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

Posts Tagged ‘running horses

Energized Horses

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Fun horse energy is a wonderful thing to experience up close. I walked out into the paddock yesterday with no agenda beyond hanging out with the horses. It was around the time when they are often nodding off peacefully in the bright sunshine but something had them fired up much more than usual. I stood and marveled at their antics for a long time before realizing how great it would be to share what I was witnessing.

By the time I was able to start recording, they were rounding the turn on their last lap past the round pen and returning to the comfortable safety of the paddock near the watering station.



It’s possible they were on alert from the vehicle delivering the next two-week supply of feed and the sound of the woman tossing (13) 50-pound bags in an organized pile on pallets in the barn. I stepped out under the overhang after helping her unload and the horses were all down by the round pen. While I stood there and watched them for a moment, I became acutely aware of the loudness of the trickling water running in the gutter and downspouts from snow melting off the metal roof.

That sound may have also been an unnerving trigger for the horses that caused them to suddenly behave so rambunctiously during their normal quiet time.

At one point, I was standing in the very center of the round pen as they galloped around, sprinting in and out of the paddock, reversing direction in an instant as if that was the whole point of the exercise. They would fall in line in a very specific order that reflected my impression of their herd hierarchy –Swings-Mix-Light-Mia– whenever Swings would come to a stop. Suddenly, Swings would begin to turn and they would all flip around and take off running again.

Eventually, Mix and Swings ran right at me in the round pen after Light and Mia had made the turn out into the pasture. They all ran around for a bit with each pair on either side of the round pen fence. Then Light and Mia came running in to join the other two in the round pen. Four unpredictably frolicking horses and me all inside the round pen at the same time was too much for me and I bolted to move from dead center to against the fence by the door while they leaped and spun.

Horses reared and kicked, Swings gestured as if she wanted to lay down and I let out an involuntary chuckle of giddiness to be in such close proximity, witnessing such a beautiful spectacle of equine energy. When they all took off out of the round pen again, I thought to pull out my phone for recording whatever they had left.

Maybe they napped after that. I went inside because it was COLD out there yesterday, but my soul was fully charged by osmosis due to volumes of unbridled horse energy.




Written by johnwhays

March 15, 2023 at 6:00 am

Fun Frolic

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For those who don’t have concerns about melting temperatures during winter, yesterday was gorgeous on the ranch. After feeding two of the horses an extra portion at noon, I decided to walk out into the hay field to see if any of them might follow me out into the deeper snow.

Light and Mia took immediate notice of my unusual behavior, walking to the opening in the fence to think about their next move. Mia decided to approach me. Light turned around and took a few steps back toward the barn.

Mia made her way right up to me and stopped for an exchange of greetings, sniffing to make sure I was who she suspected me to be. Then she decided to just keep going and walked past me further up the hill.

When I turned back around toward the barn, I was shocked to see that Light had made it all the way up behind me without making a sound. I have no idea how horses are able to approach so quickly with such stealth.

I stayed put as the horses meandered off on their own, heading toward one of their favored corners of the field. Making their way toward the fence line, Light started to pick up the pace. A trot became a run and after making a turn, the two chestnuts broke out in a glorious top-speed sprint back to the paddock.

After navigating the sharp turn through the gate at high velocity, they vented all their amped-up energy by rearing on their hind legs and vigorously turning around in loops. It’s incredibly invigorating to witness up close, horses choosing to exert themselves to such extreme on their own terms.

I think I had as much fun watching the horses as they had frolicking in the uncharacteristic warmth of the beautiful afternoon.



Written by johnwhays

February 9, 2023 at 7:00 am

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Midday Sprint

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I did recently swear off mowing grass in November but this is different. This isn’t lawn grass I was mowing yesterday with the garden tractor. On an uncharacteristically warm November day, I brought out the big diesel and pulled the brush cutter across the back pasture to cut down a problematic invasion of Canadian thistle.

We were aware of the toxicity risks for horses, yet it was Cyndie’s recent Master Gardener classes that pointed out how the thistle will spread and degrade the quality of grazing pastures if left unchecked.

But, honestly, it still felt a little too much like mowing grass.

My presence on the big machine riled the horses into a bit of sprinting that Cyndie captured on video.



I had closed gates to isolate the pasture I was going to mow and that was the first step in raising the curiosity of the horses. When I showed up on the big tractor and started cutting, it was unclear if they were upset to see their grazing options disappearing before their eyes or just worked up over the strange-looking noisy contraption rolling along.

They started racing in and out of the paddocks from the front hayfield.

It is beautiful to watch them sprint in the manner they were bred and raised to do, knowing it is their choice to run and they are free to stop whenever they wish.

Soon after their little spurt of racing, they wandered out into the hayfield and stood for a little nap while the tractor droned on. When I finished in the back pasture, Cyndie opened the gate to the hayfield and I rolled out there to mow the strip along the paddock fences where we had planted acorns. The horses didn’t move a muscle at that point.

They quickly get over the initial alarm about me showing up on machines with engines.

Using the knowledge Cyndie is gaining from her Master Gardener classes, we have a new plan to transplant some yearling oaks next spring and protect them from animals and crowding from surrounding growth for the first few years. Yesterday, she scouted and marked the candidates we hope to use when the winter snow disappears from the ground.

I mowed the grass short and Cyndie dug holes in advance to mark the spots. That alleyway will end up getting a more permanent barrier to keep horses away while future paddock shade is being developed.

Beware the work deemed necessary when you start learning the wealth of valuable details included in Master Gardener lessons.

It will be much more marathon than occasional sprints.