Saturday, May 1, 2010

Trees...Don't you remember it?

Happy birthday Lisa, I look forward to hearing about you in your new home watching the apple blossoms this time next year!

Today I spent a few hours picking lice off of the heads of Emerald and her mother. In order to keep Emerald quiet for this procedure (which she is VERY tired of, this being the 4th time they've gotten it in the past year or so) we listened to Peter Pan on tape. There was the obvious adventure quality to the story but there were also some hidden truths in it as well. I enjoyed hearing about Tinkerbell who has quite a nasty side that I had forgotten about.

By the time I made it down to see the horses the light was getting low and shining through the bright green oak leaves. With the moist ground and blooms all around the smells were a treat.

The scotch broom is in full bloom now. It's hard to remember sometimes what a pest this plant is when it can also bring such a blast of stunning color to the area.

The little oak worms have arrived. I don't know much about these guys except that they hang from silken threads from the oak trees this time of year and seem to be hanging out waiting for something. Does anyone else know more about them? Here's one exploring my hand.

Align Left

I met up with JD today to bring the horses in since Sofi has been reluctant to come in recently. I can't blame her, we've had her on a diet which means that she has to stay in the pen overnight and part of the morning while the other horses are out grazing. She likely thinks it is all very unfair and probably doesn't know anything about the danger of laminitis in overweight ponies. But I do, so I choose to be the firm parent in this situation and do what I think is best.

As expected, Patrik and Sundance came in without a problem.

JD gave them a bit of grass/alfalfa hay to keep them busy in the pen while we went out to find Sofi.

They ate for a little while but then thought it would be much more fun to come see what we were doing. While JD went to try and coax Sofi in, the other horses looked on. I almost wasn't going to post the following little clip I took but when I re-watched it, I noticed so much in there that I figured maybe others could see some of the subtleties too. If any of you want to comment on what you see in any of the following videos it would be interesting to me.

JD went out with a handful of hay in one hand and a whip/stick in the other (again, we don't hit the horses, but use it to keep them at a safe distance since the horses are so much bigger and built differently than us fragile two-leggeds). I think this shows a great representation of a lot of what JD has picked up. You can see him pause several times to get a feel of what's happening and waiting for her signs. This is the beginning of the dance. At the end he looks towards me a couple of times when he's tried everything he can think of and needs some more guidance.

Since we had the video rolling, I handed him the phone camera and wanted to document the difference between him working with her and my attempts. I went in feeling very confident that it would be easy and I would look good but as horses are so good at doing, Sofi humbled me over the next half hour or so. This is why I love working with horses so much, they are always a dose of reality.

So, at the end of my attempts, I walked away and decided I was going to get Sofi's halter and lead her in so that I wouldn't have to keep nagging her and emptying her "love account" rather than filling it with scratching and other bonding activities. As soon as I walked away, all three horses picked right up and ran into the pen. They reminded me once again that letting go is often the best medicine.

The following is in the book Prince Caspian from the Chronicles of Narnia. It's when the four children who had been kings and queens of Narnia returns to Narnia and many years have passed. The talking trees and animals that they once knew Narnia to be full of have gone into hiding while the Telmarines (who seem suspiciously like us humans) took over. Lucy, the youngest of the four goes into the forest and says the following:
"'Oh, Trees, Trees, Trees,' said Lucy (though she had not been intending to speak at all). 'Oh Trees, wake, wake, wake. Don't you remember it? Don't you remember me? Dryads and Hamadryads, come out, come to me.'

Though there was not a breath of wind they all stirred about her. The rustling noise of the leaves was almost like words. The nightengale stopped singing as if to listen to it. Lucy felt that at any moment she would begin to understand what the Trees were trying to say. But the moment did not come. The rustling died away. The nightengale resumed its song. Even in the moonlight the wood looked more ordinary again. Yet Lucy had the feeling (as you sometimes have when you are trying to remember a name or a date and almost get it, but it vanishes before you really do) that she had just missed something: as if she had spoken to the trees a split second too soon or a split second too late, or used all the right words except one; or put in one word that was just wrong."
Those words resonate with something in me that keeps trying to connect with the spirit of horses, and other parts of the natural world. I often get the feeling that I am very close yet not quite able to connect spirit-to-spirit in more than flashes. But those flashes keep me coming back to try again the next day. One day I hope to be able to connect with humans that way as well.


  1. Stormy, if you are concerned about the grass with your air fern, consider adjusting the in-and-out ritual as follows:
    (1) Adjust the timing of the rhythm so they graze when the plants are dormant and don't do photosynthesis. Grass is safe and low in sugar during night time and early morning, also when it is overcast or raining. There is a lot of research confirming this, check out Katie Watt's site. The difference can be dramatic!
    (2) Don't single out one horse and separate her. Instead, make it a ritual for all. You may need something stronger than hay to bribe them initially to come in. Luring a horse with hay from the lush spring grass is like offering a bowl of plain brown ride to hubby wallowing in chocolate cake. But they will get into a routine if everyone does it and a bowl with a treat is waiting.

    My Shadow (a mustang air-fern) is on 250 acres of pasture, and they all spend the day in a dry lot to reduce the laminitis risk. You can see a picture in Kris's blog March 27, Scratching an itch. It's like a huge horse conference, they groom, renew old friendships, some squabble and play, and some just drop down and sleep.

    The biggest puzzle for me at first was: how do they manage to convince 50 horses to get off the pasture rounded up?

    About a third of them go in by themselves, simply because it's always been that way, even before they hear the ranger come in with the quad. The rest of them need a little reminder (the noise of the quad driving around the parameter) and start moving toward the pen, and the newbies or those who think it's a stupid idea, will go in because everyone else is going. If someone has been forgotten they will later show up at he lot and stand outside glued to the fence.

    It's a very effective system. I couldn't believe my eyes at first, but it works. They key points are: off the grass during the daytime, and never alone!

  2. Patrik looks worried about something behind you.

    The Sofi saga reminds me of a story a shepherd in Scotland told me about trying to get a flock of sheep into a pen with a green sheepdog. The young dog just couldn't manage to get them in. Finally the shepherd gave up and went to fetch his seasoned dog. As soon as the experienced dog came in sight, the sheep all up and went into the pen of their own accord.