Harem mares gathering around day old filly, Tortugas, protecting her from rogue bachelor stallion, Wild Rye. Wild Rye is one of the bachelor’s along with his full brother, Teton, who stole this harem of mare’s from Gray Ghost. This is the story behind Wild Protector’s and the saga of Gray Ghost – The Story of Gray Ghost!
“Behind all seen things lies something vaster; everything is but a path, a portal, or a window opening on something other than itself.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
You recall Gray Ghost’s story? He lost his band of mares to a pair of bachelor, brother stallions who ganged up on him back in April—Teton and Wild Rye, and another older band stallion, Little Sorrel. His five mares and four yearlings were divided between these three stallions. We knew one of the mares, Teepee, now with the two brothers, Teton and Wild Rye, was very close to foaling, so our goal on this Saturday morning was to find her.
We glassed the band from a high point in the southern part of the park and immediately spotted the new baby. They were in some of the hardest country to find the horses in. You might be able to see them from up high but once you get moving into that country it is a different story. We miscalculated and ended up further east of them than what we wanted, but we did eventually find them after climbing and descending many, many hills!
As we crested the last hill and got our first glimpse of Teepee and her new foal we applauded Gray Ghost for his creation and felt sad because he wasn’t here to see it. So we settled in to see what was happening in the band and realized that Tanker, Ruby and her yearling had managed to slip away from Little Sorrel and now all the mares and yearlings were back together!
The story continues. We also noticed that one of the bachelors, Wild Rye, seems to be hanging away from the band, definitely looking outcast. Teepee and her foal are surrounded by several of the mares and yearlings. She is safely inside a well-positioned circle and it is quite clear that Tanker is alert and in charge and occasionally driving off Teepee’s yearling who is trying to get close to her momma and the new foal.
We are watching the new foal closely trying to determine health, sex, and age, when Goblin, one of the harem mares, comes running with Wild Rye right behind her through the band. It is clear Wild Rye is trying to chase her off and claim her for himself. Now it gets intense because Teton is not going to allow it and a skirmish ensues between the two brother stallions.
We were watching the two stallions fighting and the mares are very nervous and milling around and finally Tanker pushes the mares and yearlings together to protect that new baby. The skirmish didn’t last long, but Melissa, Lincoln and I looked at each other and went “WOW”!
It was when I glanced through the images I had just captured that the emotion hit me. As the tears welled up I realized what we had just witnessed—the power of a family, the power of a mother’s love, the power of heartbreak and loneliness, and the incredible power of freedom and wildness. THAT is what makes these wild horses so unique and spiritual.
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.