Mother Nature

Is it just me, or does mother nature have a bad reputation? Often, when something “bad” happens to a wild animal I hear that Mother Nature is cruel. To me, this seems like a glass half empty type of response. Sometimes, it seems to me that people are determined to assume the worst of a situation, but wouldn’t it be better to assume the best? Maybe this is naive of me, but I’ve often thought that keeping positive leads to better results than being negative, so I thought I’d try my hand at explaining why Mother Nature may not be cruel, but rather merciful.

The main reason is natural selection. I know I bring it up a lot, so I’ll be brief in the definition. Natural selection is when only the strongest horses live to reproduce. Another way to look at it is survival of the fittest where only the animals with the most desirable traits remain.

While I can see why this could be perceived as cruel, the objective part of me realizes that it is a necessary part of nature, but here’s the part that people might disagree with me about. I also think that natural selection is merciful. While it’s sometimes hard for people to remain objective when thinking about wildlife, especially the horses, I hope my explanation will make sense, but I think it might be best to use examples to help make my thoughts clear.

The most obvious example is if a horse or animal is in obvious pain. If the animal doesn’t make it, then isn’t it more humane to end the suffering? On the other hand, there have also been cases where injured horses have also survived. So, wouldn’t that be classified as cruel?  However, much like the saying mother knows best, I believe Mother Nature does too. Everything has it’s time, and horses that have been reported with seemingly life threatening injuries also have made the most remarkable recoveries.

Diamond was injured in 2006, dissapeared for most of a year but recovered. He lost his band this year, and hasn't been seen recently, but it is possible he's doing something similar now.

Diamond was injured in 2006, disappeared for most of a year but recovered. He lost his band this year, and hasn’t been seen recently, but it is possible he’s doing something similar now.

Lariat (far right) broke her leg as a foal, but has matured into a beautiful mare.

Lariat (far right) broke her leg as a foal, but has matured into a beautiful mare.

The second example I have is when seemingly healthy horses don’t make it. It can be especially sad if it’s a young animal or an animal that is a favorite, but like I said, everything has its time. Also, since the horses receive no vet care, how can we know for sure that there was nothing wrong with them? If there were something the matter, then I would not see the animal suffer more than they have to.

Although Dancer seemed healthy, she likely died while foaling.

Although Dancer seemed healthy, she likely died while foaling.

Of course, it could be argued that if life on the range is so tough, then the horses should just be rounded up and placed into caring homes. However, the challenges the horses face are the same for all wildlife. Also, while the horses are adaptable and can often be trained, family and freedom are what they value most. While I try not to anthropomorphize I think it would be better for the horses for them to stay free rather than take their chances finding a good an adopter or ending up in holding facilities.

I also want to briefly talk about the situation with Encore. For those of you that don’t know, Cloud lost his band briefly and Encore is now with some bachelors. While the situation isn’t ideal, it isn’t unheard of for a yearling filly to be without her band. Much like humans, horses mature at different rates, and Encore has always been outgoing. I’m not sure if she chose the bachelors or not, but I doubt they’ll be able to keep her if she doesn’t like being with them. Encore may only be a yearling, and her story is still unfolding, but to continue the running theme in this post, everything has a time and happens for a reason.

Encore July 2013. Encore is now a yearling and is with some bachelors.

Encore July 2013. Encore is now a yearling and is with some bachelors.

To summarize, while Mother Nature can sometimes seem cruel, it can also be merciful on animals that might be suffering. Also while being subjective can be useful in a persuasive document or an appeal to emotions, I sometimes worry that it can also be perceived as overly emotional. Which could also lead to a source being discredited if the source is constantly subjective.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t worry. With any wildlife, but to me the horses especially, there is news that no one wants to hear, so if that’s your prerogative go for it. However, I’ve noticed even being a little positive can go a long way and worrying won’t help a situation. So, if you’ve read this far in my post, I leave you with a challenge. For every negative thing that might happen do you think we could list two or more positive things? I’m not saying the negative outcomes be ignored, it’s important to keep all possible outcomes in mind, but it’s also important to remember that there are positive outcomes too. Lastly, as usual discussion is very welcome so feel free to leave any thoughts or



  1. Linda D Said:

    I did read your entire opinion piece and will just share a couple of my thoughts. 1) I have stopped using the term “Mother” Nature, because I don’t believe the force of Nature has a gender. 2) The saying about “the fittest shall survive” is not the ONLY thing that affects who survives. There are many things that happen in Nature that have NOTHING to do with FITNESS—like when lightning strikes, a leg gets caught between two rocks or something and is broken or very badly injured, the edge of a cliff gives way and a horse falls to their death, a drunk driver hits them and injures them badly or kills them instantly, they just happen to walk under the rock that a mountain lion is crouched upon, or there happens to be a lion nearby when a mare’s flight response is compromised by the moments of giving birth, etc., etc., etc. Sometimes it’s just that “when your # is up, it’s up”, thing. Fitness is certainly a factor, but not the only one. 3) I also prefer to be optimistic about all situations and know that the outcome is what it must be. If it were me, and my choice, I wouldn’t trade a life in the wild, with all the dangers, for one in captivity, and I’d rather see the horses live and die as they must, in the wild. I care deeply about each and every horse out there, but I know that there must be sad endings to some of their stories, and I accept that, reluctantly.

    • Agreed. My understanding about fitness from what I have learned in my natural resource classes is it just has to do with an organisms ability to reproduce, not if it is the most physically fit.

      • Linda D Said:

        The way I see it, there are many kinds of fitness, and they do factor into survival, but I reiterate that any kind of “fitness” and/or natural selection are not the only factors involved in survival taken on an individual basis. They do however, have a profound effect on the general condition of the species as a whole.

  2. Joy Said:

    Wonderful words — and let’s not forget Merlin’s injury, either. We didn’t think he would make it, but he did. These horses are tough!

    I actually think it looks like Encore/Nimbus likes Knight 😉

    • Thanks! I forget, when was Merlin last sighted?
      I also agree about Encore (Nimbus) and Knight. Even without the photos I had a feeling that she wouldn’t have stayed with the bachelors if she didn’t like at least one of them.

      • Linda D Said:

        I saw Merlin not too long after he had his leg injured, and it wasn’t nearly as severe as Lakota’s was, so I wasn’t quite as concerned about him; but the waiting for word was tough anyway. The stallions seem to be very good at staying out of sight when they’ve been injured, and I think it’s probably a very good thing. Merlin seems to be dealing with the loss of his position as band stallion by fraternizing with other bachelors, at least some of the time. I love Merlin, and am glad he’s coping with the change OK. 🙂

  3. I had someone email to say they had seen Merlin this past weekend. Yay for Nimbus if she is where she wants to be. Seems a bit young, but hopefully it works out. I have to say I disagree about her leaving when ever she wants. With 3 bachelor stallions there, I am guessing it is not as easy as we all wish it could be. Maybe when Cloud heals from his leg injury, he can zoom in and take her back to the family band.

    • Thanks for the information about Merlin, but I did not say Nimbus could just leave when she wants. Although there are three bachelors, Nimbus is outgoing and independent. If she didn’t like the horses she’s with at any given time I doubt they would have an easy time getting her to settle if at all.

      • Ok, sorry I guess I miss read your comment: ” Even without the photos I had a feeling that she wouldn’t have stayed with the bachelors if she didn’t like at least one of them.”

      • No worries. It was a bit vague, so I can see how it could be easily misunderstood.

      • Linda D Said:

        I’m thinking Nimbus knows she’s in kind of a precarious position right now, and instinct tells her that “getting along” with Knight is a wise move at this point. And maybe she does even like him a little extra, but I doubt that this is her first choice at this age. It would be interesting to see what kind of opportunities she may have to get back with her family band, and what choices she will make if she has the chance. She and “Auntie” Innocentes were pretty chummy a lot of the time when I was there, too, as well as having Cloud, Feldspar and Mica to hang out with. For now, I guess I’d put my money on her getting back to them if she can. I’m also guessing it will depend somewhat on how long this arrangement goes on, as to how anxious she would be to get back to them.

      • Well, call me an optimist, but in the photos the Mustang Center shared of Knight and Nimbus she seemed to like him too. Even if she hasn’t chosen him it’ll go better for her in the long run, especially if they eventually break off from the rest of the bachelors. As bonded as I know Cloud is with her, I doubt he’d risk taking Nimbus back from a group of bachelors, nor would he allow one of his mares to leave for her. Similarly, as it has been pointed out, the bachelors won’t let Nimbus leave either. If she were with just Knight, Cloud would have an easier time winning her back. Although, if she does like Knight, there at least she’s only with one stallion and if she does get pregnant it will be with an unrelated stallion. At least at this point, it seems like there are more good options that could come of this than bad options.

      • Alex Said:

        Yes your right live i agree! Besides in any interchange it is the mares who call the shots! The stallions are not crazed sex driven beasts, there is so much comunication going on and if a mare does not like a stallion, especially if she is oldrr, she wont hang around! You could say that juniper started the same way, she is with 2 stallions ! If encore does stay with them i think one of the stallions will claim his dominance over her! In any case these are natural things and they are so interesting to observe! 😊

      • I thought of Juniper too. I was also thinking that if Encore doesn’t want to be bred she’ll let any stallion know. I’ve always found the process of stallions courting their mares a lot of fun to watch. I am also looking forward to see what will happen with Nimbus.

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