Monday, April 12, 2010

God Bless Horses- Lasting Lessons From The Three Amigos

How is it possible for one person to have so much love and respect for horses while others sometimes seem to have so little? The contrast is amazing. I don't understand how any person who's ever really bonded with a horse can't love them immensely? It's frightening the contrast from person to person when it comes to emotion or lack there of. To have this overabundance of love and compassion for horses that I've never even met, is somewhat of a blessing and a curse.

For those of us who have this capacity, well, we feel it. We feel the heartache of knowing that we can't help every one. We realize we can't help eliminate all suffering despite our best efforts. There will always be those that we can't help. We will be criticized for our "foolishness" and desire to do something our hearts lead us to do. We'll be called "silly" and "irrational." We'll be told we don't know what we're talking about, despite the fact that many of our desires to help were fueled from personal experiences and first-hand knowledge- perhaps even failures and tragedy? Of suffering that would be so painful that most would have turned away from? Alas, we continue. We march on to spread the knowledge that we have acquired to others. In hopes to inspire that each and every one of us can make a difference if we are at least willing to face a challenge before us of horse overpopulation.

Take caution though, because once you are willing to honestly face this challenge, it may not let you go-ever, or at least until it's done with you. It won't let you walk away because even if you do, it will come back to you time and again, over days, over weeks, over months, over years, over decades. You won't be able to hide from it. It will find you.

This is my personal ghost when it comes to horses. For my love of them is both a blessing and a curse. They were indeed, my first friends in life. My mom used to take me with her to the barn when I was just a baby, and place me in her old mare's feed bin while she groomed her. I don't remember this far back, but it's subconsciously engrained in my heart. My heart remembers dear sweet old trusting Suzy, and it will never let me forget one of my very first most loyal teacher's and friend's. I have the photos and the faint memories of her along with the others as a youngster spending precious time with my mom and her horses at the barn. My "formative" horse years. The years that shaped my horse "obsession."

For me there is no greater happiness than comes from being at my special place, my heaven on earth... the farm I'm blessed to be a part of where I board my horse "treasures." Yesterday, while riding with my sister and a friend out in the field, I saw what to me is truly heaven and earth, and it made me stop and give thanks for the blessings in my life and for the chance to be part of it! How special it is to even recognize the value of this all!

.....Off in the distance of the field we were all riding in, were the "Three Amigos" as I call them. Wandering into their pond and enjoying the peace and perfection of the beautiful, mild spring day. Let me further describe these "Three Amigos" to paint an accurate picture:

Amigo Number 1- Popeye.
Popeye is an old thirty something horse year old horse. He is a rescue horse, that a good Samaritan at our barn saved from certain death. This sweet soul had for years been a school horses teaching many students how to ride. His time before that is a mystery. Popeye had been used as a horse at a "church" camp in the Memphis area. For whatever reason, he'd been deemed useless, and was therefore locked in a stall without adequate food and was starved. A good Samaritan found out that he was going to be shot soon and discarded. She was able to arrange a safe-haven for him at our farm, and a second shot (no pun intended) at life-lucky soul! He came to us with perfectly shod feet- the irony despite his emaciated condition! He had a terrible open saddle sore on his withers. But this old soldier had one of the kindest, most gentle eyes I've ever seen in a horse. If only I could read his eyes and see the history that has been his life. He is a wise one, and has seen the world.

With love and TLC, Popeye blossomed. Within 90 days this guy shed his cacoon and emerged into the buxom beauty and regal old gent that is his true spirit. This horse with his lope ears, his droopy lip, his quiet way sneaks into your heart quickly and claims it! It's impossible not to love such a gentle, wise spirit. Even despite the hell he endured, he still loves his humans and trusts us. It brings me peace to know that he will never again endure the betrayal of foolish humans who were too limited to see the value in this awe-inspiring creature. He is one of the true triumphs of my life. His success can't even begin to be measured in my heart by trophies, ribbons,triumphs or glory. I am so blessed to have found the true meaning of what horses are to me in my life while still in my "youth" ...I've gotta few before I hit "middle age!"

Popeye's "rebirth" and his peace near what is surely coming to the end of his days, is a happiness I can't express in words! For I've known others dear to my heart who've been cheated too early from such happiness. In their memory, I can cherish dear sweet old "Pops" as I call him so fondly. And, don't be fooled by this guy either. He's still got lots of pep in his step! As is evident anytime one of us jump on him for a "relaxing" trail ride....he quickly reminds us with a playful- granted not so intimidating buck, or a sneaky attempt to turn and head back to the barn... that his "domain" is freedom to roam in his fields....because he's earned that right! He does still enjoy a quick hack and continues his legacy of teaching new students from time to time..... to think of the number of riders over the years this guy has started..... I wonder?

But Pops is not the only one..... he is the "ring-leader." Along with Pop's is his harem of distinguished ladies.... Copper- another near thirty something grand dame, and Triscuit, who knows her age, but it's in the same range.

Amigo #2-Triscuit:
This little pony is scarily smart.... a genius. I swear she knows the entire English language. She stares at me like she can see into my very soul. Like she knows more about me than I do, and then she toys with me and plays her games. She is truly a "wild horse" at heart, but somewhere over her years got tamed or "tricked" into becoming a domesticated pony and beloved family pet. She came to our farm when her owner who'd had her for years passed away. No doubt, Triscuit had bonded with her former owner, and probably only fully loved and trusted her. She has "learned" to trust us and accept us as she lives out the rest of her days. We treat this old lady, who looks more like a billy goat than a pony certain months, like the queen of Sheeba. I'm sure her former owner is looking down upon her blissful life and smiling. Triscuit has a way of just appearing out of thin air- she's like a ghost!

Amigo #3- Copper:
Copper is an old gaited mare that absolutely adores human attention of any kind. She has had kind owners and a blessed life and completely trusts all humans. She is a sweet soul, not quite so smart as Triscuit or Pops, but nonetheless, a sweet- hearted gem and happy. She loves her Triscuit and her Triscuit is lost without her. They both love their Pops, who "tolerates" their company. She's shed off her woolly mammoth coat and has the most beautiful shine and full-bodied figure for a gal of her age.

The "Three" Amigos have earned the special "Old Geezer" distinction of being able to freely wander the farm. They don't like being treated like the rest of the horses and placed within their pasture....that's no fun. There they are low-down in the pecking order. But, when they get to roam the farm, "they reign supreme!"I know it makes them feel special. They never stray very far from the barn. They have their "usual" pasture grazing routine.

As I was riding with my sister and friend yesterday and say them wandering into the pond in the field. As I watched them happily wandering at will "free" as domestic horses can be in their "heaven" on earth it warmed my heart. For I knew these sweet souls matter! These sweet, dear, gentle, souls and the respect, love, and honor we have shown them have brought me as close to the hand of God that I will ever be able to find in this life on earth! I knew yesterday watching them, that this vision and my seeing pure bliss and dignity- it was God's way of smiling down from heaven yesterday on earth. It was God's way of showing me in life the motivation to keep moving forward and learning the lessons he has in store for me. Isn't it wondrous, how such a simple thing, a simple sight of three happy old horses, can have so much honesty, truth, goodness and it can have so much
power and strength!

This is a sight that rang out and touched my heart and soul in such a marvelous way, that I wanted to share it on my blog with you. I hope it too rings a bell in your heart and makes you smile.
Horses teach us to look beyond the obvious in life and find real and lasting value. They are in themselves a miracle!

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