Monday, September 14, 2009

Catching Up

I feel a definite obligation to keep up with this blog, and most of the time it gives me great pleasure to do so. Sometimes, I fall behind, not so much because I have nothing to post in the Journal of Ravenseyrie, but because I have no large block of computer time available. Even today (now that I am officially on "off season" hours at the studio and so have Sundays and Mondays off) I would much rather be outside than down in my basement tapping away on the keyboard...but my goodness, here we are almost in mid-September and I've not yet made one entry for this fine month!

So, let's see if I can make myself catch up at least on some of the comments that have come in over the past several weeks. Rather than go back to the old blog entries, I'll reply to the comments here, which will save me quite a bit of time, and soon I can be back out with the horses!

>>In the journal entry titled, Meet Altamiro, SpanishSulphurs (Kim) inquired,
"What is Altamiro's pedigree? I am wondering how closely Altamiro and Sovina are related."
Sovina's sire, Afogado is Altamiro's grandsire on top, and of course they share other ancestors throughout both top and bottom, but further back.

The magnificent Sorraia stallion, Altamiro!

>>In the journal entry titled, On Radicalization and Rediscovery, Erin commented, "
"Love the filly and the name fits her. She sure got Zorita's attitude just like her dam's half sister and her dam's mommy. Seems to pass on through Tia! Tia was one tough mare and wont take any BS."
I rather like Segura and Zorita's "attitude", I think self-assurance in a horse is a virtue. While I recognize that most horse owners prefer horses that are less inclined to stand up for themselves or express their opinions, I'd much rather know precisely what my horses think and feel about things. I don't want them to be cowering, submissive automatons, so I'm pleased that Tia's personality persists in her daughter and granddaughter. Zorita is actually very nice to be around. She appears quite content in the hierarchy of mares (which they have all agreed is, Bella, Belina, Zorita and Ciente). Zorita is often the "baby-sitter" of the three foals born this year and next to Altamiro himself, is also the most vigilant in keeping an eye on her surroundings. She's a definite asset to our lives.

The 3/4 Sorraia filly, Segura, by Altamiro out of Sovina's Zorita

>>In the journal entry titled, Horses For Horses' Sake, Not For Their Usability, Annemiek left a nice reply giving us a little more insight into the Dutch culture's fascination with tulips and also posted a few questions for me:
"Did Fada leave the family band voluntarily? I was kind of expecting that the young mares would take off one of these days. I just wonder how a band consisting of (half) brothers and sisters (and the others) will develop. Will a half brothers and sisters mate? I am curious what will happen in this situation."

Yes, Miek, Fada left the family band voluntarily. Isn't that something! It happened on August 26th, prior to sunset. Kevin and I were eating dinner and could see Altamiro's band off to the northwest. Mistral's group was off to the south east. For Fada to go from the family band over to Mistral's band she would have crossed our field of vision and we would have seen Altamiro chasing her, just like he did with his sons. But we didn't see a chase, nor did we see her casually walking across the various fields. But before Kevin served up tea, I checked the areas with my field glasses one last time before it got too dark to see, as is my habit, and was flabbergasted to see that Fada was now over with Mistral's group and being circled by all the others who were very excited to see her. It must have happened during our having dinner, but she must have used a woodland trail to stealthily wind her way over. I scanned back to Altamiro's area...he had positioned himself slightly away from the mares and foals and was raptly watching Fada's joining up with Mistral's group. To be blatantly anthropomorphic, I would sum up the expulsion of Animado and Interessado to be their dad in exasperation telling them sternly, "That's it, boys, time to leave...Go get a job!", whereas with Fada it was more like, "Geez, dad, you're a tyrant! I'm outta here!" I've no doubt that when Fada begins to have heat cycles, her half-brothers would be very interested in mating with her (and I'm betting it would be Animado winning her charms). Before that happens, we will either have Fada on her way to a new and exciting life out west, or we will administer a contraceptive.

Fada and Interessado with Mistral's group

>>>In the journal entry titled, Horses For Horses' Sake, Not For Their Usability, Kim commented,
"Breeding animals just to create more is irresponsible and contributes to the over population of horses."

While I understand the point you are hoping to make, Kim, I think there is more that is wrong than the mindless breeding some back yard enthusiasts engage in as well as the highly manipulative breeding others make a living at. The so-called "over population of horses" is not due to breeding, it is due to humans monopolizing the landscape for their own pursuits at the expense of the rest of the world's inhabitants. It's due to a mindset that favors shopping malls over natural landscapes. It is due to a mindset which has determined what wild grasslands remain are better used for the over stocking of cattle to make cheap beef. It is due to a mindset that believes a horse is only valuable if it can be used for some human purpose. These types of things are what lead one to believe there is an over population of horses. "We have set ourselves above all. The animals with whom we came into being are now underneath us. The one species that has no control on its own population has put itself to the task of controlling the numbers of every other species."(Melissa Holbrook Pierson, from her book, Dark Horses & Black Beauties) From my perspective, there is not an over population of horses, there is an under appreciation for them, just as there is an under appreciation for the landscape and its inhabitants on the other side of paved civilization.

>>>In the journal entry titled, Horses For Horses' Sake, Not For Their Usability, Kris commented,
"To my mind, the cruelty and incredible stupidity of much of humankind provides a compelling argument against both Intelligent Design/Creationism and Evolution. What could be less intelligent AND less "evolved" than mankind's treatment of the earth, his fellow humans, and the creatures that share this planet?"

I wonder, Kris, what the rest of the inhabitants of this planet think of how intelligent humans profess to be. There is a look that the mules get in their eyes when the horses puff up their chests and strut around projecting to them that "we horses are above you mules". The mules never argue the point, why waste the energy on a closed mind...rather they seem to roll their eyes and reply, "If you say so," while walking away chuckling to each other, "Horses think they know everything!" Then they go on to enjoy a beautiful day, rather than engage in assertions of who is better than whom. This is something what I think the non-human beings do whenever we go on and on about how evolved and intelligent we are.

To end her book Symbiotic Planet, A New Look at Evolution, geo-scientist Lynn Margulis writes, "We people are just like our planetmates. We cannot put an end to nature; we can only pose a threat to ourselves. The notion that we can destroy all life, including bacteria thriving in the water tanks of nuclear power plants or boiling hot vents, is ludicrous. I hear our nonhuman brethren snickering: "Got along without you before I met you, gonna get along without you now," they sing about us in harmony. Most of them, the microbes, the whales, the insects, the seed plants and the birds, are still singing. The tropical forest trees are humming to themselves, waiting for us to finish our arrogant logging so they can get back to their business of growth as usual. And they will continue their cacophonies and harmonies long after we are gone."

This brings to mind something to share...there are photos taken, perhaps a little over a hundred years ago, of this very East Bluff that is presently so heavily wooded and resplendent with life--those photos show a dry, barren landscape, scarred by the aftermath of intense logging. The way nature corrects our wrong-doings is an inspiring thing (and humbling!) thing.

Kris also left these thought provoking comments:
"One of the questions I continually ask myself is: what does it mean to keep horses for the horses’ sake? Certainly, in the case of Ravenseyrie, the situation is quite clear. Those horses are very fortunate. They have a great deal of varied terrain on which they are free to roam. No one seeks to possess their bodies, to force them into service as sports or leisure appliances. Their interactions with human beings are mostly voluntary. Because of the size and composition of their herds they have a varied and active social life. They have a high degree of autonomy and control over the course of their daily lives.

The case of the horses in my life is somewhat different. They have several fenced acres of varied terrain to call their own, and a barn that is always open. They can enter and leave at will. There are only the three of them... and me... so their social life is quite limited -- but still better than that of horses who are kept separate from other horses.
My horses have wholesome food, clean water, freedom of movement, and each other’s company. Is that enough for a happy, fulfilled life? I don’t think so. I think there needs to be some mental stimulation, some interaction, that makes up for the lack of the active social life of a larger herd or family group. I see it as my job to provide that stimulation... and how to do that is the beginning of an entirely different discussion. :-) "
The points you bring up here Kris are worthy of a separate discussion for sure, and I will take it upon myself to "get the ball rolling" soon, by devoting a new journal entry to it.

>>>In the journal entry titled, Horses For Horses' Sake, Not For Their Usability, June commented, "It's interesting how horses (more than other animals) can be a mythic creature inside one's mind - my fascination and dreamlife with horses as a young child did involve riding them. I wonder if centaurs came to be thought up in this way. They say horses are sensitive to being attacked on the back by predators. Because of this it can be threatening to have another creature climb on their backs. But, for the same reason, I wonder if it might not also be reassuring to have a creature whom they trust sit on them and stand guard over the vulnerable spot - the rider literally has "got their back." I wonder if this is why horses sometimes become more confident when they are ridden."

Another interesting perspective, June! And, probably, to give the horse more confidence should be the only reason we ever get up on their backs. Unfortunately, it seems to be something that is absolutely the reverse for them with the way humans tend to go about their riding . Instead of giving them confidence, we restrict them, cause them pain, punish them, take them to places they don't want to go, constantly try to control their every movement, etc. We may have to devote a journal entry to this topic as well...

>>>In the journal entry titled, An Article by Imke Spilker, June commented,
"Imke Spilker is to horses what A.S. Neill (of Summerhill) was to children. As someone who "unschooled" their oldest three children and now has two in private school, the topic is dear to my heart."

June, I have likened Imke Spilker's approach to horses as being very much like the educative system that was the brainstorm of Maria Montessori. New ways of approaching learning seem slow to be taken into the mainstream, if ever...but for those that engage in expanding their awareness and understanding by looking at their world through a shifted perspective, life becomes exquisitely rich and filled with deeper meaning.

The half Sorraia/half Kiger Mustang colt, Silvestre

>>>In the journal entry titled, Heraclitis and Herd Dynamics, Paul wrote, "Lynn - my wife Suzanne had a table beside you at the Gore Bay Farmers Market selling her jewelry.
she bought quite a large batch of your hand painted cards - which our daughter used as wedding invitations to a rather unusual wedding to take place her on the Island next Saturday.
Just writing to say - your paintings are great - as is the journal of your horses...and since I admired them enough to put a link to your blog on my Facebook and Myspace sites - which are visited by quite a few folks - here in Canada and around the world - you may get a few more hits in these coming days..."
Hello Paul! It is my husband, Kevin, who displays my cards at the Farmer's Market along with his produce when he has enough to bring to market. But I do remember your wife coming up to the studio to purchase more cards to use as wedding invitations. Thank you for your kind comments and may your daughter's wedding this coming Saturday be the beginning of a wonderful life for them together.

Okay! I think I've gotten all the comments caught up. So, I will insert some photos and be on my way until the next opportunity to post to this blog arises, which I think will be sooner than later.


Anonymous said...

You know how "they" say that you shouldn't let your horse rub his face on you because it's "disrespectful" for them to treat you like an inanimate object or a lower-ranking horse? Well, I always ignored that advice anyway, but I got to thinking - I know if I ever see horses rubbing their faces on inanimate objects or lower-ranking herd members. I wonder if they're trying to imitate what we do when we pet them. Last spring I was working with a group of nurse mare foals and one day I was in the paddock currying one of them. Another foal came up and took the rubber curry comb and started knocking it against the other foal's neck. She dropped it, and I handed it back to her, whereupon she resumed what she'd been doing. I never would have believed this if I hadn't seen it. Clearly the desire to imitate is very strong. Horses groom each other, but they don't put their arms around each other and pet each other - so maybe the face rubbing is their attempt to imitate us.
- June

Anonymous said...

I mean I don't know if I ever see.....

Spanish Sulphurs said...

haha I know my cat has imitated me before. She comes up to me and puts her paw on my face and moves it down then puts it back again and does the same thing like she is petting me! So cute!

On overpopulation. I do agree that modern civilization has pretty much pushed horses out. But that is unfortunately the society we live in. Fact of the matter is is that horses are still being hauled in double decker trucks that were designed for cattle and sheep and sent to a horrible death. There are a lot of things that need to stop such as mindless breeding practices or over producing horses with a purpose in a poor market. Premarin foals. Women need to stop taking birth control methods that rely on torturing a mare to collect her urine and then the foals sent off to slaughter. The big QH ranches that produce an absurd amount of horses. I think we have ENOUGH QHs already!! GELD FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! This also applies to the big Spanish Mustang ranches that produce foals that sell at $650. That is meat market pricing! Why produce the foal if it isn't worth anything? I don't see a problem with producing a select few foals each year and you have a plan for them. Where will they go? Eventually, a breeder will have to sell horses. Horses take up space. Where will that breeder keep them all?

It is important to make the horses you produce worth something. Cheap horses = chance of going to slaughter. Not that more expensive horses don't have that chance. But we all know that the cheap horses have the greatest chance at meeting a horrible end.

eva said...

"The so-called "over population of horses" is not due to breeding, it is due to humans monopolizing the landscape for their own pursuits at the expense of the rest of the world's inhabitants. It's due to a mindset that favors shopping malls over natural landscapes. It is due to a mindset which has determined what wild grasslands remain are better used for the over stocking of cattle to make cheap beef. It is due to a mindset that believes a horse is only valuable if it can be used for some human purpose. "

This is wisely put, we often overlook the larger picture when we talk about horse overpopulation. The numbers are staggering: Americans keep roughly 95 million cattle for human consumption, compared to 9 million horses. Only 20,000 of these horses are roaming wild. That's a drop in the bucket.

That's an incredible prioritization of resources, a choice we have made as a collective and keep making. I often wonder what would happen to all these cows if we all suddenly decided as a society that we don't like to eat them anymore?

I am convinced the world as we've known it will come to an end when the only question we can conceive of asking is: what's it's $$$ value? Or maybe it already has?

Spanish Sulphurs said...

Yes, like I said, I do agree that modern civilization has pushed horses out. However, breeding for a world that no longer exists is not responsible. This topic about people using land for the sake of money is an entirely different topic and is certainly huge enough to not be discussed with the over population of horses.