Red Face never seems to fail to provide excitement, since he continues to run with Singlefoot and his body guard, Satellite. It is such a curious thing to watch these three stallions maintain their alliances in a cooperative effort to ward off advances from other stallions who try to steal their mares. One could make a complete behavior study just on the dynamics of these three stallions.
Last year Red Face had no foals, leading us to wonder if he was able to settle his mares, but this year every mare he had in his harem foaled a healthy foal. Singelfoot lost two foals last year to unknown causes and only has one this year. Two more of his mares carrying this year's foals have yet to deliver. Though they have been successful in increasing their bands by reproduction, they have each lost mares in the past month. One would think their cooperative effort would make taking their mares more difficult, but Red Face has lost Firefly and her filly, Rue, to Sidekick and Strawberry, her three year old colt, Eclipse, and her new filly, Medora to High Star. Singlefoot has lost Molly and little Teddy Bear to Red Face and Bentonite and Sapphire to Wind Canyon.
On the hottest day of our last visit to the park, Jan and I hiked far into the interior of the park to an area that looks fairly flat from a distance but is laced with deep valleys. We felt it was worth a long hike on a hot day to find four bands in the same area and we wanted to check on Sidekick's little filly, Funny Girl, who was limping badly. We called in Henry and Hedrick, the other observation team, to help us work the larger bands in such rolling country. While they were coming, we were able to work Embers and his band. There was nothing new happening with them.
Moving a little closer to try to get all of Red Face and Singlefoot's bands in sight, we were able to see that Sundance had a solid bay filly with her. We also noticed a lone horse about five hundred yards fr0m the others. With the sun behind her, she looked dark chestnut and had me stumped for a time, but I finally realized it was the young black mare, Lignite. Since she was alone, I figured she must have a brand new foal with her too. Moving a little close yet, I was able to confirm that she had a cute black filly with her that was no more than a few hours old. She had most likely been born some time during the early hours of the morning and they had not yet returned to Red Face's band.
Not wanting me to get too close to the foal, Lignite started back to her band. Sensing an opportunity to steal another mare from Red Face, Sidekick approached her to bring her into his band grazing not too far from the larger band. Red Face was in a small valley and didn't see that his mare was about to be taken, but Satellite did see Sidekick and immediately sensed his intentions. Satellite ran to intervene while Lignite wheeled to try to protect Little Mo from the battle which she knew was about to irrupt. Satellite challenged Sidekick and both horses reared in defiance of one another. Satellite had beaten off Sidekick handily and was about to claim the mare for himself when Red Face showed up. I have never seem Red Face fight Satellite, but it has always been clear that Red Face is dominant over Satellite. Satellite was soon running from Red Face.
Twice more Red Face had to run off Satellite so it appears to be a matter of time before Satellite deserts his post as body guard to Singlefoot and acquires his own harem. It will be interesting who he will take them from. Will it be Red Face or Singlefoot, or will he take on another stallion? Only time and more observations will tell the rest of this story.