Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Exploring Usability

In an earlier blog entry (where I was kindly given permission to republish an article by Imke Spilker which was translated into English by Kristina McCormack) a reader named "Nellie" left the following comment:

I just bought the book Empowered Horses and I read it with great interest as it echoes within me. Thank you Imke for writing it for us. I was wondering if somehow Imke Spilker and Klaus Ferdiand Hempfling have crossed their ways at some stage?

I don't know if Imke and Klaus have had any contact with each other, but their writings do appear to share some common elements of the evolved philosophy of horse/human relations. Nellie's query has prompted me to discuss some of the things Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling has written which I have found to be worth deeper consideration.

I'd like to use today's journal entry to share some further contemplation of the "usability" of horses. To break up the text, I am inserting photos taken on Monday during a high spirited frolic and dash that Mistral's group engaged in after an autumn rain shower.

Fada and Jerry

In his book, What Horses Reveal (also translated with good feeling by Kristina McCormack from the original German to English), Klaus wrote about the superficiality of training horses to be used for specific human goals and training from a deeper relationship with horses where usefulness is not the goal, but, rather, the by-product.

If, for example, horses are given the most common types of training, of whatever kind and for whatever riding style, it can be assumed that the majority of these horses will later function pretty much in a certain way. Twenty, thirty, or more, percent of horses, however, will not achieve certain goals, or will for other reasons, perhaps because they rebel too much, be deemed 'unusable' in the end. This is virtually calculated into the equation, it is part of the horse-training business. What counts in this case, from the very beginning, is an animal's usefulness, and the tried and true methods that have a great probability of giving the anticipated results and value. This is not the way I operate, or think, but, in fairness, these methods must be given their due for the relative clarity and simplicity with which everything occurs. There are more or less clearly formulated methods, recognizable stops on the way, and standardized goals. If you are satisfied with that, then you, at least, will not too easily go astray.

For those of us who want to adhere to inner values it is not this desired external usefulness that counts the most. We must, however, be very careful because at this point some well-camouflaged lies of life, into whose fine web it is easy to fall, can arise. In the relationship I have with horses, there emerges from the foundation of deep trust an immediately visible effect, a visible 'usefulness' that is in fact very important. On the one hand, therefore, I say that the relationship and inner values are the important things, and that outward 'usefulness' should be disregarded but, on the other hand, I say that the outward transformation that springs from within, the 'effect', is so significant. This sort of 'usefulness' develops in a manner that is very different from that which is commonly known. All this appears to be contradictory but it is not. (pgs. 22-23)

The yearling Sorraia half-bred colts, Animado and Interessdo enjoy a game of chase

Klaus then offers up exquisite "before and after" photos of the Spanish stallion Junque to illustrate his point and has written more detail on what he means:

With regard to the work that follows, I would like to begin with this example: all of these pictures speak of a deep inner connection between horse and man. That is the starting point, the path and the goal, all in one, and is the main purpose, the reason and the reward for my action. But the proof of the rightness of this path is also the physical, visible effect. It is the external appearance of the horse. And these connections are all too often forgotten, or not even noticed. Many people cannot, therefore, even imagine that outwardly visible successes come to be when your attention is directed completely and totally toward inner values, because, very often, these are not recognized by those who strive for inner qualities of whatever kind. But, my experience in this respect is that, if you strive for inner values, you are only genuinely doing that, and in the right way, if positive changes are also seen on the outside, for example in well-being, strength, energy, expression, form, and beauty. (pg. 24)
Already showing such regal qualities for a yearling colt! Animado!!

To make sure his readers are truly absorbing the meaning of his words he offers this passage:

Let me reiterate that I maintain, and all the pictures on these pages can unequivocally verify, that unbelievable 'miracles' on the outside are possible only when inner values and forms are developed. Only then can something develop externally without our doing anything that is specifically 'use' oriented. It grows as, for example, a thriving tree grows in size and magnificence. It happens all by itself when the conditions are right; and this book is about the conditions. (pg. 24)

Zeus, Mistral and Animado

This reminds me both of the approach Imke Spilker uses with her horse/human interactions and also the philosophy behind the "natural farming" espoused by Masanobu Fukuoka. If we provide the appropriate conditions, growth, empowerment, greater beauty and a concomitant "usefulness" are a by-product of honoring the natural essence of things and the human assisting/accompanying their inherent qualities leads them to fulfillment. The "usefulness" is ultimately beneficial first and foremost for the horse (or plant) itself and represents a self-actualization that creates the situation where achieving one's optimum potential is possible.

Animado and Jerry in a highly spirited game

Do you provide your horse the right conditions for this self-actualized capacity for achieving his optimum potential, or have you "boxed" her into your human concept of what that optimum potential might? These questions I repeatedly ask myself.

In someways, for some of the horses and mules here at Ravenseyrie, I would say that living pretty much the way wild horses live has given them the chance to reach their optimum potential. For others, I get a sensation that they would like "more"...just what that "more" might be has me often in greater contemplation.


We can quote Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling again for some insight into what I am feeling. The following excerpts are from an interview/article published in the online magazine, Horses For LIFE, titled, How to Bring Happiness to Your Horses.

For sure, my approach to the horses is a very simple thing. If the horse does not want me to jump on him and ride him, I will not do it. The horse has to come to me and say "Please ride me because I like it. I'm more fresh after the ride than before. I'm healthier, stronger, and prouder when you have been riding me than before."

I would never do anything with the horse if the horse is suffering at all in any way and losing quality of life. So these are things I'm explaining to the jumpers and competition riders: as long as you're running through hundreds of competitions and the horses are going after them, then I'm with you. If you're pressuring the horse, if you're doing something where the horse is not prepared, then we're for sure running on different levels. To be sure, you can ask me things and I would like to give you answers and help you understand yourself and your horse or whatever, I'm not judging you. But please know that whatever I'm doing, my first intention and first approach is to be with the horse. We're not sitting in a rubber boat, that when you have a hole, you go out and buy a new one. We're dealing with living beings and whatever I'm doing is in the best interests of the individual horses.

The half-Sorraia yearlings, Fada, Interessado and Animado

Expanding on recognizing the individuality of horses and that what is in the best interest for one horse might not be the same for a different horse, Klaus says:

I have classified 26 characters in my book where the horses reveal [themselves]. If you have a winner, for example, and you're missing the opportunity for this horse to compete and make him win, then he will be sad. It's like having a sheepdog in your house and the sheepdog is lying around with no job to do. I used to be with sheep and living in the country. And the sheepdog was happy to be working eight hours a day with the sheep. In the morning he woke up for his job and was happy to have his job.

On the other hand, there are dogs which like to lie around on the sofa and be fed, and this is the pleasure and the meaning of this dog. So no limits, but the right approach, and always the best interests of the animal because we have the responsibility for them and enough knowledge and enough feeling to distinguish between different types of animals and to channel them into the right jobs.

The registered Thoroughbred gelding, Zeus

I'd like to use our Thoroughbred gelding Zeus as an example of how important it is to discover the "right approach". Zeus' history is pretty sketchy, but I had been told that he was initially trained as a race horse but didn't make the cut because he was too slow. This may have been the truth, at least there is the telltale tattoo on the inside of his upper lip, but he hasn't seemed at all too slow here at Ravenseryie, and this is due to the different lifestyle he is part of here which provides him a much different motivation to "win" than the race course life was able to give him. Zeus really came alive living among a big group of horses and quickly took up the post of being Mistral's "right hand man" and there are many races he eagerly engages in, one of which you can view within the journal entry titled, Grulla Variations, A Racehorse in the Wilderness and Zorita Too. Here is an example of simply providing the right conditions which allow the horse to blossom all on his own.

Zeus and Mistral

For myself, the realm of competition is far too fraught with elements that cause even the most ardent devotee of the horse's best interests to "compromise" in ways that ultimately are not in the horse's best interest but, rather, serve the human ego. But I do think some horses thrive on competition, as our Zeus does. It swells my heart immensely to see this once skinny, beaten down, introverted, unsure horse find self-actualization through just being a horse living in the wilderness with his herd mates.

Do I see, also, in him the capacity for haute école? I certainly do...but I do not yet see the conditions being quite right to help him pursue this yet...though I have a feeling such conditions will reveal themselves in time, if I remain open to it myself.

A few segments of Monday's frolic that I was able to get video footage of, in between taking photos

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pony Clubbers Come For a Visit

On Saturday, September the 19th, Sarah Hutchinson, the District Commissioner of the Manitoulin Pony Club, brought four of its young members up to Ravenseyrie to meet the horses. Hanna, Bronwya, Nikita and Shanelle, along with one more supervising adult (Lynn), got up early enough to reach Ravenseyrie at 8:00 a.m., which was very much appreciated, since I had to be to work at noon and wanted to be able to have a nice block of time to share with them.

The Manitoulin Pony Club is an official branch of the Canadian Pony Club, which in turn is an extension of the international Pony Club organization established for youthful equestrians in Great Britain in the late 1920's. These Pony Clubs have been established "for the purpose of interesting young people in riding and sport and at the same time offering the opportunity of higher instruction in this direction than many of them can obtain individually." Looking at their website one can see they appear to be a highly structured, hierarchical organization with a focus on competitions. Probably in my younger years I would have been thrilled to be part of a bona fide Pony Club...Today I prefer to achieve learning from a different perspective and no longer consider the horse a tool for the advancement of young equestrians.

With good feeling and my best intentions in mind, I decided to ignore these aspects of the Pony Club for the duration of the girls' visit and provide them, instead, with an experience that demonstrates what a rich, spectacular and meaningful life horses can have outside of the world of competition and pleasure riding.

The morning was very chilly and blanketed with frost, but warmed up nicely as the September sun reacher higher up into a seamless blue sky. Mistral, Zeus, Interessado, Fada and Animado, along with the mules had eaten their breakfast oats just before sun up. For several weeks now, Altamiro and his family band have been coming up for oats before sun up as well (staying on the west side of the parameter surround the house, while the others remained to the east side) but on the morning of the visit from the Pony Clubbers, much to our delight, they delayed until shortly after the girls arrived. This allowed the girls to meet them without having to hike across the landscape in search of the "wild" horses.

I did not take photos during the time that Altamiro and the mares were eating their oats, but I did get out my camera when Doll stole in to introduce herself to the Pony Clubbers.
Doll seemed to especially appreciative of Bronwya's presence.

Altamiro left for a bit to go see what Mistral and his group might be up to over to the east and the girls lost no time making friends with the mares and Silvestre (Encantara and Segura still remain aloof around humans). Upon Altamiro's return, some of the mares had begun to drift back off to the north east sector and Altamiro decided that the rest of the mares should head that way as well. Knowing what was coming, I had the Pony Club group gather up on the stacked beams Kevin is hoping to use in building a future barn, which provided the girls a safer place to view how a herd stallion snakes his head low, pins his ears and with his sternest expression compels his mares to move out ahead of him to a new location. That "driving position" looks like this:
And the response of the mares and foals looks like this:
Once Altamiro and the mares had settled into grazing, we were able to mingle among them once again.

Hanna (if I have my names right) had been telling me how much she likes to ride, so I asked her if she thought that the horse liked it as much as she did. She replied, "Yes...hmm, well, he likes the attention, but I don't think he likes when I pull on the reins or when I kick his sides." I'm sure she is right...horses do like to get attention (especially those who otherwise lead rather boring lives in small areas) and I'm glad that Hanna and the others enjoy giving good attention to horses and that they recognize that some of the things they do horses don't like so much.

We then hiked over to the east sector and visited with Mistral's group and the Pony Club girls got to meet the yearlings. Zeus and Jerry were behaving rather intrusively because they wanted more of the attention upon themselves and we soon left them because I was afraid one of these big boys might push over a young girl in their desire to gain extra caresses. And anyhow, it was time to head back and get cleaned up for work.

While walking back on one of the many neat trails in the long grasses, Sarah asked me if I had much opportunity to ride these days. I expected that a question similar to this might arise, and it provided me with a chance to relay a little bit about how since living with the horses in this manner on the island, I've begun to look at them from a different perspective which has lead me to reading and studying the work of equestrians whose primary interest is that the horses have a say in what we do with them. I told Sarah that I still love haute école but that I do not see myself ever putting a bit into a horse's mouth again and that I would ride them only if they were truly willing to have me ride them. Sarah told me about a bitless bridle made in Ontario (which I am already familiar with)...then something interrupted us and I couldn't explain further that I no longer wish to ride with any type of bridle or reins, halter or lead rope or anything that restricts the horses head. There is much to explain about the harm that bits and bridles and even most types of riding does to the horse, but this wasn't the time to lecture on such things.

When we got back to the house, the girls presented Kevin and me with a thoughtful hand-made card thanking us for letting them come see the horses. We both were touched by this.

I was pleased that the girls got to see a bit of the landscape and meet the horses. I was unsure how much they understood about Sorraias and Sorraia Mustangs and our preservation efforts and I also thought perhaps that since riding was not a part of this visit that the girls might have been maybe a little bored.

Within a few days Sarah sent me an email, which she said I could post excerpts of for this blog entry.

Here is what Sarah wrote:

Thank-you SO much, Lynne!

What a magical morning we had with you and the horses.

I've been thinking so much what you said about being hesitant now to put a bit in a horse's mouth. You know, you are so much a part of the "herd" now, it's like they are your immediate family. I don't think I would put a metal bit in my childrens' mouths!

Westerners have a lot issues about control vs community. This is the battle ground between our hormones-fired dominance instincts and our more intellectually-inspired social instincts. The battle rages at home, in the field, at work, and at the United Nations. We are a curious blend of both, living on a constantly sliding scale of applying both in various situations, and I think your herd is as well. Being with the Sorraia herd helped us tune into the interplay between these instincts.

I know the girls absolutely LOVED being there. Hopefully the missing members, Joy McGibbon (mom Pat) and Hailey Leblanc (parents Andre and Denise) can visit with you some time as well.

Your Preserve is about so much. I know the girls came away with an understanding of the genetics behind the preservation of the Sorraias, and I think that they became subconsciously infused with the meaning behind it all, and that is 100% thanks to you and the way you live your life and the Preserve! Wonderful!

It is terrific to know that someone as thoughtful as Sarah is becoming aware of what it means, on a deeper level, to interact with horses and to maybe question why we do what we do with them. I was very happy to have the opportunity to share Ravenseyrie with this nice group of young equestrians and their moms.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Choose Your Fairy Tale


We have a neighbor, up here on this rugged East Bluff, who built a home shortly after we moved into our place. He's a retired dairy farmer, a bachelor, a curmudgeon, clever-minded, hard-working, helpful and dead set on his opinion of how the world operates. Most of the time we get along just fine and we humor each others differences. But sometimes he loses his temper with me, typically when I try to explain why I interact with horses the way I do in response to him telling me I should handle them more like he feels "livestock" should be handled. I suppose my failure to embrace his experience with cattle as something transferable to our horses seems like an insult to him and this is what makes him hot-headed. Surely, I have no desire to insult anyone and sometimes (like this past Sunday) I am surprised to find that I have provoked his ire.

The half-Sorraia yearling colt, Animado

While attempting to explain the subtleties of herd dynamics, especially when a stallion is present, anger flushed over him--he cut me abruptly off with a spurious ranting. Among a spewing of dagger sharp words he aimed at me were these: "You read too many fairy tales!"

I was not so much slain by the words themselves, rather, it was the strange vehemence in his eyes as the words were spoken. I realized, fully for the first time, that this man finds me absurdly incompetent.

I'm nearly 49 years old and unaccustomed to being harshly scolded like a misbehaving child, but there was no point in arguing with him. And anyhow, he is right, I do read "fairy tale" books...but that doesn't make my interactions with horses wrong.

The half-Sorraia yearling colt, Interessado

Many philosophers and esoteric sages tell us that humans create their own realities, in that the morals, ethics, religions, lifestyles, etc. are agreements made by a collective of humans which aim to explain the natural phenomenon of the world and provide structure and meaning to their daily lives.

Historically, every culture has its myths, superstitions and irrational suppressions which modern humans tend to think of as primitive, quaint, out-moded expressions of a limited reality. After the Renaissance, the "Age of Reason" propelled the collective mindset into a belief that science could provide humans a more accurate accounting of the world--and so it indeed seemed to do, with gnomes, fairies, ghosts, demons, gods and goddesses vanishing like a dream from which we'd awakened. Empirically gained insights were replaced with rationalism, deductive reasoning supplanted sensory perception and the long-held hierarchy of male domination knitted these into a new reality which we find ourselves perpetuating even today.

The half-Sorraia yearling filly, Fada

But is it not simply a new mythos...this supposed rationalist reality? Just one possibility of the way things appear to be? It seems to me that superstitions and irrationality are as much a feature of our rationalizations and scientific methodologies and take us even further away from whatever universal truths there might be.

Recently, I heard a CBC radio news program alert its listeners that new evidence has been discovered that there are a myriad of microbes living in bathroom shower heads which scientists now believe are responsible for a great number of human ills. We are being instructed to get into the routine of replacing our shower heads every three months. Our demons have become the bacteria we have coevolved with hundreds of thousands of years, our gods have become the manufacturers of the medications and appliances that will protect us from the harm of these evil organic entities.

The half-Sorraia yearlings, with Mistral, at the mineral block

I'm not denying that there are germs that are harmful to the human body, but I am opting out of a collective mindset that is creating a reality that we must chemically armor ourselves against the natural world. Our hyper-sanitation habits are making us unfit to cope with organic living. It is a myth to think we are safer today from germs than we were even just a hundred years ago. We've exchanged one type of hobgoblin for another. What we believe in strongly enough has a knack of becoming our reality and seems to represent the "truth" of things. But is it?

My neighbor sees the world as belonging to humans, which have earned the say on how to best make use of all that surrounds us. Animals are brutes that must be controlled and put to use to further the cause of mankind. He is not seems most of the humans walking upright around this earthen sphere have decided this is the true reality of things and that it is in our nature to behave in this way. Archaeological discoveries have been presented to us in such a way as to have us believe that cooperative societies were rare and dominator societies, based on meat consumption, patriarchy and violent power grabs represent what is normal behavior for humans. The actual science behind such summations is as reductionist as any primitive cosmology. This "reality" we have been cultured into is based on a limited view of the world and its potential. It is just one of many "fairy tale books".


I'm chosing to read different fairy create and live a different reality (in as much as I can and yet participate on the fringe of modern human society). In my reality, horses come alive with personality, feeling, dreams and desires. The horses are beings with whom which I can have relations based on sensory perception, rational deduction and the development of a coexisting intellectual communication that incorporates body, mind and spirit. Why limit it to brute force and hierarchical domination--that is so prevalent in the "fairy tale" my neighbor subscribes to?

At the mineral block, with Zeus, too

Remember there was a time when the collective beliefs of many humans determined that Afro-American slaves were incapable of higher intelligence and that "coloured" humans were inferior. It would seem that the current President of the United States decided to believe in a different reality, a "fairy tale" begun by others who declared that certain beliefs were unfounded and dedicated their lives to releasing themselves from such limitations as were created from that type of thinking.

I'll keep on living as if "once upon a time" we had a beautiful relationship with the entire world, and it smiled on us with great fondness--so far this is the reality I'm experiencing. It's a good fairy tale and I'm sticking with it!

The Kiger Mustang mare, Ciente

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.