is a 16-year-old budding, talented photographer! A few weeks ago I received a message from Rachel, the young photographer, who was wondering if she could spend some time with me in the park. She would be traveling with her mom from Idaho and would be arriving the same day as I was driving back from Minnesota, Monday! Her enthusiasm was contagious and I said I would love to! Plus she has a wild horse from the park, sired by Cocoa and Stormy, and born in 2009.
As per our agreement we touched bases via text on Monday and made arrangements to go out together Tuesday morning. I let her pick the time thinking she would want to rest after their long drive! Oh no, this is a sunrise girl! Sweet!!! Sunrise comes early you know….to catch it in time we had to leave Medora at 4:00 am, that meant getting up at 3am! Off we went! Each day since also! Including this morning!
Tuesday we spent the entire day together and Angela, Rachel’s mom, went with us that afternoon on the hunt for Blaze. Wednesday morning we got skunked because of rainy skies, but she and her mom were going riding with Marylu in the park, so I made volunteer plans to help in the park on a project. An all-day fun project which put me outside doing manual labor but in close proximity of the horses!
At quitting time (5:00) I met Rachel and Angela not far from where I had been working all day and we hiked out to where Mystery was, one of the bands Rachel had not yet seen, and who is now coveting one of the mares who was part of the swapping going on. Hiking back from Mystery, to the gathered bands of horses on Lindbo Flats, Rachel and her mom witnessed a rarity and a treat of a lifetime!
Autumn, a mare in Cocoa’s band, had just foaled and was still laying down with her wet, long legged package lying next to her in the prairie grass with Cocoa quietly standing watch. The rest of the band was in close proximity. Stormy, mother to 2015 Lassen, is right there also, quietly watching over Autumn. The band was tucked below the bottom of a butte with a small rise in front of them, well placed away from the rest of the herd.
Now do you remember who Rachel’s former wild mare is out of? Cocoa and Stormy! Rachel is witnessing her first ever foal beginning its new life and a wild one to boot, and it is a half sibling to her mare, and her mare’s momma, Stormy, is standing right there!
I left Rachel and her mom to relish the moment of this birth in the wild and walked away to concentrate on the other bands in the area. The evening light that was developing was glorious! Rachel and her mom found me a bit later; I gave her hug, and asked her to have the honors of naming this new wild colt! She photographed with me for a bit more and they said their goodnights and headed out of the park to find dinner at Boots! Rachel was glowing from her experience!
After they left I savored the solitude, the quiet and peace, the incredible light, the brand new life and the future! Within less than an hour from his birth this tiny existence, Voyageur, was journeying into his new life in Theodore Roosevelt National Park!
If you want to follow Rachel she has a Facebook page, Rachel Abraham US Photography. Her images and her view of Voyageur’s beginning is shared on the North Dakota Badlands Horse Facebook page! Be sure to check out his first steps!
Rachel is the future and the future is bright and my life has been forever blessed because of her!
We donate a percentage of the sale of this print to Walk By Faith Therapeutic Riding, a legitimate non-profit located in northern Minnesota, who use wild horses adopted from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in their programs, providing hope to the lives of children and veterans.