The Cognitive Horse

Ever wondered about the work of scientists in the field of empowerment?

A very interesting book of a zooanthropologist working with horses
“The Cognitive Horse”.
Soon available (2. edition) called    “Equus Lost?”

Take a look at their website and organization Learning Animals.

My Review of this book is coming soon. As this is going to be the MUST READ when engaging into the topic of empowerment in horses for the first time – you can read it anyway!
Be aware, this is going to be a bit more sophisticated. The book offers you who had been trained to become a good rider to re-connect to the horse and yourself. You may will change your perspective of what a horse has become in our world and what you want it to be.

Enjoy! And take a step into a shared live : )


PS: Find a short text of Francesco about the spontanious horse (German) here.

Who needs the playground? Goats!

Tom: For the last 10 days we’ve been staying with a family in the Spanish mountainside. In exchange for the accommodation and meals we helped out at their farm. As Lisa had been ill in the first days and could not do anything, I was introduced to the small farm and it’s inhabitants.
The second-eldest was visiting for the weekend and he taught me how to clean the paddock, feed the animals and give them some water, milk the goats etc. Both quickly ended up having funny conversations. Once, Bob* said to me: “Look, over there, the little goats!” And indeed, the three smallest goat babys had gathered in the milking stall putting their heads together. “They talk about world politics!”.
I laughed and told him, that it actually seemed more important to them than it was to us. Because the world is a much more dangerous place for goats than it is for humans in our position:
      “Do people really eat goats? Where does all the milk go? “
Three days later, I decided to make a small change to the animals lives. I am sure they are still living in this very small space and as they did accompany me each time I was walking through I’ve got to know them soon.
But what to do? At the beginning I thought about team sports. Wouldn’t it be great if they were playing soccer in two teams? But, wait a moment, how can I teach goats to play soccer in a very short time? So, I mused!

After one week, I laid the foundation for a playground. Lisa and me, armed with an old tyre, went into the big paddock inhabited by the adult goats, the donkey and the two horses.

The interest was … modest. Whenever the tire moved, countenance all vanished!

The guys in the pen for the young goats and their mothers made us appreciate our future vision so much more! The tires were classified ‘super interesting’ and immediately were examined.

So, we decided to dig holes and half-sink the tires in it.

How wonderful this small playground would turn out to be and what changes it made possible … We hadn’t ever been aware of!

The miserable, smallest goat kid changed from his favourite hobby: letargicly lying around. Within 2 days he was the one with the strongest will to play. He could even get in touch with the bigger and older goat kids, that hadn’t been pacing any attention to him before. Some goats practiced synchronous jumping. Others were concerned just to not slide down or with jumping to the next tyre. If then, the task had been successfully achieved a joyful leap followed. The goat mothers pouted jealously at the edge and overall, the social tension and aggression, which we observed on previous days, reduced!

As the smallest goat kid, barely bigger than a young cat, was one of the first to make that huge jump from tyre to tyre, he catapulted himself down with a miraculous joy-hopping. Lisa and I simultaniously cheered on him. Just one moment passed and he ran to the fence to be proudly cuddled by us. And not only he got better: The goat children thrived so much because of the play and the attention they received, we got a sinking feeling saying goodbye to them. Knowingly, that it would not be the easiest goat life laying ahead of them …

How incredibly happy, especially young animals, not only play, but also seek social empowerment and how it motivates them really encouraged us! We feel like we’ve brought a whole generation of goat kids closer together. And that’s beautiful …

*names changed

Protectora Amics Dels Animals Del Segrià – Lleida

“Always! The good stories arise at the end …”

On the 23rd of December we reached the city of Lleida in Catalonia. We wanted to work for a few hours in an internet cafe. Entering the old city, I , Tom, was quite mesmerized by exploring the architecture. Look, look! The church over here, and this building …
When we reached the marketplace, you could already see from a distance the little ‘market stall’ with the sign of a white paw on a red background. Before that stall, a man with a Santa hat patroled. He made a good mood with his donation box!

(c) Marta Pou

We asked if he spoke English, but he just shook his head and pointed to the stall, telling us to go to Marta. That guy had been the charming Hugo, who can be very brave, and then again, very shy.
It was actually an amazing talk with Marta! For hours we had a conversation about their work for the shelter ‘Protectora Amics Dels Animals Del Segrià’. That was the beginning of a friendship, right in the middle of Spain’s coldest city.

The next day, we were allowed to visit the shelter, where Hugo and Marta spend every free minute they have apart from the working life. Also, we met the enormously devoted Esther Rocafort. She has been voluntary working in the shelter for seven years. You can tell that the animals are part of her family! We did wonderful interviews with them and wholeheartedly thank you for that!

For the evening we went to eat together with Hugo and Marta, discussing this and that. The three of us were happy as children when finally, Hugo dared to speak English to us! Although he does not speak fluently (but actually understands everything, as we suspect!).

After dinner we went to smoke outside. This was, when the “real” stories were served! The two knew what we were working on and that empowerment only begins when animals have a home, a family and a base of life. So, Marta started telling us about her own cats and showing photos. At some point, Hugo nudged her and said something in Spanish of which I only understood the word ‘agua’. Both laughed and Marta told us about the black cat Huevo and his special connection with Hugo. The man understands the cat very well, even without a word. Both share a very intense relationship. Once, Huevo murmured in front of the bed at two o’clock in the morning. Apparently, to wake the two up. Hugo immediately blurted out: “There is no more water, he is thirsty!” Understandably, Marta did not believe him, because such a thing never happened. He urged her to get up to fill the water bowl and fell back to sleep, grumbling. She got up and what she saw? Huevo was thirsty and not a drop of water was in the bowl. Immediately after drinking the cat rested peacefully.

Many little stories that made us curious …

Also, the black cat determines when it’s time for bed. When the clock turns 1am in the morning, he meows until they go to sleep together. And if not both of them are in the bedroom, Huevo goes a little bit nuts. In his opinion, the two of them belong together: Always! Nevertheless, Marta is hardly able to reach out for Hugo at night, as Huevo always cuddles close to him and likes to lie between them.

This reminded us of someone … well, Jala!

We decided to come back and learn more about their special relationship and spend time with these precious people. So, there will be a sequel to Huevo soon, how he got his funny name and what communication the little big family shares.
We are looking forward to meet you again!

¡Feliz año nuevo!



a short interim message.

Garu successfully completed her doctor’s appointments.

Unfortunately, Jala had to undergo surgery. A form of the mast cell tumor disguised as an inflamed sebaceous bump has been removed. Also she’ got a dysfunction of the thyroid gland, which now requires daily medication. Correspondence of both diagnoses very possible.

It is great that two large lipomas were also taken, so she can move much better now. Just 3 days later she feels strong and wild as ever!

We’re making some supportive changes for her diet right now.

We hope that the tumor is not too aggressive and will not come back soon.

We would love to share some more beautiful months or years with the old lady.
Jala recovers amazingly fast. She gives us a hard time taking care of her NOT running everywhere!

All the best,
Lisa, Tom and paws

Lisa Spitzer Take One

Today we’ve been with Lisa Spitzer at her farm in Styria. And Tom started his camera training 😉

About: Lisa Spitzer is a horse person with many years of experience. She studied, among other things, with Maksida Vogt. Lisa does not profit of the horse as an entertainment object for human pleasure anymore. Instead, she provides them with the widest framework possible to achieve a healthy and healing self-determinated life. Definately, details follow throughout this blog and the movie! Or can be researched online, better yet: experienced live!

From the beginning our conversation felt easy going and free. Promptly we came up with a difficult question: How could the feedback of those who feel overwhelmed by unfamiliar ideas and novel ways of dealing with animals look? To what extent should or shouldn’t we accommodate those?

Note Lisa: If you go public you agree to a certain responsibility to deal with emerging issues. How far do we see ourselves responsible for our cinematic statements? More about this in a seperate post.

But not only interesting questions arose from our visit. Also some cheeky nose came to the fore!

Lisa is a wonderful narrator. She made us especially happy with her personal story, in which she described her handling of horses and its continuous developement. Until finally, she distanced herself more and more from actual riding.

On her farm, the horses enjoy several hectares of permanently available grazing land. In addition, there is a permanent access to roughage and various minerals in order to provide them with a healthy diet, which they choose best by themselves supportet by appropriate offers.

Their horses are no longer ridden, so in a conventional sense they are of “no use” to people anymore. Lisa talked about how she plays with them and reacts to their offers of interaction. Hopefully, we will hear more about it! For sure, horses life has the greatest value for its own here.

After that, the conversation in the pasture quickly went in the direction of co-self-empowerment. Meaning, how to empower each other living with horses.
A curious listener she is, Lisa’s mare quickly joined us for that piece of conversation.

We only took pitcures this time. Looking back: It’s a pity! Because there was this moment we would have loved to capture on tape. Lisa openly shared valuable insights about herself in dealing with horses …

Thanks, Lisa! See you soon.

Oh, here she comes!

Hi Guys!

Finally, we had some time with Garu today!
The last few days we had to realize that with too much of a “plan” one quickly overlooks the time necessary to get a good connection. You may try to speed things up or get them NOW when there is no fundament to built on yet.

Today we had the 5th cat walk including a car drive (back and forth). Last time we had to sit in the car for an hour waiting for the little cat. It was such a busy day, always people walking by. We made clowns of ourselves calling her again and again. Everyone thinks we are craaazy! Miiiiieeeeeezzz Miiiieeeezzz GAruuUU
But at some point she will come. Or can be persuaded with a lot of heart to overcome her fear. Brave heart!

And again she is glooming happily! With the utmost curiosity she explores all the scents of the forest. She runs und bounces after Jala and creates her own exercise. Left and right, always up a tree and back down, next tree, next tree … closely following the old lady.

Only strangers are not ‘her thing’ yet.
Today we walked through a quite huge forestry area, very lonely, seldom people or streets. It was amazing to peacefully enjoy all of our time together and be close in a comfortable way. Growth time for our grounding.

Greetings from here to there!
Lisa, Tom, Jala and Garu

First Times

We share Garu’s first trip with Lisa, Jala and our car ‘Pumpkin’.
An amazingly easy trip. Though surprisingly hard to get Garu back into the car!

Blurred images of a bad phone camera … You get the idea!