Last summer I dug out a waterhole for the horses in a spot that satisfied my logical, intellectual brain as the best spot for the purpose.
It was up near the water troughs, so I knew the horses often went to that area and had no issues with the location. It was also right where we already had water draining from the swimming pool run-off all summer long, so that would provide continual water flow to disrupt mosquito larvae. And it was sufficient distance from any of the tree elders, so would not disturb their roots. Sounds like a well thought out, good idea, right?
The horses showed interest, explored it, tested it… and then never used it.
So busy worker bee Jini decided to come out of her rational brain and just sit with the horses and observe… (WHY do I not always remember to do this FIRST?? Deep breath, sending myself love and compassion…)
As I watched and observed and felt into the area from the horses’ perspective, I noticed that the waterhole I dug was actually too close to a blackberry thicket (screens/hides predators) and also too close to the edge of the forest. Of course, it wasn’t close at all from a human perspective! But it was too close from an equine perspective.
I also noticed that, previous to my arrival and interference, the pool runoff area had developed a very functional vegetation-filtration system. Which I had now disturbed, and the whole area was no longer happy. The pool water now seeped more into their pasture land and killed off a section of previously edible forage. What had been a relatively small flooded area, was now a 3 times larger pulpy mess. And the blackberry had doubled in size thanks to additional water supply – thus taking up even more pasture land. Thankfully I had not negatively affected the maple tree elder – whew!
As humans we are not raised/trained to take sufficient time to observe and ponder the multiple domino effects of our actions on any environment or area. We’ve been trained to come up with an idea, trouble-shoot it for difficulties that our logical, limited human brain can perceive, and then ACTION! Even people like me – who are aware of this massive shortcoming, and are actively trying to create a new way of being – find ourselves defaulting to human-centric blundering. Thankfully nature is both forgiving and resilient, and so had fixed the filtration/sequestering problem I created within a year. Thankfully I was wise enough to stop doing, or trying to fix, and just wait and observe nature’s wisdom.
This year (I’m getting better at simply watching/observing every year!) I noticed where the horses had naturally chosen a waterhole during fall/winter/spring. I noticed they regularly dug it up with their hooves, to make it a bit deeper and stir up the soil/clay.
So I bought a splitter for the water trough hose, attached another hose and ran it out to that spot. I anchored and protected the hose using rocks from the pasture and the horses haven’t disturbed it once.
By the way, it is SO worth it to invest in a natural rubber hose for your horses’ water. The taste difference between natural rubber and toxic plastic is severe – drink it yourself and see. Especially when the hose gets hot. At the very least, run the water out of your hose so that any water that’s been sitting in the length absorbing plastic chemicals and xenoestrogens, is flushed out before you fill your troughs with fresh flowing water.
Water from a well or rainwater collection are the best sources for water, but if you have to use city water, then use wide water troughs so the chlorine can evaporate more quickly from a larger surface area. Natural rubber hoses also stay intact and working at a much larger temperature range (both hot and freezing) so well worth the added cost. If you have trouble finding one, then check an RV supply store for human-grade water hoses.
The herd now has a year-round waterhole where they can drink mineral-rich water, splash, lie down in, and coat themselves with mud to cool off and repel insects. They will even splash and roll during the winter when it’s just a few degrees above freezing!
We think there’s no mosquito breeding/egg laying because the horses stir/drink frequently, and the hose is often on a slow drip/flow into the waterhole. Interestingly, when most humans dig a waterhole for their horses, we hire a backhoe or excavator and make it at least 3-4 feet deep. BUT I noticed (through doing nothing and WATCHING for a year) that the horses only dug it 18-inches deep with their hooves. I once saw Siyone out there digging for 20 minutes! So I know they could dig it as deep as they needed it, if they wanted to. Using my hard-earned wisdom I decided to leave it exactly as they had designed it, both in width and depth.
As the weather here hit a record high 43 degrees Celcius this summer, they could lie down in it to cool off, and also coat themselves with mud to protect against biting insects. This waterhole makes such a difference to their well-being. Easy-peasy and a total success. All it cost me was the price of a hose and a splitter – and the willingness to simply watch and learn FIRST.