Category Archives: All Things Joyful

Confession Number Fifteen: My Final Confession

 

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An unexpected epiphany:

I am no longer The Novice Horsewoman.  Make no mistake, I am still very much a beginner with horses….but no longer a novice.

The past two and a half years have scorched and refined my very soul both in life and with horses.  Now, I take ownership of all I have learned and move on to the next steps in my horsey adventures. 🙂

The best horse people I’ve encountered, even those with decades of experience and expertise, are the first to tell me how they have SO much more to learn about horses.

Thus, I take on the mantle of “beginner” with humility.  It is already amazing to me to be at this point.

When my journey began in January of 2014, I started at “square one”, not knowing how horses were fed, watered, groomed, bathed, haltered, led by a lead rope or even how picking stalls/mucking was done.  It was somewhat like a child in pre-school 🙂

I devoured every bit of knowledge…then as now.

Plus, God saw fit to give me a “crash course in everything horse” The “course ” started when a few weeks after meeting and leasing the glorious mare, Serenity, she sustained a severe wound that required daily care and attention.  Her wonderful human, a single mom, was working three jobs, juggling them with the needs of a five year old son

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My first horse kiss😊

So, novice though I was, I took over Serenity’s daily care and learned “on the job”.

Serenity was a marvelous teacher….as was her vet, who, when the time came, gave me the task (and honor) of removing Serenity’s last bandage all alone and all by myself.

Those days with Serenity, quietly hanging out with her during her stall rest, grooming her, massaging her, administering her meds, hand grazing and hand walking her, are forever in my memory as some of the sweetest days I’d ever experienced.

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The glorious mare, Serenity, and I share precious moments❤️

Then, for a time, Serenity was “lost” to me.

So I turned once again to a dream of horse rescue; but wiser heads prevailed, and I was introduced to my incorrigible gelding, Spirit.  Had the “wiser heads” been more forthcoming, they would NEVER have recommended that a greenhorn like myself, take on a three year old gelding…. and an Appaloosa at that!

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Appys can be looney-toons sometimes! 🙂

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Mr. Big Boy Pants!

But, again, God had His plans.  I was thrown, feet first, into the waters of dealing with a brilliant, humorous, virtually untrained, greener-than-green little boy horse.  The learning process with my beloved boy is still underway in ever-changing  high gear…but dealing with a virtual baby, while knowing nothing, advanced my novice-hood at lightning speeds.

And yes, green on green DOES equal black and blue (as experienced horse folk are fond of saying) Yet, my noble-hearted little Appy never once let me fall off of him, even in the midst of his worst bolting off at a full out run, with me on his back!

My black and blues were mostly broken pinky toes and nipped-arm bruises.  Nothing a little Arnica and ice couldn’t take care of 🙂

At practically the same time as Spirit came into my life, the beautiful and wondrous mare, Baby Doe, found her way to me as well. Who could have guessed that this exquisitely bred horse, who, nonetheless turned out to be unusable for the designs traders and trainers had on her, would ever be mine?

Yet again,the hand of God, weaving His enigmatic web, allowed me to honor her whispered plea to me, “Please, I don’t WANT to be a show horse.”

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Horse whispers to human…

Through my time with her I’ve learned massive amounts about colic, navicular disease and horsey “boos boos” (both small and humongous) that seemed to appear on her fragile being on a WAY too regular basis.

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Colic never gets easier…

 

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Baby Doe’s boo boo from last October is STILL in the process of healing…

During this time I learned to manage a barn with all the trials and errors that my barn buddy, Phyllis, and I encountered, as life gave us the opportunity to be solely responsible for the barn, our horses and others’ boarded horses for many months.

I also learned about the various quirky folk one encounters in the horse world…and, eventually, how to deal with them.  This process is still ongoing.  I thought I had encountered, shall we say, “unique” individuals during my opera career, but the horse world matches the high level of “uniqueness” quirk by quirk 🙂

Ultimately, I found my beloved Wyoming ranch and was filled with joy, trepidation and overwhelm as I moved my horses across country to a completely different climate, lifestyle and horse knowledge.

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My glorious Wyoming!

Shortly after arriving in Wyoming, beyond all hope, Serenity’s human asked me to take Serenity to be mine!

Serenity joined us in Wyoming…on my birthday!

Then there were Three…:)

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Through events beyond my control, I was left completely alone on my 80 acres of ranch to care for my Three Beloveds, with some help from local young people.

My “crash course in horse” escalated to an entirely new level.  A level that was light years beyond what I had yet experienced.  I also experienced an aloneness in the vastness of the Wyoming landscape that shook me to my roots.

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We Three Horses From Florida Are…. Brrrr…..

My Three became my only teachers during that time. (As well as did my darling cats) And, oh, how they taught!

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During all this, my beloved cat, Hercules, was dying of lymphoma. He taught me how to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances…

I also learned that, no matter what I may want or plan, God usually has other ideas, and I was once again humbled and brought to my knees as I came to the realization that I, alone, could not give my horses what they, at that time, desperately needed.

So we packed up and moved temporarily back to Florida.

Florida: where Baby Doe’s navicular pain (sometimes agonizing pain) could be more aggressively managed, where the mystery of Serenity’s lameness could be solved and where my boy, Spirit, could have uninterrupted and necessary ongoing training with a kind and very knowledgeable trainer.

And, much to my surprise, during this time in Florida, the calling that had come to me almost four years ago began to crystallize into shapes that I had only glimpsed at previously.

So, as I end this stage of my horse education, I will travel back and forth to Wyoming and keep developing my land and honoring my stewardship of it.  The Three will stay in Florida until next Spring.

I will, openly and humbly, learn more about and practice the special gifts of energy work horse healing and communication that I had previously suspected were mine, but that are now being called into usage.

The Novice Horsewoman may just show up in book form in the future.  The “Beginner Horse Woman” may indeed start sharing this next part of the journey upon which she is NOW embarking with open heart and gratitude…

A wonderful author, in helping me conceive of an ending to a potential “Novice Horsewoman” book, gave me the idea of passing the novice torch onto another novice horsewoman, when my own novice-hood came to an end.

But now I see that, actually, I will be passing on this torch to YOU who are Courageous, YOU who are willing to Learn,  who are willing to Fail as well as Succeed, who are willing to let yourselves look like Fools and…. those of you who are willing to have your Hearts broken….freeing  them to soar to unimaginable heights!

Yes, to you, Brave Ones, I pass this torch!

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Blessed Wyoming!

Confession Number Fourteen: “Happiness Comes In On Tiptoe…It’s A Quiet Thing”

 

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Unexpected Tender Mercies:

There is a simple, exquisite song from the musical Flora the Red Menace by John Kander and Fred Ebb , “It’s A Quiet Thing”, that speaks of dreams coming true; but instead of drumrolls, bells and fireworks…”happiness comes in on tiptoe”, taking one by surprise.

I have been having such moments with my horses.  This novice horsewoman is finding tender, small moments with her horses that she couldn’t have known were possible.

But they are indeed small moments.  Tender mercies.  Quiet things.

Happiness walks in on tiptoe when my irrepressible gelding, Spirit, and I find games that we like to play together.  They are simple, silly games.  He knows them, knows the rules and initiates them.

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One of our silly games came about because, though getting infinitely better, he might still bolt when he gets playful and sassy.  Thus, although I will graze the mares outside their paddocks, my concern that he could hurt himself or others if he should bolt out of my hands when outside his paddock, limits my hand grazing him.

One day I sat just outside his wooden fence and just started picking grass and offering it to him by hand.

Oh how he loved that!  I would find succulent roots, delicious blades of fresh green and un-nameable types of grass with which to tempt him.  But the rule is, he may not get the grass by being above me over the fence.  ( I don’t want to do anything that might encourage his dominating tendencies.)  He has to come down to the first or second board up from the ground to get his grass.

(Have I mentioned that he has plenty of lush, delicious grass to graze right there inside his paddock?)

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He’ll certainly try to get it from above, by being irresistible and flirty.  But I sit firm. And then he bends down and gets his yummies just the way we agreed upon 🙂

So when I’m walking by or coming to greet him and he assumes the “this-is-where- I-need-to-be-to-have-her-hand-feed-me-grass position” with his head reaching just above the bottom board and his dear lips protruding out to say, “Let’s play”, the happy tenderness that fills my heart is as big as the sky. ❤

Another silly game we play is “Drink Water Out Of The Plastic Water Bottle That Mom Always Carries With Her”.  He is hilarious.  Most of it spills right out of his mouth.  But he knows it makes me laugh and laugh when he does it.   Over and over, he invites me to play this goofy game.

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Ah yes, a quiet thing, a small thing, a tender thing.

Baby Doe is another story.  Our happiness and quiet thing happens when I sit under a tree in her paddock.  She may be eating hay or grazing around, sort of ignoring me. But then, being a horse, she must check out what I am doing there.

In the past, when she would come over, I would usually get up from my cross-legged seated position into a squat or on my knees, in case I need to get out of harm’s way from an accidental kick or stomp.

Just recently, I’ve dared to remain seated cross-legged.  I look in her eyes and at her body language and I know I’m safe. (Granted, I’m also on the look out for a bee that might sting her or something that might make her startle, thus finding myself on the wrong end of a hoof.)

But this most recent time, she came to me softly and slowly.  I just sat.  I released fear.  She came closer and put her muzzle in my hands and just stood there.  We just looked at each other for many minutes as I had her sweet lips in my hands and felt her warm, moist breath.

It was a quiet thing. A tender thing.  A thing that filled me with more love than I ever dreamed I was capable of feeling.  A thing that filled me with awe.

We also like to take walks together in her paddock.  Totally at liberty. No halter, no rope.  We just stroll together.  If I stop, she stops.  We check things out.

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Last time, there was a tiny bunny in a little hollow in the back of her paddock.  As we stopped to check him out, he just looked up at us and didn’t budge.  Often, when we are quiet together, there forms a gathering of bunnies, squirrels, blue jays and sometimes a crow or two. I feel like Snow White when we get that kind of animal gathering on our walks!:)

No bells, no trumpets. It’s a quiet thing.

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And then there’s the glorious mare, Serenity.  With her, the quiet is profound.  The gentleness of her being almost unfathomable.  Her soft eyes and nose are so tender.  Her love and her acceptance of my love so generously given.

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When I’m grooming her and brushing out her tail, which is her favorite thing, she just cocks a back hoof, licks and chews and sighs.

 

When she chooses to be in her stall, I’ll come and sit on the stoop of it and lean against the door jam.  She will start breathing heavy and slow and doze off.  Before I know it, in the peace of afternoon warmth and her rhythmic breath, I’m dozing too.April 2016 Horses 25

“Happiness comes in on tiptoe.  Well, what do you know….It’s a quiet thing. A very quiet thing”.

 

 

 

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Confession Number Twelve: The Bear Is Sleeping…For Now…

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An Unexpected Peace:

“It was then that Tristan came into the quiet part of his life.  The bear inside him was sleeping.  It is hard to tell of happiness.  Time goes by and we feel safe too soon.”  – One Stab (Legends of the Fall)

For better or for worse, I have, for many years, been fascinated with the movie, Legends of the Fall.  This movie has irresistible sweeping landscapes, sweeping music and sweeping passions.  The story takes the viewer beyond the internal “…and they lived happily ever after…”,  and shows what happens to the characters in the “ever after”.  It reflects the way real life ebbs and flows, albeit with far more dramatic storylines.

More dramatic than my life storylines, at least :).However, I do relate to the concept of the sleeping bear. Ah yes, the bear of hope, anxiety, yearning, fulfilling potential, being driven and my pesky inner “demons” that need healing.

I am in one of those times right now.  The bear inside me is sleeping and I am enjoying a wonderful period of rest, renewal, release and regrouping. (Yep, the truly essential 4 Rs)

By making the difficult decision to bring myself and my three horses back to Florida for a time, I have been shown very clearly that there were underlying issues that needed to be addressed beyond my own exhaustion and stresses.

First of all, my horses.  My horses are very content not to be constantly blanketed and un-blanketed!

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Serenity, in particular, is enjoying the balmy, breezy warmth of Florida

They are enjoying respite from the challenging winds of Wyoming.  They are very peaceful at the beautiful barn I’ve found for them.  Even finding that barn was a miracle.

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I had been making making inquiries about boarding barns in South Florida on a  barn-resource website, and this particular barn owner was the first to reply.  It was the first barn I visited when I got here for “reconnaissance”.  The beauty and peaceful energy, seemingly coming up from the land itself, were all I needed to know.  Although I visited a couple of other barns after this one, there was simply no comparison.  The barn decision was easy and has turned out to be better than expected.

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Spirit and a masked Baby Doe (protecting her eyes from the sun) who had recently had a lovely roll in the dirt 😉

Second of all, I was able to get a farrier to see my three within a few days of arriving.  He’s been with this barn for 20 years.  He actually looked at the x-rays of Baby Doe’s navicular arthritis and spent a long time pointing out things in the images that no one had showed me before.  He has made a plan of action for her best pain management and to help her be a sound as possible. Yes, he’s actually a farrier who “shows up” on many different levels!

He then recommended a trainer that he and the barn owner have known for many years.  I had  already begun interviewing trainers but my “spidey sense” was sending red flags of “No”.

This trainer was open and listened to what I was hoping for for my three.  Each of them has a different personality, background and issues.  She heard that.  As we’ve begun work with them, I see more and more that she really does “get” that each of them is on a different path.  As for my own training 🙂 well, she sees to it that I’m understanding what she’s doing and gives tips and instructions on how I can also do these techniques…in time…

She also made me aware of a new treatment for navicular disease and I’m having the new vet, who understands navicular, out to the barn to implement this treatment this week!  Oh, to see Baby Doe out of pain…!

Then there’s getting back to my riding training…in time…

That’s another huge part of my sleeping bear.  I am consciously choosing to only do one thing at a time…I am resisting the ever-present pressure to take on more than I can handle.  I am taking care of my slightly fragile psyche right now. (By the way, in my way of thinking, it takes a lot of strength to let oneself feel fragile…)

I am also giving myself the gift of time….time to grieve Hercules’ death; time to grieve the loss of some of my dearest, most private hopes; time to sit on my balcony and just watch palm fronds blowing as the sun sets; time to sit in the pasture where my horses peacefully graze and allow my inner time clock to meld with their time clocks.

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Spirit and I having a “discussion”…while Serenity occupies herself in another direction 🙂

Their clocks move very slowly… I watch each move, each ear flick, each eye expression change.  I watch how they’re chewing their grass or hay.  I watch each interaction in the wordless dance they weave together.

I am also giving myself permission not to know. Not to know what’s next.  Not to know when I need to do the next thing for the ranch.  Not to know who is going to be part of my life there, whether as staff or visiting friends.  I really don’t know.  And, surprisingly, I don’t care that I don’t know.

I am enjoying things that I had not given myself permission to enjoy for a couple of years now.  Yes, indeed!  Things such as shopping, not for tack, but for sparkly high heeled sandals.  Things such as actually putting on a cute outfit for the day; something other than jeans, boots and a cotton shirt, since my days, before this respite, had always ended up at the barn, and any clothing gets muddy, torn and faded with barn work 🙂 Things such as taking naps, reading good books and seeing friends I hadn’t had time to see in the past while.

The horses are just fine. More than fine.  They are getting what they need.

Ah yes, the bear is sleeping. But time will go by.  I may indeed be feeling too safe, too soon.

I accept that.  For now, however, this is good.  This is very good.

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Confession Number Eleven: “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues”

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An Unexpected Decision:

It has felt like I’ve been seeing things from the wrong end of the telescope for quite some time now.  I’ve begun not to recognize myself.  Normally, no matter how sad or stressed or grief-stricken I am, there is always this well-spring of joy deep inside me that bubbles up and eventually washes away the sorrow.

This time is different somehow…

The duties, expectations and pressure of getting this little ranch up and running all by myself have been somewhat inexorable.  I’ve enjoyed much of it and I have wonderful, talented and integrous people working for me.  The land is truly God’s country.  The horses are happy.

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Morning antics behind the barn 🙂

Yet, for the past three months, I’ve awoken each morning without my usual excitement to greet the day.  Instead, I’ve been waking up with an anxiety that recently has turned into what I imagine panic attacks to be.  Usually, going out to the barn to do the morning feed, even in subzero weather, has helped to calm down the panic attack symptoms. But not by much.

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Subzero Feedings…such beauty!

Then, since the diagnosis of my beloved cat, Hercules’ lymphoma and the aggressively growing mass in his abdomen a couple of months ago, I’ve had the constant pressure of unshed tears behind my eyes 24/7.  Oh, I’ve shed many MANY tears in private, but in order to do the work at the ranch, with folks around, there were many hours I couldn’t let them fall.  Any potentially joyful moments, instead of transcending the worries I was having, have fallen with a thud on my spirit.

I’ve needed to continually give myself pep talks that I’m doing right by my horses and that they’re okay if, for instance, the farrier flakes out on me, the temperature drops to zero in the middle of the night and I hadn’t blanketed them, if I don’t clean their hooves regularly, if, if, if….

Eventually, I found I’d stopped wanting to do anything and had just been “powering through” the hours in the day.

Then came help, in the form of a couple of dear friends, who were very vocal about my state of mind, “Christine, who the heck are you”?, “We don’t recognize this Christine”.  “You’re vibrating at too low a level for you”.  “What are you trying to prove”?

And the most eye-opening of all, “Did it occur to you that you weren’t meant to run this ranch all by yourself?  Maybe what God has planned was that you get the land, the place and the home ready.  Ready for the people and animals that are to come.  Now it’s all just about done.  Others can finish it up.  Why don’t you take a breather”?

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My home, before ANY improvements. But with that sun behind it…what’s to improve?

I thought long and hard about all this input. And here’s what I realized.

The pressures and grief about my cat and other personal losses  had put me into a “dark night of the soul” which was actually a profound blessing.  It was while wandering in this dark landscape of spirit that I realized I was tapping into areas of my being that were not yet healed.  Areas I hadn’t been able to access until now.

This healing is not a cathartic “one and done” type of process.  Instead it feels somewhat like the aftermath of food poisoning when the poison is out but one’s whole body is aching, cramping and sore.  My soul is aching, cramping and sore right now.  It will take as long as it takes…

So in order to take this “breather” (since, indeed, I’ve prepared this place and it’s ready!) I’m going to take the three darling horses and we’re going to rest in Florida until Spring.  I found a beautiful farm where I can board them and where they can be turned out in a spacious pasture just as they are here.  Their stalls are together and they can come and go into their stalls at night, as they please, just as they do here.

The grounds are beautiful.  The people are kind.  I will be visiting my sweetheart horses all the time but, for these months, they will be full-boarded.  In the meantime, I will get myself back to myself but, hopefully, stronger and more healed.  I will ponder the miracles that, even as I write, are pouring down upon me…as though God and the angels are trying to wake me back up to live in the joy that is normally mine!

And I will incorporate the lessons taught to me by Hercules, the cat and by my three horses.

As Hercules’ illness progressed, I observed him being slightly confused by his ever-changing condition BUT always finding a way to roll with it.  He adapted over and over again.  He showed me that one can adapt to just about anything.  It just feels different.

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Hercules in healthier, sassier times ❤

Baby Doe, my paint mare, has taught me to express myself honestly or just not bother expressing myself at all!  🙂  When I come to her with, either a hidden agenda for what I want to accomplish with her or with trying to hide what I’m feeling, she bites the air and throws her head and wants NONE OF IT.  But if I just talk to her with my voice and heart being in complete authenticity, she’s right there with me.

Spirit, my gelding, has taught me to find the fun in everything and anything, even if it’s just finding a huge stick in the pasture and carrying it up to me in his mouth.  He has also taught me that it’s okay to be very strict with him, albeit with tons of kindness and love, but to not cave in to him when he challenges me.

Serenity, my other mare, likes to take a nap in her stall after evening feed.  When I come down to the barn to let them out, there she is, lying down,  sleeping with her eyes open in a trance, her breath soft and slow.  I sit next to her, pet her and breath with her.  She has taught me by communicating these words, in thought, “Just rest, child.  Rest, next to me. See how lovely it is”?

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My three beloved, goofy, personality-filled teachers and companions!

I will miss Wyoming SO much in these next couple of months but it will be there strong and awe-inspiring, waiting for us to return.  We will return!

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My first glorious sunset at the ranch…way back in August.

 

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Confession Number Nine: Wyoming…Finally!

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG6An Unexpected Horse and An Unexpected Solitude:

It’s been quite a roller coaster ride!!! Glorious Wyoming, and the joy my horses are experiencing here, are the overriding impressions of almost three months of being in the sweet, grassy. soft, silent, prairie part of Wheatland, WY!!

Only now, given that the much-very- gloomily-predicted-by-locals Wyoming Winds are blowing, seemingly at gale force 😦 , silence is a precious commodity.

So much happened so very quickly upon arrival.  It is somewhat of a blur.

Two things stand out though.

About a week after I arrived, before all the horses got here, I received a message from the glorious mare Serenity’s human.  She, after much struggle, had realized that she needed to let Serenity go.  She explained that she needed to spend time with her son, her work and the cost and time of keeping a horse were getting way beyond her means.  She wondered if I would take her here in Wyoming.  Would I?????  We spoke at length and she convinced me this was what she truly wanted. Four days later, the glorious Serenity arrived here in Wyoming…

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Serenity arrives via Brook Ledge Horse Transport late on October 6!

…On the night of my birthday, October 6 🙂

I am still trying to fathom that after all the love I thought I’d lost and  the grieving I’d experienced, missing that little red mare so very much….she is here with ME.  She is mine!

I am inviting her human and her human’s son come visit her AND me in January.   I plan to continue to get them out here as much as possible.

For the past year or more, Serenity was virtually stall-bound with very little turn out, grazing or even being ridden.  When she first arrived here, she melded almost immediately into my little herd.  She ran for the sheer freedom and joy of it…

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Serenity runs for JOY!.

…and then huddled back in her stall. Which she did often.  I leave the stalls open for all the horses,except at grain time 🙂 so they can go in and out at will.  She chose mostly “in”.

Now, at the two month point, she chooses mostly “out” and grazes, wanders and runs.

Her mane and tail, which had almost been lost, due to stress, are growing back in.  Her eye is softening, losing the white sclera look of anxiety a horse can exhibit. I can “see” the smile on her face when she’s being brushed.

And when her breakfast and dinner are being served, she lifts up her sweet left front leg, curling it under her in excitement as she nickers for faster service! 🙂

This beautiful, kind mare who taught me how to be an improving human two years ago (See my second post on this site, Three Essential Lessons On How To Be An Improving Human; Taught To Me By Serenity, The Horse) is now having the horsey time of her life.

I am honored and privileged to provide it for her.

Enter the next piece of the story, the unexpected solitude.  Due to a series of events too difficult to speak of here, I’ve ended up in the “middle of somewhere” on eighty acres of ranch, alone with three horses and two cats!

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Spirit and Baby Doe “high tail” it to the pasture

I’ve had to re-organize my priorities, my thoughts and my direction.  It’s funny how life prepares one for the future, when one has NO IDEA what that future will bring!  The Third Confession on this site, Revealing The Dirty Little Secrets That Happen At Barns, tells the story of how I received a crash course in barn management with my barn buddy, Felice.  It tells of all our “I Love Lucy” moments, our mistakes and our triumphs.  Thank Goodness!

Because here I am, managing a barn, all by myself.  Somehow I just know what to do and how to organize it.  Those previous months truly paid off!

I have also been blessed beyond belief with a network of support that appeared almost immediately after I found myself alone here.  I now have a young woman ranch-handing for me, a young man (the son of my hay guy) as backup hand, a lovely woman who manages a lot of my household things like cleaning, a retired sheriff/contractor who has built my fences, my round pen, has hired others to build my pole barn and level my arena and good neighbors who stop by and check in with me, just to see if they can be of help.

They have been. Even if just to give sound advice on winter feeding and blanketing of Florida horses in their first Wyoming winter!

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Not even the “bleak mid-winter” yet 😦

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Someone LOVES rolling in the snow!

I am also blessed with a knowledgeable, kind vet and a wonderful farrier!  Every horse person knows just how precious those two roles are.  Now if I can just find the right horsey dentist…:)

I have supportive friends who call, text regularly with encouragement plus offer solid shoulders to cry on and others who send little care packages of love.

But the solitude is still intense.

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Stark beauty

The loneliness takes my breath away at times.

I know God is preparing me for something profound as I am caused to go even more deeply inside my soul, to learn more of who I truly am and what I’m truly made of.

I’m never entirely alone, of course, with three very personality-filled horses, two dear cat companions, the sunrises, the sunsets and oh, those Wyoming stars!

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Just before sunrise at feeding time.

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Each sunset more glorious than the previous ones.

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How can ANYONE be lonely when drinking wine with two superb equines?

Life continues to teach me to “expect the unexpected”!

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The unexpected bluffs just atound the corner from me…lonely beauty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confession Number Eight: The Novice Horsewoman Bids Farewell To Florida…

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An Unexpected Grief:

Days away from departing Florida and beginning a new life in Wyoming, the plethora of emotions are profound and dizzying.  When writing to a dear friend in an attempt to untangle some of these emotions, he suggested that some of what I am feeling might be grief.  The minute he wrote that, I knew that was IT.

Florida might be hot, humid, overcrowded, populated with some less than patient or polite people, with traffic that just won’t quit… BUT…oh how I love this lovely state!

It is here that I experienced unprecedented personal growth, had loads of fun, knew love, loss of love, laughter, sadness and yearning.  It is here that I enjoyed a certain “off-the-mainland”, unexpected wildness.  It is here I learned to dance some amazing flamenco, found peace in kick-ass yoga classes and learned to be a somewhat proficient markswoman 🙂

It is here that I found my two beloved equine “partners” and heard God’s unexpected calling.

Yes, I will always love Florida.

I say farewell with a gallery of pictures and memories.  In this case, these pictures are each worth a thousand words…

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Each morning brought a new artistic creation with the sunrise over the ocean. I never left home without my trusty camera 🙂

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Sunrise in a different light.

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Morning walks on the beach often brought companionship 🙂

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Observing pelicans was endlessly fascinating. From physical structure to hilarious personalities. they were superb!

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And then there were the boats…

...and boats...

…and boats…

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…Old Florida, cheesy, fun, tourist boats like the Jungle Queen…

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Gorgeously lit boats for the Christmastime Boat Parade, celebrated in the “Venice of America” – Fort Lauderdale

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The ancient surviving canopy over the Loxahatchee River provided breathtaking canoe trips.

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And some not-so-breathtaking muddiness when porting canoe over drier spots 🙂

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Swimming with the dolphins. Pure JOY!

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And more sedate outings to the historic Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach.

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Christmas season at The Breakers is magical.

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I never imagined I would have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a giraffe! Thank you Florida for this!

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These pictures barely scratch the surface of the wealth of memories and emotions that I will carry with me in my heart as I now turn my eyes West.

Thank you, thank you Florida!

I say farewell.

This novice horsewoman will continue her confessions…the good, bad and the silly…in Wyoming!

Baby Doe and I take a walk (2)

Sixth Confession: How I Went From “Dread” To Joy!

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The very kind, old, gentleman gelding, Buzz. He made sure I felt safe with him.

An Unexpected Horse Angel, Trainer Marianne:

By the time Trainer Marianne entered our lives in late February 2015, I and my two beloved horses had pretty much become ragged messes.   Only my intense, ferocious love for my two, in spite of my novice ignorance, kept the three of us from cracking wide open with desperation.

I guessed at, but was not fully consciously aware of, the things that had been inflicted on these two horses before they became mine.  That, plus my ignorance, coupled with some of the prideful, know-it-all, uneducated barn cronies’ incessant input, combined to create a situation in which I could no longer bear to ride my horses or ANY horse, for that matter. Although I, myself, had never fallen; another woman, who was an experienced horsewoman, had fallen off my gelding during one of our rides, my mare on trail was lifting her head in discomfort, bowing to buck and coming up lame. Plus, the trail “energy” at Treetops Park was becoming increasingly creepy to me. All these elements had driven me into a state, which in the rodeo they call…”The Dread”.

Of course in the rodeo, these cowboys are experiencing massive “wrecks’ which can require months of physical rehab and pain meds.  My “wreck” was emotional and spiritual.

I prayed and prayed for the right trainer to come into our lives.  It felt like these prayers fell on God’s deaf ears and would be never answered.  I did have specific desires for what I required of a trainer.  Perhaps that’s why it took some time ;).

I needed my trainer to partner with the horse, to put the horse first, to not think of a horse as a human commodity and to be able to listen to the “still, small voice within” which, ultimately, manifests in what could be considered:  “Unconventional Training Methods”.

Enter Marianne, Horse Angel. Custom-made for me and my two.

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Marianne, in her horsey, kind way, seeing that Buzz is buckled in. This was his last bit. As of today, we are using a bitless bridle on him. He is so happy

As she began working with and understanding their hurts, needs and lacks in their training, she then turned her focus on me. ” Why aren’t you riding?”, she queried.

“Never again”, I adamantly stated.

“But it’s fun”, she cajoled.

“No it’s not.  It’s dangerous, It’s a job. I hate it.”

“Okay…”,she conceded.

Then I watched her begin the healing process on my two and my heart began to open.

One day she said, “Buzz is a sweet old gelding who gives his whole heart when he’s doing a horse show even though he’s not a show horse. Come meet him”.

I did.  He put his head in my hand and sniffed me all over and allowed me to kiss him… lots! Marianne said, “He never does that.”

I secretly knew he was telling me, “It’s okay, Little One.  You would be safe on me.”

So one day, a few weeks later, when Marianne suggested that I just climb on Buzz bareback and she would lead me and him on a lead rope, I said, yes.  I love bareback riding and it was an irresistible offer.

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Marianne leads me on a bareback ride on Buzz

We rode for maybe 15 minutes.  When I dismounted I knew I was “back”.

Marianne never pushed.  She always waited for me to ask.  But, in time, I was asking and asking.  Let me ride him bareback again.  A hunter saddle?  Let me try that.  My western treeless saddle?  Amazing connection with every muscle in the horse’s back!  Balance? Centered riding? Thighs? Core?

In time, the superb details and the kindness with which she imparted them, caused me to anticipate each lesson with complete excitement.  I couldn’t wait to learn the next thing.  To learn half-halting with the reins, how to use the back of my arms. how to two point…

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The beginning of learning the lifting and tilting of two point. Ultimately the up and down of posting in a hunter saddle rests on this. Legs and heels positioned. Pelvis shifting with the up and down.

and…recently…how to post.  Hopefully…soon… I will begin learning the seated canter 🙂

In a hunter saddle, the momentum of the thrust of the horse’s body makes one feel like one is flying. That, plus the perfection of the rhythm of the up, down, up, keeping thighs on saddle and heels balancing the whole mechanism is a perfection of impulse and synchronization that has become addictive.

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Hunter saddle, beginning posting!

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Western treeless saddle! Awesome feel!

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Posting in the western treeless! Pretty much heaven as I see it!

Marianne, in kindness, encouraged my strength, balance and coordination plus my seemingly innate feel for a horse’s body.  I don’t know that I truly have those gifts but…

Here’s what I do know:

Through patience, kindness, faith and love of human and horse, this novice horsewoman is beginning to experience a world she could not have even imagined. The profound body connection between human and horse is practically indescribable in words.

From the ashes of my “dread”, the pillar of my joy is growing and building.

Perhaps we can all begin to trust that from the “wrecks” in our lives… hope, kindness, patience and a renewal, better than where we started and beyond what we could have dreamed, are all possible.

I am still very much a novice horsewoman and novice rider. 

Sooo much more to learn! 🙂

But, oh, the joy of it all!!!

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