It is New Year’s Eve and many humans are deciding how they are going to celebrate the New Year.
However, as I glance outside, I see that my horses aren’t deciding upon any celebration. This sort of thing doesn’t interest them at all. Not one iota. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
Me: Hey, it’s New Year’s Eve!
Herd: “And… your point?”
Me: Well, it is a time to lay down new resolutions to begin again and re-invent ourselves!
Herd: “Reinvent yourselves? Aren’t you content with your being?”
Me: Ummm. uh, hem… Well, did you know that you have hay in your hair and your nose is running (as I turn and run inside – humiliated).
OK, so New Year’s Eve isn’t a big deal to horses…
I decided to contemplate what horses do celebrate.
WHAT DO HORSES CELEBRATE
It seems to me that horses celebrate simple things. Food, friends returning, changes in the weather and cool breezes…
But they don’t celebrate some things that seem highly celebratory to us.
For example, every time I come home, my dogs celebrate my arrival. Not my horses. Oh sure, they are happy to see me if it is at feeding time, but they really don’t care about my comings and goings – unless I owe them something. If I owe them a meal or some special attention, they will nicker and stare at me until I come over. But, normally, they don’t celebrate me. Sigh.
Horses don’t celebrate birthdays — except for the actual day of a foal’s birth — but none of the subsequent birthdays like we do. Horses don’t celebrate any anniversaries, special events or holidays, probably because they don’t have any commerce that pushes gifts and cards. But, mostly they don’t celebrate anniversaries or holidays because every day has the potential to be a celebratory day to a horse.
Horses totally celebrate the sound of a horse trailer rumbling up the driveway. Any horse trailer coming up the drive has celebrate written all over it, but if it is MY trailer, the excitement is heightened. The difference seems to be that a new trailer is a surprise of whatever horse is inside… A new friend? A new leader? But my trailer could potentially be bringing back an old friend or a long lost friend! Ahhh, those are the best! Or, my trailer is bringing back a member of the herd who will have stories to tell from far away places!
As I drive the trailer up the road, I can see them running up and down the driveway as we arrive. They rocket from all the far reaches and push themselves against the fences to see who is coming. If I’m too slow in opening the trailer back door, they kick and buck and squeal with anticipation.
Horse trailers, in my herd’s prospective, must mean that a horse has survived the ride/ordeal to tell the story. And these reunions or greetings are always worth a celebration. Old friends, new friends and stories…
EMERGING FROM A TRAILER
As long as a horse isn’t sick (and sometimes even when they are sick), they usually celebrate coming out of a trailer. As soon as the lead line is clipped to their halter and their emergence is eminent, they puff up. A horse leaves a trailer much taller than he is in real life. Tippy toes and giraffe necks in tact, the celebratory horse exits his trailer in anticipation of his adoring fans. As he hops out of the trailer and circles around the lead line in his special horsey dance, all his subjects shout their appreciation.
If they don’t, the horse quickly deflates. He looks around as if he is thinking, “Hey, I’m here… why doesn’t anyone care?! I did my best job of showing you how deserving I am and how I should fit into whatever herd is here…”
I always feel badly for a horse who emerges from a trailer and hears no return whinny. That horse always seems so dejected and lonely…
A WINDY OR BREEZY DAY
A windy or breezy day are perfect ingredients excitement. I’m not sure if it is the negative ions creating static electricity or if it is the many objects moving at all times or if it is just the thrill of Mother Nature’s sneeze, but most all horses kick up their heels on windy days!
For me, I skip riding on very windy days. It just isn’t worth it. I mean, my horses aren’t bad horses, but on windy days, they cannot help themselves. Something in the air makes them want to buck and kick and spin like a top. It doesn’t matter if they are in the same pasture they have been in for years. It doesn’t matter that they have lived through hundreds of wind storms. The wind is an invitation to let loose. And, my horses do. Every time. You can count on it; the wind brings out the colt in them all! Wahoo!
I used to try to muscle through windy days. But, now I know that unless I feel like Pharlap, I may as well take off my boots and skip the Old Man is Snoring days.
Food delivery is awesome! Horses come running and snorting when food is making an appearance. It doesn’t have to be a special snack. (Although special snacks will create a fervor within the herd!) I can be feeding at the regular time with the regular food, and all of my horses will do their exact same, daily, food ritual celebrations. The ponies snake their necks, Remi runs and stares at me, Bodhi gives his rumbling nicker, Gwen runs up to the fence and stretches her neck as far as she can, Sam paws, Tess nickers, Wrigley kicks and eliminates (nice), Norma brays, Finn nickers and spins and Beautiful Girl does a bucky kicky head toss thing worthy of a rodeo. Every day. Same thing. Rain or shine. They all celebrate FOOD!
Put a horse in a different pasture and you will have a celebration! Oh joyous day, so much to explore! Kick, buck, run, sniff and twist! A new place is a great thing!
However, this isn’t true for all horses. Remi doesn’t like new places. So, I guess it depends upon the horse. But, from my experience, most of them find great excitement in a new pasture. Especially if it is perceived as better than the other one.
WIDE OPEN SPACES
This one is great as long as I’m not on their back. If I’m on a trailride and we turn a corner into an immense open field, I have to tell myself to RELAX AND KEEP IT TOGETHER because my horses love wide open spaces. It is as if the space is calling them to RUN! A wide open space is the epitome of “when freedom calls” for an equine.
If you have ever been in that position, you know exactly what I mean. Panic for the human and a return to freedom for the horse. Well, not actual ‘panic’ but it is a time when you have to have a serious discussion with your horse.
Mount: Oh pullleeze let me just run a little ways!! Pleeze!
Me: No. NONONO, you cannot just run “a little bit”…
Mount: Uh huh, Aw C’mon! I cannot stand it! There are needles in my feet! I need to DANCE! Everybody Dance Now! Badabomp bada da!
Me: OK, but please try to remember that I’m up here as you run and feel the genes of thousands of years of freedom coursing through your veins without any of the real-life experiences needed to navigate this territory successfully at a dead run…
Mount: You’ll be fine. Just don’t squeeze me or hang on too tight. Yahoo! Let’s CELEBRATE!
A NEW MEMBER
Sometimes a new horse who is in quarantine – waiting to come into the herd – can be interesting and celebratory. However, a NEW FOAL is a celebration for sure!
If you have ever had the immense pleasure of a birth at your farm, you will know what I mean. As the mare goes into labor, ALL of the other horses clamor around to watch.
We’ve had several births here and all of the horses, ALL OF THEM, run as close as they can get to the barn and push themselves against the fences in hopes of hearing, smelling or seeing any part of the new life.
Around here, I usually have 4 or 5 horses in the pasture around the barn with the imminent birth. The benevolent interlopers will stick their heads in the windows or shove for poll position near the birthing stall. Usually the lead mare has the front and center view and the others scramble around her. Ears forward, noses alert, eyes wide – they stand there and wait in vigilance.
As soon as the foal is born, huge excitement rumbles through the herd. They all crane their necks to see. It is so heart warming and adorable. I found this photo of a herd of horses pressing themselves against the fences to watch a newborn in the next pasture. This is so typical. A new life is a great celebration.
(This birth happened last week to a Rescue mare in Nebraska, if you can believe it so late in the year!) Baby is celebrating LIFE!
TODAY IS A GOOD DAY
And sometimes, they just celebrate life, it seems. I’ve been outside and have watched Wrigley jump up and prance around the pasture as if he suddenly became King. He nips and kicks at his subjects until someone agrees to chase him. At this point, the herd erupts in their unique ways… Finn will always kick out and run (I hate this, especially if I am behind him). BG will always do her Rodeo buck and spin with the neck twist in there. Tess and Gwen will gallop with their heads high – regally looking right to left. Wrigley will circle and circle and circle at a dead run, Norma will do her donkey two-step for a few seconds, Bodhi will galump to the fence and watch, Remi will canter a few feet and whinny while the ponies do their hysterical little-man dance.
Every day has the potential to be a New Year’s Eve celebration!
Every Day is a good day!
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!