When horses attack: The battle of stallion 'boxers' fighting for mating rights
Hooves raised and nostrils flaring, two stallions rear at one another in a timeless battle for supremacy. Spring has arrived on the blossoming plains where the horses live in wild seclusion — and with it, the mating season.
It’s an annual ritual among the herd in which its stallions fight to secure mates from the pick of the mares.
In these extraordinary pictures, the stallions, each weighing almost half a ton, stand on their hind legs like boxers preparing to throw their first ‘punches’ — fierce blows of their powerful hooves.
Hooves at the ready: These two stallions stand on their hind legs and prepare to throw the first blows in the annual battle for supremacy over the pick of the mares
The battles are often bloody and charged with testosterone, but in the end one stallion will win his conjugal rights, while the vanquished must slink away and lick his wounds.
The victor will then typically mate with ‘a harem’ of eight or nine mares — a manageable number which ensures he can control them, while reserving the rest of his energy for chasing the other stallions away.
These pictures were taken by wildlife photographer Vedran Vidak, who has spent many days observing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat of West Bosnia’s Cincar mountain range.
‘Since they live on their own without human interference, they truly accord with Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest,’ he says.
Heavyweight contest: Two stallions rare up onto their hind legs and clatter their hooves against each other in a bid to dominate the wild herd in the Cincar mountains in Bosnia
Brawl: A powerful bay horse goes to bite the other beast while using its front legs to jab its opponent's neck
‘Each stallion has to show off. He has to prove he is the dominant male and that his strength and perseverance are incomparable with any other.’
The herd of 200 horses has recently come down from caverns some 4,000ft up in the mountains, where they spend their winters to preserve their strength.
Shake hands: These two ponies touch together their front hooves as they nervously jostle for position