The adventures of Gilly the rescue horse and his side kick and partner in crime, Pokey the donkey.

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Being with a horse is a journey that never ends. What they have to teach us is amazing; but we must quiet our mind to hear them. ~ jca

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gilly and the Blue Heron

Last Monday Gilly and I were out in the evening for a ride. He seemed a little nervous, ears constantly moving, listening for something. Probably a horse eating monster of come kind to pop out of the woods and eat him!
We rode up the creek on the road, both dogs, Lucy and Gonzo where with me. Everything was peaceful; a truck was approaching and I moved Gilly to the side of the road. It was some friends and they stopped to talk for a bit. Gilly was still on alert; on up in a hay field three deer ran across the field and disappeared into the woods. He watched.
It was after 8 in the evening so I decided to head back home; which was in sight of where I was. We did some trotting then fell back to a brisk walk.
When we were almost to the driveway (see picture above, I have labeled were Gilly was on the road) a great whooshing sound and a flapping of huge wings is what I heard next!!! A Blue Heron came up out of the creek right in front of us! (I didn't take these pictures, obviously!)

This bird flew right up in Gilly's face! It was so close that I could have reached up and grabbed it's legs, so close I could see the scales, or what ever you call them, on it's legs!!! Talk about a heart attach!!!! I thought at first, oh no, not another wreck!!! But then I remember that earlier I had read Kate's blog (A Year With Horses) about her clinic with Mark Rashid. I am so thankful that I read that because I think that it saved me from a bad wreck. This is what I did:
When I saw the wings spread and start to fly up I held Gilly steady, took a deep breath and sunk my seat into the saddle. Blew out my breath like the horse does when he relaxes and just waited. Gilly only looked up as the bird flew over his head, then it landed in the trees behind us, in a flurry of flapping wings and crashing branches! I took another deep breath and asked him to move forward, he did as if nothing had happened!!!
I just kept thinking and picturing us riding down the road calmly and kept my hands and legs still and relaxed; my breathing slow and steady. It kept me calm and Gilly too; there is a lot to be said about sending pictures to the horse with your mind..........I for one believe it really works!

How would you like to see this flying over your head while on your horse??? Yes, they are beautiful, graceful birds; but with a wing span of anywhere from 3 to 5 feet they are pretty frightening when you think that your horse would have a heart attack and explode!
I hope that Gilly gets used to them since there are many of them around here right now, seems like more than usual.....I call them Terradactyl, pretty scary when they come flying up and surprise you! LOL
Hope to be riding again soon but right now it's really hot and humid and the monster horse flies are now out in force! Makes it hard for the horse and me to be out, none of the fly spray seems to have any effect on them so if I want to ride I will have to do it in early morning.
Does anyone have any really good fly spray to recommend that knocks out these terrible flies???


17 comments:

dexmangoldens said...

Those flies are awful. No matter what spray you use, it does not work.
Good thinking when you sat down in the saddle and took a deep breath......
Sometimes if you don't react, they won't. A lot like dogs.
I've had turkey vultures fly out in front of me. TJ got use to them and we just kept on trotting.
Was waiting to see what your next post was!! I use to ride about 6:30am, before I fed the horses. Dew might be slippery, but that keeps the horse sure-footed.
Love hearing about your adventures, both fun and not-so-fun. Hug Gilly for me---he's a good boy!!

Julia said...

Nicely done!!! Congrats on a good experience with this bird. :) Feels good doesn't it.

Katharine Swan said...

Jane, I use Bug Block, or whatever it is, in the purple bottle. It doesn't stop the horse flies from biting, but supposedly it kills flies. I have noticed that the horse flies (which were biting like crazy a few weeks ago) have gone away, so just maybe it worked...???

Anyway, I'm so glad Kate's posts helped you too. I've been using some of her ideas too, and they are working for me as well. Kate is a Godsend! :o)

I absolutely believe that horses read us on some level we can't comprehend. Whether or not they receive the pictures in our mind, they are awfully good at knowing what we're thinking.

I remember one time when I was riding Panama at my old barn, as we rode past the fence I envisioned -- very vividly -- kicking the fence. My idea was to work on desensitization, but what happened actually taught ME something instead of HIM: Immediately after I pulled that vivid picture into my mind, Panama did a little cat jump sideways. Just a little spook, but a spook nonetheless. There was nothing else around and the timing was uncanny. Just to test it, I envisioned the same thing the next time we came around, and the same thing happened. Then I stopped thinking about it and he stopped spooking sideways.

Obviously, on some level he knew what I was considering doing, and in anticipation of me doing it, was reacting to my thought rather than the actual act.

Amazing, isn't it? Yet it totally makes sense. How else would a herd of running horses or a flock of geese flying all know to turn in the same direction and at the same time? There is obviously something there that they get and we don't!

Thistlebrooms said...

Now I bet your glad you read 'A year With horses'...
Ya never know when a little bit of knowledge will come in handy like that...
Your right, they are 'Beautiful' birds, BUT not in yours and Gilly's face...
Best Of Luck On Your Next Ride...
Marilyn

Sarah said...

Whoo hoo glad ya stuck tight!! They are huge birds..I would have jumped!! Glad you didn't!! He really is coming into his own huh??
Hugs to you, Sarah

Paint Girl said...

That is so good that Gilly did so well when that Blue Heron flew out of the woods! We have those too, but haven't had one fly in front of the horses, only ducks. I am sure Brandy would have a heart attack!!

jane augenstein said...

Julie, All kinds of scary creatures out here in the country! LOL I wish someone would come up with a way to get rid of the horse flies; what earthly good are they anyway????
Julia, Yes, it did feel great to know that I avoided a wreck and Gilly stayed calm!
Katharine, our horse flies are just starting and will be around until at least the end of September! Yes, Kate's blog is one I just started following and I love her writings; LOTS of good stuff there!!!
Marilyn, yes, I sure am glad that I read the posts by Kate. Hopefully my next ride will be uneventful!
Sarah, thanks, since Gilly didn't really move much I was lucky, no sticking needed! LOL
Paint Girl, I think ducks would be a little easier to handle. After the first fright from the heron Gilly was afraid of even doves flying from the ground. So for him to stand when the heron flew up in our face, wow, he did very well!

allhorsestuff said...

Oh WOW...what an awesome outcome JANE!!! You and Gilly are becomming of one mind, I do believe...WOW.again..I can actually see the event, the way you described it.Gilly will become bomb proof with your riding ability and the actions you took will pay off. With the creek there..probably will always have a bird like that in wait, huh.

Good Job, I am very happy for you and your pressence of mind!
Kacy and Wa mare~

PS
I have really enjoyed Kate's wrtiings too...need to read some more. I have tried some new things with the relaxed approach..it does seem to be working better with my claustrophobic mare.

PSS
The latest "Horse Journal" just reminded us all of a household favorite for bug bites and blocker. VICKS VAPO RUB! Duh! It is very soothing and stickier than bug sprays...won't kill them but will deter. If they are getting ear bites..it works in there.
Good for a horse that is smelling things you may not want it too also..trailering or mares...rub under nose..if caughing..under throat...just like us!

What I have been using of late that the vet's are recommending for Pigeon fever abating is, " SWAT" it is very thick and I rub it on Wa's underbelly..it is more toxic than VICKS though.

Desert Rose said...

Good job relaxing so Gilly could get your "ZEN" thoughts!

photogchic said...

Birds always seem to scare me more than Maddy. We had a giant eagle fly right over us one time out at the coast. Scared me to death...Maddy just kept walking. Way to go Gilly!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I've had great success with the biting flies using Piranha. It literally makes the horse flies fall off and die as you are spraying the horse down, and once it's on (unless it rains) the stuff keeps flies away for about 5 days. Good stuff!

I'm glad you didn't have a wreck. Good for you and your quick reaction to the blue heron. Acting before Gilly even had a chance to. And good boy Gilly for not blowing up and trusting you to keep him safe so he could keep you safe.

I love a lot of what Mark Rashid says too. I wish I could have used that same tip when Baby Doll spooked. I never even saw it coming. There was no blue heron flying up in front of us. I still don't even know what set her off and made her spook and teleport sideways.
Sometimes it just happens too quick to do anything....but hopefully fall off without hurting yourself. sigh.

~Lisa

jane augenstein said...

Kacy, Thanks, yes, things are getting better, some things. Now if I could just convince him he needs to read my mind and GET INTO THE TRAILER!!! He is still being a real stinker about that. I need to keep working on my mental attitude too.
Horse flies are coming in droves and it's no fun to ride. Gilly is hiding in the barn all day! Pokey too.
Desert Rose, thanks, yes...ZEN!!
Photogchic, yes, birds are scary, oh, Maddy is a good girl to not be afraid of them!
Lisa, I have tried Piranha before and it worked pretty well, but not for the horse flies! Those wicked things just don't give up!!! I was just outside to take off Gilly's fly mask and it's after 8 and the nasty flies are still out there biting!!!
Horses spook so fast sometimes we don't have time to react other than picking ourselves up off the ground!

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

Good for you Jane (and Gilly too)!
I've had a horse freak out from a low flying hot air balloon - not fun.

Leah Fry said...

The flies are biting through anything I put on them.

That's awesome that you had the presence of mind to do that and avert a crisis.

allhorsestuff said...

hi sweets,
I am just laying around from my fall, unable to walk yet..without a "Paddle" that is. It is a thing we keep near the bathtub..outdoorsy motif...it is handy I tell ya, for blance right now!
Miss the mare..and don't know when i can get out there again.

Russ Lowry said...

Great shots of the Heron!! I have been trying to shoot one of these all summer with no luck. nice job

Heart of a Cowgirl said...

YIKES! Yeah, that would be a little scary to see coming at you! Good for you for relaxing and staying calm. And Gilly just took your lead and did the same thing. Great how that works, huh??!

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