The Sorraia stallion, Altamiro, gallops along paths in the snow with his Sorraia Mustang mares and foals at Ravenseyrie
When Kevin and I lived in Michigan, we had cows as well as horses and mules. There were roughly 70 acres, most of which was fenced and gated in a variety of conjoining pastures (with the connecting gates virtually always left open), one of which contained a pond. The family of cows, calves and venerable Mr. Bull had access to this great network of pastures as well as a large barn and two "loafing" sheds.
At that time we had just two horses and they had a separate pasture connected to their own barn. Their stalls were always open and accessible allowing them to choose for themselves whether they wanted to be out in the weather or sheltered inside.
Neither situation (that which the cows enjoyed and that which belonged to the horses provided sufficient pasturage) and we typically had to feed hay from late June until May. The bovines had the better deal, however, because theirs was a much more variable and interesting environment, within which they were always moving from sector to sector depending on the conditions of the day and their collective mood. They appeared to have a fulfilled existence, rich with play, reproduction, family bonds and a high degree of self-government. They never seemed bored.
I cannot say the same for the horses (one of which is Mistral, who made the move to the island with us). The environment Mistral and Phoenix (and later Mistral and Sizuna, and later Mistral and Zeus) found themselves in was much more limited (about five acres) and with little to no grazing most of the year, they mostly sloughed about, waiting for their next delivery of oats and hay. They didn't play and only rarely did they cavort about if something happened to spook them into a display of energy.
I was mostly oblivious to this at the time, thinking we were providing them with good living conditions--much better than my days of keeping Mistral at a boarding stable in a box stall with very limited turnout and that in a dirt paddock.
Looking balanced and elegant, here we have nine month old Animado enjoying his winter day -temperature was a whopping +8°FBut I knew something was missing, and I always wanted for them a situation more like what the cows had.
This is why living here at Ravenseyrie is so terrific! Here the horses have a vast, varied environment to call their own and they appear to make the most of every element of it. They exude a true sense of belonging. Kevin and I feel this "sense of belonging", too. We love it here!
An exciting piece of digital video--our entire group of primitive, ancestral horses galloping as one!
Always ready to remind the increasing prideful Altamiro of his subservient place in the herd, Mistral gives a show of force, intimating that Altamiro should take his high spirits elsewhere.
Bella is on the left, Zorita in front, Mistral doing his thing and Altamiro redirecting himself elsewhere upon "request"
Winter is not a time of dormancy or hibernation for this group of equines...they do not appear to perceive the winter season as something that one must begrudgingly wait out in a semi-unconscious state until spring awakens the landscape once again (unlike most of us humans), rather each day remains as full of wonder and activity as any other day in the more temperate seasons.
I feel very happy as I observe how much energy these equines put into the day, even when the thermometer reads -15° F or lower! They, like our dogs, seem so delighted to express their "very joy of being"--it is infectious and I find myself more and more wanting to be like them. I may have said it before, but I guess its worth repeating--I am becoming more accepting of whatever the day may bring and pausing to appreciate what "is" rather than longing for the past or throwing my heart too far forward into the future.
A series of snapshots taken this past Monday during a nice nap Animado and Interessado were taking in the afternoon sunshine, with the temperature only +12°F. I sat with them for awhile, it felt much, much warmer than what the thermometer was reading.Interessado and Animado look quite comfortable, wouldn't you agree?
Surprisingly, it seems even hearty islanders have expressed some grumblings this year about how difficult a winter it has been--"It came too early", "It's too severe" and "Spring is too far away", etc. I can honestly say that I might be grumbling just as much if not for the way the horses and mules at Ravenseyrie make the most of each winter day--observing their response to the winter world continues to provide me with a greater appreciation for how much pleasure each day can hold.
I hope viewing the images and brief video clips infect you with the same inspiration and "very joy of being" that such images have done for me.
Another high-spirited dash from the east across the open landscape