Inspired by PJ Grant who wrote a love letter to her farm and one of my horse mentors, Suzanne Spierenburg.
Dear Herd: Exquise, Fleury AKA Beaver, Juniper, Luna, Lucy, Piper AKA Grinner, Patricia, Aurora AKA Brooks, Cameo, Duet, Hope, Jessie Mae, and Missy. Dear Guest Horses: Pat AKA Valentine (Cheryl), the “not my ponies” Stormy and Fancy Pants, Maddy (Susan), Rosy (now back with her owner Karen), and Wave (Kristen and Garry). Dear Extended Herd who have gone or will go to Incredible Homes: Pippin, Tamoshanter, Aurora AKA Brooks, Ferrero, Zoe, Casey, Comet, Alator, Hawk, Inspirer, Ismay, and Jedi-Master.
Dear Horses who have passed tragically way too soon: Strydr (patrol service horse died on the job), Sara, and Eye Catcher, I know you have souls and that your spirits soar. Dear Horses who have passed at the end of their amazing life: Annabelle, The first Windy Coulee Canadian (age 29), my first pony’s foal, Mystica (age 35), Co Co (who insisted on being at the farm for the birth of her first grand foal), and Ebony (30+) who started it all when I was 10. We will all meet again.
I love you all.
I know that to preserve this Le Cheval Canadien breed and the herd’s “pedigree”, I must plan breedings and select the best sire and dam as well as educate the youngsters, pick the right human partners, and make time to enjoy riding myself. I do so as sustainably as I can, but it has been a slow process because I also worked 9 – 5 with another job for 30 years in addition to managing the farm and herd. I am grateful to only have one key focus now. I know you all want to live at Windy Coulee forever, but it is healthy for the youngsters to find new adventures and human partners who have the time to focus on your life, and to go out into the world. Even a “wild” horse herd sends their youngsters away and well, wild herds are significantly meaner to the young stallions. Windy Coulee only has so much room in its grasslands, creek valley, and horse sheds. I know it is best for the breed and this line, for other humans to start a sustainable breeding program.
I keep in touch with all of you.
When I look for a human partner for you I look at how they will ride or drive with you, who they and you will train with, how their equine accommodation and pasture looks, their equipment, and their references. If they call you “it”, or support horse slaughter, I end negotiations. I advocate for you and all horses at all opportunity.
I mourn when I lose you unexpectedly. I work on having resources on standby in case you need major surgery, but have learned the surgery is the easy part, keeping you alive and out of pain afterwards is almost out of range financially, and works less than it fails. I know prevention is key, but even that does not work sometimes. I learned about Grief and Grieving from you.
I celebrate every day and every moment I am with you. When I wake up in the morning and you are grazing in the big pasture; when you gallop up the hill in a group; when you come galloping (or trudging, Juniper) in for mineral; when you hang out in the corrals; when you behave for hoof care; when you chase the bear; when you just do not leave me alone because I am your human (Hope); when I remember your dam or sire, and they are no longer here (Cameo and Hope); when you carry and safely deliver a foal at the age of 19 or 25 (Piper, Patricia, Pat/Valentine, and Exquise);
. . . when you take care of people who are new at riding (Luna); when you win your first CTR in your prime, and then come out of retirement to take a wwoof guest for a quiet walking ride at age 25 (Fleury AKA Beaver); when you are my herd stallion and become my main riding horse and finally settle to do your dressage in Working Equitation, love moving cows in your first cow clinic, and win your first Ease of Handling round (Zefyr); when you challenge me to find amazing professionals to work with you and me (Bruce Christie, Anna Petrova, Selena Dickmann, Brent Trout and Bob Laye);
. . . when you cuddle with wwoof guests (Inspirer); when you jump into the trailer, sneak into the shop, scratch your back on the hitching rail as a colt and run through the creek for the first time for fun (Hawk); when you wear your halter, lead and tie quietly for some bot egg removal time and you are such a beautiful young filly (Ismay);
. . . when you decide humans are the best and put your halter on for the first time (Jedi-Master); when you safely and sneakily deliver your foals (Piper, Patricia); when you show all the signs and deliver on time (Rosy); when you ask for someone to be there when you deliver (Exquise and Wave); when you are the kindest gentlest boss mare (Maddy/Holly); when you are the best emotional support hinny for the uncertain and lonely (Missy); when you take your time healing and trusting (“Not my Pony” AKA Stormy) and when you are the most loving, cooperative, and sweetest big filly (Jessie Mae); when you swish your tails gently as a group in the evening on the hill top and the sun glistens off your shiny coats and that soft golden haze settles in around you before night time. I learned about Hope, Healing, and Gratitude from you.
Dear Herd, you taught me the meaning of hard work, your beauty and comfort inspires me to keep burdock in check and the grassland healthy. You help me stay in the moment. You keep me physically healthy and mentally sound.
I love you.