Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘equine energy

Grazing Big

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It was a big day for the horses yesterday on the front hayfield. The sun was out and they had already scouted the perimeter on the previous day, so now it was nothing but calm grazing in the increasing warmth of the morning rays.

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Their precious energy is such a treasure to experience. The impressions conveyed by the photos offer a mere fraction of what it is like to actually stand in their presence long enough to feel like you’ve become a member of their herd.

 

Written by johnwhays

April 29, 2021 at 6:00 am

Settling In

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Despite innumerable projects that deserve our attention this time of year, we preserved much of the day yesterday for just being with the horses. We continue to gain insight into the significant difference between these horses who have been rescued from a variety of situations and histories, and the four pampered Arabians who lived with us previously.

As we were sitting in chairs beside a gate to the large paddock mid-morning, the four mares were finding themselves inclined toward taking a nap. A real lying down nap. All four at the same time.

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A short while later, since naps on the ground tend to only last about 5-minutes, they remained spread out and took to calmly grazing where they stood.

Slowly, but surely, Light made her way toward my feet at the gate, closing the distance by halves, then inch by inch as she munched. I purposely left my boot where it was, protruding beneath the gate in the direct path of grass she was working.

 

When she got to my boot, she pressed it gently, as if to make a connection with me. Then she just kept on munching grass just beyond it.

There has been very little drama between the mares, but as they crowd around the overhang when we are about to set out feed, we’ve seen Mix get a little testy with those around her. We’ve also noticed Swings having some bouts of anxiety that cause her to pace back and forth in one specific spot near the first gate they entered.

We watched as Light appeared to intervene one time to help interrupt the routine, getting Swings to break the pacing and walk calmly away with her. 

Cyndie reported this morning there is already a worn path along that fence that is beginning to get muddy.

We have been a little concerned about how much newly greening grass was available to them in the paddocks, but their digestive systems appear to be handling it thus far. Yesterday we dumped the inaugural wheelbarrow load of manure into the compost area. Cyndie and I embarrassingly held a small celebratory moment over the occasion.

Rocky showed up soon after to start scratching into it, knocking down the nice shape I had created.

Elysa and Ande stopped by to greet the horses and then I successfully installed the pump in our landscape pond to restart the soothing sounds of the falling water.

With that chore completed, I feel justified to now spend even more time helping our horses get comfortable with us and their new surroundings. The grass in the paddocks is already grazed to such an extent we are considering opening the gate to the back pasture for them this afternoon.

They’ve already demonstrated interest several times by standing at that very gate and ogling the greenery spread out before them.

I am happy to be able to say we are all settling in nicely to our new, mutually beneficial relationships.

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Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2021 at 9:36 am

Horses Again

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It was a little before noon when the truck and trailer rolled up our driveway with our new herd of four Thoroughbred mares: Light, Mix, Mia, and Swings. Their names being remnants of the longer versions the racing industry dreams up for their potential champions.

Zodiacal Light (18); Pleasant Mix (17); The Yellow Sheet [Momma Mia] (21); Gate Swinger (26).

From the sound of banging coming from inside the trailer before it even stopped rolling, we got the impression the horses weren’t entirely happy with the situation. That attitude changed swiftly upon their assessment of the paddocks. 

We wanted nothing more than to have them know this is their new home where they could relax and forget all their worries.

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It seemed as though the sky came alive with energy in a reflection of how exciting it was to have horses back on our land. We felt great joy when they rather quickly took turns laying down which offers a clear demonstration of their comfort level with the surroundings.

The chickens appeared to be a new phenomenon to the horses and garnered a fair amount of attention throughout the day, but just in terms of curious interest as opposed to concern over any possible threat.

We aren’t aware of there being a commanding leader at this point among the four mares, but early impressions indicate a willingness to follow Light when she initiates a relocation to different space. She put on a brief show of alerting on the chickens while the others were grazing. Focusing with her head high as the hens rustled in the leaves among the trees, Light rushed up to the fence to get a closer look, then ran back down with the others, still staring. 

It wasn’t that big a deal, except that she repeated the exercise about three times.

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There was only a minor hesitation about drinking from the automatic waterer for all of the horses except Swings, who struggled mightily to convince herself it would be okay. She would bring her head down close, but then give in to nerves and pull away. Finally, it seemed she had become so thirsty she needed to force herself to push through the hesitation. After about a minute of lip smacking, tongue in and out, inches away “I will, I won’t” behaviors, she just shoved her muzzle into the refreshing goodness and took one of the longest drinks ever.

Putting out feed pans in the evening was a fresh adventure. We were so used to a simple routine with our other horses, it was eye opening to realize this was a whole new ball game. They didn’t know where to go, we didn’t know where to put the pans.

Two horses are supposed to get larger servings than the others, but of course, all four quickly engaged in the circus routine of snitching bites from one pan and then moving to push someone off another which kicks off a domino effect of rearranging.

Add in a couple of spontaneous emergency response drills and it becomes impossible to know who has eaten what. The servings this morning weren’t much different. It will be a while before we all figure out an efficient routine.

As dusk settled in last night, the four horses seemed settled enough for the amount of excitement the day had brought them.

I think it brought even more excitement for us. It is incredibly precious to have horses here again.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2021 at 9:08 am

Excited Anticipation

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The day has come for us to receive a new batch of horses to graze our fields for the summer. Everything appears to have fallen into place right on schedule, including a delivery of bags of feed, stacked neatly in the barn a day in advance of needing them.

I have looked at the photo of the horse’s faces for a couple of weeks now and learned to identify them by name so I can make a proper introduction when they arrive around noon today.

We will have our Wintervale flag planted down at the driveway entrance to welcome the truck and trailer.

It’s a little intimidating to find how much we’ve gotten out of the mode of daily caring for large animals. Our chickens are no comparison.

Luckily, Cyndie is very thorough in thinking through details like remembering to ask about restocking our cabinet with medication for treating potential emergency situations.

Between the professional level of detail already shared by the good folks of This Old Horse and Cyndie’s ability to ask pertinent questions about the nitty gritty details of responsibly caring for horses, I feel able to relax and focus on the simple joy of immersing myself in the magical energy of glorious equine beings.

I anticipate it will be an interesting mix of ‘brand new’ and ‘same old’ in the days ahead. I look forward to getting to know the difference between the Arabians we had here previously and the Thoroughbreds that will be here now.

I hope to be an open vessel to whatever messages they might wish to convey as we mingle together when I am scooping manure for the compost pile.

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Written by johnwhays

April 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Equine Fascination

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For someone with little prior experience with horses, the last few years have been a big change for me. Cyndie was much more experienced with horses, but she had never owned one before, nor had she ever been so responsible for their care. We continue to grow increasingly fascinated with horses each passing year.

Our horses are an incredible gift.

We were reminded of this once again last night after watching the premier PBS broadcast of the Nature episode, “Equus: Story of the Horse.”

In the time since our horses arrived here, I’ve not felt a strong urge to saddle and ride them. That fact often surprises visitors who are just getting to know us. “Why else would someone have a horse?” many of them seem to think.

One of my favorite things is that we are able to allow our horses to spend almost all of their time not wearing a halter around their head.

Horses are amazing beings. I am soothed simply by standing in their presence. It is quite a luxurious experience to have them residing here with us, where I am able to reach out and touch them, to exchange breath with them, nose to nose.

Most days, our horses seem to know me better than I know myself.

Horse sense.

Some days, they are completely unflappable. Occasionally, they are jittery beyond our reason. They sense things which we fail to detect.

I envy how adept horses are at swiftly resolving differences and returning their unconcerned attention to simply grazing.

For all the size, power, and speed that horses embody, they are impressively gentle, by their very nature.

Put simply, I find them completely fascinating.

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2019 at 7:00 am

Sticky Mess

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Sure, it’s beautiful, but it was a sticky, wet mess of a snowfall yesterday. Today’s episode of the ongoing saga that is our adventures on the ranch involves wet horses, warm winter precipitation, Christmas preparations, and knee replacement recovery.

Who could this be?

dscn5628eWhy, it’s none other than our stoic herd leader, Legacy. The wet snow had given his long winter coat a curly design that called out to me for a close-up photograph. I find it interesting that so many of his little ringlets contain a strand of color.

A first impression generally perceives him as a white horse, but he does have a subtle distribution of color to him.

I was walking Delilah around the perimeter of the hay-field fence and the horses were out standing in the wet precipitation in the far distance of the field. The horses are well familiar with our routine of trekking this path and most days pay us little attention. Yesterday, at a moment of pause for Delilah to bury her nose in the snow in search of some potential snack, I noticed Cayenne’s energy kick up a bit toward us.

dscn5626eI stepped up to the fence and invited them over, and to my surprise, they came! It is funny how Legacy reacts to these situations, as Cayenne was definitely the instigator and leading the way, but he makes sure to get right on her flank as leader and protector.

When they have closed the distance, he takes command and steps up to make first contact. The other three obediently concede his authority and stay back a length or two.

We visited for a bit and I took pictures of them. Then it was time to move on with Delilah and the herd responded immediately to my movement by turning and running off through the snow back to the fence line in the distance from which they had come. It was a gorgeous visual, their playful equine energy gallivanting away through the falling wet flakes.

They knew what was on the other end of Delilah’s and my little walk. We completed our loop and made our way back to the barn to do the daily afternoon housekeeping, serve up pans of feed, and refill the hay boxes.

I decided to wait out the falling wet snow before starting the plowing and shoveling routine, so spent the afternoon wrapping Christmas gifts and doing laundry. Cyndie had her last in-home physical therapy session and achieved the milestone of reaching 120° bend on the leg with the new knee. She has completely ditched the walker and is getting around with just a cane.

She went on her first outing last night to a Christmas party of the Wildwood Lodge Club clan, the community of families with vacation homes on Big Round Lake near Hayward, WI.

I can see some light at the end of the tunnel of full responsibility for chores around here, and none too soon. I am exhausted. I think the horses miss seeing Cyndie, and I have to admit, I’m growing tired of being their primary caregiver. It’s a bit much when I am also working full-time an hour’s drive away. Add in the requirement of walking Delilah several times a day and my candle is burning at all three ends.

Happily, Cyndie is active again in the kitchen, so at least I’m no longer needing to pretend I have skills there. The next two days will be a whirlwind of driving to and fro from the ranch to Cyndie’s parents’ house for Christmas events.

I hope I can stay awake behind the wheel.

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Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2016 at 8:08 am