As a South-Coast bumpkin, I never really had my horses in snow, unless you count the usual one-day affair with a few inches of fun before the inevitable melt-and-muck. It never affected feeding, just made poo-collection more arduous. But when we moved north, I was told by locals I wouldn’t have to feed hay until January, because the horses would paw through the snow. I was intrigued, due to my ongoing nerdery regarding wild-ish behaviours and more natural forage.
The snow came late, and I actually did start hay feeding before it came because at a certain point in late November, the horses just flat out refused to eat the grass that was in their pasture. It wasn’t very luscious, to be sure, but there was a whole lot of it just…sitting there…while they hung their sad little heads longingly into the back yard. FINE! Twist my rubber horse mama arm.
But once the snow finally did fall, those sad little heads appeared less constantly, and these little marks started to appear all over the pasture:
For some reason unknown to me, the grass that had, two days previous, been utterly foul and inedible was suddenly worth digging for – and worth snorkeling in the snow for. Pretty darn cute (and good for the hay bill)!
Here they are in action – this was apparently a very good spot, as indicated by Amalia and Fly’s enthusiasm:
Are you ready for my Dad-joke? Okay: Slow-Feeder? More like…Snow-Feeder. Thank you, thank you very much.
I love that, having never learned this behaviour in the balmy south, they put two-and-two together and figured it out. Ten points for rewilding!
Hope you’re all keeping warm out there…
Click here for Part 9 in this series.
A barefoot hoof trimmer, a singer/songwriter, an amateur farmer – these are some of the hats Kesia Nagata wears when she’s not full to bursting with wondrous equine co-creation.
6 thoughts on “Rewilding the Herd – Snow-Feeders”
YUM! You’ve managed to stir up yet another delicious meal of reality for us, Kesia. Thank you. It’s the best breakfast I’ve had all year.
I watched the video 3 times. Watching horses eat is my absolutely-all-time-favorite sight on earth. Not seeing that has been the most challenging part of dealing with the illness and early recovery. You demonstrate that yes, it works to provide the experience through video. My mind had thought that wouldn’t work, but I was wrong. The energetics shone right through, once the audio kicked in!
The potential implications of this are enormous. A whole lot of the work can be introduced in this way. It can probably become a portal through which this work can be shared with a far wider audience. We can’t replicate the actual linkage between horses and humans through videography, but we can demonstrate it and even show exactly what it looks like between a range of humans and horses who are doing it. That will be enough for many to spark up their own Mindful connections with the critters in their worlds. The healer in me is leaping around going Rah-Rah!
Our brains need models, if we’re going to dig in and find what we need to thrive. You are an apex model, wild woman. Fly your flag high!
Oh I love this! I first clued in to this phenomenon when I started jokily apologizing for my endless animal posts on social media, assuming I was flooding my friends with self-indulgent cutesy moments from my critter-obsessed life. People I spoke to reacted immediately, telling me they loved them, that they were a moment of calm and connection in their days, that I took pictures that made them feel like they were there. It totally changed my awareness.
I haven’t been videoing much but I suppose I should think about doing more!
Super cool to see the ponies in the snow…beautiful glimps into your very white wild world…??✌?️?
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Happy New Year Michelle! All the very best to you and your family and herd! ???
Kesia….wasn’t sure where to put this letter to you so I put it here in the last blog about rewilding…ok here goes…I listened to your tele summit podcast yesterday and came away feeling like we are even more kindred spirits then I had thought before. It was like talking with someone I had so much in common with (something I can never seem to find) and even though you couldn’t hear me comment I felt we had an amazing conversation. I know I sound a bit weird but so many of the things you said were so remenanisent of my own journey. It started with your comment about the long car rides as a little girl and day dreaming of riding my horse as one , running forever and jumping any obstacle in our path until we arrived at our destination, this was so me…I always wanted to be Pocahontas too. I yearned so hard for horses as a child with horse curtains, posters and bedspread and of course all the horsey books I could read. Then on to your ever evolving journey to keep making life better for your horses and trying so many things, then beating ourselves up when we realize we were wrong about some.
One of my favorite parts is when the B word came up (BITS) and you said that not to long ago you would of called bullshit on a horse being ok with one or even preferring one for clarity. Just a little while ago I would of called Bullshit too, but I too have evolved on the subject & even though I personally, even if the horse seemed to prefer it, could probably never use one again because I am so not ok with the thought of them…that doesn’t mean that they cannot be the right fit for other horse/people combinations. I was so anti-bit and so judgey & just like you have come to a place where you just can’t judge…. because you don’t know that particular horse and what they are ok with and you don’t know where someone else is on there journey. I sure wouldn’t have wanted someone to think I didn’t love and care for my horses in the highest regard, because they saw me using a bit and metal shoes for the first few years I became involved with horses. I actually have a horse that seemed to get some sort clarity and comfort from the bit, but I personally think it was just a conditioned response and what he had always known. So I went bitless with him anyway to the dismay of my fellow horse friends and feel he has now fully embraced the idea of no metal in his mouth. I actually had a enlightening experience a few months ago when I was riding him down to the mailbox, in a halter, bareback, & booted. (He was in metal shoes the majority of his life and has what appears to be a lot of permanent damage so I always boot him for his comfort) I had some girls I had never met before come down the road on horses behind me…with all the traditional gear hard saddles, bits…and horses that had just recently had there metal shoes taken off and the horses were so ouchy on the gravel road and appeared to be very unhappy with there bits. Even though it was hard I mentally tried very hard not to judge and just be friendly…to my delight they asked me all about my boots and by the time we arrived back at my gate the conversation went to bitless and they were so curious and so interested in all my gear. I actually ended up showing them several differnt bitless options I had, through all my searching for a better way & fitting both there horses in my extensive collection of boots and let them ride home in them to try them out, so there horses would not be sore on the ride home. Then they drove them back to me…they were both so astonished I trusted them to bring them back ..but my only goal was to help the horses be more comfortable..I’m actually pretty untrusting and selfish normally …but my overwhelming love for horses always breaks down this barrier in me and helps me be a better person. Then one of the girls connected with me online and she ordered a bitless bridle and boots & asked me to refer her to all my Liberty training info. It really hit home how I think the majority of us all want better for our horses and we are alll just at different stages and paths on our journey. When we know better we do better and judging people is not helping anyone, especially ourselves to become better humans.
I also loved the cold water stories..they reminded me of when I was younger and out on the river delta, there was a bar that put on a New Year’s Day Frozen bun run. Where you are pulled behind the boat on water skis or wakeboard or whatever. I actually did my run on trick skis because I always loved being a show off, but oh what an invigorating experience to do this and a feeling of being so alive that the cold water gave me. I also loved riding my rice rocket(motorcycle) at high speeds in the cold and feeling that I was never more alive, even though it wasn’t the most comfortable feeling it would always keep me in touch with a deeper stronger part of myself and give me a sense of such power. Never heard anyone else I associate with talk of these experiences about cold and it’s affects. I know it’s not uncommon I just don’t meet people that explore these kinds of things. It’s so cool that I share so many of these strong feelings with you.
Anyway I know this is getting long…& I know you don’t know me from a hole in the wall…. but I just had to tell you that your conversation with Deirdre was so rich and resonated with me so fully. I know technology is a far cry from wild but oh how it has helped me find like minded humans and help me feel so much less isolated in my way of thinking when it comes to horses & I guess life in general. Your insights and tales of your ever evolving journey and so called “natural and wild” are so precious to me because if money and situation were not an issue that’s where I would be…on endless land enjoying and being challenged by the oh mighty Mother Nature.
I just want to again extend an invitation to you that if you are ever in California or want to journey here to check things out( I only live about 2 hours drive from the awe inspiring Yosemite National Park….you have a place to stay and a fellow horsey friend. I have a modest 12 acres, with a beautiful view of the Sierra Mountains and my gorgeous 3 geldings, (you have seen Dreamer in the video) 2 dogs & an amazing laid back go with the flow husband…and a spare room that is comfy & is horsey themed ( I am still a day dreaming little girl at heart) …..You are welcome anytime.
Of course I know you from a hole in the wall, you’re Michelle!! And yep, as much as being on the internet on my stupid little phone makes my head spin, I am so grateful to be able to reach out from my little hidden valley and meet and talk in the most open and interesting ways with all y’all.
I’m delighted that the talk with Diedre resonated with you so much! To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I’d end up saying and of it would be follow-able or kind of abstract, but Diedre did an awesome job of wayfinding and we both had a lot of fun. And that’s exactly why I share my innermost thoughts and feelings – because I know that when we recognize ourselves in others, it gives this magical permission to keep being who we are and to do it with more and more confidence. I have found my own feet (and continue to learn and grow enormously) through sharing and being shared with.
I think there are so many of us little girls who just want to climb up a horse’s nostril and stay there. Some people don’t ever live their dreams and some take a while to get there. It doesn’t matter, I just hope we can share our amazing good fortune – I mean look at you! Look at me! Living on our own land with our own horses, exploring deep relationships with them, looking for the best ways to let our horses be their best selves…
It’s funny – I do judge, in fact judging itself doesn’t bother me and is pretty well natural. It helps us discern what we want and need and what we don’t. But like you so beautifully expressed with your hood boot sharing story, doesn’t it just open up so much opportunity for connection when we see the human behind the action or choice we are judging??
I work in conservation and we are always trying to see things from the Others’ perspective – it is no use preaching to the choir, and no use railing against the opposition, shaming and criticizing people for their values and perceptions. I rein back my judgements for two reasons: one, someone is much more likely to see my point if I am curious about who they are and why they think the way they do; and two, I have been wrong enough times in my life that I know I may be again. If I stay open to my own evolution and leave space for others to change their mind without fear or shame (the biggest reasons people stick to old beliefs), we all have a chance to win.
I don’t think we can make much of a change by telling other people how wrong they are. Nobody really wants to change if you tell them they’re stupid and bad, right? I think we can shift so much more by just being ourselves and working on that, and being open about it, and being okay with making mistakes, and having compassion for ourselves and others, and trusting that if we’re really on the right path, other people see the difference and will be curious about it.
Anyway, thank you so much for responding to the talk, it does the same thing back to me when you let me know how similar we are and how good that feels 🙂