Horses Horses Horses! http://equismarts.com For the love of horses Sat, 28 Dec 2013 21:15:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Blossom http://equismarts.com/2013/12/28/blossom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=blossom http://equismarts.com/2013/12/28/blossom/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 21:13:17 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=654 A heavy wave of clouds rolled onto the pasture as the sun was dropping down toward the timbered side of North Peak. The clouds swallowed up familiar landmarks and more. As they muffled the normal afternoon sounds of wildlife and wind, even my ears lost their bearings. My surroundings took on a foreign, ethereal edge. […]

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A heavy wave of clouds rolled onto the pasture as the sun was dropping down toward the timbered side of North Peak.

The clouds swallowed up familiar landmarks and more. As they muffled the normal afternoon sounds of wildlife and wind, even my ears lost their bearings.

My surroundings took on a foreign, ethereal edge. I recognized this plant and that fallen tree stump, but their context was missing.

Not wanting to disturb the quiet, I stepped silently through the nearly empty canvas of thick grey-washed white. Straight lines of dark fence appeared briefly off to the left, but then faded back out as thicker cloud blew over. My feet moved over wet green plants and then a brown dirt trail. I recognize this spot, I thought, I walk here every day.

I clung to the reassurance of that narrow path. I cannot imagine getting lost in such familiar surroundings, and yet, without the comforting sights of hills and ponds, that crazy possibility flickered through my mind. Several minutes passed, and I noticed that the light was slowly fading. It would be dark soon. A low frequency buzz of trepidation hummed through me. Perhaps I should have brought a dog, for company

The buzz flared, and I stopped moving. I’m alone out here. What if something were to happen? I prepared to retreat back home. And then magic happened.

Some of the cloud must have blown off, allowing a last breathe of fading golden light to watercolor the fog. It floated up a little and a lone figure resolved in front of me. Blossom, standing under the barren branches of an apple tree, burst my loneliness as if it had never been. She was facing away from me when she first materialized, but after a moment, she turned in my direction and walked over. In her ever-friendly and curious manner, she nuzzled my shoulder and camera.

Other horses, great dark comforting shapes, appeared at the golden-grey edges of cloud. I wasn’t alone and had never been alone. They had been there, quietly grazing, all along. Beyond the reach of my vision, they had nonetheless been companions on the cloudy grey meadows. I wasn’t, and never had been, alone.

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Follow the Leader is a Horse Training Game http://equismarts.com/2013/11/03/follow-leader-horse-training-game/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=follow-leader-horse-training-game http://equismarts.com/2013/11/03/follow-leader-horse-training-game/#comments Sun, 03 Nov 2013 18:14:00 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=628 The other day Zack brought two-year old Blossom into the riding arena. I wasn’t sure what he had in mind, because she wasn’t wearing her usual halter and lead. In fact, she didn’t have anything on at all! He petted her for a few minutes, and I could see him chatting, but I don’t know […]

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The other day Zack brought two-year old Blossom into the riding arena. I wasn’t sure what he had in mind, because she wasn’t wearing her usual halter and lead. In fact, she didn’t have anything on at all!

He petted her for a few minutes, and I could see him chatting, but I don’t know what he said. Then he took a few steps away, looked back, patted his leg and, with sweet singsong, called, “Blossom!”. She promptly closed the distance and stuck her nose out to his patter, collecting some for her own neck.

Zack walked off again, but this time he kept walking. He walked between tall thin white upright poles. He circled around stumpy white hollow cones. He walked all the way to the brown wooden rails and back to the cones again, occasionally looking over his shoulder and saying something in a normal talking voice.

He appeared to expect just what was happening. I can only imagine what senses told him all was well as he strolled around. Perhaps he felt warm wet air puffed onto his lower back. Or, maybe he listened for the muffled “clip, clop” in the soft sandy dirt behind him. There might even have been the occasional swish of a tail or the soft rushing “Eeeee, aaaaah” sound of air passing through soft nostrils.

It could have been all of these things, or something completely different. Maybe something like the presence of a big thick shadow perpetually looking like it would overwhelm his smaller narrow one.

Blossom follows Zack for fun

Blossom follows Zack for fun

Intrigued beyond patience, I finally asked him, “What, exactly, are you doing?”.

Instead of answering, he said, “Watch this!”. Like a traffic cop at an intersection, he put his palm out for her to dock against. Once her hooves had come to rest, he began backing away from her, but he kept his hand up, and repeatedly said,”Stay”, until he was several yards away. Then, leaning towards her as if to a puppy, he said, “Come here!”, and wiggled his fingers, as if drawing her along an unseen thread.

I can’t say that Blossom kept her feet planted as he walked away, but when he called to her, she let her brakes off and hustled over to him with in great swinging strides.

Grinning at me, he finally answered, “I’m training Blossom”. Then he pulled an apple out of his pocket and their shadows merged.

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This Horse Smiles http://equismarts.com/2013/10/30/horse-smiles/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=horse-smiles http://equismarts.com/2013/10/30/horse-smiles/#comments Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:36:27 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=623 Can horses smile? Pete looks like he is smiling to me. For two days we endured windy cold weather that brought us an inch of rain and nearly dusted us with the winter’s first snowfall. Today the sun returned and the outside temperature rose to … simply wonderful. I think horses live in the moment, […]

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Can horses smile? Pete looks like he is smiling to me. For two days we endured windy cold weather that brought us an inch of rain and nearly dusted us with the winter’s first snowfall. Today the sun returned and the outside temperature rose to … simply wonderful. I think horses live in the moment, and for Pete, this moment looks perfect.

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Spot at the Gate http://equismarts.com/2013/10/13/spot-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=spot-2 http://equismarts.com/2013/10/13/spot-2/#comments Sun, 13 Oct 2013 17:46:42 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=595 Spot is very attached to his long-time horse-pal, Jake. They walk around the property together, grazing and napping and enjoying each others company in the way of old friends.  As the two oldest horses on the ranch, they have lots in common.  Whenever we see one of them resting under a tree or grazing on […]

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Spot is very attached to his long-time horse-pal, Jake. They walk around the property together, grazing and napping and enjoying each others company in the way of old friends.  As the two oldest horses on the ranch, they have lots in common.  Whenever we see one of them resting under a tree or grazing on a meadow, we can feel confident that the other guy is somewhere nearby.

Of the two, Jake is more independent, and will sometimes wander a little distance.  Spot, on the other hand, follows Jake everywhere.  Whenever he loses sight of Jake, Spot calls out to him with loud clarion-call neighs, to which Jake hopefully answers…

Jake and Spot are best friends of the horse world

Jake and Spot are best friends of the horse world

So, the other morning, when we heard Spot’s loud neighing, we simply assumed that he was calling out to Jake.  We had been sitting in the house talking, and happened to head outside just minutes later.  There, to our great surprise, stood Spot.  He did not appear to be looking for Jake at all.  He stood just outside the gate to our backyard, and as we came around the corner, he focused right in on us.  He had been calling out to us.  I think he wanted us to come out to the backyard, and open the gate for him.

We have a large pear tree in our backyard, bearing a bumper crop of pears.  Both Jake and Spot have discovered a taste for them.  As they ripen, some of the pears fall to the grass in the backyard, and are easy and tasty treats for the horses to snack up.  Since he noticed this, Brian has been walking out to serve them up a few pears directly from the tree.  He gives a branch a little shake, and some fat pears fall right down onto the grass. On this morning, the gate was closed.  Spot couldn’t get in.  He needed a little assistance from us!

As soon as we walked out into the backyard, Spot started nickering to us.  The sounds rolled out like a soft chuckle, “Hmmmm, mmm, mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm.”   He looked at us with his soft brown eyes, and in his sweetest horse way, asked us to open the gate. The picture at the top shows him with his nostrils flared as he nickers to us.  How could we resist?  Now I look for him each morning, just in case I might find him waiting at our gate with a soft nickering “Good morning”  and “May I come in?”

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Horse in a Tree! http://equismarts.com/2013/09/26/sashas-big-adventure/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sashas-big-adventure http://equismarts.com/2013/09/26/sashas-big-adventure/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 03:58:18 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=588 Sasha got stuck in a tree today – or, rather, in trees.  She managed to get herself corralled in a small area surrounded by downed oak tree trunks.  We are still puzzling over how she did it.  The downed oak trees lie in a tangle enclosing an open area, roughly the shape of a triangle, […]

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Sasha got stuck in a tree today – or, rather, in trees.  She managed to get herself corralled in a small area surrounded by downed oak tree trunks.  We are still puzzling over how she did it. 

The downed oak trees lie in a tangle enclosing an open area, roughly the shape of a triangle, on the side of a hill.  My favorite theory is that she hopped in from the hillside above.  Once inside, she unfortunately couldn’t hop out again.  However she did it, she is not telling, so the mystery remains.

We first noticed that something was up when she didn’t come into the barn area this morning with the rest of the herd.   We set up a search party and headed out to find her.  With so many people looking, it didn’t take too long to find her.  In fact, she had an excellent view of our search from her vantage point on the hill.  When we arrived, she was very happy to see us.  She had probably been thinking that she’d be stuck there until she learned to fly out over the downed oak trunks.

Sasha remained remarkably calm while we made plans for freeing her from her makeshift corral.  We brought up a few horses to keep her company and then Brian started up a chainsaw to cut open a path for her.

While we moved oak limbs, Zack took her mind off her troubles with a small personal gesture – a ripe pear.

 

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By the time the pear was finished Sasha’s big adventure was nearly over.  We pulled aside the remaining limbs blocking her path, and she trotted out to freedom.

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Wally Loves His Backrubs http://equismarts.com/2013/09/23/wally-loves-backrubs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wally-loves-backrubs http://equismarts.com/2013/09/23/wally-loves-backrubs/#comments Tue, 24 Sep 2013 00:10:50 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=581 Do you know that pleasant relaxed feeling you get when someone rubs those tense muscles in your back, and the burning tension seems to melt away?  Do you sometimes want to just close your eyes and take a little nap, while the world rolls on by?  That must be how Wally feels when he gets […]

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Do you know that pleasant relaxed feeling you get when someone rubs those tense muscles in your back, and the burning tension seems to melt away?  Do you sometimes want to just close your eyes and take a little nap, while the world rolls on by?  That must be how Wally feels when he gets his back massage.

Gina dedicates a part of each day to massaging the tension out of some of the sore muscles along Wally’s back, and her hands have been working real magic.   Muscles that have felt tight for a long time now, are softening up, little by little.  A happier, more carefree Wally is emerging.  Today, after Gina had given Wally a light massage, she lead him into the riding arena to walk him through some gentle back exercises.   The morning sun was shining down onto the deep sandy ground, creating a warm blanket over cooler sand beneath.  Wally must have felt that wonderful just-had-a-nice-back-massage lethargy as he followed her into the arena.  In his ultra-relaxed state, the comforting blend of warm and cool sand was more than he could resist.  He slowed to a stop, dropped his nose to the sand to root around for a moment, and then lowered himself down onto the sand.  He relaxed there on the ground, looking at Gina with sleepy I think I’ll just grab myself a few quick winks eyes.  If you look closely at his face, you too might be able to see his heavy-lidded I-can’t-quite-keep-my-eyes-open look.  He stayed there, bonelessly relaxing for a good twenty minutes, before he got up again and completed his light walking exercises.

 

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My Shadow http://equismarts.com/2013/09/20/571/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=571 http://equismarts.com/2013/09/20/571/#comments Sat, 21 Sep 2013 03:34:54 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=571 I walked out into the pasture today, and toward the herd of horses calmly grazing on fall grasses.  Soon my silhouette was joined by another, larger one.  It followed me calmly but persistently wherever I went.  As I thought about it, I realized that this particular shadow follows me most times I walk among the […]

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I walked out into the pasture today, and toward the herd of horses calmly grazing on fall grasses.  Soon my silhouette was joined by another, larger one.  It followed me calmly but persistently wherever I went.  As I thought about it, I realized that this particular shadow follows me most times I walk among the horses.  I stopped and looked back at the dear face of its owner, and snapped this picture…  afternoon-horses Max-eye 015 Max.

Max is so big, but so sweet and friendly.  He stood quietly right next to me, all but touching me.  He stood carefully too, so that I didn’t feel threatened nor bumped into by him.

I felt a sense of calm, almost protectiveness from him.  Maybe what I sensed is a kind of loyalty.  He walks over to me when I walk into the herd, but he also walks over to us when he spots us nearby, doing something completely different, and he walks over to our horses when we ride past, as if he’d like to join us.

What is he thinking when he leaves his grazing to come over and shadow my steps?   Does he know that he brightens my day by sharing it with me?

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Gabe loves to run http://equismarts.com/2013/09/20/gabe-loves-run/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gabe-loves-run http://equismarts.com/2013/09/20/gabe-loves-run/#comments Fri, 20 Sep 2013 19:20:08 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=566 Gabe is a thoroughbred and ex-racehorse.  He came to the ranch with a stifle injury that ended his racing career.  But Gabe still loves to run.  Maybe its the wind in his mane, or the feel of this tail streaming out behind him.  Whatever the reason, it’s fun to see him gallop around. Gabe didn’t […]

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Gabe is a thoroughbred and ex-racehorse.  He came to the ranch with a stifle injury that ended his racing career.  But Gabe still loves to run.  Maybe its the wind in his mane, or the feel of this tail streaming out behind him.  Whatever the reason, it’s fun to see him gallop around.

Gabe didn’t always run.  When he first came to the ranch, his injury kept him to a lame walk.  The first time I saw him running, was about a year after he arrived.  He ran in with the herd at that time, but used only 3 legs to do it.   Since then, I have seen him running more and more often, and his gait has slowly improved.

In spring, he made my day by showing me some of the old Gabe.  There was a storm rolling in; the sky was cloudy and the wind was up.  It called to the horses, in the way storms do, and they all started running in a big loop around the flat pasture above the creek.  It looked like they were having some fun.  Gabe cantered easily with them as they looped around once, and then again.  As the other horses in the herd settled back down to a walk, Gabe responded to some inner call that only he could hear; he wanted to run some more.  He trotted away from the herd, with a big floating trot, to the beginning of a sloping flat field that extended from the windmill to the treeline.  There, at the windmill he let himself go.  His hind legs reached deep under his belly, and dug into the spring grass as he let himself run.   His  head stretched out in front and he let his tail stream behind him.  His front legs reached out to cover as much ground as possible.  He flew.  All alone, he raced over the pasture to the far end.  When he approached the far tree line he finally came to a beautiful dancing stop.  His head was high and his nostrils flared as he blew his air out in a big huff.  Then he turned and walked back to the herd.  As he walked he had a little hitch in his stride.  It was not the free and loose walk he had recently been enjoying, but he looked high and happy.  The run had cost him a little bit in his stifle, but I think he might have considered it a fair trade.  Gabe loves to run.

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Learning to Work Together: Tess and Dancer http://equismarts.com/2013/09/11/learning-work-together-tess-dancer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=learning-work-together-tess-dancer http://equismarts.com/2013/09/11/learning-work-together-tess-dancer/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 16:00:13 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=560 Fall is on its way, and we are once again in training mode.  It is so much fun to reach for the next level with each of the horses.  The only frustration is that we don’t have enough time to focus on as much as we want.  This week we worked with Dancer and Tess, […]

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Fall is on its way, and we are once again in training mode.  It is so much fun to reach for the next level with each of the horses.  The only frustration is that we don’t have enough time to focus on as much as we want.  This week we worked with Dancer and Tess, asking them to improve their lopes, which really means, “Let’s try loping!…”   It’s not in their repertoire yet.   They are also learning to work together as a team.  So much fun!  Our goal is for them to stand, walk, trot and lope side by side, without pinning their ears at each other, not to mention no nipping or kicking out their heels.  Here is a picture of Dancer and Tess trotting side by side,  with happy attitudes.  Hooray!  After some initial grumpiness about having their space invaded by each other, they both took to trotting together like ducks to water.  If we can just improve their speed control a little bit, they can form their own mini drill team!

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Moose, Max, and Sasha; Friendly and Curious as Can Be http://equismarts.com/2013/09/10/moose-max-sasha-friendly-curious-can/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=moose-max-sasha-friendly-curious-can http://equismarts.com/2013/09/10/moose-max-sasha-friendly-curious-can/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 20:41:59 +0000 http://equismarts.com/?p=549 Zack walked out into the pasture meadow to pick a few apples. He carried a ladder so that he wouldn’t have to jump for them.  Sampson tagged along, walking behind him and keeping him company.  It had been a warm summer day, but the sun would be setting soon.  The temperature had cooled to perfection, […]

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Zack walked out into the pasture meadow to pick a few apples. He carried a ladder so that he wouldn’t have to jump for them.  Sampson tagged along, walking behind him and keeping him company.  It had been a warm summer day, but the sun would be setting soon.  The temperature had cooled to perfection, and the meadow was green and inviting.


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Max, Moose, and Sasha had been out grazing with the herd, but came strolling into the orchard, just in time to see Zack carrying that large ladder into the meadow.  the ladder was metal and made a tinny clank as Zack walked.   They were instantly intrigued.

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All three horses changed direction and followed Zack, just as if he had called them into line.

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It’s fun to pick apples with such an appreciative crew as those three to keep us company!

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