Friday, May 28, 2010
The Horse is Our Reward
The air has become warm and fresh outside. It is now the time of year when we can open the windows of our little house and let the breeze cool it in the day and give us a cozy almost unexplainable comfort in the night.
Sleeping has not been difficult since starting the latest group of wild horses and as we move forward in their training I feel a different calmness every night as I think about the days work. I know things are not perfect and we have had some trouble with a couple of the horses and I am sure their trouble with us will continue in some way, shape or form. But, I know we will help them get over it and each horse that is easy will allow us more time with those that are difficult.
I woke this morning to sound of an alarm clock making a terrible noise. I realized that I do not use an alarm clock.....sleeping with the windows open has allowed the sounds of outside become a part of the inside. We fall asleep with the sounds of only the breeze; as we are bedding down for the night, so are the birds, the horses and all the other creatures amongst us during the daylight ours, from sun-up to sun-down. We are all tired and ready for a peaceful rest. I wake to the sound of this bird and I want to be mad at it, but then I realize this is what it knows, this is part of what it is. I immediately start think of the horses down in the paddocks, I start to realize something slightly profound. The horses waiting down in the paddocks this morning, waiting for us to catch them and feed them, check them for any injury that could have happened during the night, waiting for us to take care of them. These horses are changing, evolving into a new type of horse. Just months ago, these horses were in the wild, surviving feral horses out in the desert or the hills, not knowing what man was, or what it meant to be taken care of. All they knew was to be in constant motion, in constant search of feed, water, and safety. They only knew the horses in their area, they only knew the possibilities of the predators over the hill. Yes, they did know a form of relaxation, but a relaxation similar to that of someone falling asleep at night worrying if their alarm clock is going to wake them in the morning. We have taken this group of horses and completely changed their way of life and their way of thinking. There is a good feeling when we look outside in the late evening, when the sunset has cast a fiery glow over the valley, we look down into the pens and see the horses relaxing to the fullest extent of the word. They are full of good, clean alfalfa, their bodies getting strong from the days work. They are tired, but a good tired. Some of the horses are laying down, while others are sleeping, knees locked, back leg cocked. They are comfortable and healthy and even allowing the dogs to be amongst them. We are changing the lives of these horses and I believe we are just the beginning of the evolution of these lost herds of horses across Western America.
The feral horse herds that we are familiar with today, the ones we have dubbed MUSTANGS, are more or less descendants of the herds from decades ago. A grab bag of so many infusions of "solutions". When I say "solutions", I mean different breeds introduced into herds of feral horses in order to improve upon size and conformation. In essence..the reduction of herds by way of improving them. A responsibility from long ago, that just like the horses themselves we have turned out. So, not only do we have herds of horses running out in the wild, somewhat lost so to speak, but the responsibility has also gone wild or even harder to gather. But, I will not be engaging in the politics or even taking one side or the other on this subject, and I do not want to give a history lesson either. I guess I would rather play Devil's Advocate and create several arguments for all to engage in. If this animal was truly a wild animal, would we be able to take her from the wild and change her frame of mind or her way of living, would we be able to train her? Could you do the same with a antelope, deer or even a jack rabbit? Are they simply horses born in the wild, living in the wild?
The horse is a majestic and very dignified animal, especially the wild horse(the opinion of many). There seems to be an added purity to this group of horses. I think we should honor this horse as well as those horses born under the watchful eye and helping hand of human. Instead of trying to train either with the idea of giving them human characteristics or trying to give ourselves horse like characteristics, why not be humans training horses? Why not take pride in the fact that we are people with the privilege of being amongst them? The horse is an amazing animal and is very diverse. Why discount that by adding all kinds of labels to what we do to them or with them? I recently read an article relating to natural horsemanship, and it made very valid points on the issue. I would comment that the only natural thing about any horsemanship should be the sweat soaked saddle blanket after a good schooling or solid days works with our horse. I believe the key to any good program of training or horsemanship is an imagination, an open mind, the humility to listen and a good pair of hands, all while being very direct and straight forward. A horse is not a willing partner, but a well trained one. A horse is born with the will to survive, not necessarily the will to serve man. A strong willed horse is often times not the best one or the easiest one to train, but once trained they are strong, committed partners with a fair bit of attitude and many days of training and re-training. A horse is willing to drink, but has the ability to be trained. I believe we are the willing and the horse is our reward.
We can respect and honor our horses by never turning our backs on them.