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

Posts Tagged ‘Swings

Precious Moment

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There wasn’t anything particularly special about my taking on the afternoon chores after work yesterday, other than it is usually Cyndie who fills that role on days I commute to the far side of the Twin Cities. She was on adventures of her own in the Cities yesterday, so I changed clothes when I got home and took Delilah out for a walk.

The rain shower I had driven through to get home had moved on but it had soaked things enough that the trees were subsequently dripping almost as fast as drops fall from a rain cloud.

Delilah veered off the trail in pursuit of some enticing scent. I had no intention of following her and stood my ground until she figured it out and retraced her steps back to me. She is so funny in the way her face communicates that she understands the drill and quickly resumes her position on the trail ahead of me, as if to demonstrate doing so was her plan all along.

When we came around to the barn, she marched inside to the spot we always hook her leash to and waited patiently while I tended to the horses.

They were all calm and quiet, and a little wet from the rain. After I dumped manure on the compost pile and came back to collect their empty feed pans, Swings approached me at the fence. I offered some scratches and a little loving attention.

She soaked it up and stayed engaged with me for an extended session.

The longer she lingered, the more I wanted to love her up with scratches and massage.

It became difficult to tell who was doing the loving and who was on the receiving end. The warmth was definitely flowing in both directions.

It was a truly precious equine moment.



Written by johnwhays

October 8, 2021 at 6:00 am

Swings Photographed

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I didn’t set out to capture portraits of all the horses the other day. Moments after capturing the image of Mix that I posted yesterday, I turned to find Swings uphill from where I was standing. I had to change my position a couple of times to remove my shadow from the frame. The result provided a shadow of Swings that, for me, makes up for the other aspects of the shot I don’t like so much.

The background robs some of the definition her outlines deserve but I’m not discarding the image just because of that.

I like the way her shadow stands up against the wall behind her.

I like how the shadow appears to have its own personality.

I like how the outline of the head of the shadow is better defined than her actual head.

I like how Swings’ physical features and coloring come through looking totally defiant of her actual age.

Swings’ full Thoroughbred racing name is “Gate Swinger.” She was born in Kentucky and started racing as a two-year-old. Over her four years of running she earned $116,812. Swings is currently 26-years-old. That is approximately 75-and-a-half in human years. She is the oldest of the four now living with us.

When the horses arrived at Wintervale last April, one of the things we noticed about Swings was anxiety that led her to pace back and forth along a short distance of the paddock fence, from the barn overhang to the gate through which they arrived. At one point, I tried walking with her from outside the fence. She gave me a look like I was weird, but kept pacing.

I changed my tactic and switched to walking opposite her direction, back and forth so we passed each other in the middle. It caused her to give up for a while, but then she soon returned to pacing. I saw the other horses occasionally interrupt her pacing, as if to break the spell she was under.

After a few days her anxiety and that habit of pacing seemed to dissipate. Now she seems like the calmest of the four of them. As the eldest mare, she could easily take the role of herd leader because she presents herself as the most regal, but she doesn’t show a need to hold that complete dominance over all the others.

In fact, the order of hierarchy among the herd is a little complex. Swings will take over Mix’s feed pan in a gesture of dominance and Mix holds command over both Light and Mia, but Light is able to move Swings off her pan without any fuss.

The average life expectancy of Thoroughbreds is 25-28. Swings looks so good and has settled into such a zen-like calmness now that we will be very surprised if she doesn’t thrive well beyond the average range.

I will have plenty of opportunities to capture a picture of her that properly reveals how gorgeous all her features really are.



Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2021 at 6:00 am