Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A guest in the pasture

Yesterday I had a guest photographer and student-of-animals in the pasture with me. Emerald is six years old and very interested in the horses.

We started out sitting at the top of the hill watching clouds as we let the sun warm our jeans. There was a cloud that looked like a flying fish to me, and a bird to Emerald. Another one I thought looked like a dragon's head.

I showed Emerald how to use the camera phone and she got right to work.

When I got back from working with Sofi and Patrik she showed me the photos she'd taken, including the self-portrait below. I was quite impressed with them.

JD drove by and saw us sitting in the grass and stopped in to say hello. He even got in on the action and took a couple pictures on his own camera phone.

As we were looking at photos, Patrik came over and seemed to want to know why we were all sitting in the grass.

After a bit, I went back out to play with Sundance and then looked over and saw Emerald asking Sunny to sit, lay down, and roll over. I wasn't quick enough to snap a picture of that, but I did get this nice one.

Emerald said that she hadn't been close to Sundance before so I introduced them.

After about an hour, I took Emerald back home and said goodbye to the horses. What a simple and fulfilling day it had been. In the Path of the Horse video, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling talks about remembering what it was like to be six years old. I am lucky that I have Emerald to help me remember.

This morning I woke up at about 4am and wanted nothing more than to walk down in the dark moonless night to visit the horses. I bundled up against the February chill and made my way to the sitting-rock. The horses seemed to have been waiting for me. Sundance was the first to approach but she was quickly herded away by Patrik who stayed by my side, nibbling at my clothes and then standing quietly as I sat on the rock.

Being with horses in the middle of the night is completely different than during the day. There is a different quality of stillness in both myself and the horses. I know that Carolyn Resnick talks about spending time with horses at night, especially ones that are hard to connect with during the day. I highly recommend the experience. I don't think I can do justice to it in words.

At one point Patrik found a way to get me to press into an area around the top of his tailbone. He backed up to the rock and very subtly manipulated his body to what felt like just the right spot for me to press, and then he pushed his weight backwards into my hand. It felt like he had an acupressure spot that he wanted stimulated. As he pushed his weight back, he rounded his loins and then released his body forward a couple of times.

After spending time with Patrik at the rock, I knew that Sundance wanted a turn. Since Patrik is the boss of the pasture, Sundance wouldn't be successful if she tried to approach me. So I went to her, and when Patrik wanted more of me for himself, I gently shooed him away. He knew what I was telling him.

Sundance was eager to stand with me. She gently nosed around and stood in her favorite position, with her head and neck over me, like a protective mare with her foal. She very gently nuzzled around my body and breathed on my face. When I got tired of standing, I made my way back to the rock and Sundance quickly walked after me. She is still very tentative about some of my touches but we spent some time working out just what she wanted from me.

We have such a long history of me forcing myself on her that I still wonder about how she seems to love and want to be with me just the same.

As she stood near me, her ears flickered back and forth, seeming to take note of the wakings of the day.

The sun put on a beautiful show as the earth turned to reveal her majesty.

Patrik knew that this was the time to be let out into the larger pasture. As the spinning earth revealed the sun, Patrik had been standing near the place where he gets let out. Somehow he must have known I was ready to go. He walked over to the rock I was sitting on and stood for me to mount him. I got on and he stood tall and nickered in that low, rumbly tone, and then took me over to the spot to be let out. I signaled for him to stop but he seemed to ignore me. He then took me to the other place in the fence where he gets let out when it's not so muddy. I wanted to take this opportunity to do a little training so I signaled for him to go back to the first place and then stop on my signal (a two-toned whistle). It was a couple of times back and forth between the two spots before he got the idea that if he stopped in the place I signaled, I would get off and open the fence for him.

The last time, Patrik stopped immediately on cue and I hopped off and opened the fence. The three horses made their way out and I jogged over to let the sheep and goats out and then back up the big hill home and into my cozy bed.

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