Playtime with Dad...
It's not often that we get to see images like this - a tolerant stallion humours his son - colt Wildwych Pirate - while he climbs all over him. Play with adult horses of both sexes is vital for foals to learn how to behave and socialise with others. 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.
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. Sadly too often this is incorrectly considered 'normal' management, so it is no surprise that stallions become frustrated and aggressive. A mare would also be likely to become 'difficult to handle' if kept away from other horses in this way.
These boys belong to Connemara breeder Mary Prewitt who lives in Colorado. Mary's horses are all kept as naturally as possible - and that includes her stallions living as part of the herd together with the mares and subsequently their foals. The stallions are present for the birth of their own foals. Her foals are raised by both parents and as a result her youngsters, unsurprisingly, have a reputation for being extremely well-balanced and good natured.
It is just fantastic to see this, as so many stallions are locked up alone and labelled 'aggressive', when in fact this is so far from the truth. Stallions, just like any horse, are social animals and need equine company.
Huge thanks to Mary for allowing me to share this photo - please respect her copyright.