Yes Sheri, Bashirah IS following an emu. She loves them! After Simah died she was pretty lonely and I have a friend who had some emus to place so I thought why not? I have very little land and having another horse is really too much strain on the pasture so I really wracked my brain trying to think of animal that wouldn't escape, stink to high heaven or require frequent vet/farrier service. All I could think of were the emus. So I called my friend and to find out more about them and she gave 2 of them to me.
Bashirah was snorty for the first hour or so after they magically ( in her mind) appeared in her pasture but she calmed down and quickly established herself as head mare by herding these 6' tall birds every where. They actually listen to her sometimes, too, but overall they are extremely independent.
As I write this I am curled up on a bed in a hotel in Charleston SC on a mini -winter vacation for a few days. We almost didn't make it down due to the independent streak that one of the birds has. We just had that snow & ice storm in Virginia and later that evening after I took these photos only 1 bird went to "bed" in the barn. The other was under a juniper tree in the pasture and it was barely 5 degrees. It was very windy and no matter what I tried I could not convince him to leave that tree. Meanwhile the horse is having a tantrum because she wants both birds with her at all times ( how embarrassing; buddy sour to big birds...). Anyway I got the horse in and gave up on the bird after tucking hay around him to keep him warm. By morning he hadn't had water and had barely eaten. We were to leave in a few hours but I couldn't leave him there like, the temperatures were to go down even more and I was afraid he'd die on us. So I crept up behind the little &%$#@@ and threw one of Simah's old horse blankets over him and I kid you not; the wrestling match was on. I wrapped this 75 pound struggling (yep, they sure DO kick and kick and kick.) emu up in that blanket like a giant burrito and used all the adrenaline left in my body to half carry, half drag the darned thing over to the paddock gate which by the time I got there with the writhing blanket full of emu had frozen shut. So I had one hand on the emu while I kicked and pulled at that gate until it finally opened. I knew that if I let go of the bird I'd never catch him again. At one point halfway to the barn he nearly wriggled out of the rug so I actually dove for him and sat on him for a minute while I caught my breath and rewrapped him. We both came out of this ok, thank goodness. When I released him, he got up and sauntered in to his stall as if nothing had really happened and began to eat and groom himself. I am soooo muscle sore now but I'm glad that he is ok. I don't think he could have made it out there while we're away and I don't know how much my pet sitter could do to deal with him. One of my new top summer priorities is to teach the emus to be led. Aside from this ridiculous adventure they have been wonderful. They are beginning to enjoy some handling. One likes to have the place where the under beak meets skin scratched and will get so relaxed that he lays his whole long neck back onto the top of his body while pointing his bill at the sky as I scratch awat underneath. They won't allow any other creatures into the pasture except the horse. They run off dogs, cats, foxes and even have gone after swooping hawks. They don't fly but can supposedly run 40 miles per hour, I hear.
Every morning when I let everyone out into the pasture the emus will charge up in front of me and do this peculiar dance that apparently means that they want to play. So my filly, the birds and I "spook" each other and run around until we are tired. Believe me when I say that I am the first one "out" in this game. I love to watch the two emus and my Bashirah galloping around and around the pastures edge until they settle down and the horse grazes while the birds pick at weeds, trees and honeysuckle vines.
I noticed the other day that when Bashirah lies down in the hay and gets it all in her tail and mane that the birds com along and pick it out. The little stinkers picked all the beads off of my stocking cap as I mucked one morning before I even knew what had happened. My husband says that they remind him of strange avian/alien clowns with those long waving necks and swiveling bird heads. I am not quite sure how much is in those heads after the episode on Thursday morning. They seem not unlike a chicken in their tendency to become hysterical. They are also very quiet. My two birds are juveniles at 8 months old and are already about 6' tall when they stand full height. It is pretty strange to have a large beak at exactly eye-level, let me tell you.
My husband & I sometimes refer to this bizarre animal alliance as "The Princess and the Peeps"
I think they are great horse-pets. My girl is happy again and believes that she is Queen of the pasture, which Simah would never have allowed her to think. I don't have anymore horse & bird shots right now but as spring comes I suspect I'll be out there with my camera more often. Here are a couple more from last Wednesday....