BY F’18 GAPPER JOHN C., OCTOBER 19, 2018
This second week [of Phase II] led to a lot of new and interesting experiences. Other than the regular scheduled classes and stewardships, an interesting and new experience for some showed up during the week.
On Wednesday, we went to a new stewardship called Working With Horses. After waking up, making breakfast, and packing lunch, the group finally set off. We went to the gazebo to meet the horse master himself, Blaine. Blaine is originally from New Orleans, but moved up to New Hampshire to continue to follow his passion with horses. He has been working with the horses he has currently for around four years. After some introductions and talking about the history of horses, we finally got our training started. Blaine handed us each some rope so that we could learn some skills to lead the horses. The first thing we learned was how to coil the rope. You loop the rope a few times in one hand while trying to keep even loops. This technique can be used when storing the ropes or just holding it around the horses. Along with coiling, we also learned some knots such as the basic tying technique and even a bowl end knot. This has a loop at the end and is used to attach to the horse’s gear when leading. The rope also is easier to unattach than a double knotted rope. The last and most important lesson we did was getting used to the rope. We twirled the rope around so we could understand how it works.
It was finally time for lunch in the gazebo where it was a little shadier. With our stomachs filled and these tools under our belt, it was finally time to go meet the horses. Blaine brought in two horses named Gretta and Breeze he thought would work well together. We walked a short way to the holding pasture with both of the horses. We also met with Blaine’s dad who came to help work that day. The first thing we needed to do was get comfortable with the horses and learn how to act around them. Blaine demonstrated by going into the pen and showing us what aggressive behavior meant. He acted like a predator sneaking up on the horses to show how fear is implanted when you purposely act aggressive. He then showed us the correct way to approach the horses. You have to act like a horse and mind your own business so the horse is less nervous and is able to be joined up with. Joining with a horse shows you are part of their group and aren’t a threat.
After demonstrations and talking, it was finally time to be with the horses. We split up in pairs to go and be comfortable with the horses. Edward didn’t join in because he a bad experience with a horse as a child that still makes him uneasy around horses. After getting in the pen, we went with Blaine to join with the horses we used the technique and were able to join up. Dan and I were the last pair to go so the horses had already gotten used to the exercise by that time. Once joining up, Blaine helped us each attach our ropes to the horse’s year. We then walked with the horse leading them around the pen whilst getting used to them. The final lesson we were taught was using the horses for work purposes. It can be a lot more efficient to use horsepower than actual machines. This time however, we used ourselves than the horses. Farmer Sadie had recently cut an old tree and needed to move the biggest branches to a brush pile. Blaine showed us that we can put the branches on a sled so it can be more efficient to take them. We used a rope attached to the sled, attached to other long branches. If we pushed on the branches, we would pull on the sled and the rope would hold down the branches. In total, we used ten people to help pull the sled. After this, we had finally completed our first day working with horses.
It was time to get back into our class schedule after our horse work. The following day we had our first council in a while. After the moss up and four line check in, we were asked to talk about habits we have grown at Glen brook that were proud and unimportant habits. Most everyone talked about their sleep schedules and how they should be waking up at different times. We finally decided that we could have our waking schedule and morning meeting stay the same or Boah came up with a group system of waking everyone up. I did enjoy everyone’s contributions though, as everyone generally tried changing or breaking their normal habits. It was almost time to end the second week of the phase. On Saturday we went back into Keene for a big shopping trip. To end off the week though, was another exciting filled day with horses.
On Sunday, the time came for the second day of working with horses. This time after breakfast and making lunch, we went straight into working with the horses. We learned about handling techniques this time. Blaine brought out the horses from their pen to a sort of obstacle course where we could learn handling. In pairs, one of us would hold the horse with a lead rope and the other would be moving the horse. One person would lead the horse and use the “woah” command to stop the horse. The other person used pressure on the sides of the horse to move it left or right. We went over logs and around some poles to get used to handling the horses. After working with one horse, we switched to the other horse and switched roles. While this was going on, Blaine led some people in cleaning the horses. You use these rubber sort of brushes to get dirt and hair away and clean it off with brushes. Next it was time for a break with lunch while groups were finishing up. We were relaxed, but were far from over with our work. Our final work for the day was forestry work. Jake showed us a tree he was working on and how to chop it with the axe to fell it. We were then sent off to chop trees and cut other small plants with loppers. After felling a tree we would need to delimb them. This would involve using the loppers to cut off some branches, hatchets to cut larger branches, or using saws. After delimbing we would put the branches into piles to be carried off. Blaine set up Breeze to pull the sled of branches. Anyone else could also pull the branches over to the brush pile. We got into a quick schedule of carrying branches and felled a pretty large tree to end off the day.
All in all, I felt that this week was filled with a lot of new experiences that filled everyone with a newfound love of the space we have at Glen Brook. Also that we all now live here.