Home on the Range

Horses in the wild aren’t usually territorial; they live in ‘home ranges’, areas of land that contain enough food and variety of food for the group, water sources, places to take shelter from the elements, and ‘shades’, exposed ground where they can escape harassment from insects. They keep a mental map of the area and travel around their home ranges as they need to, usually just to continuously move on to fresh grazing and return to sheltered spots as the weather dictates. This means home ranges can be very big, usually in arid areas where water sources are widely spaced, but often on Gower, they are pretty small because the climate allows for plenty fresh grazing and browsing, and fresh water, even on the North Gower salt marshes, is never that far away, within a kilometre, not several kilometres like it might be in some desert parts of America.

The distribution of home ranges makes for easy pony watching, it’s quite usual to be able to see more than one group from one vantage point. Especially on the marsh where visibility is great. This series of photos takes in three separate groups of ponies, all visible from the sea wall at Cwm Ivy. Starting in the west is Whiteford Point, a sandy spit with pine forest with a smattering of very distant grey mares, to the east you can see Penclawdd. At the end of the sequence of images are a pair of older mares close to foaling under the shadow of North Hill Tor.




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