Tag Archives: Joy

Confession Number Fifteen: My Final Confession

 

Wyoming

 

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

032

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.

170

133

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!

Spirit3

Appys can be looney-toons sometimes! 🙂

Spirit

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.”

164

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.

013

Colic never gets easier…

 

Baby Doe's WY boo boo 2

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.

Wyoming1

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…:)

Wyoming 3

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.

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG25

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!

December 18.JPG4

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!

Wyoming4

Blessed Wyoming!

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

 

April 2016 Horses 18

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.

April 2016 Horses 11

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?)

April 2016 Horses 13

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.

April 2016 Horses 7

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.

photo (26)

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.

April 2016 Horses

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.

April 2016 Horses 24

 

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”.

 

 

 

IMG_0443

 

Confession Number Thirteen: The Novice Is Taking It To Another Level

March 23 (2)An Unexpected Shift:

Although I will be a Student of Horse the rest of my days, I feel something in my novice horsemanship changing.  It is somewhat intangible. Writing about it will be very challenging because much of this shift is in the realm of the unseen, the realm of intuition and spirit.  However, the manifestations in the physical world that I will describe may help illustrate the strong yet gossamer thread of complete confidence in the world of the spirit that is becoming a constant in my life with horses and in general.

On a practical level, having had the “crash course in horse” experience the past few years, I am now in a place of understanding; I’ve been exposed to so many elements of horse handling, horse health, horse training, horse care and many different horses, themselves.  This has enabled me to make informed decisions on my own, without needing to believe and trust that every opinion, or what folks claim is horse gospel truth, is actually true.

What is true is that there is no complete “right” when being with horses.  They are all so different; with such different backgrounds, personalities and temperaments that it would be akin to thinking “one size fits all” when it comes to humans.  There are, however, many “wrongs” in the world of horse.  And, then there are simply the grey areas…

Interestingly, however, in this time of “the sleeping bear”, this time of peace, this time of having time in my life, I am finding a new level, a “something else” as I am with, not only my horses, but any horse.

A big part of this this “new level” is occurring because I am spending so much time just being with my horses.

I am resisting the ever-present temptation to bathe them (their favorite thing being to get damp in a bit of drizzling rain, then pick the dirtiest dirt in the paddock and have a marvelous, groaning-with-pleasure roll in it), obsessively fly spray them (organic, of course!) in the Florida bug-ridden tropical weather, love on them, give out way too many treats…all the fun but busy things we humans enjoy with our horses…and instead… just sit there under a tree in the paddock.  They might come over and sniff me a bit or ignore me totally but there we are…together.  I don’t “do” anything.  I don’t even pray, do energy work or send mental or verbal messages to them.

I just… sit.

Don’t get me wrong,  I DO groom them, pick hooves, brush out manes and tails and observe their training and care, as any horse caretaker must do, but not as the heretofore primary agenda when I am with them. 🙂

March photo (17)

I do admit to needing to kiss Spirit’s cute nose sometimes, before I settle myself down…

 

March 18

Sweet Serenity, so quiet and kind, with just a touch of sassy.  Sometimes I sit and look into her eyes and she stares right back, her lips trembling with relaxation.

 

March photo (19)

Sometimes, Baby Doe communicates very strongly that I must scratch her rear end…for hours, actually.  I don’t mind one bit!

I AM doing as many of these things as possible “at liberty”…no halter, no lead rope. Admittedly, with my beloved gelding, the irrepressible Spirit, halter and rope are still necessary for grooming, at least … still,  the kind trainer is slowly accomplishing many things with him at liberty!

The other thing I’m starting to observe is that my communication with my three is becoming more of a two-way street.  I use more body language and respond more in the moment without considering the horse-world-approved right and wrong ways to communicate with a horse. And my sweet horses are clearer, whether with body language or actual mental pictures/words, in what they are trying to tell me.

In past blogs, I related the two times I heard actual sentences from my horses, upon which I acted and achieved the desired results.  The first time was when Serenity instructed me how to disguise her antibiotic medication so that she would actually take it easily instead of the ongoing struggle we had been having.  The second time was when Baby Doe whispered to me that she did NOT want to be a show horse. This led to my actively pursuing having her become mine, aided by the un-showhorse-worthy hitch in her gait (which later turned out to be navicular disease).  Had I not “heard”  her say this, I don’t know, at that time, if I would have had the courage and wherewithal to fight for her the way I did, and she could easily have ended up in cruel hands or put down.

I do still hear certain phrases, instructions and even their individual private names for me (too precious and sacred to share) but, at this writing, I have not yet been able to put these into categories that can be comprehended.  These communications are coming, albeit somewhat disjointedly, due to my own “head-deafness” (this is how I describe my human-ness to them while asking them to be really persistent and clear with me 🙂

March 20

Spirit is not sure whether he’ll acknowledge my presence 🙂

March 22

He decides he will!

photo (23)

We take a little walk together 🙂

They patiently spell certain things out as though teaching me “A: an Apple, B: a Boy, C: a Cat”.

One example of this would be the time I was hand grazing Serenity just outside Baby Doe’s paddock.  Baby Doe allowed this to go on for a bit and then began plucking at the halter hanging on the nearby gatepost.  I continued to blissfully graze Serenity.  Baby Doe then picked up the halter in her teeth and flung it to the ground outside the gate.  Me: still blissfully grazing Serenity.  Finally, Baby Doe grabbed the gate chain in her teeth and violently shook it.  Me:  “Oh gee, did you want to be grazed now, Baby Doe?”

I put Serenity back in her paddock, picked up the flung-to-the-ground halter and approached Baby Doe.  Normally a bit hard to catch, Baby Doe thrust her head in the halter, gave me about 1 second to clip on the lead rope, another second to open the gate, and with a flounce of her golden mane, stepped out to where the “grass is greener” (naturally OUTSIDE the grassy paddock she is in) and began chomping grass as though she had been starved for 6 months!  Yeah, it was elementary, and I eventually “got it” :).

That is a very basic example of the “conversations” we’re having these days…there are now multitudes of these “conversations” on escalating levels.

But recently a more advanced communication happened, one that I am just now beginning to process.

My three have become quite the tiny herd and upon coming here, their beautiful herd-ish-ness though still exquisite, is, sometimes, impractical for our more “civilized surroundings”.  I LOVE their bond and would protect it with my very being, BUT we do need to calm some of the anxiety that is occurring when one of them is out of sight of the others.  When I say out of sight, I mean perhaps a hundred feet away, around a corner.

The wonderful, kind trainer is working to calm their anxiety.  It is a slow, patient work-in-progress.

Thus,  when the farrier had Spirit under the overhang of the main barn while doing his hooves and Baby Doe was in her back paddock, all training of the easing of the separation anxiety went completely out the window and Baby Doe began hysterically running and whinnying for him.

His front legs were somewhat visible, but his whole body wasn’t.  I went to her and the proffered hay-as-a-distraction did absolutely nothing to calm her.

I grabbed her halter, into which she again shoved her head, then clipped her lead rope on and intended to take her into the neighboring paddock which, at the outside boundary, was only about 25 feet from where Spirit was standing.  She was so overly excited, I was concerned about leading her directly to him outside of the fencing, knowing she could potentially bolt. I couldn’t let her continue to scream in anxiety because this can lead to ulcers and she had just come through a colic the night before (a VERY long night…).

As we entered the neighboring paddock, it became clear that her anxiety was not lessening in the slightest.  Still, I led her to the fence nearest  to where he was standing.  She was still screaming and pulling.

I knew I had to release the lead rope and just let her go, or I could be dragged and perhaps stomped upon.  She was totally hysterical.

I also knew that when I released the lead rope, I had to find safety in seconds and strategized the spot.  Then came the moment.  I reached up to unclip the rope. Time stopped.

Although frantic in her anxious hysteria, she actually looked down at me. I looked up at her.  In that nano-second, we communicated non-verbally.  She conveyed, in that nano-second, that she was not going to hurt me, no matter what.

I trusted that.

I let go.

She ran in a frenzy. I hopped up on the fence.  She ran close to me but not at me.  I felt calm, made “shhh-ing” sounds to her and didn’t fear her in the least. I just hoped to calm her.

While this was going on, the farrier, in his amazing wisdom, brought his tools and the much-missed gelding, Spirit, down to the fence where she was.  Baby Doe immediately calmed. I hopped down off the fence on the other side and then saw the pale faces of the onlookers.

I guess they thought I was crazy, in danger of being trampled and probably was doing a dunder-headed thing when I handled her the way I did.

But I KNEW.  And Baby Doe knew.

In that split second, all the time we’ve spent bonding, having our disagreements, learning from each other, angering each other and loving each other, came together… in that vital split second of communication…as time stood still.

As I move into this new phase, as is common in life, all sorts of people, books and videos are suddenly making themselves known to me that support, explain and teach the new level that I am experiencing.  It is as though a completely new universe of possibility is opening up to me in my relationship with horses.

I had been dismissed, ignored and contradicted so often in the past when I would express my intuitions and knowing-nesses, that I can hardly  believe that I am going down a path now that many have traveled before me!

But, mainly, it’s the horses.  They are the ones patiently teaching.  They are the ones who remain steadfast until humans “wake up” to the oneness of all things in the universe.  They are the ones who don’t need us…but know that we need them.  We need them very much to help us evolve into our better selves.

Liz Mitten Ryan states this so beautifully in her book, The Truth According To Horses (Prima Publishing, 2008):

(The following is a communication of thought information given to her by her herd…)

“Dogs, cats and horses have been your closest companions through the ages. Think of the attributes that are ours.

Dogs are loyal.  They love unconditionally….They surround you with care, with adoration, and they guard you against your greatest fears.

Then there are cats. They show you how to be free. They reward you with their approval when you make the right decision and they will call you on your shortcomings….Life is an adventure for a cat and they will show you how to participate.

Horses are for a … few who have committed to a complete immersion in the life experience.  They are the big commitment most people are afraid to make and will test and try your resolve to grow in spirit more than any other species….

We can give you the peak experience.  Wisdom, Truth, Joy, Freedom, Abundance and Love.

Is there anything else you are looking for?  We will challenge you to become the most you can possibly be.  We are at your disposal. Come when you want to spend time with us and commit to the level you want to grow. We have no parameters. You are the ones who set the limits, the time, space and dimension…

We are limitless beings in a limitless Universe. Come and commune with us and let us show you how to be the best you can be.”

Yes, yes and yes!

2156

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

photo 1

 

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!

photo5BMR

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.

IMG_8274

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.

photo 3BMR

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.

IMG_2934

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.

116

 

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…

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG20

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…

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG27

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!

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG21

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!

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG11

Not even the “bleak mid-winter” yet 😦

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG29

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.

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG14

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!

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG18

Just before sunrise at feeding time.

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG31

Each sunset more glorious than the previous ones.

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG4

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

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

Wyoming Fall and Winter.JPG3

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seventh Confession: How Falling Taught Me There Truly Is Nothing to Fear, But Fear Itself! :)

An Unexpected Fall:

My little gelding, Spirit, teaches me so much about play, happiness, resilience and just plain old fun.  The video above shows him obliviously playing so hard with his ball that he tips himself over, gets up, shakes off the dust and goes on as though nothing had happened 🙂

One of my biggest fears, as trainer Marianne and I progressed through my training, was to fall.  It was the unknown.  I had never fallen off a horse before.  As a result, even though I’d been experiencing all the strength, feelings of connection and wordless joy when I rode, something in me was still holding back….lest I fall.

As my posting trot and balance grew better and as I was able to do 4 gait transitions (walk, working walk, sitting trot, posting trot) trainer Marianne and I both felt I was ready to begin learning the seated canter.

I hadn’t known this, but the seated canter is actually quite advanced and can take students quite a bit of time to accomplish.  She wisely started me with this so that I could learn it from the bottom up…literally 🙂

We saddled up sweet Buzz, the gelding, in my Western treeless saddle. I love using  it because it has a suede seat so that one doesn’t slide around (especially as a beginner) and the seat is shaped almost iike an English Hunter saddle.

photo 2 (2)

My trusty Western treeless saddle!

After many instructions and descriptions, trainer Marianne hooked Buzz up to the longe line so that she could control that which I might not be able to.  We began the trot, then she had me say “Canter up” and AWAY WE WENT!  I hadn’t suspected that Buzz would give so much speed and feel so very powerful under me!

As I worked hard to do what trainer Marianne had instructed, it was just too much for me.  I called out for her to slow him and relaxed knowing I’d soon be in a nice, comfy trot.

Only, Marianne didn’t hear me!!!

As I relaxed, suddenly the ride became smooth, flowing, graceful and an amazing sensation!

When we finally did get back to a trot, trainer Marianne cried out, “You did it!  You sat the canter!  On the first try!”

What?  So that’s what my body had needed to do to sit it?  Not much…sit back, stay centered in your body and balance, don’t lean forward, heels down, strong thighs and go with the horse’s motion.  Wow.

The next day, since it had gone so well, Marianne brought out the English Hunter saddle to work the canter.  She again gave instruction, demonstrated, had me do a few laps of posting trot to activate my strength and balance and then hooked Buzz up to the longe line again.

This time, once the trot transitioned to canter, because I’m still building strength and balance, the saddle felt crazy slippery!  I couldn’t even begin to get my seat, I had no idea what my thighs were doing and then I did the absolutely most incorrect thing one can do in a canter.  I leaned forward!

Buzz, being a responsive horse, took that to mean he should stop.  Then it happened!  I slid slowly off the saddle, down the side of his body and into the dust.  It all happened in such slow motion that I was actually able to calculate how best to land so as to inflict the least amount of damage 🙂

I am not being glib, because falling off a horse can have tragic consequences.  I was truly blessed my first time. I also learned that the cliché, “it’s as easy as falling off a horse”, is very true 🙂

Marianne checked on me, but I was on my feet in a second.  She gave me the rundown of what I had done incorrectly but I couldn’t even really hear her.  All I could do was take in the fact that, yep, I’d fallen off a horse and that time, at least, it really wasn’t as scary and awful as I had built it up to be!

She wanted to call it a day but I couldn’t.  Not until I pulled out my trusty treeless saddle and tried just one more time!  Marianne says, at that moment, she learned things about me that she hadn’t even suspected.

So we saddled up, longe lined up, up I hopped and off we went!.  It wasn’t for a long stretch of time.  Just enough to get to that point of complete synchronization with all body parts, balance, relaxation and connection with horse that caused me to feel like I could ride like that, at that speed, for hours; and never get enough.

As Spirit’s adorable example of falling while immersed in pure, playful joy taught me so much about staying in a mind frame of happiness rather than in dread; this fall taught me that indeed my fear was much worse than the thing I feared.

This fall taught me how good it can be to let oneself risk, play, laugh and love enough… to actually FALL!……………………….from the sheer, wondrous magnitude of it 😉

Spirit jumping poles uninhibitedly!

Spirit jumping poles uninhibitedly!

Spirit in rare form! Playing with all his heart!<3

Spirit in rare form! Playing with all his heart!<3

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

119

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.

246

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.

093

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…

167

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.

226

Hunter saddle, beginning posting!

304

Western treeless saddle! Awesome feel!

307

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!!!

161