Feed on


A few days ago while musing on what I had just heard from another human, a soft velvety puff of air touched my neck just below and behind my right ear spreading warmth through the crook of my neck and shoulder in the winter air. And suddenly I was  alive to this gentle touch. It was Anaïs gently pressing her muzzle against me, inviting me to be with her there and then, as horses often do. In that moment the world consisted of nothing more than that huge, gentle presence besides me. My musings evaporated, my spirits soared and I again had joy to share with those around me. Later I reflected on how easily it can be to rediscover such joy at almost any moment, even when circumstances cloud your life with gloom.


Mindlessly Mindful

Looking back on my last post (In Search of Houynhnhms in a Land of Hairy Bicycles), I sense that I gave the gloom too long a lease on life. We humans seem to have a disconcerting tendency to dwell on the negative. We spend far too much time reliving regretful incidents and worrying about potential ones. To some of us they are even a source of nightmares. We have become victims of our thoughts.

Now as we head into Christmas and the rest of the festive season, those of us who share these festivities with friends and family are resurrecting the joy that we have frequently kept buried for the much of the rest of the year. Thought is banished from the moments in which we share our joy with each other. What if we could tap into that joy not just during the festive season but at any time of our choosing?

A little over a year ago I reread a section in Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, in which he deals with this very theme. It prompted me to write down the first three lines of a poem. A couple of days ago I fished out those lines and finally finished that poem. I would like to share it with you. You can find it here.

It seems to me that when a gloomy situation threatens to engulf us, it may be possible to influence our way of dealing with it by consciously reaching for something that is a source of joy to us. It may be a memory, a poem, a picture, a piece of music, a physical activity… even a horse. Whatever it is, it may be within our grasp in the moment when it may help us. Why not seize it and change our perception of the here and now?


A whimsical moment

In a whimsical moment I went looking for amusing videos about horses. Some of these I would like to share with you here. First I found a video of a Friesian colt playing with a big red ball for the very first time.

The energy, the joy, the delight in being alive. Surely, this is what living is supposed to be about? Perhaps we have a duty to ourselves and those we love to rediscover joy in our daily life?

Then I stumbled on a couple of videos showing horses relating to other animals, amongst them, dogs and goats.



Then I found a video of horses at play with each other and it is just such a joy to watch them delight in each other.


Joy in the Land of Hairy Bicycles

And while I was hopping from one video link to another guided by little more than association, I rediscovered a young Dutch woman and her horses, who have previously featured in one of my posts (Being Human … with Horses – Part 2). In a land of hairy bicycles Eva Roemaat and the relationship that she enjoys with her horses is a source of joy to me. Perhaps to you as well.


Of course, Eva Roemaat is not alone in her desire to have a relationship with horses that is based on love and respect. It is also something she shares with her younger friend, Jesse Drent.


Yes, Andorra, does not collect himself properly and yes, Eva Roemaat does trick training with her horses but look at the connection which these young humans have with their horses. And because they are young, there is also hope, hope that they will be able to help so many other humans find true joy with their horses not only in this land of hairy bicycles but wherever humans look to others such as them for guidance as to how to relate to their horses as just that: horses.

Finally, I would like to leave you with a special video featuring both Eva and Jesse. May you and yours share a great deal of joy this Christmas and may you find a way to rediscover it every single day during the New Year!



Eva Roemaat and Jesse Drent have set up a venture called Nalanta to help other humans achieve what they have with their horses. They make frequent mention of ‘natural horsemanship’ but are at pains to emphasise that this has nothing to do with join-up. I would go even further and say that this has nothing to do with natural horsemanship as we know it, which frequently amounts to little more than the psychological oppression of horses. This young duo have announced that they will be publishing their new website in January. I am looking forward to that and will announce it on this blog.



5 Responses to “Finding Joy in the Land of Hairy Bicycles”

  1. Dear Vicky and Andrew, I wish you both and the two mares all the best for this festive season and many more happy and very inspiring moments with horses and humans in the year 2013.

    As you, Andrew, express so clearly and enthusiastically there certainly is a lot of hope present in young people, like Eva and Jesse. I have very much enjoyed watching the video clips. Thank you for sharing. I have even shared one of Eva’s clips on my FB page especially for the girls riding some Haflingers belonging to my livery yard.
    Not only in young people there is a lot of hope present, though.
    There are lots of people like me and yourself that haven’t abandoned hope either.

    On December 21, 2012 the ‘new time was born’. ‘New time’ meaning that love and hope will start playing an increasingly important and active role again. Or perhaps an even bigger role than it has ever played before.
    This means in my perception that ‘judging’ will be an occupation that will eventually become extinct. And that would perhaps be a very good thing. When one ‘species’ disappears space becomes available for some other ‘species’ to evolve. That has after all been the case for millions of years. This doesn’t mean that I am fatalistic. It means that I like to look at things outside the box.
    It doesn’t mean either that I am right. Again, I just like to look at things outside the box.

    How about taking a look at the noun ‘hairy bicycle’.
    Life is what it is. Accepting life as it is. Not opposing anything. Be it pain, sickness or horses being misused or even abused.
    When there is a ‘no opposition energy’ the mind will not get clouded by emotions. Without that cloud, that veil, there will be sufficient clarity for human to make choices. Choices that will improve situations straightaway without much effort. To take ‘action’. Naturally almost. With an open heart.

    When using the expression ‘hairy bicycle’ and every time it is read and talked about by other humans that energy will be fed. It will get nice, round and chummy. The nicer, rounder and chummier it gets the more resistant it will become to ‘disappear’ and the more space it will want and need to occupy so it can and will continue to manifest itself. In one form or another.

    My blessings!

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      You are so right. A growing number of people are showing that they have not abandoned hope and that horses can look forward to a better deal from their humans.

      It seems to me that a preoccupation with judging a person as to whether he or she has been guilty of judging someone else simply places the judge in precisely the same position as the person he or she judges. More importantly though, it also seems to me that a preoccupation with judging whether any communication amounts to a judgment may serve as a bar to such communication. The end result is that no communication occurs and an opportunity for discovery may be lost.

      There is a temptation on the part of many well-meaning people to denounce the use of any term that is deemed to be ‘negative’ on the grounds that it implies a judgment (curiously, a ‘positive’ term never amounts to a judgement). Let us consider the term, ‘hairy bicycle’, as an example. As expressed in this post, it implies the use of a horse as a convenience. In that it juxtaposes two concepts which are not normally associated with each other (hair and a bicycle), it is also arguably humorous or tending towards this. As such, it is already in itself what you might call a ‘chummy’ term.

      Of course, as expressed in this post ‘hairy bicycle’ is a misnomer or at best a euphemism, because it either fails to portray what is described in my post or does so through ‘rose-tinted glasses’ as it were. The cold, clinical, unemotional term for what is described in my post – one that does not attempt to portray it either favourably or unfavourably – is ‘abuse’, nothing more and nothing less. How does one communicate the occurrence of abuse, if not by using the appropriate term? One may use a euphemism, as I have done, one that also has a humorous ring to it. The spade becomes a shovel or even an earth displacement tool.

      I recall that, even though I was born and bred in South Africa prior to the banning of the African National Congress, I did not discover apartheid until the age of 17, when I started my university studies and had the opportunity to read the facts set out in unemotional, academic prose. Learning that apartheid was a form of racial discrimination and socio-economic oppression, and not ‘separate development’ (as it was portrayed by its proponents) helped me make choices of which I had been incapable due to ignorance, and to that extent was enlightening. ‘Apartheid’ did not become ‘chummier’ as opposition to it grew. Quite the opposite occurred. Throughout the world it acquired the status of something to be despised and discarded. And so it eventually was.

      Nevertheless, I concur with the spirit of what you say: we should not focus on the abuser. All of us are capable of being abusers. Our horses have illustrated this to many of us quite graphically. Nor should we focus predominantly on the abuse but rather on finding a more enlightened way of being. Of course, terms such as ‘more’ and ‘better’ presuppose the existence of an inferior situation. By failing to refer to that situation, it becomes difficult if not impossible to know what is ‘more’ or ‘better’. Perhaps I have done our readers a disservice by resorting to a euphemism. Perhaps I should have called a spade….

      May you and Marcello find even greater joy together in the New Year.

      Take care!

  2. Jade says:

    Dear Andrew and Vicky,

    I have been following this blog since you both started writing it and I have learned so much in the process 🙂 I have also been following Eva and Jesse since they started putting videos on youtube and I would say that reading this blog and watching their videos has kept me going with my young horse even when I felt I wasn’t right for him. About a year ago I had never ridden, been around or even remotely had anything to do with horses. One day a friend of mine took me on a trail ride at a riding school and I instantly fell in love. About a month later I looked into leasing a horse so I could learn to ride and do what I thought you had to do if you had horses (ride them every day/lunge them endlessly/put shoes on/a bit in their mouth etc). I met Cisco, my 5yo Andalusian cross gelding, and everything changed. He taught me very quickly that the conventional way to be with horses wasn’t for me or him, I did not want to train him to be a robot and he did not want to be a robot. When I first leased him he was very stubborn, very pushy, even a bit dangerous when he really disagreed with you. So, naturally, I bought him 🙂 About 3 months and several agistment centres later he and I found the perfect place to settle in. It’s now a few more months later lives in a 30 acre paddock with several paddock mates and is very happy. We go for several walks, play together in the massive arena and he gets regular body work to keep him feeling good 🙂 We are in a good place. He will never have shoes on or a bit in his mouth again and our relationship with always be based on love and respect for each other.
    I am mostly writing this now because in the last week I was involved in a brumby rescue and now have found myself with another horse. Dougie is a 2 year old brumby colt 🙂 He is a chestnut awkward-looking gangly thing and he is beautiful! Because of the similar timing to when I got Cisco, I now feel like my journey is starting all over again 🙂 I just wanted to let you know that I am so glad that people like you two and your blog and Eva and her videos to follow because it makes the journey a little less daunting and a lot more exciting and clear 🙂

    Thank you so much for posting your wisdom online!

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Jade

      What an amazing story you have! And what an exceptional challenge that you and your horses have embarked upon. Thank you for sharing this with us.

      You have probably discovered that it is not always easy to follow the path of the horse. There are times when horse and human are challenged, the human especially to her core, if she listens to her horse. Yet it seems that you have already discovered the joy that is strewn along that path. Knowing that Vicki and I have played some small role along the way is very humbling and makes this blog more than worthwhile.

      If only what we have posted online is indeed wisdom! There are times when I feel very naked and exposed, putting it all out there, as it were. And yet, if our website statistics are to be believed, this blog is playing some small role perhaps precisely because it is not written by an expert but by fellow travellers on a similar journey to our readers. We experience challenges, setbacks, victories, disappointments and joy. In short, we are alive. And it is good to know that we are not alone.

      May you, Cisco and Dougie take delight in each other in the New Year and beyond. And if you ever wish to share your adventures with us and our readers but find it too daunting to start your own blog, please do not hesitate to drop us a line along with a few pics and a video. In the meantime, if there is any way in which we can help (by providing information or referring you to someone who can), please do not hesitate to contact us.

      Take care and be well!

  3. Dear Andrew,

    Beautiful Andrew – I would like to have your permission to put it on my FBpage..

    @It seems to me that when a gloomy situation threatens to engulf us, it may be possible to influence our way of dealing with it by consciously reaching for something that is a source of joy to us. It may be a memory, a poem, a picture, a piece of music, a physical activity… even a horse. Whatever it is, it may be within our grasp in the moment when it may help us. Why not seize it and change our perception of the here and now?

    O yes, Andrew, definitely and certainly – at the same time horses are so incredibly sensitive and my experience with clients’ horses after having scanned the horse its body field more often than not reveals that ‘energetic information’ that has surfaced via the scan relates to human issues – and part of the horse’s lack of well being can be linked to those human issues – my suggestion is to make the human aware of the small meditative sentence “what is mine stays mine, what is yours stays yours” so the energetic interaction between horse and human can and will stay in tact and at the same simultaneously sort of ‘unburdening’ the horse’s body field – that makes clear also that human has taken back/re-owned the responsibility for its own well being.

    Blessings to you all