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The Project:

One Mustang directly off the range

One trainer

No tools

Just body language

 

The Goal:

To discover how far Equestrian Art can be developed solely using body language.

 

 

 

The Winds of Change

My home is tucked in a valley. Between a hill to our backs and a dense forest in front of us is the most beautiful gem of garden and green. The wind hardly ever touches us here; by the time it filters down to us from the world outside, it is just a breeze kissing skin and fur with a playful caress. It is a peaceful place and has provided a perfect beginning for Myrnah and me. In keeping with our locale, the winds of change have been gentle and forgiving as we develop together.

 

This week it became time for change to blow through us a little stronger, and for the larger world to become our playground. With spring growing in strength, the green grass coming on lush, and the ground beginning to dry out, the larger pastures of Plumb Pond beckoned. It was time to move Myrnah from the dry, quiet, high ground of my home to the larger windswept pastures a mile down the road.

 

I think this has been the most apprehensive moment I have weathered yet with Myrnah. The night before the move I felt sick with worry. Was she ready to move gracefully into the larger herd of horses? Would these winds of change tear through our relationship like a storm, fraying our connection and weakening our bond? Would she feel grateful to me for bringing her to a new family in a location that feels like heaven on earth for horses, or would she fault me for changing everything she knows, and throwing her head first into an unknown herd?

 

Even the logistics of getting her to her new home felt challenging. I pulled the trailer into the top pasture where the ground was hard and dry enough to drive on. From there, as Myrnah stepped out of the trailer, we could see the current herd of four grazing the midlands below the pond on the other side of the barn. Myrnah is wary of new horses; I knew this from playing approach and retreat with the various horse paddocks at home. Her first choice is to run to a safe viewpoint and watch them from afar. To my surprise, on this windy Thursday in March, Myrnah showed an unexpected boldness. We alternately walked and stopped to watch the herd, and walked again making our way almost all the way to the barn in short order. Then Myrnah’s youth and inexperience took over and she turned around to retreat up the hill again- a safe vantage point to view the new herd from a distance. I was ready for this change of heart and simply retreated with her.

 

Over the next hour we advanced down the hill to the barn, lost confidence, and retreated back up the hill several times- more and more time for Myrnah to spend ears pricked and focused intently on the herd below. Finally the winds of change blew her confidence up a notch, and we were able to walk past the barn, over the hill by the pond, and proceed out through the electric wire gate into the field the horses were in.

 

The bald eagles called to each other above us, the Canadian geese grazed next to the pond beside us, the deer traveled the lowlands on the far edges of the pastures, and Myrnah’s new herd watched us intently as we made our way down the hill to meet them.

 

As we reached the middle of the pasture, all four of them came at us at a run as horses sometimes will. Myrnah stood the charge with her customary quietness, and I pushed the running horses to the side into a circle around us. When they ran back down to the bottom of the pasture, Myrnah and I followed quietly and gently, stopping to graze when we got close. Antheia, the beautiful grey two-year-old mustang was the first and most friendly of the herd. Coated head to toe in the fresh mud she had found to roll in, she sauntered over so say hi, first to me whom she knows and secondly to Myrnah. Myrnah, mostly interested in grazing and cautious of new horses, was reticent yet patient with Antheia’s inquisitive nature. The other three horses mostly ignored us, allowing us to tag along behind as everyone munched the new spring grass. It wasn’t long before I felt I had facilitated what I needed to for Myrnah. She was here and as confident as I could set her up to be; the rest was up to her.

All in all our herd is thirteen strong, soon to be fourteen when Myrnah’s baby is born. For the next few weeks Myrnah’s herd will grow a few at a time as we move them all from winter paddocks to summer pasture. At first, day times spent grazing and nights in paddocks adjacent to the pasture, eating dry hay all night to soften the change of diet. Little by little they will stay out more and more until they are out on grass full time. Myrnah will continue to come in every night until she foals. Once she is on full grass her nighttime lodging will be the lushest pasture of all, the pasture above the barn where all foals at Plumb Pond have had their beginnings.

 

There is a balance I am aiming for here with Myrnah: between her comfort and adjustment to her new large family on the one hand, and a quiet space for her to retreat to as she becomes a mother to the new little one.

 

It will doubtless be interesting to see how our riding and training progress with all the new changes. Wednesday, before the move, we had our best ride to date. Confidently walking all around the drive way, stopping, backing and turning on cue, Myrnah doesn’t seem to mind carrying me at all anymore, even going so far as to trot a few steps now and then when I ask. It really does feel like a gift, all that she does for me.

 

Now that the space and the herd have changed for Myrnah, we shall see how her relationship with me evolves. The winds of change blow stronger in the pastures of Plumb Pond as the herd and the space broaden Myrnah’s focus. I am thrilled to be part of the evolution and promise to keep you all posted.

 

Elsa Sinclair

EquineClarity.com

5 Comments

  1. Bold, definitive step, much akin to leaving your child at pre-school the first time….will she forgive you?
    Yes. You have succeeded in the first assimilation of a wild mustang that you have partnered, now into a pre-established herd, and everybody is still friendly.
    I repeat, you must be doing something right. 😉 Michael

  2. What a good girl, Myrnah!
    You have helped her confidence immensely, Elsa. She is slowly learning that she can trust you will never “feed her to the wolves” so to speak. What will THAT do for your relationship??????!!!!!
    Maggie

  3. Beautifully written and inspiring!

  4. I would suspect after the adjustment the comfort of a herd especially for a wild one will have nothing but a positive change. She will be more inclined to follow the herd leader after she see’s how you interact with the others. If there is any trouble makers in the bunch she will see that to ! Sounds like the shift from partner to leader has began.

  5. Wonderful new development Elsa, and I can totally imagine your apprehensiveness about this!
    The last picture shows two self-confident ladies with faith in the future :-)!


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