Round Pen at Sunset

Round Pen at Sunset, Photograph by J. Matthews

The round pen is an ages-old schoolroom for horses.  I have not trained my horses for a few weeks, but have let them out to graze and play.  Soon, two horses, Fanny the yearling and Shiney the colt, will have a lesson in the round pen.  Of gentle horsemen, see the link to Monty Roberts, the horse whisperer, that I have provided.  Not only does Monty train by “joining up” with the horse, but also has taught his method throughout the world to trainers, including professionals for the Queen of England’s stables.  When horses come to Flying Hat, Monty’s method of training is applied, haply and without violence.  We are all the better for it, man and horse.


Filed under Flying Hat Ranch, Horses

15 responses to “Round Pen at Sunset

  1. Kittie Howard

    Yes, gentle training…I cringe when I see tougher methods used…

  2. Jack Matthews

    Kittie, I do like reading your stories on your blog. I've have a few stories particular to horse training that I hope to get down on the blog, going back a few years.

  3. turquoisemoon

    am looking forward to more of your stories… 🙂

  4. Stark Raving Zen

    Jack, have you always had the explanation beneath your blog title? I've been to your blog many times, yet just read it today. I cried, thinking about the calf kneeling there. But what's really odd is that 2 nights ago I had a dream about something very similar (loading up an unwell cow for the stockyard- only in a disturbing twist, the "cow" was a man, leaving me in the dream questioning my entire existance and vowing never to do this again). The dream was very disturbing for me, the biggest disturbance coming from my complete inability to interpret such a dream, but I get the exact same feeling (grief) from reading your blog introduction, and I don't believe in coincidence… Hmmm… Synchronicity.

  5. Jack Matthews

    Stark Raving Zen: Yes, the explanation has always been there. Your dream must have been disturbing, loading up cow or man for the stockyard. Globally, the stockyard is a passageway to the slaughterhouse. A lot of depth and substance to your dream. There is synchronicity to your dream and what I did after "27" knelt down in fright and stress. In the event I described, I was loading "27" to take him to the vet to have him cured with good medicine (Dr. Dorris in Stephenville, Texas) and then see what happened to "27's" health. He spent a week inside a stall next to fine horses and came out well and putting on weight. I brought him back to the herd in a trailer with my paint horse for company. When "27" went to the corral fence and I saw his "giving up" and letting things happen, I swore I would not husband stockers again. I had always been around cow-calf operations, but not twenty-seven calves that I had spent months working with, feeding, inhaling their scent in the open pasture, and having them rub against me at the feed trough. An Apache friend of mine, reared in New Mexico, worked for his father on a large spread in Lincoln County, and when his father asked him to take stockers to the feedyard, he flatly refused to do so, even though his father became agitated. My Apache friend liked to eat steak as I do, but he would not be a part of taking a sentient being to the feedyards. He would drive cattle trucks ranch-to-ranch, but never to a feedyard. I am not sure what to make of all this, but I am working on it. When it came to taking my herd to the feedyards, I chose the "best" (the term provokes more thought and comment, but I'll leave it for now) feedyard I could find, a feedyard near Perryton, Texas, that did not use hotshots or stress cattle and was clean and attended with cowboys and management that emphasized non-violent techniques (no prods, shouting, pushing, etc.). Having plastic and soda cans in the yards was a firing offense. I think they were the best, outside of private ranches that specialize in no-stress management of cattle. Before I sent the herd to Perryton, I tried to find a local medicine man to give a kosher, American Indian prayer to the cattle, including "27," that they would be taken care of, and, at the end of day, their lives would be nutrition to good people and children, one of which just might grow up and find a cure for cancer. I found no medicine man, so I spoke the words over the calves. "27" changed me. And, like the horses I tend, I know I'm a better person for it. I know if I had had horses when I was younger, I would have been a better man, a better husband. Your dream and my "27" calf is telling us something. For me, it was to stop the steamlining of cattle to feedyards, and, go to a cyclical way of tending to a herd. I never was violent or cruel to cattle, but "27" has affected my behavior. When we buy the next herd, it will be a cow-calf operation, managed on clean, natural-grass pastures. You have arrived now in northern New Mexico and those spaces of imperishable beauty have a way of breaking our old ways-of-doing, offering gifts, terrifying and consoling, to our lives. New Mexico changed me, like "27." I want to read, if you compose about it, your interpretation of your dream. I want to add that you take such beautiful photographs. Your blog is such a pleasure, ache-fully at times, to read and see. Your friend, Jack.

  6. Katie Johnson

    That was so cool. Thanks for posting that link, Jack. I love horses. I've hardly ever ridden them but they're such soulful creatures that I adore them. One day I might decide to get a horse. I've thought on it for a couple of years. In any case, I can love them for afar for now. I found Monty on Twitter and am following him. Thanks again. Oh! I linked to your blog in my sidebar. Hope that's ok with you.

  7. Jack Matthews

    Katie, Linking is just fine, glad you got Monty on Twitter. I don't have him there, but will. Your paintings are outstanding.

  8. Stark Raving Zen

    Well, Jack, the further explanation including your Apache friend's stance on the stockyard is so compelling. I don't eat meat often, but when my blood is iron poor, my body craves it. I struggle with this, because there are alternative sources of iron out there for me to eat. It's a constant tug-o-war with me; my seeming inability to live a completely meat-free existance. Probably has to do with growing up in Colorado, in a definite meat & potatoes kind of home. So, if I were to choose the simplest interpretation of my dream, it would likely be one more push to follow my heart- and stop eating the red meat! As I was driving down to visit Colorado last spring, having lived in MN then, I drove through Nebraska. It was a beautiful morning and I got an early start, driving out with the rising sun. There are sad-looking small pens of cattle throughout Nebraska. It's definitely not the "I can see cows on the horizon" kind of feeling you get from the range in NM. In one of these small dirty pens, 2 tiny baby calves were playing. I mean really having fun. They were pouncing around with each other, then one would run back to his mom, nuzzle her face quick, and then run back to his friend. And I started to feel sick. Because I understood how little that tiny cow's life was valued and wondered when he'd face the chopping block so to speak. But then a couple of days later, I ate a hamburger, and felt like a horrible person. I've had plenty of empathic dreams before about animal suffering, and messages about not wanting to contribute to that. As an intuitive, energy is incredibly important, and if you put the "energy of fear or suffering" in your body through your food choices, you're going to feel it, plain and simple. So over the past couple of years I've avoided anything factory farmed. Nothing from the Hormels or Jennie-O's or Oscar Meyer for me… But still I'm plagued with the feeling that, for me, that's not good enough. The dream, I believe, was a way to process & validate those feelings. This "man" that we were trying to load up, had been our ranch hand. He was not really a man, because he stood about 12 feet tall- he was a giant- and he had no intelligence, comparatively speaking. But we knew him, we were kind to him, he knew us, and he knew what we were trying to do to him. We kept trying to manipulate him into the truck, lying to him about where we were taking him, but he was well aware of the ranch, being a worker there, and so fought us all the harder. I would take moments away from my "herding" him to cry and vomit, because I was so sick about what was taking place. I think I walked away from that dream with a solid inability to ever eat a cow again. And what I really think is that my new-found connection to you had something to do with it. I've never been anywhere near a farm in that regard. I had no experience to "tap in to". I think I tapped into YOUR experience with 27, and it helped solidify my instinct, through sheer emotional pain. Wow… this is long. Sorry to take up all this space. But what a gift you've given me. Thank you Jack.

  9. Crayons

    Hello Jack Matthews, Wow. Wow. The story in your heading was so unexpected. It kind of filled my little efficiency here in Wisconsin. It is told so well, and of course the story itself is quite moving. I have enjoyed poking around your blog this morning. I wish they still made such interesting and educated people. I am eager to return. Thanks for the work you put into writing — it's an uncommon practice in Blogland.

  10. Country Girl

    Thanks for stopping by my blog this evening. I was moved at your definition of the 27th heart. My husband and I have this book. It's wonderful.My husband worked with horses for years, mostly with the broodmares at the breeding shed, until he became disabled with brain cancer. He was a natural with the horse, much better than he is around people. I know he misses them, as do I.Good post here.

    • Kate, I have been following your blog. George has a fb account! Great. I do so much like your blog and pictures. I’m sorry about your husband. I have been following his ups and downs on your blog. I do hope progress is made upward for him. Thanks.

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