Friday, 1 June 2012
The strange object
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.