The horses of Oude Molen

A brisk cold wind is gusting across the Flats today, swirling the clouds over the mountains and shaking the autumn-coloured leaves loose from their branches. Even though the sun is shining, it feels cold and chilly – winter is definitely approaching. I need to clear my head after working on the computer for a few hours, so I walk down to the Oude Molen Eco-village.

Two horses nibbling at the straw lying scattered around an old bathtub

Right next to the Millstone Farm Stall are a couple of paddocks with horses. There is one large paddock, where they spend most of their time, and one smaller, circular paddock, which is sometimes used for horse riding lessons. Inbetween the two paddocks is another small enclosure. I’m guessing it is occasionally used to keep a particular horse separate from the herd for whatever reason.

This horse was being kept apart from the others – I wonder why?

The horses, I have since learnt, belong to a young man by the name of Kendré Allies. See here for the website of the African Horse Company, whose original base is here at Oude Molen, although their main home is now in the Overberg. They run various horse trails from there, which sounds just wonderful.

Contentedly munching away – the bay on the left is Blitz

Kendré has a fascinating history (see here for the details of a movie made about him and his horses). He is one of those remarkable individuals who has been touched and healed by horses…

A dark grey horse and a light grey horse sharing a meal

The more time I spend here, looking at the horses, touching them, observing them, talking with them, the more I too can sense the gentle but profound healing effect they can have. If you let them, of course. I wish I knew all their names, but I don’t yet. But I’m planning to, even if it takes a while.

Two bay horses, one darker and one lighter, share a tractor tyre with straw

So, I lean against the fence of the circular paddock, watching the horses tugging straw out of the nets dangling from the fence posts and calmly chewing each mouthful. Most of the straw already lies scattered on the ground, because horses are rather messy eaters. But nothing goes to waste: with heads bent low, their muzzles nudge and snuffle against the small heaps of straw, as they carefully separate the edible bits from the soil. I find myself marvelling at how they do that – their noses and muzzles must be so sensitive.

The piebald pony is, I think, called Sea Breeze

Watching horses eat is so soothing… it always brings me right into the moment. And after a while, I can feel my brain waves too slowing down and the chatter of thoughts settling. It’s like watching the choppy surface of a lake, churned up by the wind, gradually becoming smooth and gentle.

Groups of horses clustering around the piles of straw

I love watching the interactions between the horses. There is so much body language going on all the time. It’s quite fascinating. They all have different personalities, and their own ways of dealing with challenges to their authority from another horse. Some give way meekly, while others protest and put up a fight. Some move out of the way immediately, others stand their ground defiantly, before yielding to the stronger.

I wonder whether the little foal belongs to this mare?

When I arrive, the horses are clustered around piles of straw, in groups of three or four. The stable workers must have been hard at work, distributing bales of hay and straw around the large paddock. Old bathtubs and large tractor tyres are recycled for use as feeding troughs, and to keep the straw from flying all over the place.

The young foal scrounging for food in the main paddock

The horses snuffle contentedly, chewing one placid mouthful at a time, and looking relaxed. A tail flicks to chase off an annoying fly. A twitch ripples along the back, signalling an itch. A head is raised to nibble at a more persistent itch. One horse rubs himself against a cable anchored in the ground. Back to the food, snuffle, munch, chew, swallow, snufffle…

Blitz seems to have an itch on his neck

Suddenly, the idyllic peace is interrupted.

One horse decides that his pile of food is no longer as tasty as that pile over there. With neck outstretched and ears folded back tight, nose wrinkled and tail flicking, he moves towards the group.

They fold back their ears in annoyance, but reluctantly move out of the way. One of them doesn’t, and gets a slight nip on the haunches from the interloper as punishment for his defiance.

I think this little foal is sooo cute!

He squeals, more out of irritation than pain, and trots off to a nearby pile of straw, his folded back ears and flaring nostrils signalling, “Get away, get away, that’s my food now.”

For the next few minutes, the chain reaction ripples around the paddock, with horses moving or being moved from one group to another.

A couple of horses in the small circular paddock

I notice one horse who has made the circuit of the entire paddock, without being allowed into any grouping. He looks dejected, his large ears flopping outwards, and hangs his head. (I later learn his name: Blitz, because of the blaze down the front of his face.) He sees me standing at the side of the paddock, and comes over to say hello. He asks politely whether I perhaps have a carrot for him. Sadly, I don’t, so he wanders off in search of an abandoned pile of straw.

This is Blitz

A flock of pigeons, which has been hopping and pecking about in the straw, suddenly takes off with a flurry of wings, scattering fragments of hay, earth and feathers. All the pigeons in the entire paddock are airborne within a split second. How do they time that so perfectly?

They fly above us in a large circle, before spiralling down again and alighting on the telephone or electrical wires that run between the trees across the paddocks.

The pigeons circle high above us

They wait, the wire under them swaying gently in the breeze. A minute later, in perfect unison, all of them are airborne once more, before gliding effortlessly down onto the ground. Hopping and pecking in the straw, they almost get under the large hooves of the horses. Neither the horses nor the birds are fazed by this.

Today, I made friends with a very dark, almost black horse. He was standing at the edge of the circular paddock, nibbling at the straw on the ground, and occasionally giving a snort to clear his nose from the dust, I presume. I reached through the fence and started to stroke him. He raised his head and looked at me. I said a polite Hello. He blinked slowly, calmly, gazing at me for a moment, before lowering his head to the ground again. I stroked his neck and his back for a while, stretching to get there. He stopped eating for a while, closed his eyes and gave a sigh. I like to think that it was contentment. 🙂

The dark horse looking at me is Bosman – I made friends with him today

Bye for now, horses!

17 thoughts on “The horses of Oude Molen

  1. Wow Regg, what an incredible narrative. It is amazing to see the depth of understanding in respect to the horses. Here in Hazard a few wild horses live in an area called QuickSand, yes that is the name. Dana, Daniel and I are attending a horse show this Saturday! Please write more on the horses and what you see…thanks for a lovely blog note

    • Hi Bobz – You have wild horses in the area?! In ‘Quicksand’?! How much more Wild West can you get?! Have you seen them? Do you have photos? I’d love to hear more about your horse show – I hope you can take some photos?

  2. Yes, we are a bit of the Ancient West here in the land of mountians, horses, coal, I see them at times and lots of other wild life: on a morning such as today, I am able to see the cattle on the top of the mountain just off my office and I saw two foxes last night as I was sitting on the deck and I am asking Daniel to do the digital camera this evening so I can do some snaps to you. Your photos are BRILLIANT and when is the new book coming out? This weekend was poets evening at the college and Daniel and
    Dana attended, I thought of you and how you could really add to the literary world…around the planet and Wow what a neat undertaking another book. It is group day today so your book will be out again! REgg and Richard hello from Dana, Daniel and BOBZ!

    • Awww, Bobz… I am so grateful for your support and encouragement. And for promoting my book so much. I need that badly. 🙂

      You attended a poetry evening with Dana and Daniel? Wow. That’s so creative of all of you. What kind of poetry was it? Is it a regular thing? I love that you’re doing things other than working for 18 hours a day! [I’m sure your family is pleased about that too, hm?]

      You have so much wildlife around you – I didn’t realise that before. I’d love to see photos of your surroundings. When are you and Daniel creating a blog, hey?

      Blessings to you all. Sending you happy thoughts.

  3. Oh my god. Love, love, love these photos. Gorgeous horses. I’ll have to come back and look at these more.

    Well, I finally published something (you don’t have to rush over there, it’s not anything great) and guess what? nothing. I selected This Is An Awesome Post and still nothing. I wonder if my settings have anything to do with the unexciting publish event compared to yours. Or, maybe it has to do with how seldom I actually post something. sigh…

    • Hi Miki
      I always look forward to seeing the horses and watching them interact with each other. It’s most entertaining.

      Yes, I *saw* that you’d published the next instalment of The Taking of the Square. Well done on that! I still need to read the other instalments of it, so that I’m caught up.

      I also don’t know how you can make a ‘Surprise’ happen… But yes, I think the trick may be to post regularly. Looking forward to that!

  4. Hi – I’ve so enjoyed reading your post [I know it was written a good while ago] which I found while “googling” Oude Molen. We are regular visitors to Millstone and my daughter is a horse-rider who rides Sea Breeze at least three times a week. Thanks for the lovely read! Michelle

    • Hello Michelle and Andy – thank you so much for leaving such a lovely comment. Those horses seem to be really well looked after, and I particularly like that there always seem to be a new foal! They are so entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, I still haven’t learnt anymore of their names since I wrote this post last year. Your daughter sounds like a passionate horse rider – I hope she’ll continue riding for a long time!

  5. Hi Reggie and thanks for the great response to my post. Yep, our daugther is a passionate rider indeed and I’m sure she will ride for a very long time.

    She and I have prepared a list of all the horses names [next to copies of the pictures you posted]. Would you like us to email it to you somewhere? If so, feel free to send us an email with your email address.

    Warm regards
    Michelle Longman

  6. hi i was working with the horses this year for about a month or so and became very attached to all the horses of Oude Molen and really want to find out how to get in contact with some of the trainers like Nathan
    or Ashely. if someone can give me the numbers please let me know

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