Hickock’s Lead Mare

Ever since first seeing Hickock’s band in May 2015, they’ve been a bit of a conundrum to me. Hickock was only there for part of the time, Hightail did what she wanted leaving the band to follow if they choose, and Kitalpha tried to act more mature than she really was, yet somehow they made it work. When Hightail passed away, I was sure the oldest mare Seneca would take over as lead mare. She was older, knew the area better, and the other mares seemed to follow her lead when in over their heads (i.e. hills are a challenge).

I visited a little over a year later, excited to see horses in the Dryhead. Right on cue, almost exactly as we drove into the range, Kitalpha trotted up to investigate. I waited for Seneca to join her, but instead Kitalpha was followed by her colt Quasar, granddaughter Prima, and daughter Nova. Surely Seneca would move to pass them before leading them across the road, but she fell into step behind them, with Hickock taking the very rear. The behavior from Seneca seemed odd, but as an older mare, I figured Seneca knew that it wasn’t worth spending the energy at that moment, and she’d take over as lead mare in her own time.

Kitalpha picks a new spot to graze.

Kitalpha picks a new spot to graze.

Seneca seems content to let Kitalpha lead as long as she's with the youngsters.

Seneca seems content to let Kitalpha lead as long as she’s with the youngsters.

As they crossed the street, Seneca still stayed behind Nova, and I had an epiphany: Seneca must be letting Kitalpha come into her own as lead mare. Kitalpha spent her first few years secluded, so she had to learn how to be independent. She also has a daughter, and granddaughter that are devoted to her, not to mention Quaser. She can’t help that they already follow her where ever she goes, and Seneca seems happy to have young horses in the band again. I’ll miss seeing Hightail in the Dryhead, but with only one independent mare in the band Hickock’s band seems a little more stable. I look forward to seeing Kitalpha continue to come into her own as lead mare. It goes to show no matter how many times I visit the range, I’m always learning.

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