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Friday, June 8, 2012

The Art of Horses

Clematis bloom.
Yesterday was Horse Day for me again and I had specifically brought along my fancy camera because I wanted to photograph the spectacular pink and white clematis blooming on the stable owner's property. The sun cooperated with me, dodging in and out of some very thin clouds when I arrived at the stable, making it possible to get a handful of lovely clematis pictures. The break in the rain meant several of the horses were out in their turnouts and I had an opportunity to take some photographs of various horse parts with decent light! I've been hoping to get a few more "art" style horse photos and was very happy with several of these shots. I don't expect the first one of Beacon's nose to be of commercial interest, but it IS a very nice picture of a horse's nose!

Beacon's nose.

Bear's eye.

Beacon's ears.

Drifter's mane.

Drifter's eye.

It was a very nice visit to the barn. Last week, I found that I was still recovering from the bout of flu that had forced me to cancel my visit to the horses the week before, but my stamina was back this week, enabling me to groom Drifter without exhausting myself. He definitely knows who I am now and what I'm there for. Shortly after I arrived and while I was still taking photos of the horses in

their turnouts, he took himself into his stall. He was watching me very closely when I came into the stable and as soon as I opened his stall door, he started trying to put his head in the halter in my hand! I gave him the usual treatment: two hours of thorough grooming. He's shed almost all of his winter coat now (it is June, after all, though in a 55-degrees-and-raining kind of way), so I had less to do in terms of working loose hair out of his coat, but I polished him up nicely. We had a bit of a stand-off over cleaning his right front hoof. To clean it, I have to hold the hoof in my right hand and use the pick in my left. I am severely right-handed, so it's not easy for me to handle the pick, and while I don't wield it in a way that would hurt him, I think he senses my discomfort and will quite literally put his foot down, refusing to let me clean it all the way. It's important for a horse to know
that you are the boss--a gentle, understanding boss, but a boss nonetheless--so I have to be sure that he does what I say. Fortunately, my experience working with dogs gives me the strength and insight on how to calmly and firmly insist that we keep on cleaning the hoof until I say it is clean enough. Still, it took some time for him to give in and let me finish the hoof! Other than that, though, things went beautifully and it's actually good for me to establish my dominance in our relationship before I ever get on his back.

Although I was very happy to have adequate light for photographing the clematis, I was actually hoping it would rain while I was at the barn. It was such a soothing sensory experience for me be with a horse while listening to the sound of rain and I rather hoped to repeat it, especially since I'd had a nightmare about the amount of suffering in the universe that was weighing rather heavily on my soul even after I woke. In a way, I got my wish. Shortly after I went into the barn and put Drifter in the cross-ties, it started to rain. It was not a steady, drumming rain, however. It flat-out poured! The sound of that torrential downpour hammering on the stable's metal roof was deafening! It was perhaps a little louder than I would have liked, but it certainly played up the drama of the storm and left me feeling rather exhilarated! The horses didn't seem to mind the racket at all and simply stared placidly out at the falling rain from their stable doors. By the time I left, the sun was shining again.

I still had some energy left after I was finished with Drifter because his mostly-shed coat hadn't required such intensive grooming. I was doing my usual sweeping up job and decided that while I was at it, I'd do a little extra. Horse feed and bedding generates an incredible amount of dust and so naturally it accumulates in a place like a stable! I like to sweep, so I did the whole floor, not just the area around the cross-ties, and brushed off some of the surfaces, too. While I was at it, I also decided to tackle the dust-covered cobwebs. I didn't do the whole barn or the horses' stalls (though Syd, who was watching me curiously and whose general outlook on life can be summed up as "Can I eat it?", decided that dust-covered cobwebs fell under the "edible" category and pretty much licked his stall clean), but there were fewer cobwebs and the floor was much less dusty by the time I got a blister and called it a day. All in all, it was quite a satisfying afternoon. Drifter got groomed, the stable got cleaned, and I got some nice photographs!

My very favorite photograph of the day was this
one of Bear watching the downpour from his stall door.

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