Tuesday, March 5, 2013
There are so very many horses here in the Valley, that it's easy to sort of follow their lives. Many live a very structure life of being in a stable or barn for part of the day - most often the evening. Then they are "turned out" which is the phrase that many people who own horses or work in stables, to spend at least part of the day outside.
What is interesting is that some of these animals are turned out into separate pens or fields, often not together, particularly at equestrian centres where they are boarded. Sometimes they have another horse immediately next to them, and sometimes they are alone. This is very sad for me to see, because horses are herd animals. They are more content when they are with another creature, even a donkey. I've heard of some horses who are more content with a goat, or they run with a herd of cows.
However I also understand that owners are concerned that their horses might get injured if they are in a field with other horses and there might be a problem of some kind. A kick or a bite? Some horses live together in herds, with pregnant mares or newborns or stallions often kept separate.
These three fellows -the white one is the oldest and most interested in eating in his senior years - all enjoy each other's company. If there are enough piles of hay spread around, there's no competition for food and I've seen them switch around, eating with one, then another, then by themselves. It's been a treat to feed them "lunch" occasionally and get to know them.
The lovely chestnut in front is quite young and a character of the first order. He is very "mouthy" and plucks at my sleeve or the front of my jacket when I go into the field. He always welcomes me by coming up close and smelling my hands and my face. I make a point of having peppermint on my breath which helps animals imprint if they have a good experience with me.
Since I adore these big creatures, I certainly hope they do. This fellow also licks a lot... very funny to have a horse lick me as much as one of my dogs does. Makes me chuckle.
The bay in the rear of the photo is much more shy, and quieter than his companion. He too is very curious and affectionate, but I suspect a bit of a worrier. He was less eager to make friends than his buddy. But now he welcomes my visits as well. Do you think it's because I often carry apple bits in my pocket?
What fun to have these three new neighbours. It will be interesting this spring to watch how they become more accustomed to their new home and the wonderful place this valley is. Of course their owners are equally fun and interesting - and are learning all about their new neighbours and the beauties of Beaver Valley. Isn't the coming of spring terrific?