Posts Tagged ‘Morgans’

A kinder Magic

January 7, 2013
Judy Claire Sprite Magic Crop

Judy, Claire, Sprite & Magic.

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

I carried the tiny foal to the stable.

Claire, her teenaged owner, followed leading her mother.

Claire had first come to my riding camps at age nine.

I helped her find Magic – her first horse and dream come true – a liver chestnut quarter horse mare with long socks and a blaze.

Magic was agisted at my farm. Claire spent every holiday moment with her: riding in the bush, swimming in the dam and lying in the paddock sharing secrets.

Magic had just given birth to her first foal at 16 … a late first-timer.

She refused to let her foal drink; squealing, kicking and spinning around.

We thought of foal names as we sat in the stable waiting for the vet.

He arrived and shattered Claire’s dreams by saying, ‘The foal has neurological damage; let nature take its course’.

Never one to give up, I asked him to sedate the mare and administer electrolytes to the dehydrated foal.

Claire slept in the stable, waking every hour to calm her mare and balance the uncoordinated foal while she drank.

Morning dawned to a relaxed mare and an energetic, well-hydrated foal.

Claire named her Sprite. It had been a life-changing night for both of them.

Claire researched boarding schools that allowed horses and presented her parents with a well thought-out plan for a future they couldn’t refuse.

She took a gelding to boarding school and rode Magic on holidays.

Sprite grew into a stunning adult and moved to Claire’s parent’s holiday farm with Magic and the family horses.

We kept in touch over the years.

Sprite was started under saddle but only ridden occasionally as Claire’s study demands grew.

She graduated with honours.

I stopped running children’s riding camps to concentrate on breeding horses and teaching horse behaviour.

Claire started university and Sprite injured herself.

I was happy to reunite with Sprite when asked if I could help heal her.

Grossly overweight, she struggled to walk.

Vet visits, feet and leg x-rays, weight rehabilitation and massages still didn’t improve her ability to move without pain.

To better understand anatomy and breed sounder horses I attended equine biomechanics lectures and whole-horse dissection courses.

I took Sprite to equine biomechanics expert Sharon May-Davis for assessment.

Sharon immediately pointed out that Sprite’s front-leg lameness was caused by extra stress on her forelegs due to a pelvis injury.

She suggested putting Sprite in foal, saying the subsequent release of endorphins and tendon-softening hormones would improve her quality of life.

Though dubious, I watched in awe as, after artificial insemination, Sprite gradually began to move with ease.

With regular bodywork and foot trims, she was galloping and bucking with the other mares even when hugely pregnant.

Now, as I lie in the paddock watching Sprite trot after her foal, I realise my life has changed too.

‘Letting nature take its course’ can sometimes mean stepping in and helping where needed.

Sprite and Magic also taught me that trusting others and accepting help graciously is more dignified than battling on alone.

It’s the difference between surviving and living.

🙂

A young girl’s dream come true

December 12, 2012
396662_525045367506195_2119292278_n Crop

Pure joy … wrapped in learning.

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

Last month I spent the weekend with Janine, a psychologist, and her nine-year-old daughter Kaitlyn.*

I’d thought I was too tired to teach yet another horse-crazy girl.

But then I saw a longing in Kaitlyn’s face that I’d felt at her age.

And so I gave her what I would’ve loved to have had in my youth:

  1. An old horse to pretend was my own.
  2. An obstacle playground.
  3. Some boundary setting.
  4. Safety hints.
  5. Freedom to experiment and explore.

The old brood mare Kaitlyn played with had never been pampered before she came to me. Her delight was as great as the girl’s – as you can see in this photo album.

It made me cry.

Soon after arriving home, Janine wrote to me:

‘Dear Jude,

If I didn’t know how important our connection with horses was, I may have considered never returning to your wonderful farm!

Kaitlyn spent the entire trip home behaving like a devastated lovesick teenager. Life was never going to be the same without her one true love.

OMG Jude! She bawled for 2.5 hours. Anyone would’ve thought I was taking her back to a life of deprivation!

At two, Kaitlyn wanted to be a vet. Since age five, she has wanted to own a horse farm.

Now she imagines every detail will be ‘the same as Judy’s farm’.

She sits at my laptop watching the slide show of images over and over in a beautifully mesmerised state.

I’m working with her to hold her happy, exciting dream so it actually comes to pass.

Now you are in her heart as much as the horses, Jude. Her relationship with you is just as powerful.

You are a gift to us, Jude. I want you to know we’ll ‘repay’ you by giving our horses all our care, love, understanding and unconditional acceptance … while educating and fostering insights in others.

Take care of you, Jude.

And thank you.

Janine.’

How about that?!

I don’t feel so tired now …

Enough said!

🙂

* Real people, new names.

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! 🙂

Torn

March 12, 2011
You scratch my back …

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

They stood frozen at opposite ends of a lead rope: a dangerous mix of fear, inexperience and doubt.

Betsy, a six-year-old, barely handled Morgan mare and Jane, an early-40s career woman finally living her dream of owning a horse.

Both parties were stiff with indecision, connected by a thread and waiting for a leader.

I leaned against the roundyard fence with Anya (the other participant in my Horse Communication and Confidence class) and noticed how the three loose horses also stood quietly and watched.

I softly advised Jane to:

  • Step as far away as the rope allowed without pulling.
  • Stand  with her shoulder facing Betsy’s.
  • Focus on breathing from her core.

Betsy had arrived two weeks ago in an open cattle truck with two other mares and a foal. She was wild-eyed and jumpy, only touched by humans when in a cattle race.

Her three experiences were freeze branding as a youngster, a recent pregnancy test and herding into the truck for delivery.

These human interactions, though not cruel, gave her little choice or reason to trust. Over several sessions, however, Betsy had let me approach and halter her. But she was still wary.

Three horses and two humans watched expectantly. Jane steadied her breathing. Betsy sighed and licked her lips (a horse’s sign of relaxation) and turned towards her.

Jane walked in a circle with Betsy quietly following. Both looked elegant and confident; a team where learning flowed both ways.

Later that day, Jane also handled her recently purchased fifteen-month-old Morgan gelding with greater confidence and willingness to experiment.

Anya, an experienced horsewoman still reeling from the recent loss of her teenage daughter through cystic fibrosis, had started the session saying she didn’t want to handle the horses and only wanted to watch.

She said her head was so full she was afraid of how the horses would respond. But in the afterglow of Jane’s success I handed her Betsy’s lead rope.

After a moment’s hesitation, Anya took it and tentatively walked towards Betsy. Betsy’s ears flicked back, forward and sideways (signs of confusion in a horse).

Anya paused, took a deep breath and started rubbing Betsy’s shoulder.

Again the three young horses watched quietly as Anya worked her way around Betsy, quietly sobbing and seeming to sense where Betsy wanted to be rubbed.

After putting the horses away, we sat in the paddock and chatted about what we’d learnt.

Anya said she’d approached Betsy carefully because she was afraid her bubbling emotions would frighten her.

She said she was so relieved at Betsy’s non-judgemental acceptance that she didn’t want to lead her or boss her around; she just wanted to reward her for being there.

We unanimously decided to:

  1. Spend more time with those we trust.
  2. Let someone else carry the load occasionally.
  3. Have more massages!

Breeding and raising Morgan horses and spending hours in their company has changed my life.

My herd has almost 40 individuals, from foals at foot to grand matriarchs.

I started my Life Horses teaching program to use their empathetic nature and share the comfort and insights I receive from them daily.

Life Horses.

Life Forces

A philosophy of learning from the herd. 🙂

Running Bare (Part 1 of 2)

November 25, 2009

Our horses enjoy the diet, room, terrain & company they need for healthy barefooting.

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

Barefooting is hotly debated issue. Barefooters even differ among themselves. In this article and the next, I’ll explain the ins and outs of running bare.

Twelve years ago I held kid’s horse-riding holidays on my farm at Booroolite in the Delatite Valley.

I usually had 10-20 animals, from ponies to Stockhorses, in my care. Most were shod and worked hard during the school holidays, with time off in between.

Common shoe-related problems included cracked hooves, horses that tripped and were irritable and having to replace lost shoes between farrier visits.

My extraordinary farrier, Andrew Bowe, has a science degree and an enquiring, perfectionist nature.

When he started talking barefoot, I was first attracted by the cost saving. Over time, however, Andy’s passion convinced me of the benefits to my horses.

Within a year, all my horses were sound and happy, with no lameness and not a shoe in sight.

I swore never to shoe a horse again.

Andrew Bowe: NOT your average farrier!

This got me researching horse breeds and choosing Morgans for their exceptional feet (along with all their other virtues).

Breeding sound barefoot horses takes more than just ditching shoes. They need room to roam, varied terrain, a balanced diet, company and regular trimming.

Our horses are trimmed about every six weeks and our foals have their first trim before weaning.

Andy, his wife Nicky and the trimmers they train look at each horse as an individual and trim according to its work and living conditions.

I like how they work with nature, not against it.

We now host regular training days for Equine Podiotherapy Diploma students. Even our weanlings take part.

One of our training days for Equine Podiotherapy Diploma students.

Last year Andy used Nimrod (our stallion) for his barefoot trim demonstration at Equitana. He’ll do likewise next year.

In my next article, I’ll look at the arguments for and against barefooting by borrowing from Andy’s excellent website at www.barehoofcare.com


Pets Blogs

Foal Play

November 14, 2009
Foal Play

Nothing can prepare a city dweller for the exhilaration of time with a foal.

When a foal steps out of your story-book imagination and into your arms, the effect is profound.

The look, feel and smell of this beautiful creature completely intoxicates your senses.

And when another foal joins in and they take turns nuzzling you, the feeling of connectedness with nature is unbelievable.

The mares don’t let everyone play with their babies: only the pure of heart. They can see right through you and they’ll violently defend against any perceived threat.

This makes it all the more amazing when they’re content to stand off and watch you romp in the grass with their offspring. Fabulous!

Hay is for Horses!

November 14, 2009
Straw

Because we grow our own, we KNOW it's good!

After a few dry years, we had enough rain for a good crop of hay. Here’s the first trailer load, brought in before a storm that was forecast but didn’t eventuate.

We love growing our own hay, because we know there’s only goodness in our soil, water and sunshine. And of course we compost everything.

We like to know exactly what’s going into our beautiful Morgan horses. We want them to grow strong, healthy and even tempered.

We let all our fields lie fallow on alternate years. This lets them recover naturally.

Sitting  on a bale of fresh hay at the end of a hot working day is one of life’s great pleasures.

Just wait till you read about our home-made lemon cordial!

Pets Blogs