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The Smudge

The Smudge

Another possibly more appropriate title for this post could have been Humans Learning to Be More Human from Their Horses and Dogs, although this would have been so long as to throw the layout of this page out of kilter. Still, sacrificing accuracy for brevity and the integrity of the layout does not change the special focus of this post, which is how our animals have and can teach us humans to become more human and to find joy in our lives and theirs.


Anaïs, sensitivity, joy and snow

Late Thursday evening we arrived back at the stable with Anaïs from a visit to the holistic veterinary clinic in De Bilt, where she received booster treatment to consolidate the gains made from her first visit in October (see Vicki’s post, Of intuition and talking with animals, a barn cat called Rambo and a wonderful healing). This would have been a routine affair had it not been for the fact that her return to the stable occurred more than 24 hours later than scheduled. So what happened?

Anaïs’ first visit to the holistic veterinary clinic occurred without mishap. She was easy to load on the truck for both the outbound and return trips. Two days of practice loading onto a trailer before that visit to the clinic also went smoothly. With this encouraging history you would expect future excursions not to be marred by difficulties with trailer loading. Yet that is exactly what happened when we tried to load Anaïs in the truck, so as to enable her and me to attend Noora Ehnqvist’s workshop together in November. The exercise turned into a fiasco as I reported in my post, Hard Lessons and Blessed Rewards.

Anaïs arriving at the holistic veterinary clinic

Anaïs arriving at the holistic veterinary clinic

With Anaïs’ next visit to the clinic lined up for last Wednesday, we felt it might be worthwhile to practice trailer loading beforehand again. I loaded her onto a trailer without difficulties on Monday and Tuesday, while Vicki easily loaded her onto the truck for the trip to the clinic on Wednesday morning. Anaïs was also a dream in the clinic. She followed me into the stall and allowed us to clip her to the side ties.

The treatment went well and we cheerfully returned to the truck. Then completely out of the blue Anaïs showed us calmly but clearly that she had no intention of entering the truck, whatever we tried. So we gave up, although with hindsight we felt that we tried too long and should have done so sooner.

Fortunately, there was a stable around the corner from the veterinary clinic, where we were able to find a box for her for the night. Not having Dubu with us any longer also meant that it was a relatively easy affair to find and check into a hotel. The next day we arranged for someone with experience of loading horses onto trailers using Emiel Voest’s methodology (a humane form of pressure and release) to help us take Anaïs back home.

As you can imagine, we were puzzled and racked our brains to try and find an explanation for Anaïs’ behaviour. Was it the truck? To date Vicki and I have managed to load her onto a trailer every single time since we have been in Europe. Her refusals to load have only occurred when a truck was involved (the same truck each time). As I reported in my post, Hard Lessons and Blessed Rewards , her first refusal to load occurred on the day when Dubu almost left us. He was totally dehydrated and weak, and would have died had Vicki not rushed him to the vet, where he was put on a drip. I was trying to load Anaïs while Vicki was at the vet, not knowing whether Dubu would survive or not. Although I had a connection with Anaïs and was able to lead her all over the place, I was unable to extend my leadership to include leading her onto the truck. Was my concern reflected in the energy that I was radiating at the time and had Anaïs instinctively detected this? Was this the reason why she refused to load that day? Both Vicki and I feel that it was.

However, we differ in our interpretation of Anaïs’ second refusal to load on Thursday. Again, I had a connection with her and was able to lead her all over the place but was unable to extend my leadership to include leading her onto the truck. Of course, this amounts to a breakdown of leadership where it mattered at the time, namely in relation to getting her onto the trailer. My question is why? Earlier in the day the authorities had issued a warning of oncoming storm conditions which were likely to affect tall trucks. In the course of the day the situation deteriorated to such an extent that air traffic was disrupted and even Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (about 50 km away) was forced to cancel or delay many flights. Again, was my concern reflected in the energy that I was radiating at the time and had Anaïs instinctively detected this? Was this the reason why she refused to load that day? I feel that it was. Vicki does not. Her take is that I am just looking for excuses for what was a breakdown in leadership. She may be right.

What I do know is that the holistic vet who treated her for the second time on Wednesday is of the opinion that Anaïs is a highly sensitive horse. Indeed, he intimated that she could even be so sensitive as to respond to relations between Vicki and myself.

Earlier this week shortly before we took Anaïs to the clinic,  she and I went for a walk and she discovered snow and ice for the first time. The land had been dusted with a fine coating of snow, which had frozen overnight along with some pockets of water dotting the paths through the forest. Unfazed by the snow, Anaïs bent her head to the tufts of frozen grass protruding from the frozen snow and munched her way through the crisp blades.

Anaïs discovers ice and snow

Anaïs discovers ice and snow

It was the ice on the puddles on the paths that drew her natural curiosity. Anaïs nuzzled the cold, hard surface of one and nudged it until the ice cracked. The clap sent her leaping and snorting, streams of hot air jetting from her nostrils. What phenomenon is this? Curiosity got the better of her and she bent her head to investigate until the next piece of ice snapped off, causing her to snort again. Abruptly she dismissed the ice from her presence and turned to the crisp grass again.


Alone with this soulful mare, joy swelled my being in her presence on the forested edge of the snow-dusted farmland. As I sit here looking at a picture taken of her that day, I relive that joy and reflect on our relationship with Anaïs and with each other. If Vicki and I are learning anything from our horse, it is that we need to be sensitive not only towards her but also each other. The more joy we have in our lives, the more joy we will have to share with her.


Recycling the World’s Joy

The Smudge groomed and regal

The Smudge groomed

2007 was a pivotal year in my life. It was the year during which I started to experience true joy in the presence of horses, as I learned to relate to them in a refreshingly humane way thanks largely to the initial influences of people such as Alexander Nevzorov and Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling.

It was also the year which ended with the death of The Smudge, a woolly mongrel that had come into my life almost 15 years earlier, and who exuded joy from every pore while he was alive and who has since brought joy to many others who never knew him in the flesh.

Today it is exactly four years since The Smudge died. His death has had a major impact on my life. It is The Smudge who kick-started me on the path to rediscovering joy in my life as a whole and towards learning to recycle it, and it is The Smudge and the joy that he recycles which I would now like to introduce into your life if you have not yet had the honour.

The Smudge was the kind of dog who was not only unreservedly loyal and loving. He was also the epitome of what the French refer to as joie de vivre, the joy of living. If ever there was a creature that relished life and revelled in it, it was The Smudge. If he had a mission, it was this:

The Smudge: eager to meet the possums

The Smudge: eager to meet the possums

My mission

I recycle the world’s joy in me and spread it where I can. It is a huge responsibility but I am willing to share it with you.

Here, take it, play with it and pass it round!

The Smudge

This description of The Smudge’s mission is taken from a book which I produced to celebrate his life. It is my version of how his story might have sounded if he had told it himself. Since the book was published it has brought joy to those who have read it and delighted in the pictures of my shaggy mutt.

The book is now available free of charge to you and the world at large. You can obtain a copy from The Smudge’s website at www.thesmudge.net.

If The Smudge’s story brings a smile to your face or those of your children, it will bring a smile to mine and Vicki’s. Such is the power of joy. Take it, play with it and pass it round!

The Smudge and Dubu as we like to remember them

The Smudge and Dubu as we like to remember them


4 Responses to “Of Horses, Humans, Dogs and Joy”

  1. QUOTE What I do know is that the holistic vet who treated her for the second time on Wednesday is of the opinion that Anaïs is a highly sensitive horse. Indeed, he intimated that she could even be so sensitive as to respond to relations between Vicki and myself. UNQUOTE

    Dear Andrew, take another look at the mails I sent Vicky on Oct 19 and Nov 02 regarding Anaiis. The reflections/mirroring that refer/refers to you and Vicky have an interaction as well. I fully agree with the holvet. Although uneasingly (onbehaaglijk) confronting sometimes, also very interesting and wondrous at other times.
    Take care, Geerteke

  2. Vicki Reesor says:

    Dear Vicki and Andrew,
    I’ve been following your blog and I’m so sorry you were disappointed and unable to proceed with what was to be such a wonderful year of growth and transformation with KFH and his program. I remember you well from the NHE forum, Vicki, including our discussion about what each of us should be called to avoid confusion:), and many other exchanges. One time I posted about how Krasotka snorted when she smelled coffee on my breath, then I laughed when you posted that your horses didn’t like the smell of coffee on your breath either, or of wine, but that your dog (I think it was Smudge) would gladly lap up both coffee and wine, even mixed together! 🙂 🙂
    But I see from your blog posts that the transformation and growth is proceeding anyway (as of course, it must). Change and loss are the only constants, it seems.
    Then tonight I received Michael’s newsletter in the email, and for some reason I thought immediately of you! Probably you already subscribe, but here’s the URL anyway: http://www.beyondthedreamhorse.ca/articles.html
    There’s a verse in there that’s really touching, and, as always, Michael gets straight to the heart of things. We can keep trying all kinds of things but really all we need to do is love. I look at my own life and I often find it funny how many obstacles I build for myself when in fact things are just really so simple.
    Here’s hoping we all find our inner sanctuary!
    Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, if you prefer, and best wishes for a most loving and nurturing 2012.
    Victoria “Vicks” (ponysong) Reesor
    P.S. It turns out Krasotka actually LOVES coffee, and will insist that I pour some into my hand for her to lick, when I first arrive at the barn with my morning cuppa joe. If I fail to do that, she reminds me by anointing the rim of my mug with all kinds of unspeakableness… Remember, this is the mare who loves to eat dung 🙂 LOL 😀

    • Vicki says:

      Dear Vicks, what a lovely surprise to see you here! I have been wondering quite often how you and other NHE Forum/School members were doing…I am convinced we are all following our own unique way of transformation and growth, and what a journey it has been sofar!
      Thank you for bringing Michael’s newsletter to our attention; both Andrew and I are indeed already subscribers and enjoy readiing his insights. The following paragraph from his latest newsletter definately struck a cord with me:

      “In wanting to work with horses it is imperative that we first work on ourselves. If you can sit quietly and think about how you truly are and what you want with horses, without judging your thoughts but simply being aware of them, this can bring you clarity. What you know, what you like, what you do not like, what you have done, actions you regret, how you wish it may be different… It can put you at peace with yourself and allow you to move forward”

      So forward we move into a new adventure full of hope, love and joy.
      Yes, I remember your stories about Krasotka very well; in fact Anaiis began to show interest in coffee here too (strong Dutch coffee!), but Miss Sweet Tooth is less enthusiastic now that I have cut out taking sugar ha ha..
      Vicks, I wish you and yours a happy festive season, and all the best for the coming year.

      Take care