Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wild Musings, Equine Coat Colour

Blue Wildebeest, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Photo credit:  Chris Eason

Sorraia Stallion Altamiro (Ultrajado x Pompeia) showing stripes and wrinkles
Photo:  Lynne Gerard

This journal entry was started in January, but I never managed to finish it in time.  Now February is nearly over and the deep chill that teased occasionally in January has settled in with determination and definitely overstayed its welcome.  All of Manitoulin Island's inhabitants are waiting for more moderate temperatures (enough with dipping to minus 40ºC!) and dreaming of pleasant breezes replacing these mean bitter February winds.  Snowed in here at Ravenseyrie, yet with satellite internet holding up, seems a good time to finish this January entry and publish it before February slides on by.

From last month:

After having been nearly minus thirty at dawn, late in the day the thermometer had swelled upward to -13ºC with glorious sunshine on a day near January's end.  If you knew where to look, you would find this woman (your author) sitting in the snow, leaning against a tree in the horses favourite windbreak, musing...

Her thoughts are disjointed - yet persistent - and flit about, as if they are almost about to grasp a remarkable notion, but cannot yet find a way to adequately express them.  It may be that this woman is simply mentally unstable... 

The wind sings through the treetops, but does not penetrate this sheltered spot.  Sun soothing reverie loosens the mind further...

Thoughts and images...Pleistocene cave art, Equus ferus, Tarpan,  the Zebro, Sorraia, Sorraia Mustang, black dun/grulla/mouse-grey, Peter, Ben K. Green, the unidentifiable "dun" gene, thick hides, wrinkles and stripes, hue variations,  musk ox, wildebeest, caribou, bison - there are shared characteristics in wild mammal pelages that seem outwardly obvious.  

Altamiro, nearly concealed in the forest

Through spruce branches I admire the Sorraia stallion, Altamiro, perfectly blending in the surrounding forest as he enjoys an offering of dried summer.   

Off to the right, less concealed is the wonderful draft mule, Jerry (Uncle Jerry to the Sorraia colts), his bright sorrel colour is enhanced by the sun.  Likewise, the domestic bred ex-Thoroughbred race horse, Zeus, starkly contrasts with the forest.  This lovely sorrel colour is not one that is typical of wilderness creatures, at least not in Northern Ontario.

Thoroughbred gelding, Zeus and Sorraia stallion, Altamiro

Sorraia stallion, Legado

Reindeer in Northern Finland
Photo credit:  Laplaender

Young Barren-Ground Caribou, Ukkusiksalic National Park, Nunavet
Photo credit:  Ansgar Walk

Winter hair coat photos on colts of the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve:

"The dun coloration is probably the wild phenotype in horses depending on its occurrence in Przewalski horses as well as in some primitive horse breeds (e.g. Exmoor Pony, Konik, Icelandic Horses, Norwegian Fjords, Sorraia).  But the proof of this assumption is still open."  --Cieslak et al., 2010

Winter pelage of a Sorraia colt at Ravenseyrie

American Bison
Photo credit:  Jairo S. Feris Delgado

Sorraia colt Destemido at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve
Photo:  Lynne Gerard

Musk Oxen near Nome
Photo Credit:  Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

From today:

There has been and continues to be a great deal of scientific research into the colour genetics in equine coat colours, yet the gene responsible for the dun colouration continues to elude identification.    As I sit, contemplating things I do not understand, I nevertheless soak in the sensations and sights of the wilderness surrounding me and cannot help but wonder if scientists have thought, as I do, about the similarities in the hide strength and coat colours of dun horses (both bay dun and black dun) and wild mammals such as the caribou, musk ox, bison and wildebeest?  Might a comparative study of these pelages and hide types provide insight into the mystery of the dun gene?

Blue Wildebeest, Tanzania
Photo Credit:  Nevil Dilmen

American Plains Bison
Photo credit:  Matt Reinbold

Black Wildebeest, Thoiry Zoo
Photo credit:  Vassil

Blue Wildebeest, Tanzania
Photo credit:  Nevil Dilmen