The summer came early this year. After days of rain that blowed in from the sea, the heat finally swept up from the south giving the pastures a perfect green finish. The horses has been walking up and down along the fence that divides the summer pasture from the higher, naturally well drained pasture, the horses lived in during the winter. When we finally opened the gate to let them out in the summer pasture, they hesitated at first of respect to the fence, then Bluebell jumped boldly thru the imaginary forbidden line. They immediately began to graze, taking one mouth full here and there while walking forward at a slowly increasing speed.
After tasting all the different grass dishes, Bluebell took the lead and began a gallopp around the pasture in all possible routes. As they ran free, memories from their previous home on the vast North Dakota prairies came over them and we could see their smiling faces from a long distance, gosh these horses are happy! After a while the pace slowed down to a slow walk and they began exploring their new pasture, walking in under the trees, smelling the flowers and checking the borders.
For Bluebell an expanded pasture feels like a relief and a reward for being patient. She has been throwing long looks out into the summer pasture for weeks. She lived her first three and a half years at the Kuntz in North Dakota and has many good memories of friendly humans, countless fellow horses and good vast pastures of tasty prairie grass. To run free on open range as the leader of a small herd of mares is what she dreams of. Now she can feel a taste of that again. A thougt comes into my mind as we stand in the middle of the pasture surrounded by breathing horses; There are too many horses living a stable bound life, with very little chances of getting anything that even resembles a natural horse life at all. My eyes get wet, it’s the strong smell of grass that sticks in my eyes, I won’t admit to anything else.
For Wild Prairie Rose, this is her second summer. Last summer she spent as a newborn exploring the world along with many other horses and her mother Lucky Dust, probably the last true Nokota mare to luckily escape from the TRNP wild-horse-policy. Rosie is strong and happy to be together with her older half sister Bluebell, who truly treats her like a baby sister and we love her like our little baby too. She is learning and growing every day, but always keeps her sweet and friendly personality.
Windflower is now two years old and has developed immensely. When she came to us she was a shy little girl. Now she stands almost as high as Bluebell and she is as smart as she is cool and brave.
When one looks into those big brown horse eyes and she looks back, one can feel how she sees right thru your soul. That friendly and intelligent glimpse, her calm personality and her eager to teach us how to get along with horses, makes you feel special and fortunate.
The connection between Windflower and Alexandra is wonderful, almost spooky. Sometimes when Alexandra walks out to the barn, Windflower spots her and walks up from the pasture, comfortably leaving the small herd behind. As Alexandra picks up a halter and holds it in front of herself, Windflower sticks her own head into it, begging for a moment of fun and learning. If someone asked me 15 years ago how I would like to see our children grow up, I wouldn’t have imagined it could be like this.
The horses just loves fresh grass, they even try to rub it into their skin. If the grass keeps growing out here it might be difficult to find the horses in a month or so, at least if you look at the above picture.
After a long day out in the pasture, the horses always walks back up to their stable by themselves, round it up with a few straws of hay and a sip of cool fresh water. As the sun sets they soon fall asleep and dream nice dreams, of wild horses running free on open range. Early in the morning when we walk out to see them they still lie down inside the stable all three of them, yawning. Horses like to be free, but they also has a natural urge to live in coexistance with humans. Humans all have a long history together with horses, dogs, cats and more. I’m not sure who domesticated whom…
If you look at the picture below Windflower reveals she is just joking about the height of the grass 🙂
Thru the ages there has been different ways to relate to horses. The famous Monty Roberts describes in his book “Shy Boy” his fathers brutal ways of breaking horses. Monty himself represents the opposite, as a boy he befriended wild mustangs out on open range by imitating the horses own ways, the join-up-process as he calls it. The awesome Curt Pate brilliantly teaches the ways of ranch horsemanship and the importance of turning horses out to pasture, living horse life and letting the herd do the job, raising young braves.
Ranchers prefer geldings for ranchwork as they are easy, mares are primarily for raising horse babies and so are stallions. Keeping horses for work on a ranch or for competition means you must find effective ways to prepare a horse for the job that he must learn, there’s no time for spending weeks in a round pen. The oldtime horse cultures actually had a similar lack of time, spending the day working for survival, but as they brought their favourite horse along 24-7 their souls grew together.
Keeping horses for no particular reason, other than the cher joy of it, or because some inner voice tells you that a human soul needs to be with horses, gives you more options as the time factor is taken out of the equation. Well, one still has to work for a living and be away from home for long hours, but one can use several months instead of days to get a horse ready. Giving both horse and human time to think and adapt, eventually it all comes natural and you realize there are no tricks or methods, just common horse sense. Something thats already there, embedded in our consciousness for thousands of years of coexistance.