My name is Mikkel Shafi and I am a horse lover. Some might even say I’m crazy about horses. Ever since my childhood, I have been in contact with horses off and on (unfortunately more off than on). The reason being, for the last 25 years I have been building a business and raising children. Finally at the age of 39, I decided I had to satisfy my craving to have horses in my life. So after one of those soul searching solo hikes in the mountains, I decided now is the time.
In my typical style, I wanted 1 horse but came home with 7!!! In short, after boarding them for 2 years we got our own farm in the summer of 2016 and finally moved our family and horses under one roof. For the first time, I was cleaning stalls, ordering food, calling and paying veterinarians, nursing horse wounds and getting to really know my horses. Horse lovers know what a big responsibility that is, but it is also a blessing. Since we moved to the farm, it is the horses who now start off my day. The energy horses exude makes me feel much more in balance with myself.
At the end of this past November, I had the good fortune to lease two mares with amazing pedigrees. I felt they would compliment my breeding program. These lovely mares arrived with a full welcoming committee from our family. Out of the truck came a curious but nervous beautiful mare named Rezeda followed by a beautiful bay called Carioka who was trying her best to hide behind Rezeda. Carioka was very nervous. She clearly indicated that she lacked confidence and needed time to adjust.
The next day I decided to take the horses out to pasture. I took Carioka before Rezeda. As I did this, Rezeda started spinning and calling from her stall. My thought at the time was…ok she needs her best friend but I didn’t dwell on it. Carioka (the bay mare) was a bit nervous but not reluctant. The next day, the same thing happened. On the third day, I switched the order and took them both to a paddock to observe them and just spend time with them. In the paddock, I realized that Rezeda was still being protective of Carioka. On the forth day, we put all of the horses out together. My daughter Isabella commented that they all greeted, sniffed and were curious about one another but walked but in separate groups! How perceptive children can be!!!! Imagine how happy and relaxed I was having two mares in foal and no fussing amongst the herd.
After a couple of days, I went out to call them in and for the first time, none of them answered or came. I called again and again and nothing happened. I approached the horses and they moved away. This was so odd. It was getting cold and dark and as I approached again I suddenly noticed Carioka moving the horses elegantly by just pointing her head. Her signals were subtle. Every time I came closer she would move the horses and when I looked into her eyes her message to me was clear in saying “no way—-you don’t get to decide who goes where”.
I managed to get most of the horses in but Carioka, Felicity and Lakia were NOT coming. I had wanted to bring them in because there were two horses that stay out in the paddock all the time and they needed to be fed. Carioka could move all of them (even the resident lead mare) that has always been the ONE. Because she was heavily in foal, I assumed she thought is was best to follow rather than fight; at least that was my take on the situation. Not having any other choice, I decided to leave them out and I would feed the other two as I stood guard so the two horses could eat their food in peace. Imagine me at 190 lbs trying to guard the two horses who needed to eat while the ground was wet and slippery and the weather was getting cold and dark. Carioka and her “gang” came over but I took charge and guarded the two mares who were eating. For 15 long minutes I chased off the 3 mares as they protested by kicking their heels into the air. Finally the two horses finished their food. I gathered up their buckets, returned to the gate and called the three bandits. To my surprise they came immediately and were in for the night!
I would love to tell you they come every time I call but when they don’t, I enjoy the challenges that my horses present to me. I see the value and purpose of sharing territory to create a stronger bond with them. I need to build more trust with my horses. I am working toward gaining Carioka’s trust first. I work on it bit by bit just finding her “YES” in small things everyday. She has taught me much thus far.
Thanks for letting me share this experience with you.
I wish you and your horses all the best. With lots of love and blessings.