Monday, December 13, 2010

a sweet december scene

We're having a very cold week for us - highs in the 30s and lows at night in the teens. The horses have remained on their turn-out schedule except for one night when it was cold and dry but very windy - that night we kept Salina and the donkeys in the barn with access to their paddock, and allowed the geldings access to the barn all night as well. 

We have been blanketing after dinner tubs with lows in the teens, and one very cold day I left the blankets on all day long, but generally I remove blankets before I feed breakfast so they can eat their warm tubs, head into the sunshine, and soak up the warmth. This morning, Keil Bay rolled immediately after getting his blanket off, which is usually a clue that he appreciates being "naked."

I glanced out this afternoon and saw the sweetest December scene ever. Unfortunately the photo is not great as I knew they'd move if they thought I was coming out. But you get the gist:

This photo tells the story of the herd and one of its configurations. Salina, as usual is in a position of being protected. Cody and Keil Bay are resting, while Apache Moon and Rafer Johnson keep their eyes on both directions. Redford moves around like a satellite guardian, keeping watch over the entire area. 

Both from my vantage point and through the lens, the oak tree in the foreground seemed very present in this scene. The oak has the aura of strength and majesty, and here its bare branches seem to be protective over the equines. 

After a while, Cody got up, then Keil Bay laid out flat for a little while. Then he got up. It was only then that Redford took a much-needed rest - and he slept so long the herd wandered away from him to graze hay - at which point he jumped up like a little rocket man and torpedoed down the hill to Rafer.

I've been mesmerized all this week and last by the equines lying outside my window in the sunshine. One day they lined up by size, from smallest to largest, three at the time, while the other three stood with eyes pointing in three directions - except for my window. I think they know I am in here keeping my eyes on them, covering this side of the herd.


Anonymous said...

Love the picture - looks content (including the oak). I really enjoy watching herd behaviors - there's always something interesting to see.

billie said...

Kate, yesterday we had a very cold day with high wind, and none of the herd would go into the back field initially. My daughter led Keil Bay back there, and I had opened the arena gates so they could feed through from paddock through arena to back field (and back again) to see if they felt better about it.

Keil Bay galloped around and back into the paddock when my daughter turned him loose, and in a funny moment of herd silliness, the pony went through and did the same thing. For a little bit Keil and Apache were running around, expressing the energy, while Cody stayed with Salina and the donkeys, as if his job in that moment was to protect the weaker/smaller.

I finally took the wheelbarrow in the back and did a little work to show them there was nothing back there, and they joined me.

Later in the afternoon, daughter left the arena to barnyard gate open after she rode, and I watched the geldings sneak one by one into the barnyard. They really wanted to be closer to the house, I think, with all the wind.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm always amazed at how they decide to handle the weather as a herd. Your herd looks very content near the protection of the oak tree. They seem to feel secure congregating by trees for some reason as do mine.

Two days ago during a particularly windy rainy day our herd decided to huddle together under a grove of trees. This confused me because they have three run in sheds available with hay. Go figure?

billie said...

Arlene, it is odd where they decide to congregate.

In the photo, it looks like they are very near the oak tree, but actually they are in a clear, open space well away from both the oak in the foreground and the little copse of trees behind them.

They seem to be, lately, gathering in that general area, which I love b/c it's right outside my bedroom windows and I can simply glance out as I work here at my desk and see them there. :)

Máire said...

I am sure they are aware of your presence inside. I do love that photo. It is a great illustration of a happy and settled herd.

billie said...

Maire, they def. do know this is my "stall." :)

Salina comes to my bedroom window - she can get inches away from it when in her paddock - and whinnies if she needs me. I sometimes open the window and play music for them when they've gathered out there, so they're quite used to me being here.