WILD HORSES AND HARSH WINTERS
I still remember the first time I photographed wild horses in snow. I was at the Pine Nut mountains in Nevada and the weather was "beyond" freezing cold for this Brazilian native. I could not believe the amount of ice on the mustangs - as if they were all frozen.
In an effort to understand yet one more facet of nature's perfection, I went searching for answers. So how do wild horses survive in harsh weather?
Wild horses have manes and tails that help shield them from storms. They will turn their rumps towards the weather, the tails protecting their delicate under parts. In addition, they lower their heads, using their bodies to keep out of the windy conditions. Oils in their coats shed moisture. In a storm with drier snow, the moisture freezes on the outer surfaces of the coat, so it does not reach the animal's skin. A horse coat also has insulating air pockets preventing body heat from escaping, essentially trapping the heat next to the animal. Looking at this image of "Zorro" you would not have guessed that right?
As far as the legs and hooves, the horse has a shunting mechanism in their feet that moves blood away from their hooves - probably a coping mechanism to prevent chilling the rest of the body when they stand in snow. Lower legs are mostly made of tendons and bone which handle cold much better than muscles do, as tendons and bones are not energy-requiring tissues compared to the rest of the body.
An equestrian for most of her life, Maria combines her passion for horses with her art and the desire to bring public awareness to the American wild horses. Maria Marriott Photography is a proud supporter of several non-profit organizations that tirelessly work to ensure the well-being of the American mustangs.