Friday, December 4, 2009

Unearthly Moods, Mute Allegories, Hidden Myths

The powerfully imaginative artist/illustrator, N.C. Wyeth had this to say about the depth of feeling he had for the natural world:

The universe towers in my mind a great overpowering mystery. The significance of the tinest speck of bark on the pine tree assumes the proportions of the infinite sky. My brain almost bursts with the effort to really appreciate the meaning of life.

In our case we will be enchanted by the bark of an Eastern White Cedar tree at Ravenseyrie

Andrew Wyeth, son of N.C. was equally passionate about expressing the emotion of nature, attempting to relay something "more" than a literal view of what he was seeing and feeling. About Andrew Wyeth's work, biographer Richard Meryman writes:

Even the surface realism of Wyeth's work is part of the secrecy, a form of concealment creating drama. In all areas of his life his interest is in atmospheres and tones, not the accuracy of facts. His real subjects are the secrets that only he has sensed and plumbed, personal meanings within metaphors and unearthly moods--mute allegories--hidden myths.

James Wyeth, son of Andrew, grandson of N.C. is equally gifted as a painter and reveals through his art the "larger than life" drama that vibrates behind even the simplest things. James H. Duff has written of James Wyeth's work:

Among his animal images, Portrait of Pig is certainly the best known. It may well stand as an emblem of the others. This is surely the archetypal sow, shown in great detail, nearly life size, and in her element. but at the same time, this is an individual, a careful portrait based on as much study as any of the artist's human portraits. "I get as involved with a sheep as I do a president of the United States," he says. The pride often visible in the people he paints is also a strong feature in his animals. And in them we see as much character, as much personality, perhaps, as it is possible to see in any animal that must be frozen in two dimensions and in time.

You might have guessed by now that to provide these brief glimpses into the motivating principles behind three generations of Wyeth art is intended to call your attention to the landscape and inhabitants of Ravenseyrie and punctuate the mythical aspects inhaled and exhaled by every element presiding in this place and time. Like these intense men, whose artistic outpouring was fueled by an appreciation for nature and its "great overpowering mystery", I find myself urged (sometimes feverishly so) to show, through my own art and writing that the universe is intelligently alive--with each aspect of its expression worthy of our attention, our reverence and our exaltations of thanksgiving.

Ciente (more ears for Eva)

It may be one of the great tragedies of the modern world that too few humans embrace "unearthly moods" and instead make every effort to insulate themselves from atmospheric vicissitudes. Likewise we have been culturally shaped to discount the wealth of information of "mute allegories" resonating among horses, trees and rocks, etc. And though we enjoy epic cinematic tales like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, in our everyday habits we support the supercilious marginalization (or outright suppression) of the "hidden myths" present in the seemingly mundane aspects of nature.

When you live in the wilderness, when you dance out in a gale wind, when you engage in dialogues with primitive horses, when the slant of light in a darkened forest beckons like a crooked finger--all synthetic, "virtual" living falls away and you come to realize that parts of yourself embody the wind, the forest, the shapeliness of horses, and it all has mystical, mythical meaning.

Zorita and Segura

For myself, then, the images of long necked, convex headed, dark-faced striped horses, first chronicled in Paleolithic art, commented upon in medieval hunting texts and pictured in the work of d'Andrade swing like a pendulum from then to now, demonstrating that Altamiro and his family band here at Ravenseyrie, like living fossils, tell us that the wild zebro, the ancestral tarpan variant continues to survive. Along with their obvious primeval morphology, a definite intellectual capacity--expressed with rich directness-of-being and enhanced by their veritable rusticity--extends to me an invitation to experience a "time before time".

In his book, The Secret Teachings of Plants/The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature, Stephen Harrod Buhner writes:

You may find, as you walk on a certain piece of land, that a mood comes over you that you cannot escape. This may come not only from the living organisms of the place, the self-organized ecosystem itself, but also from something that happened there, some history of Man. For the historical events that have occurred before us remain in the land, interwoven with the soil, set in stone. And, if your heart-field is open, they will come into you as you walk.

As readers of this journal are by now well aware, peculiar flights of fancy are a way of life for me. While I do not think that that the quintessential Ebhardt Form III ancestral equine galloped over the very bluff that Altamiro and his family band now do and extended their friendship and willing service to ancient island dwellers leaving a memory infused in the landscape, I do find that the present convergence of these horses, this particular wilderness place and Kevin and myself has stimulated some curious thoughts and sensations. A concept posed in an earlier journal entry wondered, is it possible that these types of horses partnered with humans in ways that were mutually beneficial--a sort of "domestication" story that reads differently than the "capture, subdue and enslave" methods repeatedly published in books? The way Altamiro's herd has determined, of their own choosing, that they desire to engage with me in mutual learning experiences, completely at liberty in the big wide open sets one's mind to imagining some ancient men and women experienced the same thing and built meaningful relationships with wild horses that did not include eating them or coercing them into service by force.


By now I had hoped to have written an in depth essay demonstrating why I feel (as did d'Andrade, as do many others) that the Sorraia horse is not a domestic breed, but a remnant of an ancestral form of horse, however my research is still prompted to turn over obscure stones and I am a-ways off from feeling satisfied enough to put my layman's assumptions out there among the assumptions of published scholars. And here I've gone even further out on the fringe exploring convoluted notions of the possibility that ancient humans and horses could have come together within the context of friendship and mutuality!

I must blame (thank!) the "unearthly moods", "mute allegories" and "hidden myths" for such crazy-minded suppositions. Again, I will quote from Buhner's book:

The Greeks had a word for the heart's ability to perceive meaning from the world: 'aisthesis'. "In Aristotelian psychology," James Hillman notes, "the organ of aisthesis is the heart; passages from all the sense organs run to it; there the soul is 'set on fire.' Its thought is innately aesthetic and sensately linked with the world."

Aisthesis denotes the moment in which a flow of life force, imbued with communications, moves from one living organism to another. The word literally means "to breathe in." It is a taking in of the world, a taking in of soulful communications that arise from the living phenomena in that world...[ ]...this basic experience--this aisthesis--has been at the root of human relationship with the world since our evolutionary expression out of the Earth. We are built to experience it, to be aware that each thing possesses a unique identity, its own particular 'eachness'. We are made for the nature of each thing to pass into us through our hearts, which think about it, store memories about it, and engage in dialogue with it.

I can continue to give myself over to exploring the sensations and ideas that the wilderness landscape and primitive horses have strummed in to me via that great organ of perception--the heart, or I can quit these flights of fancy and plop myself down in a chair by the radio and listen to what new course of action the United States and Canada intends to take over in Afghanistan while being reminded that Christmas shopping is good for the economy.

Close your eyes...where do you suppose you will find me?

When I close my eyes, do you know what I see?--I see You, joining me out on the fringe, feeling your way in new territory as the hidden myth present in your own horses begins to reveal itself.

Like N.C. Wyeth said, "My brain almost bursts with the effort to really appreciate the meaning of life."


Spanish Sulphurs said...

Found this interesting comment on an SMR board made by a gal that lives in France relaying her experiences with Sorraias. Seems in addition to the Portuguese Sorraias displaying black, white markings, and bay. That red dun is also a color they come in!

"Just to add my experiences of Sorraia horses I encountered in Portugal. Most were small poney types but sometimes they threw out larger foals and they grew biger like about 15hh - 15.2hh I rode a few times a large red dun very primitive marked big dorsal and Zebra stripes but a lovely orangy red dun. She was a big leggy 15.2hh her parents were aparently about 13.2hh-14hh average sorraia poney size but she was one of the big ones which they sometimes can throw so maybe there is something else in the sorraia blood too."

Here is the link to the thread:

Lynne Gerard said...

White markings, black, bay and red dun are not typical colourings for the Sorraia and any occurrence of off colour or type may be due to genetic influences from the horses d'Andrade gathered which everyone agrees likely had some domestic influence since the remaining wild group that d'Andrade had first observed had been absorbed into private free range herds of mixed horses.

Or these off-type offspring may be the result of the way the Portuguese are practicing captive breeding (treating the Sorraia like domestic horses) and the pressures of genetic bottleneck.

We find the same thing has been documented among the preservation efforts of the Przewalski horse, for example:

"Przewalski horses extinct from the wild served as a model that allowed some aspects of vertebrate preservation to be defined. Living captive wild horses trace their ancestry to eleven Przewalski horses (Equus przewalskii) and one domestic mare (Equus caballus). Though the current captive population exceeds 400 individuals, the observations of this species have shown reduced genetic variability, higher levels of homozygocity, decreased frequency and loss of particular alleles. Zoo management of the horses results in depression of their reproductive system, relevant processes, fertility and viability as well as juvenile mortality and neonatal abnormalities. Concurrently a variation in the phenotype and loss of species-typical status (both behavioural and morphological) occur. These processes have been caused by ecological and genetic problems. The former relate to inadequate conditions in the zoos and reserves while the latter concern progressive inbreeding due to a small number of founders and difficulties in handling the horses since they are distributed over 70 management centres. In addition, the gene pool of general population is affected by a genetic drift leading to allele loss in isolated minipopulations natural and directed breeding minimizing the number of individuals involved in reproduction and elimination of genes when certain lines vanish. As far as the Przewalski horse gene pool goes, microevolutional processes, therefore, influence the captive population in a negative way and are practically beyond our control." See:

Thank you for your link, however, it is for a private forum of which I am not a member, so I was not able to make use of it.

Lynne Gerard said...

Kim, you might also find this paper helpful in understanding the occasional emergence of off type in ancestral horses.

Future study will help us better understand the unique status of the Sorraia horse, whose original preservation efforts share many similarities with the Przewalski horse, yet no one seems to suggest that the human influence on the Przewalski horse means he is manmade breed.

Spanish Sulphurs said...

The Sorraia has no documentation of being a wild horse nor having a history before the 1920's. So, comparing them to a real wild horse like the Przewalski horse is a leap.

What I am saying is that they have no history. Thus, nothing to support claims of them being a wild horse nor of being an ancestral horse. Which I would find absolutely astonishing if a group of horses were truly wild in a place such as Portugal or Spain due to there not being much land in the first place. Not like there would be a lot of places to hide in!

So, the paper for off type of ancestral horses cannot logically be applied to the Sorraia in my opinion due to a lack of historical documentation that would support them being truly wild. If anything, they would have been feral horses that were gathered back up again. As the history of Portugal and Spain being the epic center of acquiring excellent riding and war horses for centuries. Also, can you really believe that was the first time local ranches gathered up horses that they already knew was there?

Hardy seems to skip on facts that don't support his hypothesis of what Sorraias are and the Portuguese don't even like him. He even uses mtDNA as his whole support to say that the Kigers are Iberian despite the fact that when Dr. Cothran whom is a geneticist from Texas A & M looked at their overall DNA and found them to be mixed. He placed them outside of the Iberian breed group in with the light riding horses. What Hardy seems to miss is that you can have a 99% draft horse with an Iberian mtDNA pattern if you have a solid mare line from that first pure Spanish horse. mtDNA is only passed through from the maternal side and takes nothing into account for the genes of the sire. So, when Kigers in fact are not Iberian by breed when looking at the whole picture, Hardy still says they are off of a very small piece of information which according to Dr. Cothran, "mtDNA types show maternal lineage and it has value within breeds for that. It has little or no value for breed identification as discussed before. Large patterns of geographic distributions of mtDNA haplotype groups is giving information about domestication."

Thus, Hardy is incorrectly using mtDNA for breed identification.

Lynne Gerard said...

Spanish Sulphurs (Kimberly Jones), your opinion differs from mine completely and the derogatory comments of this most recent entry of yours are so inappropriate and ill-founded that I almost for the first time considered using my right as creator, owner and editor of this blog to delete your comments altogether. But I have decided not to delete them, because it is important for readers to know that there is controversy surrounding the origins of the Sorraia and their place in the equine family tree. As such your opposing views provide a counter-point for readers to pursue if they so desire as well as telling us all a little bit about yourself as a person.

I believe those people who read the Journal of Ravenseyrie are intelligent, thoughtful and self-motivated individuals who are perfectly capable of thoroughly studying for themselves the highly researched and detailed material Hardy Oelke has compiled and offered for viewing on his website. I trust that in carefully reviewing his material readers will come to the determination that your denigration of his efforts is irrationally unfounded.

It is absolutely appropriate, in my opinion, to compare the sketchy prehistory of the Sorraia with that of the Przewalski and I will be addressing this issue within my essay on the zebro very soon.

(Incidentally, my studies are enhanced by the gifts of two books generously given to Hardy Oelke during one of his yearly visits to Portugal by José Luis d'Andrade specifically to be given to me--such is the degree of your so-called dislike of Hardy the Portuguese supposedly have.)

Spanish Sulphurs said...

The report of the Portuguese not liking Hardy is not new information. It has been well known for years as well as the nick name that the Portuguese have for Hardy.

I researched the Sorraia and I came up my logical conclusions. I did not make derogatory comments in my opinion, I merely stated truths that you as the blogger obviously do not agree with. Like you said, the Sorraia has a sketchy history. The only history we do know is after the 1920's. So, with a country that has centuries of crossbreeding, you believe that a group of horses that were known to exist managed to escape this crossbreeding and are an Iberian ancestral horse and are a true wild horse despite no documentation to support such claims.

This is the summary that I have gained from what you have said and are solely using one source for your entire conclusions which you would be of course ignoring other scientists and their opinions which do not support this hypothesis on the Sorraia.

Diane Pinney said...

In the event that there are others reading these comments, for their benefit
I will respond to you, since these issues that you bring up, Kimberlee, have
been heard and addressed directly to you in private and on numerous internet
forums, and therefore bringing them to your attention, again, will likely
have no more impact on your position than they have in the past.

As to your comments on the Sorraia and Portugal, I would think you might
hesitate to disparage a horse and ancestry whose existence was first uncovered and acknowledged by a well respected horse breeder and anthropologist/hippologist in Portugal, Ruy D'Anrade. The D'Andrade family
has been raising Lusitanos and Sorraias in Portugal for decades, and the D'Andrade line is one of the most sought after genetic lines of Lusitanos. Ruy D’Andrade and his family are certainly well acquainted with Iberian type horses, and also have a reputation to uphold in Portugal.It is ultimately Ruy D'Andrade, his thoughts, and conclusions regarding the Sorraia which you vehemently disagree with, not Hardy Oelke.

If you believe that Hardy is misinterpreting, dismissing, or overlooking any
scientific information, I would say I disagree, but for argument's sake, if
he had, then he has done that to more information than you ever have even
learned (and I may say dismissed out of hand) about the Sorraia, and its
history, since he has been involved in the Sorraia preservation effort since
well before you were 10 years old.

Politics, scientific information, fame, ego, and money have always played a role in how any given country views or addresses its resources, natural and
otherwise. Since I don’t believe you have never been to Portugal or you would not have made your comments about the geography and there being no place for a wild horse to remain wild, nor do I believe you have had any affiliation with anyone in or from Portugal who is involved with the Sorraias, I don't see how you can make any statement regarding personal favoritism and disfavoritism by that nationality, and how any Sorraia preservation effort is viewed. And even if you had, it would be unprofessional of you to repeat such slander here. As Lynne points out, it says more about you than about anyone else.

Diane Pinney said...

To correct, I don't believe you have ever been to Portugal

Regarding Kigers, once again Kimberlee, you are using outdated information,
incomplete information, incorrect information, and a misunderstanding of the
information that is part of the peer-reviewed research that included mustang
mtDNA as part of its data base.

Your sole and constant reliance on Dr. Gus Cothran’s genetic marker study and his dendogram is ubiquitous when you want to discredit the Kigers. Dr. Cothran’s methods, study, and conclusions have not been published nor peer reviewed. I could find no other geneticist that considered it accepted, reliable, or standard to try to identify a given horse or group of horses with specific breeds, as the study does.

Nevertheless, even in reliance on the study, it shows that Kigers are grouped with breeds that descend from Iberian horses. I copy here a response to another claim that Kigers are more related to Quarter Horses, a claim you also make in other forums. It is written by Judy Yancey, a very savvy, intelligent, successful businesswoman in Ocala,Florida, who is knowledgeable about the Iberian horses, Lusitanos and Andalusians, and successfully breeds German warmbloods:

"...the comments about the breed being rife with QH blood cannot go unanswered, because that is far from the realities of the DNA testing that has been done. If anyone cares, there is a full report of that testing at: As you can see on the report, the Kiger has a higher degree of genetic similarity to the Criollo, Campolina, and Peruvian Paso than it does to the Quarter Horse. All breeds will show some similarity to other breeds because no breed is so pure that it is distinct within itself. Not even the Andy. And lest we forget, the QH was grounded in spanish mustang blood, so we should expect to see similarity there!
Cothran seems to cater to whatever crowd he is speaking to at times, but his report speaks for itself...If you look at the bottom table you can see that the Kigers as a specific group had the highest percentage of genetic similarity to spanish breeds of any mustang group he tested back in 1991 .
There is no such thing as a "pure" Spanish horse, pure mustang, et all.
As for Kiger purity, they are as pure as any feral herd can be, in that they have been strictly isolated for the last 28 years, and having had a large degree of natural isolation prior to that. The have a sizable degree of Spanish influence, as indicated by Cothran's study."

In contrast, Hardy has contributed samples from Kigers, other BLM mustangs, and SMR mustangs for use as data which resulted in a published, peer-reviewed scientific research paper. The results of this research confirmed an ancestral relationship between some mustangs, including some Kigers and SMR mustangs, and the Sorraia and other closely related Iberian horses such as Lusitanos.

I challenge you to find and supply me with a source where Hardy has used mtDNA as his entire basis for concluding that Kigers have Iberian ancestry. I have worked with Hardy for over 10 years with the Kigers, and consistently the emphasis has been on the evalutation of type, of conformation. Hardy first noticed Sorraia types amongst the Kigers, and started the Sorraia Mustang Project well before that. His book, Born Survivors on the Eve of Extinction, was published in 1997. The mtDNA research and results did not become known until 2002, and the results happily demonstrate to the naysayers that Iberian/Sorraia ancestry was present in the wild herds. Please note the use of ANCESTRY, mtDNA is used to evaluate ancestry, not identify a certain

Diane Pinney said...

If there are other credible, professional scientists who so vehemently disagree with the conclusions Ruy D’Andrade and Hardy Oelke have come to regarding the Sorraia in the Iberian peninsula, then I for one would be very interested in knowing what studies have been done refuting it, who has done them, what their position is, and be able to discuss the differing points of view. No one is shying away from valid evaluation of the theories. However, when you, Kimberlee, allude to the existence of these claimed scientists and other “people” of differing views, it has always been referred to in generalities, and no associated name, or research paper offered to be able to engage in intellectual evaluation. Thus, those arguments cannot even be countered.

Hardy does not miss anything, it is you who seem to miss things, Kimberlee.
What you miss is that if a horse has Iberian mtDNA but is 99% draft, then
the horse will LOOK like a draft horse. It is simple genetics. It will not
look Iberian. It is the importance of the evaluation of type that is the
basis for Hardy refusing to automatically register offspring of the Sorraia
Stallion, Sovina, into the SMS without first evaluating the offspring for
inheritance of Sorraia conformation and type. I will say again, Hardy has
never used any genetics to claim a horse was a certain breed. MtDNA types
indicate an origin from a certain geographic region. What it means that the
A3 genotype, which is carried by Kigers alone amongst the BLM mustangs, is
closer to the Sorraia genotype than the D cluster which is carried by quite
a few BLM mustangs, is difficult to explain and understand unless you have
had education in genetics, population genetics, statistics, and the like. It
is not a fluke, or a slight of hand, or a manipulation of data, to conclude
that the evolutionary relationship is closer.

Even the quote from Dr. Cothran that you include is misunderstood. You attribute this statement to him: “Large patterns of geographic distributions of mtDNA haplotype groups is giving information about domestication.” What do you think is being domesticated if not the wild horses of each geographic location?

It is worthy of note that since Hardy has become interested in the Sorraia types in the mustang and SMR horses, the word "Sorraia" or "Sorraia
type" or "Sorraia Mustang" has seemed to become a sought after thing
throughout some American horse enthusiasts. I doubt that it would have
become as well known if not for the efforts of Hardy Oelke and the rest of
us who are carrying on the genetic preservation project.

Unfortunately, not all horses claimed as "Sorraia", "Sorraia type", or
"Sorraia Mustangs" necessarily are those things. It appears to have become
an attempt at marketing schemes in some circles, which muddies the waters
and makes our bona-fide genetic project more difficult. And the world is no
longer as isolated; what the Americans think is popular and would pay money
for is not lost on those in Europe, and there are probably horse dealers out
there who will have no trouble offering a "Sorraia" for some money-toting American to see or
ride, if they are asking.

Hardy has been very thorough, dedicated, intelligent, and successful in his
own attempts to preserve the Sorraia that remains today, and the possibly
entire complement of genes that once existed in that bottlenecked
population, by preserving the likely inheritors of those genes, the Sorraia
Mustang. He has written at length and completely about his efforts, and the
confirmatory historical information he has constantly uncovered, including
historical information on the Spanish Ancestry of Kigers, on his website at I encourage anyone interested to read the material
on that site, and feel free to email Hardy, me at, or (if you don't mind) Lynne
with questions.

merlesgirl said...

I have been one of those silent readers who just recently joined in the enjoyment of your journal. I am too humble to call myself a horseperson yet, but I have felt a love of all things equus since I was a small child. It is only in adulthood that I have been able to pursue this love actively. I recently had a fall from my big horse companion, Merlyn. We were riding bareback, and I had been away for some time. Looking back, after reading so much about listening in your journal entries, I was so "old school" that day. Merle had been very clear that she didn't want to ride that day and had kept moving away from the mounting block. I was determined that we would ride and she "needed to listen." In fact, I should have been listening. Once mounted, all I wanted was a trip around the ring. Just before dismount, she had a tiny reaction to something that resulted in me hitting the dirt hard enough to fracture my tailbone. That was five weeks ago and I haven't been able to get on since.

I believe everything happens for a reason. In these past weeks, I have started reading about different ways I could communicate with my big, loving, puppy dog of a belgian cross. I loved her at first sight and knew she was meant to be my life-long equine companion. The fall that has kept me from riding has been the best thing that could have happened to me. I started looking into treeless saddles, bitless bridles, and softer ways of communicating. Having dabbled in Parelli, I liked the idea of learning the language of the horse. The barefoot saddles and bitless bridles led me to read more about non-interfering ways of riding...somehow, this has led me to Ravenseyrie, Imke, and Klaus. I feel as though I have found a way of communicating and interacting with my friend that is perfect for both of us. I sense that Merle was probably ridden harshly in a prior life, but she is always willing and quite keen to learn. I think she just needed a "people" to depend on and trust.

Your journal has introduced me to so many great ideas and so many wonderful writers. Your entries inspire, they bring joy, and they bring a sense of peace. Each time I go to see my girl, I work on listening harder, allowing her to make more decisions, and try to communicate that we are partners. Friends. Companions. Student and Teacher, Teacher and student.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. I'm sure Merly says thank you too!

Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family of people and animals!

My Christmas gift to myself is a copy of Imke's book. I hope it arrives soon!

Lynne Gerard said...

Diane Pinney wrote:
"I encourage anyone interested to read the material
on that site, and feel free to email Hardy, me at, or (if you don't mind) Lynne with questions."

Diane, thank you for your contribution to demonstrating that the waters are not as muddy as some would like to suggest, regarding the origins of the Sorraia and its importance as an ancestral horse type.

I, too, continuously direct people to Hardy's website--which those who have actually read through his complete data base readily realize comprises material from a variety of sources-- making the notion that what is documented there is simply one man's erroneous opinion seem like a most inappropriate and ill-tempered declaration.

Because Hardy has already done such a careful and thorough job of "answering the critics" on his websites, I have not felt it necessary to point for point counter those curiously unfounded comments left by Ms. Jones, however, Diane, your rebuttal provides heightened comprehension of the issues at hand and I whole-heartedly welcome it.

(Readers should know that Diane Pinney has under her care some of the most distinctly phenotypical Sorraia type Kiger mustangs that I have ever seen, demonstrating the vital role Kiger mustangs are playing as repositories of ancestral Iberian genetics.)

As I have repeatedly mentioned, further research into this unusual horse, the Sorraia (as well as the Sorraia attributes inherent among the reg. Spanish Mustang, Kiger Mustang, Sulphur Springs Mustang and cropping up in other strains of mustangs) will provide us with validation to its obviously primitive origins. Let's keep an eye on emerging studies, and in the meantime continue to consolidate and preserve those horses that most resemble the indigenous wild horse of southwest Iberia.

Lynne Gerard said...

merlesgirl wrote:
"My Christmas gift to myself is a copy of Imke's book. I hope it arrives soon!"

Hello to you, "merlesgirl" and thank you for not only taking the time to read the Journal of Ravenseyrie, but to place your touching story in the comments section. This was, for me, a definite Christmas know that another human is feeling her way to a more intimate, egalitarian relationship with horses.

In addition to Imke's wonderful book, as a New Year's gift to your self you might get yourself a copy of Stormy May's inspiring documentary, THE PATH OF THE HORSE.

I think that this new way of being with horses is sweeping over the whole world, one horse and one human at a time...which I find fascinating, amazing and so rich with hope for the future.

Thank you so much for touching us with your story, "merlesgirl"!

June said...

Hi, Merlesgirl - I liked your entry.

Standing for mounting is a continuing issue. It's easy enough to "train" a horse to stand still, but if we want to grant the horse more autonomy, then when he/she chooses to move away, we must assume it is deliberate and that he/she does not wish to be mounted. Hmm. Bit of a problem if our whole aim is riding.

At our old barn, we mounted from the bench of a picnic table. Our four horses would always stand to be mounted. At the new barn (with three of those horses now deceased, and a new one added, and another horse I ride), I find that I encounter opposition to the mounting idea! And so do some of my barn friends. George was fine with it, until last time - was he having an off day? Or is his saddle pinching? Possibly both. I'm going to try another saddle. My buddy Gus often very politely and deliberately moves off target from the mounting block - again, is it tack? He seems to enjoy rides once I'm up. I often persist in mounting him, but always with a loose rein. Sometimes I'll pre-bribe him. i.e. I'll say "oh dear sweet Gus, how about I give you a yummy treat, and you let me up, huh, pretty please?" Works well. His owner doesn't like me giving him treats as he gets pushy. But I'd like to work on that and get him to where our horses were - lots of treats, but no pushing.

George is a challenge, as although he is very outgoing and likes to come out and "work," he is very unwilling to put up with anything he doesn't like. He cowkicks (long legs/big reach!) when someone tries to mount and he doesn't want them too. I have to assume from his general cooperativeness and gregariousness that when he says, "No!" there is a good reason for him to say that.
By the way, I had him pegged as a "Sergeant," but now I think he's a combination "Sergeant" and "Dandy." Weird, huh?

Also, you know - I think one reason getting "mad" at horses actually works (and people are reluctant to give that up as it has served them well) is that a moment of anger gives clarity and direction to the conversation, and the horse sometimes appreciates that, as long as it's not abused. Like when we were having the issue with George fussing over being mounted, I suddenly got annoyed and said, "Oh for crying out loud, stop being a baby." Whereupon George said, "Oh, you mean you don't want me to do that?" And then we worked something out where he stood still for my daughter to get into mounting position and put one foot near the stirrup and her hands on the saddle, but not mount. I'm trying to do away with anger and so on, but often end up "waffling" instead. The Sergeant in George liked it when I got, let's say, emphatic. I could've quit when I saw that the reason for his annoyance was probably discomfort, but I don't think that would have been good for either of us. I don't know. As we know, this is kind of new territory in the horse world! KFH has all the clarity and direction he needs without resorting to a raised voice, but us lesser mortals have to work it out as we go along!

June said...

Whereas with Chloe the pony, an Origin, anger (and by anger, I mean a kind of schoolteacherish severity) is never acceptable to her. She finds it frightening and offensive. Since the institution of the Chloe Rule - "Chloe never has to do anything she doesn't want to" - she has become much more cheerful and curious and enjoys hanging out in the pasture with us. We dance around and do silly things, and she tries to join in. She loves it when we sit down on the ground. Maybe, maybe, maybe one day she'll like to leave the pasture with us.