Foraging…

Sterling Foraging in the forest

                Foraging

So I saw Sterling out in the woods and wondered what he was foraging for! So I began to look and very carefully he was picking the sweet tops of a tall plant. This one

The sweet tops of the plants he's eating.

The sweet tops of the plants he’s       eating.

I don’t know what the plant is but I was on a guided Moonlight walk one evening last summer and the guide showed us how this plant has these sweet edible tops! So if we are out hiking and get hungry we can forage.  Well, Sterling didn’t need a guide, he has instinct or curiosity!

Off to forage some more!

Off to forage some more!

Attentive and thoughtful behavior is taught and expected in this herd!

Besides Sterling, my Andalusian stallion who is now 4 years old, I have a 19 year old thoroughbred gelding who is his pasture mate. The boys live inside of the track system that the girls live on and they can travel the property together separated by the fence. You can see the dirt track behind Sterling in the photo below. Sterling If I have a complaint about Sterling it’s that his right front foot is so difficult to trim because he cannot, or  I believe will not just stand there and hold it up for me to trim it. He pulls it forward and paws. This is not something he does when he stands tied, waiting, only when I want to trim it.  If you have followed my blog, you’ll know I have spoke of this before. Currently I am steeped in Linda Kohanov’s book “The Power of the Herd.” I likely have been reading it’s parts for a year now because I believe its information is applicable every day in every situation. In fact In the Company of Horses has a workshop based in these understandings. Yesterday when I went to get Sterling to trim , Harley came right along with us.  I tied Sterling to the hitching rail, gathered my stuff and began trimming.  If he was attentive and thoughtful with his feet and my trimming, every few minutes he would get praise and a cookie, if he was not, a no and no cookie.  Well, Harley caught on to this pretty quick and came over to get a cookie, but the price was to get a foot trimmed first.  Now Harley has no problems getting his feet trimmed but Sterling watched as I talked and worked with Harley at liberty to get his feet trimmed, just one at a time and I made a big fuss telling him he was a good boy, lots of rubs and a cookie.  Then I would go to one of Sterling’s easier feet and do the same.  If he pulled any of them away at any time, I just let it go, said no and went back to Harley to trim another foot, lavish him with praise and cookies and then back to Sterling again. Sterling and Harley Running Happily Harley has 4 feet to trim because it took that much back and forth for Sterling to catch on and stand, holding his foot up and waiting with attention and thoughtful behavior, being careful of me, while getting his feet trimmed, getting tons of  “good boys” and of course cookies! Wearing shorts and sneakers is another good incentive for a girl to not fight with a big horse to get his feet trimmed!

Exploring his area of responsibility.

Autumn 2013 082So, I could not find Sterling anywhere in his field or in the woods.  If you have followed my blog at all, you know he has become quite the explorer this year.  So I was calling and I saw him down in the creek eating something.  He reminded me of a moose in the water.  That rope that crosses the creek in the following photo is the only thing that keeps him off the track where the girls live.  I will modify that, but it does look like he would need to limbo underneath it. Autumn 2013 083So, I called him and he came out of the creek to visit with me which is very easily accessed from the woods when the leaves and brush are not growing, like in the Autumn.
Autumn 2013 084Then, like he was showing me what he found, he went back in the water and decided to walk down the stream.  This is not anything the girls or any other horses have done for that matter in my space!  He is a brave explorer! Autumn 2013 085 Autumn 2013 086                                                                                                                                                       Then off he goes. Autumn 2013 087 Autumn 2013 088

He blazed right through all of the branches hanging down across the stream.  Made me wonder if he had not done this before. Autumn 2013 089 Autumn 2013 090

He went around the corner and out of sight!  I was hopeful that he would come back.  Happily I noticed a large tree had fallen across the creek and he was not interested (at least on this day) in jumping it! Autumn 2013 091 Autumn 2013 092

So he came back, foraging along the creek bank all the way, doing his best impression of a Moose with dripping greens hanging out of his mouth.  Autumn 2013 093 Autumn 2013 094

These branches hung across the whole creek, he needed to navigate them to not get stuck.  Autumn 2013 095 Autumn 2013 096

Without any trouble he came back and then I started the video on my phone as he played in the water.  Sorry about turning the phone, I didn’t know I couldn’t and I don’t know how to fix it now!

At the end there when he scales the opposite bank, effortlessly I might add,  that is why I can no longer use the creek as a fence.  I thought there really was no inviting place on the other side of the creek to cross.  Or at least there wasn’t before there was!  The boys bridge

This is the bridge we build for the boys to cross the creek.  And, until now this is how they always crossed over into the woods.  You know what they say about idle hooves!

Springtime number three…..

And the grass is sweet!

And the grass is sweet!

The flowers are blooming and the grass is green.  The annual shedding ritual has come and gone and only a few remnants of winter remain.  My boy is growing into the most lovely man.  Strong; bold; athletic; interested and attentive.  Attentive to me, his gelding friend and his herd of seven mares. He holds himself and carries himself in the most attractive ways.  He is officially three years old now! Oh how time flies.
Happily during a recent horsemanship workshop at my house where there were new horses coming and going, Sterling did the right thing and stayed quietly with his herd or by his gelding friend Harley in their woods field.  He was quiet, and all the while attentive and calm.  I could not ask for anything more.