This last weekend we went up to Rosi and Adriano’s horse farm to visit the horses and to observe a horse whisperer who had come to visit. It was a beautiful experience. The little ranch is set up in the mountains amongst the trees. Its peaceful up there. We love to come here because the horses are really happy and integrated into the landscape and into the life of the humans, so its a gorgeous thing to draw them. Rosi is a special person who is almost innocent in her love for life. She is open and warm and humble and always looks to others with open admiration, totally believing in their gifts. She does the same thing with her horses who have all been problem horses in some way. Adriano, her partner and protector, is a lovely gruff Dutchman who is pragmatic and positive and always straight forward. These two are really special to us and have become the same to our two boys.
Rosi used to house her horses with a horse farm around the corner, but her dreams of her own ranch where she could nurture horses in keeping with her philosophy, manifested one day in this property and bit by bit the land has been opened up and the rugged terrain tamed a little. Now, just as winter is poking its head around gloomy clouds, they are finishing the first of the stables. Jacob has been involved in the building of it and a lovely Dutch architect has provided his expertise, so it looks wonderful. We walked up onto the land the other day and the horses came out to greet us and actually led us to the stable. Ramon, the leader was so proud, walking around his space, nudging the filly out of the way, keeping an eye on us, lifting his head proudly as he stomped about. We felt so happy. There is such an at-one-ment being on the land, at peace and in harmony with nature, and feeling the energy of these wonderful creatures.
When I go up to the property to draw, I am always attracted to Nissan. He is a gelded Arabian, silvery in colour, magnificent in body and sweet and loving by nature. His beautiful head will tuck right into your space, nuzzling at your neck, his nose and lips like silk. Lovely, lovely. He is also wonderful to draw. His little comapanion is a filly who came from a mountain herd way too early to leave its mother but saved by Rosi as she was about to become pet meat. Nissan, almost feminine and seeming never to have known himself as a male, is like a mother to the little creature and the two are inseparable.
Ramon is the leader though. A tough mountain horse, captured when he was five and gelded, after being a free wild stallion and leader of his herd. When we met him, he had been sold to Rosi’s friend and locked in a tiny pen under the verandah of the stables. He was untrainable, angry and a miserable horse with not long before he also was to go to the knackery for pet meat. His ears were always back and his eyes constantly skirted the environment suspiciously and warily. His neck hung low and he looked small. His hooves were strange too, making him look misbegotten, collapsed behind the forelocks, traits of a mountain horse though. Nobody trusted him and everyone was afraid of him and this probably had encouraged many beatings of him over his short life. One day Rosi went into his pen and told him she loved him, gently patting him as she gave him her messages. Slowly she began touching him and finally massaging him all over. The dear horse, couldn’t believe it at first, but gave up soon enough, his mouth stretching and chewing and yawning, his tongue coming out, until he fell to the ground, quivering all over. Rosi, too, was overcome and emotional. She bought the horse from her friend and took him up onto her wild patch of mountain.
We went away for a couple of months and on our return we went up to the property to see what they had done. At the gate was a lovely horse with a fine intelligent head, ears pricked forward, body proud and powerful. We were delighted to see that they had bought another horse, but they laughed and said no, this is Ramon. We couldn’t believe the change. He was still not ride-able as he was stubborn and strong willed and would buck unpredictably. A strange thing happened though, as Rosi, with her usual belief in the talents of all things, told Sollai (our youngest son), she thought he would be good at riding him. Sollai had no real experience with horses, just loved them and loved being with them. He is nature’s boy and his own character has leadership qualities, being strong, calm and decisive. Sollai began riding Ramon. They love each other. There is often a tussle for leadership but more and more Sollai is mastering his role as rider as the two learn from each other. Now the horse whisperer has told Sollai to be aware of the environments they are in as they ride through the mountains as Ramon has a fear of predators and dark patches of bush make him really nervous. Ramon needs to feel Sollai’s awareness of the world around him so that he can be assured of no danger. Also, Sollai had been wearing clumsy shoes for riding and the horse told the horse whisperer that Sollai needed to change his shoes – Sollai laughed because sure enough he had transmitted his own fear to the horse that his feet could get stuck in the stirrups if there was an accident….
Now the horses have all expressed their fears and concerns and likes and dislikes to the horse whisperer. There is an air of peace and understanding between humans and animals. Contentment is catching. It is sometimes a wondrous place, this extraordinary earth, where all things are equal and we can be one with it all.