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October 20, 2010

The German Pasture Culture

Winyamaro started his career in the same German pastures. Photo by Percacci.

Dear Rita,

I’m nearly certain that this blog will not get as many hits as the last one! But before my editorial skills became so popular, many of you expressed interest in getting an insider’s view on my life. This is not an excerpt from my daily life, but a typical semi-annual excursion.

In Germany, it is customary to put young horses from 1-3 years old on the pastures for the summer. The horses are normally turned out in a small herd or in pairs and left to themselves for several months to relax, eat and grow.

I have two locations in the north of Germany where I like to send my young horses. Both of them are located near Otterndorf and are supervised by my good friend and mentor, Albrecht Ayecke. The Ayecke family has been living on the same farm for more than 200 years. Albrecht has specialized in breeding, raising, training, buying and selling Hanoverian horses and cattle. And he is responsible for teaching me 90 percent of what I know about breeding and buying horses.

My favorite pasture is located between the dike and the outlet of the Elbe River between the cities of Cuxhaven and Otterndorf. The first dikes in Germany were built privately by small communities of people more than 1000 years ago to curb floodwaters and provide secure farmland, but contemporary dikes are controlled and maintained by the government. The unprotected fields positioned outside of the dikes are still flooded a few times per year. The floodwaters bring minerals and nutrients to the soil to produce incredibly fertile grass pasture.

We take our young horses off the fields at the end of October and bring them home to my stable in Vechta. This is always a festive day with the Ayecke family, and we get to enjoy a bit of home cooked food before trudging out to the wet fields to track down the brombies.

This year was fairly uneventful because we picked up four 3-year-olds that had already been broken in and handled quite a bit last spring. Because the weather has turned very cold over the last few weeks and the warm summer showers have turned into cold autumn rains, all four horses were very happy to see us! Catching them was not a problem this time around, but I can remember years past when I have left more than one pair of Wellies stuck in the sucking mud, thrown out my socks before getting back in the truck, and made the ride home covered in cow and/or geese dung after an extended chase across the fields!

Have a look at our afternoon jaunt to the northern dike:

I’m Catherine Haddad, and I’m sayin’ it like it is from Vechta, Germany.

Training Tip of the Day: Do you change your warm-up as your horse becomes more confirmed in his work? Do you make adjustments for the weather, his age, his fitness level and the footing?

InternationalDressage.com

Robin M
4 years 18 weeks ago
Trip down memory lane!
Thanks Catherine!  That was fun to watch!  I enjoyed reliving the trip there to look at horses when we saw the Queen Mary!  I was just thinking about the salty apples the other day.... Read More
irider
4 years 18 weeks ago
Re: German Pasture culture
I thoroughly enjoy your blogs, especially those accompanied by videos of life at Vechta. (You forgot to mention the windmills... I know they are obvious, but many people have never seen them "in... Read More

Comments

irider
4 years 18 weeks ago

Re: German Pasture culture

I thoroughly enjoy your blogs, especially those accompanied by videos of life at Vechta. (You forgot to mention the windmills... I know they are obvious, but many people have never seen them "in action") You have some handsome 3 yr olds there!

Robin M
4 years 18 weeks ago

Trip down memory lane!

Thanks Catherine!  That was fun to watch!  I enjoyed reliving the trip there to look at horses when we saw the Queen Mary!  I was just thinking about the salty apples the other day. 

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