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?

Pictures!

I’m not addicted to taking pictures of random people of four and two legs. I can stop anytime I want.

Mille and Mikro — sister and mum of the Murderkittenz — play fighting in the sand outside the stable. Never too old to goof around!
Cassie and Maja doing what Cassie does best: Stuff her face in the warm sun of the weekend.
Don’t say our horses don’t get desensitivity training! Emilie honestly looked less than thrilled about the barn owner’s band practising Nutbush City Limits while she ate. She prefers their Highway to Hell cover.
And today, Emilie finally got her feet trimmed! I was very impressed with the farrier — I honestly did not think we’d manage to get her hind hooves done yet. Yay!

Those Hairy Feets

Feathers so long she literally can stand on them when they’re wet.

Ever since her one month of solitary confinement in her box, Emilie’s been struggling with a fungal infection on all four feet. Those long, shaggy feathers of hers have not been helping. Adorable as they are, they are now gone! Hopefully, her treatments will have a bit more effect now.

Snip, snip, snip goes the feathers.

Fungal infection is not the only issue that the horseperson’s eye will spot with the pictures above. Those feets, they badly need a trim! We’ve spent all weekend teaching Emilie to not only lift her feet when asked, but hold her feet up so that the farrier can get to work. She’s eager to learn, as always, but her balance is miserable and her muscle mass is a joke after eight weeks of confinement. It’s not easy for her. I expect the farrier to be able to do at least her front hooves tomorrow. Not entirely sure she’s ready for the hind legs.

Tired horse is tired after learning all day.

The Obligatory May Photoshoot

First time in May I got to be out in the sun with the horses. Every May I am like a maniac about the first sunshine. Those two, three weeks where everything explodes out of the ground and there are dandelions everywhere, they are the very best weeks of the year.

I shall let my camera do the talking. It is an eloquent little Japanese thing, that camera.

Arrive at farm, Emilie is the only horse not playing possum. Sunshine has a remarkably sedative effect on horses.
This is probably one of the best horse photos I have taken to date.
Felina decided to pose as well.
Windy day.
Vanity got up to model a bit, too.
Best damn ass in Taulov. ‘Nuff said.

Whoop de Doo!

Emilie’s long isolation is finally over. Today, she got to run around with Welsh Mountain pony Cassie and Shetland pony Prins in the outdoors arena. Do you think she enjoyed it? I think she enjoyed it. She started it, but Cassie finished it.

Videos by Caroline Frandsen at Ridecare.

 

Who’s a good dog?

Photo copyright Louise Jäger.

First Day of Freedom

I braided Emilie’s mane and forelock yesterday. She loves being braided. Or rather, she loves the attention.

Finally! After first four weeks of complete box rest, and then four weeks of teeny tiny paddock alone, Emilie got introduced to space enough to run, and to the company of another horse today. Her life quality just improved 400%.

Welsh Mountain pony Cassie and Emilie are box neighbours but that doesn’t mean they’re friends. Yet.

Things went pretty smooth on the whole. Emilie took one big bouncy gallop and otherwise kept quite relaxed.

Come no closer. This grass is mine.

Emilie really wants to be Cassie’s friend but Cassie thinks that Emilie needs to wine and dine her first.

Stop following me everywhere! Wait, don’t walk too far away!

We’re allowed to start Emilie very quietly on light work now too. She is not to carry a rider yet and we’re not supposed to ask her to trot or gallop (though she can if she wants to). So we have started on agility and clicker training to keep her little head busy.

Will work for food.

And to finish off a nice day, grooming in the sun with hay.

And this is what a triple braided forelock looks like the day after. The 1980s called, they want Tina Turner back.