Wednesday, 20 June 2012
The new horse is in the paddock. Ferro is his name. He arrived yesterday. Today we'll see how meeting the other horses goes. We divide the paddock in 2 smaller parts. We: Helen, Ferro's young owner and me. Helen is 16 years, Ferro is 4 years old. The two geldings are very friendly with each other. We take away the dividing wire. They start trotting together and seem to like each other. Then we put Ivy into the paddock. Ivy is the beautiful young Frisian mare. She's Theo's best friend, I think. And a very attractive young mare. Letting her into the paddock where the two geldings are, changes all of the dynamics. Theo starts defending her with all his power. There seems nothing that has to be defended, since Ferro doesn't try anything, but Theo has made up his mind. He protects Ivy and chases Ferro away. Even when he doesn't approach. After 15 minutes Theo is sweating and Ferro looks where he can escape from Theo. We take Ivy out, but that doesn't "help". The subject of protection is in the other field now, but Theo still thinks he has to be boss in the paddock. Finally I take Theo to the field where Ivy is. Ferro has to get used to the herd, but it looks quite serious how Theo's behaviour developed. So we decide to put them apart now, and put them together soon, another day. Seeing Theo's impressive power and speed is a wonderful thing. He's kind of exploding and it looks great. He speeds, turns, twists. When I take him out of the paddock, he's breathing heavily. Gentle Theo is a Mighty Defender of Ivy. The pictures below are before we put Ivy in the paddock...
Friday, 15 June 2012
Theo is in the field with the herd. It is raining. I approach the field with a treat for him. I call his name. He's standing with his hind towards me. He turns his head to look at me. I step into the field. Theo starts walking backwards to me. With his hind towards the wind and rain. I have never seen anything like this before. A horse approaching me backwards. He wants to come to me but at the same time, keep his head as dry as he can. It looks so strange. Walking backwards and holding his head low. I don't mind this odd way of approaching me, as long as he's coming to me. And why not in way I don't know yet? To give him the apple, I walk to his head. Have to, since he doesn't turn his head to me. This way he can keep his head as dry as possible on this rainy day. And still have his apple and hear my gentle words for him. No picture taken today. The picture below I took earlier this week. Theo coming to me. In the sunshine.
Saturday, 9 June 2012
Theo and Ivy are in the lush field since this morning. I am home, but I want to check Theo in that big field with so much grass. To check what? Well maybe if he's still there. The fence is just a tiny electric wire. But on the other hand, why would he want to leave, since he's in a heaven of grass with his best friend Ivy. When I arrive they both are in the back of the field. Together, side by side. When I call Theo, a bit against the (strong) wind, he doesn't hear me. That's my interpretation. He continues grazing. Would he come if he heard me calling? They look great together, even though a bit far away. Golden Theo with Black Beauty Frisian Mare Ivy. They both shine! I look at them for a while. The wind seems to be bit calmer now. Then I call Theo again; I clack my clack that Theo knows so well. And yes. He lifts his head almost immediately. And then, one of the best things that can happen, happens. He starts trotting at me and Ivy joins her friend. To see them run in that huge field towards me, and forget about the grass for a moment. They must have had quite a bit since this morning 11. But I think too Theo likes to see me. click here for video
Friday, 8 June 2012
As I approach the farm, I see Theo in the field. Ivy and Theo have been grazing here together for some time already. They are so busy, looking for grass. I want to spend some time with Theo. I want to take him out of the field. He comes to me. As I walk to him I feel my back is painful. Walking isn't fun. But I want to offer Theo a bit of time out of the field and spend some time together. Like we do every day. As I take him out of the field, he puts his nose to my hand. I doubt if it is a good idea to take him out and walk. My back is very present today. I stick to the plan. Time with Theo is important and makes me happy. We walk a little bit, he looks at longer grass than in the field. Ofcourse he does. It makes me smile inside. I observe him and see his shiny coat, his legs that move so easily as he searches for grass. His tail and manes are waving in the wind. He's blinking his eyes all the time. He enjoys. But my back tells me it's not good to stand. So I lean against Theo. His coat is warm and soft. This feels better. Then he moves and I move with him. It's ok. It's not that he is indifferent. The moves he makes are small, he's aware of me. He's careful as always. Ofcourse he is. It's ok for the both of us. He eats, I am leaning. My time with Theo is limited today. I cannot exactly do what I'd like to do with him. But Theo is able to give me a good feeling about it and accept it for the biggest part. He tells me, it's no problem, it's ok, don't worry about it. So sooner than I'd like I put him in the paddock with a haynet. But it is ok. Precious time is shared.
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
I come from work. I cycle over the country road to the farm. At a certain point I can see Theo's white stripe. I make a clacking sound with my tongue and I can see the white stripe rise almost right away. He's in the paddock with Villord and Kjelt. I always spare an apple for Theo to greet him. Ofcourse he knows. When I approach the paddock he's already standing close to the wire of the fence. Looking like: I know that you have something for me, give it to me please. Sometimes he lifts his frontleg high, excited and a bit impatient. He first bites the apple in half. The sound of his chewing is juicy. The next bite is only a little piece and very precise. As if he wants to keep something and enjoy longer. After the greeting I put my bicycle away and see what has to be done. Depending on the condition of my back I decide what I'll do. Today it isn't good. So I will stick to a minimum of work, but offer Theo some distraction from the day in the paddock. I ask him to come and after giving it a thought, Mr. T. decides to come over to me. Meanwhile I look at the amazing amount of poppies beside the paddock....He has arrived, offers his halter to click the rope on, I open the gate and he turns so swiftly around me. I close the gate again and instantly he looks for grass. After a day in the paddock and a limited portion of hay, fresh grass is on his mind quite strongly. So I take him for a short walk. He looks right and left. Grass everywhere. I try to convince him he'll be able to eat grass in a few minutes. That's human talk that he doesn't understand. He keeps on looking left and right. But finally (after 5 long minutes for Mr. T) I allow him to eat and he attacks the grass. The grass is in different lengths and Theo prefers very short and very long grass. Nothing in between. Well, nothing.... In the meantime Mente has come to see us up close. I can hardly express how much I love those nose-holes vibrating, just before the whinnying sounds. He's excited to see Theo and would love to play. But Theo is very concentrated on...the grass. This week he will be put in the field, with lots of lush fresh grass. And the portions I offer him on these walks every day are a good preparation for grazing all day soon... He suddenly raises his head when he hears or sees a still unidentified object. He stops chewing for a few seconds, while the grass sticks out of his mouth left and right. When he knows what he sees or smells (a duck, a cyclist), the chewing starts again and his head lowers to where he likes to be best. The grass.
Monday, 4 June 2012
Mente is the amazing two month old Frisian stallion at the farm. He's very playful. He's trying to play with his mother Imke. She's only interested in eating grass. And not in playing with her youngest. So Mente plays solo. Every time I walk along their field, with Theo, Mente approaches the fence. Theo and Mente greet over te fence by touching each other's noses. Today is the day they will be in the field together. Theo is a friendly and balanced horse. Which means it is safe to put him with Mente and Imke. Theo and Imke know each other well. And even if Theo would be rough to Mente, Imke would surely tell him to stop. So we put Theo into the field. And immediately Mente runs to Theo and looks as if he wants to play right away. Like: I know you already. We can play! Theo is a bit shy at first. When Mente proceeds his invitation, Theo turns his hind towards Mente. When this has no effect, Theo lifts his frontleg to make it pretty clear. "Hey you little one, take it easy". Mente doesn't feel discouraged at all, but seems to understand the horselanguage very well already. He moves back. Theo then moves a bit around him. He tries to graze but there's the little black stallion again. Theo is very patient. When Mente keeps on challenging him Theo starts running with him. Throwing his head in the air. Mente joins him and seems to think: finally! It's beautiful how they trot together for a while and then, both satisfied, graze together. Well that means, it looks like Mente is copying his "uncle". Mente's grazing is only a little bit grass, but he must feel very grown up, I think.
Saturday, 2 June 2012
Theo is a very alert horse. He is constantly looking and smelling around to check. He's always ready to run away. When it's warm he gets a bit less alert. It is very warm in the paddock, the sand is soft and warm. Theo relaxes. I can see him fall asleep. I step into the paddock. Very slowly. He notices right away. I stop and stand still. He relaxes again. Although he knows me very well, the chance is there he'd get up because I approach too fast. So I take lots of time. While he's awake I approach a few steps. I sit down in the sand. He knows I am there and falls asleep. He feels safe. I crawl a few meters closer again. He lifts his head a bit. I am looking closely to the signs he shows. Is he still relaxed? Is he preparing to stand up? My challenge is to get as close I can get without him getting up. But slowly. "The slow way is the fast way".... It's great to see his huge body lying down so close by. His eyes are closed from time to time. The warmth of the sun is relaxing him. He doesn't seem to mind I am there. I am lying too now. A bit closer again and keeping my eye on him. Now I could touch him. That will be new for him I guess, while he's lying down, being touched by a human. I reach out to his bend leg and touch it very lightly. He doesn't react. Then I am tempted to touch his nose very softly. A tiny reaction. But as close and beautiful as my horse is I touch his leg again. He's alerted. he moves his legs forward, still a bit lazy. He stands up and shakes the sand from his coat (on me). He decides to continue sleeping, standing with his head above me. That's an honour for me.
Friday, 1 June 2012
We take Theo to a countryroad. We go by bike. Theo is trotting next to Cor. Theo sees everything, he's so alert. Once on the countryroad they pace up. Theo trots fast and proud. At the end of the country road we let him free. He starts grazing right away. Cor and I sit in the grass and watch Theo looking for the best grass he can find. The sun is shining, his golden coat shines. Suddenly he gets tense. He starts trotting and turning all the time. Maybe he realises he's the only horse here. I walk to the end of the countryroad, about a few hundred meters. I ask him to come with me. He follows and trots next to me. At the end of the (deadend road) he turns and galops back at Cor. He turns in a quick beautiful movement and speeds of in a galop towards me. I stand and watch. I see his manes in the wind, his ears turned towards me. His powerful legs carrying him so easily...and gracefully. He decides to change his direction just in front of me. I don't move, he runs just around me. He seems to play and runs back again. I can hardly imagine anything more beautiful than this happy, beautiful horse running free. Oh yes, I would enjoy being ons his back one beautiful day. But for today and many more days this image of Theo running free is more than enough.
The Farrier Tessa is working on Theo's hooves. I am standing close to his head. He is quiet. Or plays with the halter rope. Cor is keeping away his tail from his hind legs when Tessa works on them. His hooves has grown so much Tessa says. In only 5 weeks. When Theo came to live with us, his horseshoes were taken off. We want him to be bare-foot on healthy hooves. It takes time. Tessa has trimmed his hooves several times now and she is very happy with the progress of his hooves. This time she has to cut quite some off his hooves. And Jackie loves to eat it. That's what dogs do. Theo is patient. When he assumes Tessa needs that leg to work on, he lifts it to an incredible hight and he has to relax a bit. Tessa tells him he's a good boy. I am standing close to Theo's head...At my eye-hight his nose is. I have plenty of time to look at his nose and all the colours it has. I look up at his eye. It's amazing. So beautiful. Dark brown with kind-of-red eyelashes. He blinks all the time. And looks around. Suddenly I see myself in his eye. His eye is my mirror. I can only see my head. It's an amazing discovery. I see myself in Theo. When the job is done, I walk with him so Tessa can check. It's ok. I take him to the paddock. I see myself in Theo.
Late afternoon. It is very warm in the paddock. It is HOT. I take Theo out of the paddock. He is slow. I guess he was dreaming a bit in the sun. I take him to a fence and put him there with a rope. I take the waterhose and start spraying his feet with the cool water. It seems he knows what will follow and he stands completely still, head quite low. First his feet and legs, then his chest, belly, neck and back. His manes, his tale and back to his neck, up to his ears. That's about how high I can get. He doesn't like the water in his face. But he likes to drink from the hose. He plays with his tongue with the water. His body shines like a mirror. I give him some carrots and apples to make the joy even bigger. While he's eating I shower him a bit more. When the apples and carrots are eaten, I take him back to the paddock. As soon as he feels the warm sand, I can see him get lower in his legs. He sniffs the sand. But he's too close to the electric wire so I direct him a bit further. Walking so "low" he chooses a new spot. And then in no time he's full of sand and standing again. Shaking most of the sand out of his fur. I hope he has cooled down a bit.
An hour before the sun goes down. Now that Imke and Mente are in their stall, we take Theo and Ivy into the field where mother and son are standing during the day. Theo and Ivy weren't here before. They check the grass. They walk around with their nose just above the grass. There are many smells for them to explore. There is space. They do not eat right away. Suddenly they get excited and start running. They discover the length of the field. It's a wonderful sight how they enjoy these new impressions. After about 45 minutes it's about time for them to go inside. I walk into the field. Theo is in the back of the field, ofcourse. He looks up. I don't walk straight to him. A bit along aside of him. That is always very interesting for him. And when I pass him, he decides to walk to me. It was his idea to come! I can put on the rope on his halter easily. He puts his snout in my hand. He is amazing. He doesn't seem to mind I take him out of this Heaven for Horses. He walks beside me to the fence. When Ivy discovers us walking away from her, she speeds up next to us. Starts to graze again, when I take Theo out of the field. She takes her chances to eat some more. Meanwhile Cor has picked up some mown grass with long stems. Theo is very happy finding it in his stall when I bring him in. It's a nice addition to the carrots he gets every evening. I am amazed by Theo all the time, every day. I cannot get used to his spirit that is cooperative, easy, willing to do what we ask of him. He enjoys it. And that matches so wonderfully with our goal. Giving Theo the best life we can give him.
Last Sunday. It is hot in the paddock. But I want to be there. With Theo, Villord and Kjelt. But the sand is burning and reflecting. So I look in the barn for something to give me some shade. I find an old umbrella. Perfect! So I step into the paddock with the umbrella. Three horses speed to the back of the paddock. They stay together. I walk to the centre of the paddock and they start running away again. As far as they can, away from me. I decide to make it a play this afternoon. I want to seduce them to eat out of my hand, while I am holding the umbrella above my head, with my other hand. That's a challenge. But who said I am a very impatient person? Not with horses. I pick long grass and stick my arm out to Kjelt, the 1 year old Frisian stud. He's the first who dares to approach me. Very carefully. Theo and Villord are startled as they watch Kjelt walking towards me (after 10 minutes). As if they admire him for his courage. The expressions on their faces are pricelss. The play of running away and approaching has started. And yes, Kjelt eats the grass. I tell him he's a good boy and very brave. Villord and Theo are fascinated by his example. Villord is the next one who gives it a try. I make my moves very carefully. When I move forward and they move away I step away again to give them space. I am no threat. It's all up to them. After about 45 minutes Villord has taken some grass too. Theo is watching from the distance but doesn't walk away when I make some steps towards him. Good boy! I am a walking umbrella that picks grass and that is very interesting and fresh grass is very attractive. But not only grass is attractive, I think the space I offer them just the same. They approach carefully, all three of them. Kjelt isn't afraid anymore. Vilord is courageous too and finds out there is no threat in this strange looking thing that moves in the wind. I walk towards Theo and he doesn't walk away... I offer him the long grass but it's too early. I can see he's almost walking away so I step back right away. He relaxes. I walk around him on a safe distance. After more than an hour I decide to walk quite firmly to him. Like: you know me and this is what I offer you. He seems a bit confronted and confused with this move, but he makes a decision as well, he takes a quick bite of the grass and steps back. It's been an intuitive process of approach and stepping back, "reading" the horses and relaxed concentration. I counted on the horses' curiosity and that they like to play and so do I. Later I put the umbrella in the sand and the horses examine it. I can even touch Villord with the umbrella and Theo has the immense courage to sniff it while I am holding it folded. Can you imagine how happy this hour was for me.