Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Summer Storm and a Light at the end of the tunnel..

The past few afternoons have had great thunder storms blow throw town and through farm world out here, with some kinder and gentler than others. One several nights ago left huge old oaks laid across the city streets and houses, taking down power lines and left a general good mess of things. We have been lucky out here with no damage and have appreciated the rain and the cooling breezes that come with the storms.

A particularly amazing sky was left in the wake of yesterday's thunder bumpers. The setting sun was reflecting off the bottoms of the massive clouds as the front moved them southwest and it bounced a strange and eerie glow to the world beyond my kitchen window. We went out to see this from the porch and I looked out across the pasture at the horses whose coats were glowing super naturally in this golden light. Then, I noticed a figure I had not seen in a long while, our old friend, the red fluffy tailed fox.

It has been such a long time since we had seen the fox, which used to live in a deep hole behind the composting shavings pile. We used to see it quite frequently and last year the dogs had several run in-ss with the red wily critter and very often the sightings were on rainy days. More recently, like many months worth, we had neither seen nor heard from any of the foxes, and figured them to have moved on, but here now was our friend once again sitting at the fence line at the edge of the woods.The horses were standing fairly close by but paid no notice. Then the fox moved over closer to the horses and slid through the fence by the water tank, into the paddock with Kitty, the queen matriarch of barn world, and her ward, Frank, the yearling colt.

The older horses paid absolutely no attention to this fox at their feet, but Frank was interested and lowered his head and began walking toward the fox. The fox stood its ground and looked back at the advancing colt giving him a seemingly curious posture. Frank finally was close enough to touch the fox and gave the fox a good shove with his nose, to which the fox jumped away a bit but then looked back at the colt. Frank advanced again. This time the fox ran away a few steps and stopped and turned back to look again. The fox had done this with Marley, the terrier, last year playing a game of chase and tag you are it, so I did recognize the game it wanted to play now with Frank.

Frank obligingly trotted after the fox a few steps, head lowered, then stopped. The fox came back towards Frank again and suggested a good romp. They both seemed to really want to play but the difference in languages, I guess, got in the way and Frank got bored and went on away in search of green fodder for his tummy, leaving a disappointed fox to sit and brood.

Mean while, Mark didn’t have his big camera with a long lense and was slowly walking towards this scene going on out in the field to get a closer shot with his cell phone. Once the fox caught a glimpse of this two legged animal approaching, though, off it trotted towards the dark woods. I say trot, but it was more like a floating stream of red, picking up speed until it was flying into a blur, and I had previously worried that my dogs would ever catch it and hurt it. Once the Disney scene went away and the sun’s golden magic on the clouds began to fade as well, we went back into the house with a bit of a feeling of being refreshed at seeing the fox again.

There are so many moments like these that I see, that it makes me wonder how many that are just as entertaining or as magnificently gorgeous, happen in the course of a day that don’t get witnessed. Being a watcher, keeping one’s eyes open, being ready to view is kind of like stalking a magic moment or a scene, but it does pay off. For Mark it is with a camera, and with his knowledge and skills, he is able to replicate the essence of the scene or moment that comes very close to the real thing. My skills with a camera are limited and so most slip away from me and remain ethereal. I try to describe with letters and words, and these are unsatisfying in their short comings too, but I try none the less.

It is almost mid August now and in four weeks or so I will be taking my two youngest horses, Cistine and Frank, to a Keuring, or breed evaluation, in which they will be presented to a jury mostly from Holland. With a runner at their left side the horses will be asked to stand before the scribing jurors to let them evaluate conformation. Then the horses will be walked around an oval, counter clock wise, and then trotted around. This objective sounds easy enough, and it might be, if I lived in a much cooler climate, ran regularly, and the horses had a clue what I was about when I start working them in preparation, trying to cram course this seemingly simple thing into the horse’s brain so that it can trot at the evaluation with the handler as a flawless tandem unit. It is not an easy undertaking.  

I had not planned to take either of these two youngsters to this year’s Keuring, as the work it takes to get them ready takes a lot of enforcing the whole body space issue first at walk and then beginning to run, and at first quite slowly, with these beasts. Usually the first time I change from a walk to a tiny jog, they initially think it’s a game and frolicking time is on. Having anything around the size of a small dog frolicking as it runs with you is one thing, but a yearling colt and a seventeen hand mare are another subject entirely. Again physics of size, motion, and speed are all at play, and not to my advantage in any category.

I worked the mare today, leading her mostly to be like a dog at heel, trying to teach where she is supposed to stay relative to my body. I am to be at her shoulder, reins in right hand, with her marching right with me, turning when I do to either direction, and definitely not trampling me and not racing ahead of me, nor dragging me into the wild yonder. We worked for about thirty minutes and I was whipped. The mare was still quite bright and was happy to keep on jogging and kept a little bounciness to her walk as we walked to her pasture gate to put her away for the day, asking for more fun and games, but thankfully doing it politely.

Cistine always keeps her left eye and left ear totally focused on me when we are working this way, and I hope I can get enough helium out of her balloon that she gives the handler at the Keuring an easy flight. Progress is being made, so maybe I will make it in time with her, if I don’t pass out from exhaustion with the running in this heat. I haven’t even started with the colt. That, should be really fun, and I am saving that for hopefully cooler temps later when we return from our yearly trek to the mountains that is vacation time, coming up soon. I can almost see the other end of the tunnel of the heat of summer, but until cooler temps get here, we will go to them to refresh and recharge.
To vacate, to leave….again.

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