Zipping Around on an Autumn Day

Just another quick series of running red horse. We’re more or less moved now, although there’s still a lot of unpacking to do, so we haven’t had much time to do fun things in the barn. Well, except if you count running around like crazy in the sun as a fun thing. Emilie counts that as a fun thing.

Granted, she's not a gracious little ballerina butterfly, but she's so powerful!
Granted, she’s not a gracious little ballerina butterfly, but she’s so powerful!
Emilie absolutely loves to run.
Emilie absolutely loves to run.
Whoever said draft horses move slow haven't met mine.
Whoever said draft horses move slow haven’t met mine.
This is probably the best picture Alvin has taken to date. Yes, there is a horse in it, look closer.
This is probably the best picture Alvin has taken to date. Yes, there is a horse in it, look closer.

Playing on a Windy Day

Windy autumn is here again and how I wish more of these fall days would be sunny and pleasant like this one. Rushed to grab the camera while the horse and husband rushed to play tag all over the place.

Gotta start with a hug.
Gotta start with a hug.
Meanwhile, the paddock neighbours sneak up for cheap entertainment.
Meanwhile, the paddock neighbours sneak up for cheap entertainment.
If you think you can hear the thunder of those hooves approaching, you're spot on.
If you think you can hear the thunder of those hooves approaching, you’re spot on.
On a day like this, Emilie totally ignores her lameness to sprint around like a crazy 800 kilo spring rabbit.
On a day like this, Emilie totally ignores her lameness to sprint around like a crazy 800 kilo spring rabbit.
You chase me, I chase you ... Actually, Emilie does most of the chasing.
You chase me, I chase you … Actually, Emilie does most of the chasing.
Trot past the photographer, invite her to come chase you ...
Trot past the photographer, invite her to come chase you …
I'm coming for youuuu!
I’m coming for youuuu!
And finally, when we're tired, take a bow.
And finally, when we’re tired, take a bow.

Autumn Photos of Pretty Redheads (And the Occasional Grey)

Just another series of random pictures of Emilie and friends. It’s been a hectic fall for us, selling one house and buying another, but never too busy to pack that camera.

Cassie and Emilie enjoying a rare sunny afternoon in an autumn that's otherwise been wet and icky.
Cassie and Emilie enjoying a rare sunny afternoon in an autumn that’s otherwise been wet and icky.
Pretty blonde girl is pretty.
Pretty blonde girl is pretty.
Light weight rider Cecilie tested Emilie's gait, but she's not quite done being lame yet. Here's to hoping chiropracty and acupuncture will do their jobs.
Light weight rider Cecilie tested Emilie’s gait, but she’s not quite done being lame yet. Here’s to hoping chiropracty and acupuncture will do their jobs.

 

Feets and Cuddles!

Mostly cuddles.
Mostly cuddles.

Emilie is usually cool-headed but there is one thing that used to reduce her to a sweating, shaking wreck: The dreaded hoofpick. We’ve been training, patiently, for two months now, and with the help of our brave barefoot trimmer, Kimmie, cleaning feet is no longer a highly traumatic experience.

I don’t know what caused this anxiety. When we purchased Emilie we were warned that she had not yet learned to lift her feet properly. We were going to train it, but then she had her colic surgery and we had to wait for that 60 cm incision to be properly healed before we started doing difficult work that requires standing on three legs for a while.

Once we did get started it became very obvious that her refusal was not obstinacy or annoyance: She was afraid of being held and losing her balance, causing her to fall. She actually fell. Twice.

We’ve got a working arrangement now. Using positive reinforcement training, patience, and observing her reactions, we have now reached a point where a tap on the front of the knee means that she will lift her hoof — and then we’re allowed to do whatever we want to it as long as we don’t take hold of it. She holds the leg. No feeling of being trapped or restrained.

Moreover she needs regular breaks — a minute at a time with a foot up, tops. Again, not out of obstinacy but due to hip trouble that she likely acquired during surgery (turn a horse over, haul it up in chains around the legs, no wonder …). We’re calling in a chiropractor to sort those issues out, and I expect that once they’re dealt with, she’ll cease demanding breaks.

It’s amazing what patience, grass pills, and lots of praise can do.

Bonus: Positive reinforcement works both ways. As the picture shows, she’s taught me how to give the best chest and neck rubs. And my reward is that she returns them.

Photograph Madness!

Every horse person knows that person who takes great pictures. In this case, Louise Jäger took her fancy camera out for a spin, and these are the best picks of the crop!

 

Emilie does what she does best: Look pretty.
Emilie does what she does best: Look pretty.
Don't let them tell you that heavy draft horses cannot run. Emilie loves to run.
Don’t let them tell you that heavy draft horses cannot run. Emilie loves to run.
She's not run me down yet. Yet.
She’s not run me down yet. Yet.
So pretty with her ribbon.
So pretty with her ribbon.
I admit it, I am in love with this gentle giant princess.
I admit it, I am in love with this gentle giant princess.
Can you blame me, though?
Can you blame me, though?
Little horse, little rider. Maya and Cassie pose for the camera.
Little horse, little rider. Maya and Cassie pose for the camera.
Lucia's pose may need some work though.
Lucia’s pose may need some work though.
This time of year is the very best for girls and horses that like speed.
This time of year is the very best for girls and horses that like speed.
Speed, and fooling around.
Speed, and fooling around.
Adventure time!
Adventure time!
Yeeeeeeehaw!
Yeeeeeeehaw!

All pictures copyright 2017 Louise Jäger.

For a couple of other Louise shoots, check these links:

Photoshoot: Grandezza & Pilar

Pretty in Pink

Finding Quiet and Recharging: Hay Meditations

There is no sound more soothing that that of a horse chewing its hay. A slow, rhythmic sound that implies an absence of stress, a freedom from concerns. It is a relaxing sound, so much that I have actually seen ‘hay chewing meditation’ advertised for city people who need to de-stress.
 
To me, it’s a way to recharge my mental batteries. My writing sessions are 4-8 hours long. They are often nocturnal, all depending on my husband’s rotating work shifts. I usually have a lot going on my head, with anxieties, occasional bouts of depression, poor health, and chronic pain to keep me busy. I need that time-out.
 
I like to sit next to Emilie as she chews her hay and watch her. There is so much going on in those dark brown and blue eyes. Her long lashes are two-coloured — red in the inner end of the eye and white in the other, a gradual change of colour.
 
Horses live in the present. While horses have formidable memory and rarely forget something once learned, they don’t have a lot of cognitive processes going on. They look to their immediate needs. Emilie wants sunshine on her big red butt, hay to chew on, and she enjoys human company. She likes people. I am okay company. She doesn’t think I’m another horse, but she does think I’m okay to hang out with.
 
When I sit with her, I forget everything else that’s taking up bandwidth in my head. Sunshine. Hay. Company. All that matters. It’s a bit like hitting the big reset button on one’s mind. Wiping the mental hard drive of clutter and corrupted bits. Washing the plate clean before filling it anew.
 
I come home, sleep like a rock, and next morning I am set to get right into writing because of the peace and quiet in my head that Emilie gave me the day before.

All Tests Aced!

Two days ago Emilie finally aced her vet checkup. As of today, she is officially insured (thank all the powers that be!). Today marked the end of her long recovery period after surgery, and we got ready for a saddle and rider test!

Half horse, half fish.

Today was a really hot day. It was also Emilie’s third time being bathed, and as it turns out, she loves, loves, loves it. Sure, the hose can be cold but being scrubbed down with water and a brush? Getting rid of all the dust, sweat, and lingering winter fur? Priceless. She even forgets her hay just to express her delight with this treatment.

Being turned out to dry is NOT overrated.
Romance blossoms.

While Emilie dried off from her bath I sat and watched albino Connemara pony Charming and grey Welsh Mountain pony Cassie. They’ve been sharing a paddock for a few days now. They seem to be hitting it off well — to put it mildly.

And then, finally, time to start the test. We saddled her, looking carefully for indications of soreness or pain from the surgery scar. Nothing. Then Cecilie lounged her for ten minutes at a walking pace. No soreness, no complaints except of boredom. Walking on a lounge is dull.

Bo. Ring.

Cecilie lead Emilie to the mounting block and carefully plopped herself into the saddle. Not a single ear was batted. Emilie is very clearly not dealing with any residue pain or soreness from her surgery.

Not a single ear.

The husband strolled along with the ten minutes’ ride, to make sure Emilie stayed calm and relaxed. He didn’t need to. Emilie confidently told us that she was happy to be doing something more challenging than eating hay, but she also got tired very quickly. That’s as it should be. We’re only allowed to ride her at a walk for 20 minutes at a time at this point.

Not the wildest rodeo in town.

Afterwards, we took the saddle off and let Emilie have the arena and its sand to herself for a bit.

Job well done. We are cool.

So here’s a recap: Vet check aced, farrier aced, insurance in place, and now ready to start getting back in shape after surgery. I have one tough and cool little red horse.

Yep. Emilie’s still the world’s best dog.

Time for Writing, Time for Horsing Around

24 hours. That’s what’s in a day. Not nearly enough to be a productive writer and enjoy life with my beautiful horse! How to cope? Do both at once.

Spending time at the barn is mental downtime. I let my brain relax and exist in the very present, just as horses do. What happened yesterday and what’s going to happen tomorrow, neither of those matter. There is only the horse mental state of an ever-present Right Now. I recharge my mental batteries, and in the meantime, my subconscious mulls on my work — just as it does when I sleep, working over what takes up space in my life at the moment.

After a day like today, a beautiful, warm May day, I can write anything.

Dealing with pain is removing obstructions to creativity.

That is, if health lets me. I suffer from chronic pain and sometimes, I can barely fall out of bed for it. I’m currently trying out a new acupuncture treatment and so far, it seems to be working very, very well. A body that’s wracked by pain or stoned on pain killers is not a healthy environment for creativity. To have the energy surplus to keep yourself writing even during low inspiration periods, you owe it to yourself to do what you can, to be healthy and feel at home in your body.

The dandelions of May are my personal little guiding stars.

I need light to thrive. I’m one of those sunlight-dependent people who pretty much hibernate through winter and emerge like a sun-starved crazy person at the first sight of spring. May is one of my best months. Everything in Denmark is exploding out of the ground. Every field is bright emerald and sun yellow with dandelions. The weather goes from cold and unpredictable to warm (and unpredictable, it’s always unpredictable in a coastal climate). I feel like life begins anew. I need the hours out doors to recharge my solar batteries. It pays off, the more bright light I’ve soaked up the stronger my ability to express myself creatively.

Must get all the sleep too.

Another thing that I sometimes struggle with, is getting enough sleep. I have sleep apnea, which doesn’t make it any easier. Left to my own devices I will gradually stay up longer and longer in the evenings, then be utterly comatose the day after. I have to exercise a fairly strict sleep schedule in order to not place undue stress on my mind and consequently, on my creativity. If I am not rested, I can stare at a computer all day, the words won’t happen.

Bestest buddy.

We all find mental peace and clarity in different things. To me, the best source is the sound of my best friend quietly chewing her hay. The sound of horses relaxing and eating hay is so calming that in fact, there are professionals selling ‘hay meditation’ courses nowadays. And that’s exactly what you think: It’s sitting down on your butt, turning off your cellphone, closing your eyes, and listening to peaceful chewing for an hour.

What gives you a mental boost?