Category Archives: Lessons Taught To Humans By Horses

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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Fifth Confession: How I Became A Recovering “Horse Annoyer” ;)

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An Unexpected Truth:

One day, early on in her work with me and my two, Trainer Marianne turned to me and in the most matter-of-fact voice said, “Christine, you are annoying your horses.”

After I stopped laughing until tears rolled down my cheeks :), I considered her words and took a quick self-inventory.

Those that know me in person, know that I resemble a big, ol’ Labrador Retriever.  I express my joy at seeing someone I care about with huge hugs (the equivalent of a Lab jumping up on someone and licking their face all over).  There is much virtual “tail-wagging” in my enthusiasm!  I tend to resemble the Lab wagging his tail so ferociously near the living room coffee table decorated with Swarovski crystal figurines that he sends everything shattering to the floor! Just from the pure joy of love ❤

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This can be distressing to an introvert or someone who is highly sensitive.  Which is funny, because I, too, am an introvert and highly sensitive….I just become a Labrador when I get excited 😉

In the world of horse, this tends to be, to say the least, a disturbing quality.  Horses are slow in their movement.  I am fast with hands flying everywhere.  Horses, being creatures of flight, are always discerning if there is something from which they need to flee.

When I would come up to them, excited, touching, fumbling with halters or lead ropes or just staring because of their amazing beauty, the horse would interpret this as…”something is very wrong and I should flee” or “stop poking and hugging and touching my delicate nose” or  “it’s TOO much sensory input and I’m ANNOYED!”039045

Trainer Marianne, being a kind, gentle soul and somewhat of a horse herself, quietly and persistantly corrected me every time I did something “annoying”.

Here are some examples of how NOT to be annoying to a horse.

1. Approach horses with energy high and a matter of fact attitude.

2. Don’t hesitate in an action, it makes the horse think something is wrong.

3. When leading a horse on the lead rope, don’t keep looking back, it worries them.

4. Don’t stand in front of a horse and stare.  It’s irritating to them.  They don’t stand like that with each other.

5. Don’t talk so much.  Horses communicate with body language.

6. If something like a halter or tack gets tangled while you’re trying to put it on, don’t stand there and fumble.  Take it off and pretend you’re fixing it or doing something that has nothing to do with that failed attempt.  Then they get curious instead of annoyed.

7.  ALWAYS move slowly.

Then she taught me this…

…there’s nothing more healing to a human than to stand in the crook of a horse’s neck facing out the same way they are facing.  Oh how true this is.

In the quiet of a horse’s being, all else is forgotten and one is transported into the profound inner world they inhabit.  This feeling, more than any instruction, taught me.

I’ve cuddled, played with, danced with and loved up pets like my cats and dogs with my  ” Labrador ways” and it always went well!

Ah, but horses are not that.  They have heightened sensitivities, perceptions and a decision making process that says, “Fly first, figure it out later.”  It’s probably how they survived as a species for 55 million years or so.

Horses, if we listen, if we humble ourselves to approach them as THEY require being approached, can wordlessly teach us the mysteries of these primeval times which they knew.  They can teach us that, perhaps, in all our dealings with others, both human and animal, we can set aside our habitual behaviors.  We can act with sensitivity to the being with whom we’re interacting.

We can certainly be much less annoying :)!

I am still “in recovery”.  I stumble….a lot.  I am humbled….a lot.  But recently, the highest compliment ever paid me, which I shall cherish always, came from Trainer Marianne…

…  “Christine, you are finally becoming a horse.”

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Fourth Confession: How I Fell In Love Online….With A BLM Brand

Courtesy of Meg Hartman

Beautiful Angel. Courtesy of Meg Hartman Photography

An Unexpected Love…

At the beginning of the Year of the Horse, 2014, while horses were “at the gate” about to gallop into my life, bringing with them undreamed-of joy, I saw a picture on Facebook of a beautiful Mustang mare, Angel, who had been rescued and was needing a forever home.  It was love at first sight for me.  There are so many intangibles that I can only remotely describe how or why I loved her at first sight.  Perhaps it was the pure sweetness and love in her eyes… with a twinkling potential of sassy 😉

Courtesy of Chris L.

Angel! Courtesy of Chris L.

One can only imagine what Chris, the founder of Mustang Rescue Network, thought, when I messaged her almost immediately that I wanted to adopt her!  When she questioned me about my horse experience and qualifications to adopt her all I could answer was, “Well, I’m leasing a glorious mare (Serenity) and currently caring for her daily as she had injured herself badly and needs a lot of TLC.  But I’m somewhat new to horses…”  (Oh yes, Novice Horsewoman indeed!)

I can now imagine Chris gently shaking her wise head and even more gently preparing how to say “No” to me 🙂  Which she did!  But that began a friendship between us, with the sweet Mustang mare as the bridge.

Angel was found in Georgia wandering down a road with many mysteries surrounding how she came to be there.

Angel in the woods. Courtesy of Chris L.

Angel in the woods. Courtesy of Chris L.

Her BLM brand told only a tiny bit of her story. but allowed the Rescue Network to identify her western origins and give an approximation of her age.  She had been “gathered” in Nevada in 1996 at approximately 1 year of age and adopted at about 1.5 years of age. How she got to Georgia is unknown. When they contacted the person who was currently in possession of her, he claimed her to be an abandoned horse that he knew from working with her for some people in the past. He went to their place to find it empty and figured they had abandoned her near where he usually rode. He seemed to want the best for Angel…

Mustang Rescue Network folk were able to acquire her legally and foster her while they put weight on her and slowly began discerning where she could be happiest in a forever home.

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Angel enjoying her hay! Courtesy of Chris L.

Chris has had mustangs in her heart and soul since she first read Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West  ( by Marguerite Henry) as a young girl. She had ridden often with her grandmother and grandfather when young and had had the love-of-her-life horse as a young woman in upstate New York before moving to Georgia.  Angel’s appearance in her life began a wonderful series of events which began with her creation of the Mustang Rescue Network.

Over the next few months I began contributing to Angel’s care through the Mustang Rescue Network and Chris and I kept in touch about her progress.  I was also privileged to receive extra pictures of her physical progress as she gained her weight back, got some gloss in her coat and began some gentle training.  I never stopped hoping that, as I began to get more horse experience, maybe just maybe Chris would eventually let me adopt her!

But life had other ideas ;)…

I knew, the minute I actually met Chris and Angel in person in Eatonton, Georgia and played with her in some training games, that as much as I adored this pretty mustang, I wasn’t “the one” for her.  Chris was.

Courtesy of Chris L.

Angel and Chris play together. Courtesy of Meg Hartman Photography

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Christine and Angel play together. Courtesy of Chris L.

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Christine receives “Angel Love” in Georgia. 💗Courtesy of Chris L.

The months rolled on and each time I went to Georgia I met with Chris and Angel enjoying exquisite times being in the presence of this very special mare.

It never ceased to hurt my heart to see her brand and the scars in her precious face where someone had left a halter on, obviously for years, so that her face also seemed “branded” with these halter scars.  However, sweet Angel didn’t seem to notice those things and became more and more herself as she felt safe, nurtured and had her hoof issues tended to.  The sassiness, only guessed at from the look in her eyes in early pictures, came out in her personality, which, combined with her sweetness, was completely irresistible!  ” Little Miss Sweet and Sassy” (as we nicknamed her) would walk around in her pasture with the cutest little swing in her hips and an adorable swish of her tail.

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Little Miss Sweet and Sassy! Courtesy of Chris L.

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Angel Enjoys Her Life In The Pasture! Courtesy of Chris L.

Anyone and everyone who met Angel, fell in love at first sight.  Since words cannot describe the loveable essence of this beautiful mare, I’m hoping the pictures I include do 🙂

When I first began writing this story about Angel, I had trouble getting anywhere with it.  I kept procrastinating.

Now I know why…

On many different levels, Chris had trouble conceiving that Angel could and should be hers.  It was so interesting to see how happy they each were with each other, how connected, and yet, there seemed to be some unseen barriers that Chris would need to overcome to be able to actually  say, “Angel and I belong together”.

Chris patiently and persistently worked through her hesitation.  As Chris came near to working it through, I was  honored to be with them both the day Angel let HER desires be known!

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Angel quietly let Chris know her wishes!

We had been hand grazing Angel and sat down on a log to chat about Angel’s prospects and if Chris was just about at the “place” inside herself where she could see herself adopting her.  In an utterly silent yet breathtaking manner, in the course of our conversation, Angel stopped grazing and came and stood right next to Chris, in quiet stillness, for almost a half an hour as we chatted.

In those minutes, I think Chris and I BOTH knew that Angel was stating what she wanted.  To be with Chris as her forever human.

Within a couple of weeks, the last internal barriers were torn down and Chris knew beyond any doubt that she and Angel would spend their lives together. She began the adoption process!

I see now that I couldn’t have finished this story without this joyful conclusion at the end of it 🙂

Ah yes, INDEED…in life….expect the unexpected!

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Angel. Courtesy of Meg Hartman Photography

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Angel. Courtesy of Meg Hartman Photography

Second Confession: How I Became Obsessed With Horse Manure :)

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Unexpected illness, unexpected obsession:

A week after the exquisite mare, Baby Doe, became mine, I arrived at the barn for a simple Saturday of grooming, playing with and riding my two beloved horses.  When I entered and saw Baby Doe’s stall empty, I thought trainer Bryan was working with her and I went out to the arena, only to see trainer Bryan, on the grass, walking Baby Doe in a circle swiftly.  “She’s colicking”, he said.  “No worries, I’ve given her Banamine and have been walking her for more than half an hour.  We can’t let her lie down. She’ll be fine.”

But she wasn’t.

We needed to see some (for want of a better word) manure coming from her.  It wasn’t.  No problem. We just needed to walk her more.  Which we did for two more hours.

Anyone familiar with horses knows that colic is a very real potential of a death sentence. I couldn’t even fathom this at that time.  All I could do was…walk her.

No manure.

A call to the vet was made, who turned out to be the substitute vet. She is a wonderful vet.  With the heat and abundant thunderstorms this summer in South Florida, many horses were colicking and vets were busy.  Add to that, my beloved girl, Baby Doe, had only arrived from Illinois less than two months ago and was still processing that stress.

With the vet’s arrival the “baptism by fire” both for humans and for horse began.

The hours of invasive procedures on my Girl were started. To begin with, they had to tranquilize her in order to shove a tube down her nose and pour down a gallon of water, followed by a gallon of mineral oil.

More walking.

More waiting.

There were two anal exams to see what her organs were doing.  Each of which could have caused a septic rupture…

By 11 o’clock that night it became clear that she had displaced her intestines to the left. Good news, because had they displaced to the right, we would have had to put her down within hours to save her from excruciating, unfixable pain.

Then came the next procedure. ..intravenously fill her with fluids for an hour, administer a med that would shrink her spleen for fifteen minutes, during which time we would longe the heck out of her in order for her intestines to hop over the spleen and get back into place.

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Oh, my Baby Doe, my Girl, you have a mission to fulfill! You and I agreed you didn’t want to be a show horse. You made it possible, by having that hitch in your right shoulder, for me to be your human partner in this life, so that you could minister to those in need…disabled, disadvantaged, special needs, those in sorrow, those who need the healing presence of Horse…

What a faithful creature she was as she, in indescribable pain, was longed, valiantly trotting and loping in the hot humid night.029

The all night barn vigil now commenced.

Humidity intensified, mosquitos got busy, the stars radiated and trainer Bryan and I found some lawn chairs, placed them by her stall and settled in for what was to be a long night at the barn.

I am still trying to find words to describe the various experiences of this night.

First, there was the anxious worry.  He and I took turns standing by her stall, looking for a sign of manure, trying to comfort her in her agonizing pain.

My sweet, loving Girl had turned into a wild savage that bit and kicked if we got near her.  She was flailing her head and pacing. Her ears were ever flat on her head.

Neither Bryan nor I slept a wink.

Eventually the lights turned out.  The horses settled in for the night.  And a kind of magic occurred which one only experiences in a barn in the wee hours of the night.

The silence was exquisite. Punctuated only by snorts and shufflings of the horses. We could hear a background lullaby of crickets and cicadas outdoors.  As I peeked into each stall, I saw horse after horse lying down in a deep sleep.  My boy horse, my Appaloosa, Spirit, had sprawled out in his stall, sound asleep and looking like a baby colt.  I couldn’t take my eyes off that dearness.

Each hour, trainer Bryan, going above and beyond any expectation, would lead my Baby Doe out to walk her for a half an hour or so.  I would drag myself out of my lawn chair to be present, but couldn’t have begun to muster the energy Bryan did… hour after hour.

In those late night, star-filled  moments, it was confirmed to me that there are truly people of honor walking this earth and that I was blessed to experience his caring and indefatiguable soul.

At 5 a.m. the first sign of manure!  I don’t know when manure has EVER made me so happy!

But we weren’t out of the woods yet.   At 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. more relief for the Girl in the way of manure!  We cautiously celebrated and took turns going back to our homes for showers and changes of clothing.

However, when I got back to the barn later that afternoon, the roller coaster ride of the past 24 hours took another dip.  She had gone hours now with no more sign of manure relief.  It could be that her intestines were still displaced to the left.  We might have to repeat the whole procedure.

Trainer Bryan called the vet.  She suggested letting her run free for awhile in a pasture, without overheating, and then to hand graze her for about 15 minutes.

As I watched my glorious Girl run, buck, leap and play, looking like the regal faerie horse she is, her whiteness contrasting with the deep green of pasture grass, I knew that this was no longer a horse that was ill.

After grazing her, I took her back into her stall to cool her off and…immediate success in the manure department!  It was proof positive that her intestines were back in place and the procedure had unequivocally worked!

My darling Baby Doe, thank you for your courage, patience, acceptance and profound soul.  You healed so many parts of me that night as I was privileged to be part of your healing. Thank you. 739

Part Three Of My First Confession :)! (…From No Horse to Two Horses in Less Than a Year :)

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The Unexpected Song:

In Part Two of this unexpected journey, an exquisite, purebred Paint mare had arrived at the barn where I had become Spirit’s human and where he was training,  She was to be trained up and finished to sell as a show horse.  Certainly, her lineage was impeccable and pricey and her conformation (simply described, the way her different body parts size up in relation to each other) brought gasps of admiration from those who know and understand such things.

All this Novice Horsewoman understood was that this horse was gradually emerging from her tranquillized and shut down state after her four-day journey and that she and I were bonding.

She would call out to me when I would arrive at the barn, we would spend time just hanging out together with much snuggling and softly voiced “conversations” and one day she was actually able to communicate with me, in my mind, with a clear sentence, ” Please, I don’t want to be a show horse.”

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There was no way I could afford the steep price that would be asked for her.  I was determined, however, to find a way.

In the meantime, unbeknownst to me, when this mare had arrived, the vet had noticed a slight hitch in her right shoulder when she went in a circle.  She and trainer Bryan were going to wait for thirty days and recheck her to see if it was just soreness from the trip or something else.

Things were just beginning to get interesting :)…

Time passed swiftly in that month of August.  It was a hot, rainy summer here in Florida.  I was learning to ride better, still not very well, but better ;), learning and relearning about longeing, different tack, feed, hay.  I was noticing many things at the barn, where trainer Bryan was leasing about 12 stalls, that were very disturbing.  I was spending time with both my little Appaloosa AND the exquisite Paint mare.

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The thirty days were ticking away.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it, told my dearest friend the story up to this point, confessed that my heart was breaking with love for this mare and asked him for a loan.  A BIG loan!!!!  Much to my surprise all he said was, “How much?”  “Um….fifteen grand?”, I stuttered.  “Okay”, he said simply.

While trying to remember that breathing is sort of essential to remain living ;), I immediately called and texted trainer Bryan (it was ONLY 11:30 at night) and told him I wanted to buy her.

(For the record…I can’t stand that we humans buy and sell horses and call ourselves their owners.  It reeks of slave trade to me but, for now, it’s the way it is.)

The next day I arrived expectantly at the barn to encounter a scowling trainer Bryan.  The folks who had bred the mare and sent her to him were longtime business friends of his and had, for almost 20 years, sent him horses to train and sell.  The last horse they had sent had come up un-show-worthy due to some rear leg tendon issues.  It was the mare’s full brother, Fritz.  Now, it turns out, the vet had rechecked the exquisite mare and the right shoulder hitch was a chronic condition which deemed her un-showable.

What?  She can’t be a show horse?? My heart was pounding with joy and wonder!!

Sometimes horses will find ways to cause “lameness” to themselves when there is a job they are asked to do that isn’t right for them.  Conventional horse people will tell you that those of us who understand this are delusional, but when one is around horses, reads incessantly about horses and is obsessed with horses :), one begins to see this is not anomalous.

Trainer Bryan had determined that he was going to send this beloved mare back to these breeders and demand money for her transport, board and training up to this point.  He was livid.  He was incensed that they had done this to him a second time!

They claimed that somehow her four-day journey was responsible and were not going to pay him a dime.  In fact, the male breeder threatened, if Bryan sent her back they would put her down because now she was of no value. (Welcome, Novice Horsewoman, to just a glimpse of the dark and nasty underbelly of horse breeding and the various ways horses are utilized for human pleasure).

Thus ensued 48 hours of me weeping and pleading for him not to send her back, he arguing back and forth with the breeders and many petitions to heaven that things work out for the best for this exquisite mare.

Well, the angels definitely are on the side of the horses, ultimately.  That 48 hours ended with ME paying trainer Bryan for her transport and training and board up to that point (considerably less than $15,000!).

The exquisite Paint mare was mine!

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And though it’s considered bad luck to change a horse’s name, there is an opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe (by Douglas Moore), in which the title character is described thusly:

“Warm as the autumn light, soft as a pool at night…deep in your lovely eyes, all of enchantment lies, and tenderly beckons, Baby Doe, dearest Baby Doe.”

So apt were those words in describing the exquisite mare, that I knew that was her true name. She IS Baby Doe.

Afterword: To this day, when I call her to come to me from the edge of the large paddock, I sing those words to her and she comes running to greet me… and my song ❤

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First Confession: Part Two (How I Went From No Horse To Two Horses In Less Than A Year:)

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Oh yes! More unexpected was just around the corner!

Part Two:

When I left off in Part One…

I had  been describing the devastation and grief I experienced when the glorious mare, Serenity, had been moved to another barn.  Just for the record, even writing about it now brings up fresh grief added to ongoing anxiety over her well being.  For so many reasons, it was and still is tough to visit her at her new barn.  Not the least of which is the sadness that overwhelms when I have to say goodbye and leave.  She’s been on my mind so much lately.  I try to comfort myself with the words my best friend continually says to me, “Christine, you can’t save them all”.  Cold comfort.

However, just as she was being moved, I was being introduced to Horse Number One!  The adorable, ueber-intelligent, mischievous, big-hearted, three-year-old Appaloosa gelding, Spirit!  He “had me at  hello”. Or should I say “…at nicker” 🙂photo (8)

My barn buddy, Phyllis, had introduced me to trainer Bryan, because once Serenity was virtually lost to me, I was going to begin looking at rescue horses.  She thought Bryan could help me.

Wiser heads convinced me that perhaps I should explore getting to know whole and healthy horses before dealing with horses in need.  Gee, why didn’t I think of that? 🙂 So when Bryan introduced me to Spirit, I easily agreed with the wiser heads.  The one problem being Bryan wasn’t so sure that he would sell me the little Boy.

There is a saying in the horse world, “green on green equals black and blue”.  In other words, pairing me up with a virtual baby, when I was so very inexperienced, could be difficult and dangerous. Bryan was training him daily and giving me lessons weekly for the next few weeks.  Then he had me ride Spirit for my lessons and observed how good he was for me under saddle.  Even if he had a horsey jump/flinch or spook, somehow the little Boy kept me on him.  (This has held true in the ensuing months as well).WP_20141005_15_22_53_Pro__highres

With ongoing training promised, Bryan finally agreed that Spirit could be mine.

In the meantime, just about every horse person I knew was shaking their head in concern that I would be dealing with a three year old; which did NOTHING for my confidence!  Looking back, perhaps they were right.  But it was already too late for me.  I loved that little gelding wholeheartedly.  With lots of prayer, and in humility, I went forward with buying him.

Eight months later, I am still getting a daily education on the three year old horsey mindset and there’s been a bit of black and blue – nothing more than a broken toe and a few bruises 🙂 Perhaps part of the “accelerated plan” our Creator has for me was just this: how to deal with an intelligent, energetic, clever, lovebug of a baby horse.

As Spirit was still boarding at Bryan’s barn, I had the opportunity to get to know many other horses in my time there and just happened to be there the day after an exquisite Paint mare, at that time named Sylvia, arrived from a farm in Illinois.

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She was five years old, had had some fine training, had been in pasture for a couple of years and was coming to Bryan to be trained up (“finished”) to be a show horse and be sold.  Her “family tree” is a an impeccable list of million dollar horses and she was to be sold for top dollar after Bryan did the finishing of her.

When I met her, she was still tranquilized,very still, quiet and shut down.  I offered her some baby carrots.  People poking their heads into her stall told me she wouldn’t eat them because she wasn’t used to treats.   After a half an hour of speaking to her softly, petting her and letting her smell the carrots, even in her shut down state, she ate them 🙂 Of course!  She’s a horse!

She began getting more animated in the week that followed.  I would spend lots of time with her as well as with Spirit.  She would even whinny, calling out to me, when she saw me coming for a ride on Spirit.

Then one day, she and I were just having some pet and scratch time and suddenly it was as though I heard a tiny voice in my head.  “Please, I don’t WANT to be a show horse”.  I gasped because this sentence was so clear and audible.  I looked at her and said aloud, “I can’t afford you sweet Girl.  But I will do everything in my power to honor your request.”

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Thus began the saga of Baby Doe….

Coming soon…Part Three 🙂

First Confession: How I Went From No Horse To Two Horses In Less Than A Year :)! (3 Parts)

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INDEED… in life, expect the unexpected!

PART ONE:

I began my equine “novice-hood”  by leasing and taking lessons on the glorious mare, Serenity!

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She was both a “hot horse”, meaning even her walk was as fast as most others’ trots, and a gentle sweetheart.

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She was so easy on the ground.  When I’d clean her hooves, she’d just hand them to me.  Harnessing, bridling, saddling…easy!  About a month into my adventures with Serenity, the Houdini of a horse, Fritz :), had unlatched her stall door in the wee hours of the morning. She must have gotten out and gone running into some fencing because she was found cut and bleeding early the next morning.

Enter the good vet, Dr. Hilton.  Serenity’s human and I rushed to the scene as he stitched her up, gave us instructions and predicted she would not be ride-able for at least six weeks.  Her human, who had many different agendas with Serenity, was appalled.  I had already fallen madly in love with this mare and I wasn’t going anywhere.

Thus began my journey of caring for Serenity.  Her human rarely came around during this time.  I went every day when she was stall bound and would groom her gently, massage her, give her treats, kiss her nostrils and just hang out with her.  Soon we were given the okay to take her out, hand graze her and walk her gently.032

I spent happy days and weeks doing this.   Serenity and I developed a poignant bond.032

She taught me things about horses that one doesn’t necessarily learn when actually riding them.  She taught me how to be more authentic, patient and courageous.  She taught me that the best place to shed one’s tears is burying one’s face in a sweet horse’s neck, while hugging them.  She taught me that each horse is completely who they are and no two are alike. Eventually she healed.

I had the honor of cutting off her final bandage.  And the riding lessons commenced again.

So did my “accelerated education”…

I actually  found myself observing a lot of human behavior that I found troubling.  Behaviors like taking things personally when a horse doesn’t do what one wants them to do.  I observed her human slapping her and violently longeing her when she wasn’t happy with her behavior.  It was almost as though the human was acting out how her parents had treated her.  Because I was only the” leasing human”, I had very little say in the matter and would often feel devastated and helpless with my stomach in knots.

After returning from a  weeklong trip to Wyoming, which was ALL about horses, I went to ride Serenity and she was acting strange.  She didn’t want the saddle on her, didn’t want to go forward, was wringing her tail constantly and on trail was jiggity beyond anything I had experienced.  I ask her human’s permission to have Dr. Hilton look her over.  He palpated her, did some other testing and provisionally diagnosed that she was incredibly sore in her hindquarters and needed rest for about 10 days.

Needless to say, her human was again appalled, showed up at the barn, tacked her up and put on a “demonstration” to show how not sore Serenity was.  The whole time, Serenity just looked at me with hollow eyes and dropped her head obediently while being ridden.

It was at this junction that her human and I had to part ways.  I could no longer participate in this.  I  often tearfully pleaded with her human, who was perpetually short of money, to let me buy her so that I could be her human and take care of her needs.  But… no.

I would visit Serenity often in the weeks that followed.   Then, one day, her human moved her to another barn. I was devastated, even though I had permission to see Serenity at the new barn.  But my life had taken a swift and unusual turn…

Part Two Coming Soon!!! 🙂