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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 Ten: I Am Very Bad At Grief

 

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The Wyoming Winter Sky Echoes The Sadness Within Me

An Unexpected Death Watch:

I tried, I really tried to make him well again!  I knew my boy cat, Hercules, wasn’t well.  He had dropped a lot of weight in a short period of time. His little spine felt like a dinosaur skeleton.  He was lethargic and vocally complaining a lot.

I took him to the wonderful vet, Dr. Brenda, and we did everything. Some things we did twice.  She was very accommodating, even though she knew by palpating the mass in his abdomen, looking at the x-rays and the blood tests, that, in all likelihood, he had lymphoma.  But she bore with me as I asked for yet another round of antibiotics, for more tests, for more ex-rays, ANYTHING to somehow make it not so.

Finally, this past Wednesday, we both realized she needed to open up his abdomen to see what this was, if it had spread, if it was removable.  She sent me on errands around town rather than have me drive back up to the ranch.  But in just a few minutes, by the time I had filled up my truck at the gas station, I had a call from her asking me to come immediately back to the vet’s office so I could see the mass for myself.

Most vets wouldn’t have invited the patient’s “mom” into the operating room, but Dr. Brenda had already observed my ability to watch surgical cutting, gore, and spewing blood when I remained present for Baby Doe’s leg “boo boo” surgery.  She knew I wouldn’t faint at the sight of Hercules’ open abdomen 😦

What I did see in my precious boy’s abdomen was the largest, ugliest, most grotesque, hateful mass imaginable.  It surrounded his intestines, it made viewing some of his other organs almost impossible.  For me, it was “hate at first sight”.  Dr. Brenda was right there with me, hating this hideous monster of a mass in my boy’s belly.

She gave me the choice whether to sew him back up and let him live out what was left to him or to give him the meds that would let him gently drift over the rainbow bridge.

After ascertaining the pain management options available to him, added to the fact that he had still been eating, drinking, trotting around with his tail straight up and cuddling with massive purring, I had her sew him back up.

Many might disagree with this decision, but as long as he wasn’t suffering in pain and he was still vibrant enough to get all the love and goodbyes that we all needed to give him, I would wait with him for when he decided it was time…

And so, now, it is just a matter of time.  At the first sign of no appetite, hiding out, and pain in his eyes, I WILL do what is necessary.

In the meantime, there is one room in which he likes to hang out by his water fountain.  I’ve been putting a blanket and pillow on the floor at night to sleep next to him for the few nights I probably have left with him.

My grief is almost unendurable.  He has been an amazing companion.

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Grief….pure grief….

I tell his story on my other website Christine Hendler’s Blog in a May 2014 post titled A Tail of Four Cats as well as a description of what I now realize was the beginning of his cancer in an October 2014 post titled Try To Remember The Kind Of September

In most of my posts, I try to find the lesson to be learned in the experiences I have.  In this experience, here’s what I’ve learned.

First Lesson:  My neighbor, who is a tough Wyoming cattle rancher, and who checks in on me regularly ( I think he can’t quite believe a petite, blond girlie girl is managing and living on 80 acres all by herself), actually reacted with kindness and complete understanding when he came by the other day and all I could do was sob (ugly sobbing, believe me!)  He actually praised my ability to let out my sorrow rather than hold it in.  Who knew that even the toughest cowboys “get it”.

Second Lesson: In horsemanship discussions, it is reiterated endlessly that one has to be the leader that one’s horse can trust. Being herd animals, horses look to the leader (whether horse or human) they can confidently follow.  For me, this has been an ongoing challenge in learning about “true” leadership.  I often berate myself and feel like I will never get to that point that is so prettily written about in the articles and books I read.

On the night I realized that Hercules is indeed dying of cancer, I was having a heck of a time removing the eye mask that Baby Doe must wear daily, since her light eyes could be severely damaged by the sun.

She was in one of her mare-ish Princess/Diva Doe moods and having none of it.  Finally, in my anguish, I said to her “Look, Baby Doe, Hercules is dying and I can’t handle you and your f—ing Diva ways tonight so f—ing let me get this f—ing thing off.”  At which point I broke down sobbing and couldn’t stop.  She slowly turned her head to look at me, took a step closer, bowed her head and touched my shoulder with her nose and invited me to get the mask off without any trouble whatsoever. (By the way, any horse person who tells you they’ve NEVER dropped the “F Bomb” with their horse is not exactly telling you the full story…:)

I learned that leadership equals honesty.  Horses never lie and one can never lie to a horse.  They know.  My anger and grief were my truth and she responded to that truth.

My worry about Hercules, the horses, the ranch and my loved ones, is so intense these days that my forehead needs botox! 🙂  But I still have tremendous faith in God.

I choose, now, to sit in a place of  love and gratitude for my beloved Hercules.  I choose, now,  to wait with him for the moment he tells me, “It’s time. I’m ready.”

I choose, now, that he and I will watch for death…together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eye See You

Thank you dear Merel for sharing, so very generously, your beautiful soul and the souls of the horses you draw & paint.❤️ Here is what trainer Marianne wrote me about the painting of her horses, Caspian & Lochnagar:
“The painting of Lochnagar and Caspian is so amazing. Each time I look at it I see more of who they are. …Thank you again!” And yes, this pencil drawing did indeed invite me immediately into this horse’s soul, where he showed me, in my heart, how to run wild and dance with him in freedom under the starlight and moonlight✨✨✨

Merel Burggraaf - International Equine Art & Horse Healing

Graphite drawing of a horse's eye Graphite drawing of a horse’s eye – in a private collection

Recently I have been so fortunate to ship a fourth (in 2015) watercolour painting to the USA and this pencil drawing went with it! The new owner of this soulful horse’s eye is being called to work with horses. She feels like this horse’s eye is calling her to the horse world :). I feel blessed to be able to evoke feelings with my drawings and paintings. I hope she will enjoy this graphite drawing for a very long time and even more I hope she will be successful at her work with horses! And she will :).

Love,
Merel

Onlangs heb ik het geluk gehad een vierde aquarel dit jaar naar de Verenigde Staten te mogen sturen en deze potloodtekening ging mee! De nieuwe eigenaresse van dit zielvolle paardenoog voelt zich geroepen om met paarden te werken. Deze tekening roept in…

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