One of my greatest joys over the last 6 months is to work with an entire herd from the wild. I’ve seen this little band in the wild and was lucky enough to be able to bring them in together and never seperate them. Out of the hundreds of wild horses I’ve worked with, to keep and tame an entire herd together is a very special experience. A milestone for me and a chance to keep a family group together that is so unique in my career.
This is Da Vinci, the lead stallion. He is stoic and wise, without a doubt the boss, a calm presence and quiet authority. I rarely see him fuss, but he has rules and keeps the family together and following orders. He’s never silly either, not the one youd see galloping around the paddock bucking and kicking. With him around he brings a sense of peace and calm to al the horses wirh him.
This herd is usually paddocked next to whatever new wild arrivals we have at the time. Da Vinci will go to the fence and quietly meet and establish order with whoever is across the fence. If it's stallions he will meet with them twice a day to discuss politics. There will be a snort and touching of noses at 3pm every afternoon right on time. Yet that is the extent of it. As if to say this fence line and all behind me is mine, thats my family and if you new boys stay where you told there will be no trouble. Theres never really any trouble, no biting, fighting or tearing each other apart and never over the top displays of dominance just a quiet establishing of the rules.
What I cannot stress enough is that wild horses have a far more complicated and nuanced social behaviour that our domestic horses do. Da Vinci is a great example of this. I have no doubt he’d fight to the death for his family but he will also without hesitation adopt and care for the foals any foals on the property. He also took the socially awkward donkey into the herd without any fuss. He is quite often seen standing over all the sleeping babies napping in the sun mid morning.
I say stallion but he has been gelded for many months now and it has not affected his behaviour one little bit. Wild stallions have so much more duties in the wild than just breeding. He is a family man, he always ensures there is food and water and is babysitter in chief.
Photo: Masterclass Lesson - haltercation
DV loves stable life to and will quite happily come in for food and shelter from the rain. He’s a beautiful sensitive and soft horse to work with. One that responds to the lightest aids and extreme focus. This horse is combination of sensitive but sensible and stoic. It is Da Vinci that we filmed for the Wild Horse Masterclass and he helps demonstrate the magic that is working with wild horses.
Photo by Hammond Images