Happy Father's Day!
It is a happy Fathers Day for this stallion – Wildwych Thundersnow – who can hang out with his family every day. It's not often that we see images like this - a tolerant stallion humouring his son Benny while he learns how to be a horse.
It is vital for foals to play with adult horses of both sexes in order to learn how to behave and socialise with others. Sadly, as most of our horses have never seen their father – let alone played with him – we are raising horses who are missing an essential part of their education.
Foals having quality time with their fathers is one area of equine management that is severely lacking - foals are routinely raised in single parent families. We must consider that we are also ignoring the stallion’s innate need to be a father and how important that role is for him, as it is for males of other species. Sadly the horse industry seems to have forgotten stallions are such amicable and social animals, they very rarely get the chance to live a normal life.
Stallions have an undeservedly bad reputation for being aggressive and unable to live with other horses, so most domestic stallions spend their lives in solitary confinement. All too often this is incorrectly considered 'normal' management, so in many ways it is unsurprising that stallions become aggressive and frustrated – a mare would also be likely to become 'difficult to handle' if kept away from other horses.
These boys are domestic, not feral, horses and all credit to Connemara breeder Mary Prewitt for bringing up her youngsters in their family group. Mary’s stallions live together with mares and foals, as they should. Her foals unsurprisingly have a reputation for having fantastic temperaments!
Huge thanks to Mary for allowing me to share these photos – please respect her copyright.