Before heading out to North Dakota to find the perfect companion for our herd among the Nokota® Horses, I asked our palomino QH, Cutter, what kind of companion he was looking for.
Nicole: ‘Cutter, could we get a foal?’
Cutter: “I do not have the capacity to take care of a foal. We need someone ready to help take care of the herd.’
Nicole: “Would you like a horse who is a natural leader?”
Cutter: “I do not want to be challenged. I am a good leader. I need a horse willing to contribute and respect me as a leader.”
Along with his words, Cutter provided me with a feeling. I sensed that I would know what the right horse would feel like.
Shortly after our conversation, I traveled once again to North Dakota to look for the perfect herd mate.
Out in the prairie, I met hundreds of horses. Walking through the white sage and prairie grasses, I connected and observed the natural lifestyle and incredible interactions.
This was my first hello, meeting Leo Kuntz's band of stallions ...
A little while later, I met this gentle soul but didn't feel any major connection.
Then I met Blue Eyes and his posse.
Notice the stallion on the left? I want you to meet him. Here is an excerpt from my journey:
Again, I took a deep breath grounding myself. I wanted to be as calm as possible as I approached. I called out the young horse, a blue roan among many blue roans, reassuring him that I was here to meet him if he was interested in meeting me. As I got closer, suddenly, a group of eight or nine older stallions who had been grazing nearby not only raised their heads but, with Leo’s favorite stallion at the helm, started to move toward me in unison. Though they were still several feet away from me, I could feel their collective energy almost push my body backward.
It was clear, that they were coming to protect the youngster. Shoot, I thought, what could I do? And then I remembered my interaction with Marmalade the day before when I had asked him to give me space so I could meet Powder. So, I did the same and asked for what I needed. “Hi guys, please slow down, I want to meet this boy, he might be looking for a person. So, please give us some space.“ I exhaled and then felt the energy of the group change. The big stallion at the head stopped about four feet in front of me, and the rest of his posse followed him.
Wow. I took another deep breath. These horses were impressive. Their energy field seemed larger than any other herd I had ever encountered, and to think that a few words actually stopped them in their tracks was remarkable. I announced that I was going to step closer to the young horse now and that I’d appreciate it if they would all play along with me. None of the horses moved a hoof.
When I was about two feet away from the young horse, I stopped and took another deep breath, I wanted to see if he was interested in communicating with me or would he move away? The horse stayed put and turned his head to look at me. I reached my hand forward, and he took a sniff.
I said, “I would like to meet you and touch your neck. Is that alright?”
Before I touched him, I took a quick look around, I wanted to know what the rest of the horses were doing since they were pretty close to us. Surprisingly, they were all taking naps. The eyes of the big stallion, who was facing us, were half-closed and most of the other horses around him had their heads hanging low, some even had cocked a hind leg, they were resting.
Now, assured that the young horse and I had some room to connect, I got focused and said “Hi,” again and then moved my hand toward his neck and touched his silver-gray coat. I could feel his surprise when my hand touched his body, the sensation was unfamiliar. I immediately felt a tiny little scab and immediately began scratching that spot. I hoped he would perceive my scratch as instant gratification and, with that, recognize the value of me being there.
“Blue-Eye,” as I now called him, loved to be scratched. He stretched his head into the air and scrunched his nose up tighter and tighter as I slowly but surely made my way up to his mane. Just like many of the horses here, he too had a bunch of burrs stuck in his mane and forelock, which caused the hair to stick together and pull at the root. When I reached the crest of his mane, his head stretched even higher, he had to be so itchy. After a few moments, I stopped and pulled my hand back, I wanted to see what he would do. Was he going to ask for more, which I would see as a sign that he was interested to be in dialogue with me? Or, would he simply stand there, as some of the other horses had done the day before once I touched them, not sure what to do or how to ask for more? The moment I put my hand into my coat pocket, his little head turned toward me with an expression saying, “What happened?” This boy wanted more.
“You want more!” I said, “Well, here you go,” I took my hand back out of my pocket and slowly but deliberately put it on his neck again. This time I scratched up and along the crest, moving closer toward his poll area. Halfway up the neck, he got a little leery of my hand coming so close to his head and he leaned ever so slightly away from me. “I got it,” I said and moved my hand toward the base of his neck, “I will go back to the area you’re comfortable with.”
Once I was back where I had started, he relaxed again, and after another breath or two, I put my hand back in my coat pocket. Blue-Eye looked at me again but then he straightened his head out and I got the sense that he needed some reassurance from the herd-like he wanted to be closer to the other horses. I understood, he had allowed me to touch him in ways he hadn’t been touched before, and that was all very new and somewhat unsettling for him. I encouraged him and said, “If you want to move closer to them, go ahead.” After a slight moment of hesitation, Blue-Eye took about four steps forward. He touched nostril to nostril with the big stallion, inhaling his breath. He licked and chewed and then took an even closer step and placed his nose on the far side of the stallion's head.
I was observing the situation. Blue-Eye had confirmed that he was looking for reassurance, but now he was so close in the other stallion’s bubble that I would have to enter his bubble too in order to reconnect with Blue-Eye. I stood still for a moment, and my eyes caught some movement on my right. On the other side of Blue-Eye, a dark brown stallion had plopped himself onto the grass. He was about to take a snooze in the midst of all of us.
Then I noticed an almost imperceptible noise that sounded like a breath and I looked around. Who was breathing loud enough that I could hear him? It was the big stallion, his head now hanging low as well, he drew in long, slow audible breaths. His breath sounded so calm and felt so lengthy that I sensed my energy slowing down just standing in his presence. When I looked over to Blue-Eye I saw that he too was drawn into the big stallion's breathing pattern, his eyes were almost closed, his head hung lower now, and his belly moved in and out with every slow breath. Pulled into this vortex of energy, I moved a step forward, and when the big stallion opened his eyes just a little, I said, “I am here for the young horse. I will respect your space,” and he closed his eyes again, the cadence of his breath staying consistent.
Not to spook Blue-Eye, I said quietly, “I am going to touch your neck again and give you more scratches,” and then I put my hand, as promised, back into the crest of his mane. Blue-Eye responded right away, moving his head higher and twisting his little nose around, expressing the pleasure of being scratched. Once again, I moved my hand closer toward his ears, and this time he didn’t mind. I dared to stroke around his ears. He didn’t lean away, and I was able to move on to the base of his forelock. Once there, he pushed against my fingertips, asking me to scratch harder.
I wrote down everything about my incredible journey of Finding Monarch. I can't wait to share more about meeting each with these incredible horses.
But, on the last day, I finally met this boy.
And within minutes, I felt the feeling and observed the demeanor.
When Monarch stepped out of his herd toward me, I knew that this horse was the right one for us.
As you can see … the rest is history …
Cutter greeted Monarch the minute he had a chance ... licking Monarch's eyebrow as he drank.
Make sure you interview your herd and the potential new herd member before adding a new furry face. Book a session to interview your horses by clicking below.