2 Hundred Belgian Riders Try To Destroy Farmers Field

Some of you may not know but I live half the year in Belgium and split my time between Belgium and Colorado. After living there for 5 years I find this small little country very interesting. They have unusual traditions, politics and economy.  Much different from the USA I have linked a video of just one of those crazy traditions. It is call Paardenprocessie Hakendover

This dates back to mid-evil times as you can see on the video of the first riders. I guess there is a saint that protects the crops in the fields, so to prove that every year after the planting of the field 200 horses stampede across the field to tear it up. But as the tradition goes, the crops are protected and still grow and thrive even after the riders stampede across the field.

Very strange tradition but has been going on for years and years.


Where Do You Come From?

I have never had a conventional life. From a very early age my family seem to move quite often. I can remember as a young child my mother saying that when she was first married they moved 9 times and never got off the block. My dad's family had two rentals on their property. As we grew older we still moved often. Mostly within the same town but from one house to another. When I  got married at a very young age this moving situation continued. We had a small apartment, then a small starter house, then a suburban home for our family of 4 kids under 5. Then I got the country bug and we moved to a mini-farm in the country and lived in a very old farm-house.The kids loved the country life where we raised every farm animal under the sun. We heated with wood in the winters and I had a huge garden and canned all our food. I loved this life until my husband got transferred so we had to  move back to where we came from and rented a small 2 bedroom house in town. We were cramped with four kids and two dogs and two horses boarded out but we managed. Finally we bought 5 acres and built a nice two-story home where things seem to settle down and we lived there for 15 years.

After the kids were raised as happens I got a divorce and moved to an apartment of my own. All of these moves were in the same state of Illinois. But when I took a job as a ranch cook in Montana life got really interesting. I met a cowboy from Belgium (yes they have them there, not many but I found one) After the season ended he flew back to Belgium and I moved to Wyoming where I was cooking at a lodge and about starved to death until a good friend offered me  a great job  in Florida to manage a horse farm. My Belgian cowboy came across the pond and we got married, shortly after that we moved to Montana where we so wanted to live and build our life. This was the state where we met the mountains were calling us home.

We worked on several ranches there and part of your pay is a home to live in. But guess what, when the job doesn't work out you lose your home also.  Needles to say finding the right job for both of us was difficult and we ended up moving 9 times in the 10 years we lived in Montana. So not to sound to crazy we did build our dream home, a nice cabin on a mountain side where we lived for 5 years. So the first 5 years were the crazy ones.

When the economy started to fall and things got tight, we knew we could not eat the mountains nor would they supply us with any security for the future as we were approaching the fall of our life. My husband thought it was best to go back to Belgium and secure his government pension along with cheap health care. All this seem to make sense since we were not getting any younger. So we sold our dream home and moved across the ocean and built a nice cottage home in the country.

Every time I moved to a different area the local people, you know the ones that have lived in the same house in the same town all their lives would always ask "So where are you from? How on earth do I answer that? I have tried to say I was born and raised in Illinois, but that is only part of my story of where I come from. I have tried to explain to them all the places I have lived but then they get a strange glossed over look in their eyes that says I think this girl is crazy. So usually I just say "Oh lot's of places" and leave it go at that.

Now that I have been living in Belgium for the last 5 years, I have been struggling with the language, culture, and making friends but mostly missing my 4 grown children and my 7 beautiful grandchildren. My husband knows all to well what it is like not to live where you feel you do not belong. He had the same feeling when he lived in the USA for 10 years.

We both agreed that it would be best if I split my time between Belgium and Colorado. So come Oct 13th I head to the beautiful state of Colorado to spend the winter months and then back to Belgium for the summers. I told you I do not have a conventional life.

So now I will be once more  be faced with the question "Where do you come from?" I have given this some thought and I think I will answer  "it is not so important where I come from as long as I know where I am going."

What do you think? Good answer?

The Brabant, A Horse For the Working Man

Brabant At Work I am an equine photographer and one of my favorite breeds is the Brabant draught horse. This horse is tall and massive and made for work, yet has the most docile attitude of any breed of horse I have ever been around. Good thing with the size of their feet and body they could easily be the boss.

I live half of my life in Belgium with my husband who is from here (long story I will get into in later posts) but since I have been here I have taken thousands of photographs of these horses. I am  always looking for the next event or gathering of the men that are trying to keep the tradition of working with horses alive. I seen them plow fields, log in the woods, pull caravans, fish in the ocean, cut hay, and just be the babysitter in the family. Pound for pound you get your moneys worth with these gentle giants.

Recently my husband read me an article in the local paper ( I would have read it myself but it is in dutch) the article stated how the government is subsidizing the farmers who are breeding these horses because their popularity is falling off and they want to preserve this original Belgium breed. They are paying 125 euros  for each foal born. The numbers are dropping today I suspect because of modern life. Computers are a lot cheaper to feed.

This is the governments way of hoping to keep the breed from becoming extinct or low numbers as they did when they shipped many off to the US after the war.

The Brabant comes in a variety of colors from sorrel, bay, blue and red roan, their feet are feathered with long hair, that can cause them problems here in all the moisture and sand.  They use to dock their tails but now they have passed a law against it. Some of the old farmers do not agree, but that is another post.

I ride my bike around our small village and know where every Brabant horse is in the area lives and have taken many photos of them at some time or another.

Photographing horses is a passion I have since I have moved from my passion to owning and showing them.  But I must admit the Brabant along with the Ardennes breed has become my favorites to photograph. I love these horses, and hope to have one in my back pasture one day. That's if  I ever quit traveling.