Posts Tagged ‘herd’

Mindfulness

May 17, 2012

The teacher taught. Judy and Tanjil.

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

The word mindfulness conjures pictures of Buddhist monks and serious meditation classes; a total contrast to my busy life.

I rush through my days practising mindlessness; arriving at destinations without remembering the journey.

I look in my diary to see what I did two days ago and can’t remember what I had for dinner last night; or if I enjoyed it.

This morning I received a reminder from copywriter friend Paul Hassing; almost two months had lapsed since I’d promised him a post for this blog.

It was his second reminder; the last one said I was still getting good visitor traffic on Good Morgans, even though it was almost a year since I’d posted.

I enjoy reading Paul’s blog. Tuesday’s post said he didn’t call a client after submitting a quote for fear of hassling them. I usually don’t comment on blogs for fear of ridicule (though I did add my two cents to this one).

Communicating with horses is simpler; they’re always mindful, never judgemental.

I visit my horses daily and use them for my Understanding Horses workshops to teach communication and mindfulness.

Recently, I was the student.

Fifteen-year-old mare Tanjil is the respected leader of 26 female horses: yearlings, two-year-olds, mares with foals at foot and retired brood mares.

They roam large bush paddocks and I don’t tie them up when I brush and handle them.

Tanjil had some rain scald (a condition caused by warm weather after rain) on her rump. I was using a plastic brush to remove the scabs and loose hair.

As I started brushing I was aware of:

  • Three mares nearby.
  • Tanjil’s foal butting her other side to get a drink.
  • Her expression, to see if I was hurting her.

I picked at crusty skin, allowing my mind to drift to:

  • A broken fence.
  • A complaining friend.
  • Unpaid accounts.

Before long, I wasn’t carefully grooming a beloved horse: I was scraping the BBQ …

BAM!

I was lying on the grass with four horses staring down at me.

Mindfulness returned as I stared into Tanjil’s kind eyes.

She could have kicked and broken my leg or bitten a chunk from my arm when I hurt her.

Instead, she knocked me over with a quick push of her hock.

I stood and checked for injuries … fortunately only my pride was bruised.

As I tactfully approached Tanjil to finish cleaning her, she curled her head around to me as if to say, ‘I’m glad you’re paying attention now.’

Half an hour in the paddock taught me about focus, trust, forgiveness and compassion.

I wonder if it’s possible for humans to practice the honest, non-judgemental communication of horses.

How many boundaries must we set?

How often must we be thrown to the ground

before we become

mindful?

Weaning. Mothering Lessons from The Herd.

April 24, 2011
photo morgan horse foal wean weaned weaning

Playing can ease the pain of maternal separation. Dana with Dainty Dancer (and friend).

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

I wean foals in autumn, giving the mares optimum time for nourishing their expected babies.

With 28 horses in the herd (comprising retired brood mares, mares with foals at foot and one- and two-year-old fillies) there’s plenty of choice for comfort and companionship.

Mares in a herd like this can relax while other mares babysit. As they mature, the foals create their own gang, only returning to mum to feed.

The yearlings and two year olds provide discipline when games get rough, while giving foals an opportunity to experiment with rules and boundaries.

To wean the foals, I remove four mares at a time and put them with a couple of retired brood mares for comfort.

The mares left in the herd with their foals provide a calming atmosphere which helps the motherless foals settle quickly.

A week later, when I remove the last mothers, their foals are tightly bonded with the earlier weaned ones.

Without their mothers to intervene, these foals quickly learn the manners and behaviour needed to fit into polite society.

I spend hours with my horses, observing their problem solving and social behaviours, so I only breed from those with the best temperaments.

The four foals weaned last week had vastly different mothers.

Daisy

Bess, an aged Standardbred mare, had foaled once ten years ago. She smother-mothered her foal Daisy, keeping her well away from the herd and calling her back if another foal enticed her to play.

Though Daisy gained weight and looked well, she became shy of horses and humans. Bess lost weight and became aggressive when a horse came near.

When I removed Bess, Daisy galloped the fence line and ran to any horse or human who let her approach. She even lay down with a teenage visitor.

I returned Bess to her owner. She’s settled now, enjoying TLC and chamomile tea in her feed. She won’t breed again.

Daisy, meanwhile, is learning to self soothe.

Veto

Partbred Morgan Viv (an experienced brood mare with little human contact) joined the herd with Veto – her huge colt foal at foot.

Viv shunned contact from other mares but let Veto do as he pleased.

One day, when I was moving the herd to another paddock, Viv lagged behind.

Veto galloped back, reared and kicked at her to make her keep up. But Viv remained shut down, so Veto left her to join his friends.

When I took Viv away, she called desperately all the way to her new paddock and ran the fence line for hours before finally settling to graze with an older mare.

By contrast, Veto didn’t stop grazing or look for his mother.

Dapper

Experienced mum Crystal tends to overreact to change. She came with Dapper (her colt foal at foot) and eventually settled into the rhythm of herd society. 

Not long after arriving, she forgot to collect Dapper and rushed through a gate as the herd moved to a new paddock. Dapper panicked and jumped through the fence. No harm done and another lesson for me.

Dapper is confident and bossy with his peers but nervous of new things. He stays behind the others when humans join the herd.

When I removed Crystal, she screamed and galloped for hours, resuming each time she saw a human.

Dapper joined Daisy in calling and fence running, but soon tired of it and resumed playing and grazing with other foals.

Xelle

Angel is a purebred Morgan from NZ. She’d had one prior foal and was so relaxed after Xelle’s birth that she remained lying down to feed her.

Xelle is friendly and respectful to all. Her curiosity and intelligence endear her to visitors. She reads the play so well, I’ve never seen her reprimanded by another horse.

Angel was last to leave. Though reluctant, she only neighed once. Dapper and Daisy followed her to the gate and relived their mother-leaving anguish.

Xelle stayed with the other mares and foals, seemingly unaffected by her life change.

Angel calmly greeted Viv and Crystal, who soon followed her lead and began grazing with the two aged mares.

Free of Bess’ out-of-control behaviour, these mares have settled and only call occasionally… perhaps due to a painfully full udder.

I’ve forgiven my parenting mistakes and am proud of how my sons thrived and survived my smother-mothering.

I use lessons from the herd to nurture my networks of supportive friends and to be an angel of a grandmother.

My Journey to the Morgan Horse

March 16, 2011
peaceful photo of morgan horse and foal with owner at Samaria Creek Morgan Horse Farm Judy Oldmeadow
Peace in our time.

By Simone Bullen, Simone Bullen Real Estate

As a little girl, I dreamt of learning to ride horses. But being an only child with an overprotective mother, I was never allowed.

When I grew old enough to make my own decisions, I was too busy building a career and living in the city. My passion went in the too-hard basket.

Two years ago, at age 37, I promised myself I’d follow my dream and have regular private riding lessons.

I found a riding school where I did weekly trail rides to practice what I was learning. It started well, then a horror fall shattered my confidence.

I thought I’d better do something less ‘extreme’ for my age.

But just as that thought came into my head, a client who knew I was learning to ride came into my office and asked, ‘How’s your riding going?’

Holding back the tears, I told her of my experience and how I thought I was too old.

She said, ‘Nonsense! What you need is a Morgan horse! Once you’ve ridden a Morgan, you’ll never want to ride another breed again’.

After she left, I Googled ‘Morgan horse’ and found several websites. Something drew me to Judy Oldmeadow’s Samaria Creek Morgan Farm.

As I reflect on that first weekend at Judy’s property, I realise it was the start of far more than a complete turning point in my riding ability.

Judy’s understanding and respect for horses and herds and uncanny ability to teach that to her students is a true gift. I’m so lucky she’s sharing her knowledge with me. 

The first weekend I met Judy, I couldn’t believe we were going riding in the bush just in halters! No bit, and the fact she chose to ride her stallion alongside the mare chosen for me, was overwhelming at first.

I thought Judy was crazy, though deep down I knew she was an intelligent lady who wouldn’t risk the safety of herself, the horses or anyone else.

So trusting this gut feeling, off we went into the Samaria State Forest.

I’ll never forget that first bush ride, with Judy’s private tuition, gentle approach and constant feedback about what the horse was feeling and telling us with different responses to our actions.

The kindness, respect and understanding Judy offers her horses became obvious to me. They offer the same respect straight back to you.

After a few more visits, I knew the Morgan horse was perfect for me in size, temperament and its gorgeous curious nature.

I wanted to buy one, but such a big decision mustn’t be rushed. Which I knew Judy would never let me do, as her main concern is that her horses go to perfect homes.

Judy’s stunning stallion Nimrod is always such a gentleman – on and off ‘duty’. I knew her breeding choices were well suited combinations of mares with Nimrod.

So if ever I were to have a Morgan foal, I wanted one of Nimrod’s.

I didn’t even think about looking elsewhere; I’d found my breeder. The big question was how to choose the best foal for me with all of them so cute!

At the time, this question seemed bigger than the universe!

Then it happened! While sitting in the paddock among many mares and foals in January 2009, little Black Betty came up to me.

She started grooming me and smelling my perfume (we suspect she loves Channel Number 5). I knew she was in love when she started to pick at my bra strap!

This decision was the easiest of my life, Black Betty had chosen me!

I knew from that moment we were going to be perfect partners who could grow and learn together.

On a visit over Easter, just lying in the paddock beside her while she slept so peacefully, I had tears in my eyes and thought I was the luckiest girl in the world!

The fact Black Betty can stay with Judy for her first three years is so comforting. I believe she’s in the best possible hands and care in Judy’s peaceful natural environment.

Each night I rest easy.

I wanted to share this story and thank Judy for being with me on this journey – always so supportive and generous with her wealth of knowledge.

I can’t finish without a huge thank you for also turning around my husband’s fear of horses.

I remember his first visit; in the Land Cruiser with all the windows up, too scared to get in the paddock.

Today he’s first out of the car and totally comfortable among the herd. It won’t surprise me if sometime in the near future he comes on a ride with us!

This is truly a credit to what you’re doing, Judy.

Well done and thank you for being so special! 🙂

The Round & The Square

January 21, 2010

Good. Better. Best. We do the work,
Nature does the rest!

By Judy Oldmeadow    , Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

What Horses Eat

Horses have a long gut and are relaxed and content when it’s uniformly full. Nature designed them to eat large amounts of various pasture and herbage.

Given the choice, they browse on sticks, leaves, berries and seeds – as well as grass and weeds.

Wild horses roam large areas to obtain food. At the mercy of climate and predators (including man) they often die of starvation or thirst.

Making Hay

Our farm is ideally suited to horses’ feed, exercise and herd companionship needs. Cutting our own hay lets us add necessary dry feed when it’s not available in their paddocks.

I believe round bales are best suited for supplementary feeding. This lets horses choose when to eat to keep their gut comfortable and still graze for variety.

When horses are fed extra hay as segments of small square bales, they wait hours at the fence for their human to deliver it – thus missing the exercise and extra nutrients of grazing.

Ad lib round bale feeding reduces competitive fighting (and resulting injuries) when hay is delivered to a herd once or twice a day.

We aim to improve on nature with the environment we provide for our horses. Cutting round bales for paddock supplement and small square bales for convenience enables this.

When we sell a horse, their new owners can take some small square bales home to help prevent the gut upsets often caused by a new feed regime.

Learning

Miles and I attended a six-week Sustainable Whole Farm Planning course in July 2007 at the Department of Sustainability & Environment.

Topics included land classification, soils, water, fire safety, pastures and a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Our project focused on hay. We chose a seven hectare paddock and aimed to bale enough hay for two years’ use and to sell the rest to cover the cost of cutting.

Strengths

  • Sheltered paddock with easy access for weed and pest control.
  • Variety of pasture suitable for horses.
  • Suitable soil type.

Weaknesses

  • Weeds.
  • Native animal pests.

Opportunities

  • Low cost, weed-free hay that’s ideal for our horses.
  • Free, natural reseeding from cutting every second year.
  • Superior young horses with sound feet, joints and bones.
  • Fewer injuries and illness.
  • Improved paddock condition via rotational grazing and understocking paddocks.

Threats

  • Fire.
  • Low rainfall.

Dreams into Action

We concentrated our weed and pest control efforts on this paddock and capitalised our strengths via rotational grazing (heavy in winter, conservative in summer).

In November 2007, we cut enough round bales for two years. Our excess top-quality hay fetched a premium price and we had the added advantage of a fire-safe paddock over summer.

After two years, we only had two round bales left and had to buy 150 square bales for horses in yards or on outings.

Our paddock improved after a year of good rain and controlled grazing. In October 2009, we cut 100 large round and 240 small square bales! 🙂

Our SWOT analysis helped us achieve our goals. We look forward to continuing to give our horses optimum conditions.

🙂

As Easy As 1, 2, 3, 4 … 5!

December 22, 2009

So much work. So many people. So little time!

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

Years ago, searching for strategies to deal with depression, I read about ‘morning questions’: those first thoughts to pop into our head when we wake. 

So I composed five morning questions to start my day. What can I: 

  1. Be happy about?
  2. Be excited about?
  3. Contribute?
  4. Learn?
  5. Do to have fun?

Sometimes I struggled to answer these questions. But that struggle was better than the litany of depressive thoughts with which I was always bombarded. 

Slowly it became easier, and these five questions are now habit. 

Last Sunday I woke overwhelmed with thoughts of too much to do. The day was filled with people: 

  • Sarita and teenage daughter Bo were in our cottage with Sarita’s sister Quintana (who was visiting from Holland and wanted ‘the whole farm experience’).
  • In our loft was vet nurse Elise (owner of Morgan gelding Oscar, who’s on agistment here) and Kristy (apprentice and owner of Morgan gelding Detroit).
  • Christi Wales and daughter Dana (visiting their two Morgan yearlings) were looking forward to a day in the herd.

My farm duties included: 

  • Taking our stallion Nimrod to serve a mare at Bonny Doon.
  • Providing an exciting riding experience for Quintana.
  • Moving four mares, with foals at foot, from one side of our farm to another.

And so to my five questions: 

  1. I was happy to have so many interesting people enjoying and buying the horses I’d put my heart and soul into nurturing.
  2. I was excited to have a mare owner seeking another foal by Nimrod – a stallion so well mannered I can take him anywhere, which lets owners of mares with foals at foot rebreed without the stress of transportation.
  3. I could contribute 100% of my attention to every moment of the day using skills I’d fought hard to learn.

The learn was question easy, as every moment I spend with horses teaches me something new. 

But I struggled with fun, as it all looked like hard work. 

So, I decided to combine the people with the work. 

Bo, Kristy and Elise came to Bonny Doon to see the mare. 

Jan, the mare’s owner was away. As I watched her son Dane calmly follow my orders, oblivious to the gaggle of girls, in a situation totally new to him, I had my first learning for the day: 

Focus on one task at a time, without distraction. Get it done satisfactorily before looking to the next task. Thank you, Dane! 

We had to create a safe place for the mating. It was wonderful to have so many willing hands to move a hen, a water trough, two curious alpacas, a mini mare and a foal. 

All went well and we look forward to a foal in eleven months. 

Next came the task of moving the mares and foals across our farm. 

With the right attitude, WORK = FUN!

By including all the people, it was like a movie scene. Bo rode Folie, Kristy rode Poppy, I rode Tanjil (with Dana behind me) and Christy led Arizona while Sarita and Quintana took photos. 

The foals loved the adventure and galloped and bucked like spring lambs. Apart from having fun, I felt exceedingly proud of these amazing mares that haven’t been ridden for over a year. 

Are we having FUN yet? My oath! 🙂

To complete the day, Quintana got to ride a Morgan. Nimrod changed roles from breeding stallion to teaching horse with just a shake of his head and a prance in his step to let us know which job he’d rather have. 

At last, Quintana and Nimrod have their moment.

By applying my five morning questions to a set of tasks I’d found overwhelming, everybody had fun. Especially me! 

Life is 10% what happens and 90% attitude.

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Horse Birthdays: Amanda’s Response

December 3, 2009

For good manners and even tempers, you just can’t beat the herd!

I just read the post on horse birthdays and I can’t agree more.

I’m going through exactly what Paul describes with my thoroughbred, who’s only seven years old.

I’ve had him since he was three and a half. I go on his actual birth date, which I researched through Racing NSW’s website.

Though he’d only been in three races, the damage was already done.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realise this at the time.

It has been absolutely heartbreaking. And very costly.

What I’ve gone through (and what many others experience when they buy a thoroughbred off the track) wouldn’t happen if these beautiful animals were given a more natural start to life.

I see such huge differences in health and behaviour between my thoroughbred and my two-year-old (actual age) part-Morgans who’ve grown up in a much more natural environment in a herd.

Amazingly, my filly has taught my thoroughbred how to keep all his manure in one spot!

He never did this before we put him in the paddock with her. He’d just go all over the place, making grazing more difficult (as horses, like humans, don’t eat where they poo).

Now he goes in specific places, which frees up the rest of the paddock for grazing.

I never thought a horse could learn that at an older age, as it’s something foals learn when they’re young – and only then if given enough time to learn it from the mares!

I’ve been enjoying the Good Morgans blog and visit it daily to see what’s been published. I love reading all the different articles.

Keep up the great work!

Amanda Gallen.

Amanda’s Tale

December 1, 2009

By Amanda Gallen, a Queenslander with two of our two-year-old Morgans.

Waking at dawn on our first day at Judy Oldmeadow’s farm was very special. I looked out the cottage window to the beautiful valley below. I woke my daughter Brianna so she could also experience the moment.

We had brekky, dressed quickly and went to the paddock to see our horses Sarge and Ava. They’d grown so much since we last saw them!

They were in a paddock with the other foals. We walked in and sat on a log. The herd noticed us and came over – our babies leading the way.

They smelt us from head to toe. So inquisitive! This was something I really wanted Brianna to experience.

Our week was full of adventures; childhood memories Brianna will never forget. Judy put her in charge of the farm’s smallest horse – a Shetland pony called Sailor.

It was just what Brianna needed. She gained so much confidence with a horse that was just the right size for a beginner. She fell a few times, once quite heavily. No broken bones; just one of those needed-to-happen experiences.

Brianna went very quiet after that and returned to the cottage for a rest. But she came back ready to regain her confidence.

I played with my babies and watched how they fitted into the herd. Observing lots of mare behaviour, I decided that human mothers would do well to act like mares. That way, our kids would get what we say first time, rather than wear us into the ground.

While most foals are well behaved, some don’t learn quickly. Sarge is one of them; he’s covered in bites as he just doesn’t move fast enough!

I rode with Judy – right inside the herd of mares and foals. I felt like I was running with the wild horses in The Man from Snowy River! It was an amazing buzz that kept a big smile on my face all night.

Judy worked with Ava and decided she was ready for saddling. Ava’s a clever filly and we even had Brianna sitting on her and walking around.

Though Ava was excited to have Brianna up there, everything was done with the utmost attention to safety and I wasn’t at all concerned.

I’m very happy I bought her.

I could go on and on about our lovely horsey experiences. Suffice it to say the farm truly felt like heaven to me!

The Miracle of Tanjil

November 30, 2009

Tanjil. You will believe a horse can cry.

By Christi Wales, Accountant and Mother.

For her twelfth birthday, I took my daughter Dana to Judy Oldmeadow’s Morgan Horse Farm.

I never thought it’d be an amazing, life-changing day for me.

We began by bringing all the mares and foals to the round yard to see how they interacted with toys and us. Dana sat in the yard and the foals loved her, perhaps because she’s young too.

Dana and Echo. Connecting with a foal? Priceless!

Judy and I noticed that one mare, Folie, was overprotective of her foal, Echo. The poor thing wanted to play, but Folie wouldn’t let him. So we joined Dana and I spent some time massaging Folie all over – which she loved. Before long, she let me near Echo and encouraged him to interact with me.

I held out my hand and let Echo toddle past me, just brushing his back to get him used to my touch. I then massaged some of the other mares. With three children myself, I figured they’d like their necks, backs and rumps massaged.

After a while, Folie was so relaxed that Echo was able to break away and play. It was a fantastic sight that I was proud to be part of. I kept massaging the mares, plus any foals that approached.

Then Tanjil decided that no other mare could have me.

I’d rub her and try to move on, but she’d come next to me, right near the other horse. Though she didn’t touch the horse, it knew she was boss and walked away.

At first I thought it was funny. Why did Tanjil want me to herself? She did it again and again with every other horse I tried to rub.

My hands were getting sore and Folie was giving her foal a chance to explore. So I decided to wait to see what happened. Well, little Echo headed in my direction with his mum’s full support – a fantastic breakthrough for both of them.

A bit later, Echo was hanging around so I gave him a rub and Tanjil just stood near me. I found it strange; had I done something wrong? Then Tanjil came and stood with her head right over me.

I started rubbing her neck thinking, ‘Why me? Was I was a strong leader? Did she feel I was a strong mother?’

Being a mother is hard. Sometimes I feel I don’t have the strength. But I find it and keep going. If I don’t, no-one else will do the things I must do to keep my family safe, together and running smoothly.

I don’t get a break from being leader of my herd. At times I hate being the one who has to pull rank, keep everyone in line and be tough to be kind in the long run.

At that moment my emotions overwhelmed me. With her fantastic intuition, Judy yelled out that the last time Tanjil had stood this way with her, it’d made her feel like everything was going to be OK.

I glanced at her and nodded; a huge lump in my throat. Then my tears flowed.

I looked at Tanjil and couldn’t believe what I saw. She was crying with me! Not just watery eyes; these were full tears, rolling down her face, one after another along with mine.

Was I delusional? No. This magnificent mare was helping me with my doubts as a mother. I thought then that maybe she also felt the pressure of being the leader who kept her herd in line.

Tanjil gave me what I never got from my mother. What I needed to know when I became a mother myself: I’m a good mum. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be OK. We can only do our best. We make mistakes, but that’s OK too.

I then thought that maybe Tanjil also needed reassurance that she was a great mum and leader. Because when I saw her with her foal and the herd, it was exactly how I felt.

I’ll never know if she felt my empathy. I’d not seen a miracle before, but that’s the only word I can use.

I have a horse named Major. When Judy took Dana and me to the rest of the herd, Major stayed with me while the other horses went to the car.

He was so affectionate. I was rubbing his body when he moved – uncomfortable with the slope. I thought he was going to walk away but he simply ambled to level ground and waited for me.

I hugged his neck and said I loved him, that he was a good boy and that I wished I could see him every day. As he wrapped his head around me, a tear rolled down his face.

It was very moving. I remembered that Major had lost his mum when very young. Maybe he perceived my feelings of abandonment.

Had I not experienced my miracle with Tanjil, I wouldn’t have thought a horse could cry.

Now I know they feel pain, sadness and love.

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