Mustangs | Spirit of the Shrinking West, National Geographic Magazine: Wild Horse Mare and Newborn Baby Foal

A baby wild horse unsteadily walks with his mother through a field in the early morning.

Born under the cover of night, a newborn foal takes his wobbly first steps beside his mother, a mustang who keeps her eye on the nearby horse herd. The freeze brand on her neck indicates the mother was a wild horse who was captured by the Bureau of Land Management before she was moved to the South Dakota prairie.

Baby horses are born after a gestation period of approximately 11 months.  Birth takes place quickly and usually at night, consistent with other prey animals. Foals are born with the ability to escape from predators. A foal can stand and nurse in the first hour after it is born, and can trot and canter within hours. A newborn foal’s legs are nearly as long as that of an adult horse.

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