This story originally appeared at American Web Media.
Nature photographers know the importance of luck and timing. Sixty-five-year-old Igno Gerlach is no exception.
Such truth played out again on a recent visit to Germany, where Gerlach was tracking a herd of 18 Icelandic stallions traveling across the Rhineland-Palatinate province. All at once, a young tan horse suddenly fell ill and lost his footing.
Gerlach grabbed his camera right at this moment, though he had no idea of the heartwarming scene that was about to unfold. The rest of the herd quickly gathered around the sick colt, who by now had fallen to the ground, in a collective show of support that seemed aimed at helping him recover from this sudden dizzy spell.
The photographer, who is also from Germany, recounted this heartwarming scene to the Daily Mail: “The stallion went to his knees with his front legs and sank to the ground,” he said. “Finally, he lay down on his side and didn’t move anymore.”
Gerlach sensed that the tan, two-year-old stallion might be tired, though he naturally couldn’t know this for sure. There was also a chance the young colt was seeking a time out in order to scratch his fleas. More than anything else, however, the young animal seemed gripped by an overpowering lethargy, which nary the strength to pull himself back on all fours.
Regardless, the stallion’s moment of weakness beckoned the rest of the herd, who quickly came to the rescue. “The dark stallion quickly came to the horse lying on the ground to motivate him to stand up,’ said Gerlach, who by now had started filming this sweet rendezvous.
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The video reveals a dark-colored horse nuzzling the sick stallion in a show of compassion and solidarity, before lovingly nipping the tan stallion’s leg to gently nudge it awake. The little love bite seems to do the trick, because the tan horse quickly sits up and unsteadily tries to stand.
Unfortunately, the little horse’s wobbling legs reveal that all is not well. But as his unsteady legs continue to shake, the other horses to rush to his side, rubbing up against his body and nipping his ears as a way to share their energy, support, and strength.
Gerlach was deeply moved by this collective show of compassion, which ultimately helped the young horse finally recover. “Why the other stallions motivated their comrades to get up is just as unclear,” he said. “It seemed as if the stallions were trying to save their herd member from certain death.”
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