As I travel and discover who the wild stallions are, I want to share their stories.
Today, you will meet Thunder Cloud! He lives in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in Medora, ND.
In the summer his color is much different. Here in the dead of winter he appears jet black. That fury cover of hair which serves to protect all horses, wild or otherwise, deepens in the winter because of the changes that occur driven by the length of the days. The less daylight available to the retina’s trigger the brain to release extra melatonin, a hormone which activates the hair follicles to grow extra hair. In addition, each individual hair will raise and lower to change the thickness of the coat. When the horse is cold it will raise the hairs so they can trap a layer of warm air. The air is warmed by the heat loss from the horse’s skin and the hairs prevent the air from escaping. As the horse warms up the coat will be flattened. This in turn decreases the amount of insulation and varies the amount of airflow to the skin.
(Remember these horses, their history, and more personal stories can easily be found on the group’s Facebook page that does more for them than any other group you will find on the internet – North Dakota Badlands Horse! Be sure to find them.)
Horses, all horses, also need fiber in their diets to produce fermentation which produces body heat. Like a central heating system. It’s true; a horse has his own little central heating system. All that said, the wild horses tend to be much healthier overall compared to their stabled and blanket cousins because they live, eat, and wander the land as intended. But I digress, so sorry. Back to Thunder Cloud!
In the summer Thunder Cloud is an amazing dark blue and roan. Roan is a mixture of white and pigmented hairs that do not fade out as the horse ages. A blue roan like Thunder Cloud in his summer attire is a true roan with a black mane and tail!
Thunder Cloud was born wild in 2001.
He is also quite the band stallion because as of October 2014 his harem is the
largest! His mares consist of Strawberry, Pale Lady, Winter, Spotted Blue,
Ember’s Girl, Angel, and Cowgirl. He has a 2013 filly with him named Justice
and then there are the weanlings from 2014 – Iris, Taylor, Paisley, Xander,
and Kat! Wow!
The day I met Thunder Cloud on December 31, 2014, he was aloof, proud, and highly protective of his colorful and healthy harem!
I plan to meet him again in the spring when his new foal crop hits the ground and the life cycle starts over for the wild horses of Medora!
Thanks for reading! Until next time —