Friday, July 01, 2016

Losing a Friend

The best part of horses....there are many best parts. I like to write about the best parts, but eventually the worst part catches up to us. The worst part is when we lose them. I'm writing about this part to share an important experience that I need to share about horses, some reasons I love them, and why they are so important to me.

We can never really be prepared for Losing them. Sometimes you know it's coming. When you have an old one in failing health and you know the time to make a tough decision is near. Sometimes it hits hard and fast and you feel it like a punch to the gut... neither is easy. Both are traumatic, Both, right after each other, incomprehensible.

I lost a beloved friend a few nights ago. So did Triscuit, the next morning. I was not prepared for my friend's passing. It forced me to relive a painful experience from my past where I lost another truly, best friend in a similar way. I knew what was coming walking the full length of the pasture to my friend the other evening. I've seen that stillness before-it's one you don't want to see the movement too. The movement reveals the end. I knew, I wanted to see him remain still. When I got to him, he knew and so I knew. You don't want to believe that it in these moments, even though deep down, you know it's the end of something.

I don't know if Triscuit was prepared. She should have been for her friend's passing. Copper's health has been on the decline, but Triscuit's loyalty, sheer will, and determination have been keeping her friend alive for awhile now. Copper would have long since been gone had it not been for Triscuit. I believe that Copper knew how much she meant to her, and so she lived as long as she possibly could... slowly dwindling away... in order to spare Triscuit the pain of living without her as long as she could possibly hold out. Triscuit needed to let Copper go.

Triscuit's job has been to care for Copper. To standby her friend, to wait for her...She has been a loyal, faithful, unfaltering, steadfast friend. Triscuit is still being that faithful friend to Copper. She is standing guard over her grave and that of my friend. They were buried together.

I started another long walk the following night in search of the grave site for them both, I knew it was going to be tough. I knew what seeing it would do to me...I've been there before.... I was again not prepared for what else I would find. As I walked by the giant tree and around the bend into the opening, I saw the large dirt mound. It hit me hard, as I expected. But as I walked closer, there was Triscuit. Standing quietly beside the mound facing me. She was still standing by her friend. guarding her, keeping watch. She was initially standing on the side my friend is buried on. As if to let me know, this is your watch. I knew what side her Copper was on by where she then continued to stand. This was confirmed to me later, where each was buried. But I knew Triscuit was telling me.We both sat for a long time with our friends and with each other. We needed that. Two gone, two still there. Four forever friends.

Although this was a heart-wrenching experience, there was a great power to it. It reminded me of core values and belief's that I need to believe in, that have been damaged by a decade of life experiences in the real world of adulthood. Commitment, Faithfulness, Loyalty, True Love, ....they do exist along with something far greater than ourselves....I felt it in that moment beyond a shadow of a doubt....Horses were my first teachers of these lessons, and Triscuit helped remind me of what I'd almost been lured into giving up on.

Goodness for the sake of goodness does exist!  Purity of heart and spirit does exist! Pure love in it's most selfless form does exist! Commitment and loyalty ARE possible! I've seen it in a scruffy, discarded, giveaway horse who befriended a fellow scruffy, pasture ornament. This moment clarified so many things for me that I've been struggling with. It enabled me and Triscuit to bond and share in the experience of mourning both of our friends, but it helped me believe in goodness again and purity of heart, in something greater than us both...I said out loud to Triscuit in that moment:

   "Triscuit, I am so sorry... you are still standing by your friend...I know you are hurting. I know you miss your friend. I lost a friend too Triscuit. I understand! You are the best horse on this place,...You are better than most people I've met on this planet! You are a good, honest, loyal friend Triscuit, and have taken care of your Copper. Now I'm going to take care of you! We now have to take care of each other while we are still here. This is going to hurt for a long time. We'll be there for each other. You are the absolute best and the very reason I love horses with every ounce of my soul! Thank you Triscuit"

Triscuit knows I'm hurting as much as she is. We understand each other's loss and pain. I believe that beyond a shadow of doubt! What I am surprised by is how Copper's loss affected me also. I've spent lots of time over the years caring for her. I've had time to prepare for her passing but I'm still not prepared. I miss her too. She was also a good, loyal friend to Triscuit to stay by her as long as she did. Copper needed to let Triscuit go a long time ago too, but loyalty, love, and true friendship made her fight to stay with her.

Walking out again to the site tonight...I needed to again...and I may still a few more times...I'd almost convinced myself that it was silly to think that this brown ghost of a pony would still be there. Until I rounded the bend and saw her again this evening by the site. Tonight though, she was focused on the last spot she saw her friend. In the woods. (See the Picture above). She kept standing by it and looking back at me as if to say, do you see her? Maybe she did see her...or maybe she is just missing her and wanting her to show back up? Regardless, I'm overwhelmed at the persistence and loyalty of this scruffy pony. She is far stronger than she looks. Her spirit is is is the raw, honest, powerful spirit of a horse, of a pure soul that is uncluttered by nonsense and focused on what is important.

It was in the moment, but also proof to me that they do feel, they do have emotion and are in touch with ours and tapped into something greater that they "understand." They have always been my guides, my guardian's, my examples of what is good and true. They are where I feel closest to that connecting force that is so powerful you do not question. They lead me back to me and show me who I MUST be. Connecting with them, connects me with myself, and that something greater which connects everything. This is why I fell in love with horses in the first place.

I never dreamed this whisp of a ghost pony could have such an impact. She has reset my course and strengthened my faith. I am honored that Triscuit sees me as one of her herd. That she trusts me enough to share this insight that is the very nature of what a horse is. All of my friend's.... the one's here on this planet....the one's who have gone on, are still with me. Still teaching me and still will teach me. This moment showed me a secret to life that is it's core. That has given me a strength and reason to stay the course and believe in something that will get me through when I need reassurance of what is important in this life! Triscuit just taught me one of my most valuable lessons. There will never be another like her to me either!

Don't underestimate the spirit of any horse... they have the potential to show you the value of what you need to see in life and in death.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Learning the Dance of Riding a Horse

One of the first lessons to master when learning to ride a horse is how to take hold of the reins, but in order to become a better rider, one must learn when to let go of the reins! This is one of the most powerful lessons horses can teach us- not an easy one to master. Then again, horses have the potential to teach us that the most valuable lessons don't come easy, which is why these lessons are so valuable.

Riding is a dance of give and take. Balance and re-balance. Timing is the key. When to give and when to take. When to steady and when to lighten. When to stay out of the way. When to remind. When to insist! All of this together eventually becomes that instinctual, intuitive, "feel" that is a power beyond physical strength. It is a power in understanding how the sum of all parts equals a whole.

How two individual beings, with a mind and heart and soul of their own, come together to accomplish feats as a team that neither one would be able to achieve on their own is a process that takes awareness, patience, practice, trust, understanding, and respect. It is a dance of equal partners, each step into the lead role and then back as the follower. It works because both horse and rider enjoy their fun and unique dance together.

One reason horses can teach us how to dance better when we allow them to take the lead is because in doing so, they will teach us more about ourselves. Is it easy for you to let the horse lead or difficult for you? Wonder why that is? Perhaps you need to learn that letting go is not something to fear? Perhaps you need to learn that taking charge is something you are fully capable of doing? Rest assured, your horse knows which to teach you.

Truth is, most horses want to know that we can be trusted to take the lead role. Expect to earn this trust. But when this dance is a solo rather than a duet, it is no fun for the horse and we do not achieve the full effect of this dance. When you ride, it is not about control. It is not about force or strength. It is not about pulling back or kicking harder. It is not about making the horse do for you . It is about knowing the right time to ask and release and let the horse carry you!

 It's about moving with the horse yet maintaining your own center of balance and helping the horse to find and maintain their balance in synch with your moving body on top of them. Give the horse some freedom and responsibility to do what you expect of them. This is what motivates the horse to want to carry you and tells them you respect them and believe they are capable! This teaches them confidence, respect, and trust in you.

The sign of a great rider is one who doesn't appear to do anything while riding! The almost invisible dance steps between horse and rider are most fully appreciated by those who've danced this dance before. Although it may look effortless, fellow horse riders recognize the skill involved in this performance.

There is so much more to learn from this dance than simply the art of the dance. We learn about ourselves and how to become better versions as our horses teach us how to dance better and better. Even the best riders, will need to learn a new dance with a new horse. Each dance is different and brings up new challenges and opportunities. It all starts with being in the right emotional state to begin to learn the dance.

Being willing to get out of your own way and learn something new. Being willing to try and struggle and work hard. Being consistent and committed to the practice. Being willing to face your doubts and fears and frustrations. Being willing to fail so that you can learn better how to succeed.  Being willing to learn that you are all that your horse already knows you to be and fully capable of achieving the marvelous dance you both have the potential for. This is Learning the Dance of Riding a Horse.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Take Time to Play

Last night while walking back to the barn after "dutifully" completing my "scheduled" training session with my mare, I got a little "reminder" from two giggly, blonde, side-braided, long-legged, teenage girls and one big old gelding grinning from head to tail about what’s really important between a horse and rider! 

As they cantered around circling the rolling grass field together, I couldn’t help but notice the lovely, balanced, collected, free, PROUD frame this horse had carrying his crew around and the synergy of his precious cargo aboard. I’m a connoisseur of centered riding and natural movement and balance and this to me was a more authentic beautiful, achievement in horse/rider teamwork than a medal winning round at equitation final! It spoke a truth and lesson for me that many of us "adults" need a reminder in!

We can regiment, schedule, task, and work ourselves to death and take the real meaning of life…JOY… FUN...right out of the very things we love most when we get too ahead or even too behind of where we are in that very moment! Don’t underestimate the power of JOY. The energy that comes from both happiness and joy can make a horse you’ve seen a thousand times before appear LARGER than life when truly CONNECTED.
I had to laugh at myself once I realize that it’s okay to deviate from my "scheduled" tasks once in a while and just have a little fun and PLAY! Sometimes, I need to give myself a break! You can kill the fun in the very thing you love the most by turning it into WORK all of the time!!! Who wants to work all of the time? Horses sure don’t….AND teenagers ABSOLUTELY don’t!

Therein lies the lesson in this for me, and probably a lot of busy adults about BALANCE and JOY in life. As I watched these girls and this horse in perfect, joyful, harmony and BALANCE, I realized that I could ride without stirrups, work on serpentines, transitions, and spiral in and out till the cows come home….. BUT what makes the most impactful achievement between horse and rider is a HAPPY horse and rider, enjoying their connected moments in time….TOGETHER.

Don’t forget to keep your time with horses BALANCED and just LET IT GO and have fun with your horse OFTEN! These girls reminded me that it’s a good thing to allow your horse to carry you to that fun place of joy that you both need to go to. Which is part of the very reason us horse crazy people became horse crazy in the first place and have the love that we do for our horses! Kids and horses….sometimes it’s wise to listen to them!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Horse Lover's: Dream Your Life With Horses!

Horse lovers' dream of's in our blood. We NEED them to help us find our way to who we are and who we are meant to be as they give us guidance along this superhighway of life. A horse lover is called to horses and them to us despite "life" trying to get in the way and break us apart. Life may succeed for a time, but the polar attraction of a horse lover to a horse and vice versa is like a neodymium magnet.

You see, we are better together. We are at our most powerful true selves. Life has meaning, purpose, intent. We learn to triumph with horses, we learn to fail with horses. We learn to handle joy and sadness with horses. We learn to be present and accept what is with horses.

Understand that we are capable of handling what is to come because life is not a constant ...neither all good nor all bad. Life is a challenge of change that we handle. Like a trail filled with different terrain that we handle along the ride. Like a course we jump filled with different types of jumps, strides, approaches, options. Horse lovers' NEED horses to handle life's terrain. We can't jump the course of life very well on our own feet either. Deep down, a horse lover knows that we weren't created and put on this earth to go it on our own two feet. We were put here to move on six feet...two our own, four our horses. That's the beat our drum gallops to. And that's the only beat our heart's can beat whole-heartedly and happily to. To the sound of hoof beats!

Some advice to non-horse lovers', do NOT EVER ask or expect a horse lover to GIVE UP their hoof beating heart and horse loving soul for you or something YOU want! If you ask this of a horse lover or expect it, YOU should be ashamed of yourself! Asking this of a horse lover is asking them to give up their identity, their heart, their soul and you are being selfish! If you can't handle or appreciate that a horse lover is a horse lover, MOVE ON! You won't be happy, you will be resented. You will figure out the hard way that the secret to your happiness is to work on yourself, NOT take away something from another in an attempt to satisfy you. You make happiness by building it not tearing down!

I get frustrated when people give up on their horse dreams because of life circumstances. Maybe you can't afford your "hobby" the way you used to experience it. Maybe you get married or start a family and don't have the support, finances, energy you need to be involved with horses at the moment. Maybe you have a job that doesn't allow time for it....Remember, life is full of moments. Just because one moment of time doesn't  easily allow for your involvement with horses does NOT mean that you have to "Give Horses Up!" It just means that you have to find a way to balance life so that you can continue to have horses in your life. You WILL have to ADAPT. Perhaps experience horses differently than you have before. But you will LEARN from this new experience. Trust me, a horse lover's soul will NOT allow you to live away from a horse happily for long. You will find your way back to each other as you are meant to!

To those of you horse lovers teetering on this decision, to try to dream a life without are probably beat down by life. You are probably at a low where you feel that giving this up will bring you some relief, you've been treading water for what feels right now like a long time, and are probably thinking that giving up and going under may be your best option....DON'T DO IT!!! Think about what horses have taught you! The life lessons. The power that you have when you are YOU with horses! Don't give up this piece of you! This is WHO YOU ARE! You will find a way to make it through this "moment" You will be stronger because of if....better ...and if you stick with your horse love and FIND A WAY, you will be closer to your BEST HAPPIEST SELF quicker than if you diverge on a path that takes you away from yourself and your happiness. You can have all that you want in life...ALL...WITH HORSES! Where there's a will there's a way. Find your way toward your dreams with horses!!!

I speak from first-hand experience on this topic. From giving up to coming back. From sacrificing to reclaiming. From the fog of manipulation to the crystal clearness of reality. From weak to strong. If I can do it- so can YOU...WITH HORSES because that is who you ARE!!!

Friday, December 05, 2014

The Life Float God's Thrown Me

Praise God for making this Bad Boy to get me through life's roller-coasters AND to remind me when I doubt what true love is! Thank you Bucky (my rock) for helping me see clearly what is really important when I don't understand this crazy world!
When God created my horse Bucky, he made me a life float that he  knew I'd need from time to time to keep me from drowning. From the moment I laid eyes on this prankster, I knew. I didn't need to ride him. I knew. He sized me up with a look out of one-eye that spoke right to my are T.R.O.U.B.L.E...but you "see" me for who I am, and I knew.

He challenges me. He infuriates me. He makes me laugh. He worries me...but most of all, he loves me and relishes in that I love him. He respects me and has learned to trust me. Bucky can be an insecure, worry-wort like me at times. I keep Omeprazole in stock for us both just in case!

Bucky makes bad choices A LOT like me too. Some more costly than others! Bucky has needed me and I have needed him. Bucky is smart. He knows that he is lucky to have me and that my love has blessed him and probably even saved him. I am lucky to have him.

Ironically, the great relationship heartbreaks of my life to date, have occurred during the time I've owned Bucky. Relationships scare me! It's hard for me to let "people" in. Bucky helped give me the courage to let a few in. Bucky was in my engagement photos over my shoulder, and he gave me a shoulder to lean on and cry into when my marriage fell apart. When I didn't understand which way I was coming or going. When my usual ability to make clear decisions was gone. When my trust in myself and people was shattered. When those who spoke of love didn't show it. When I saw control, manipulation, and insults being fired at me like bullets, Bucky was my shield. My love for Bucky and my responsibility to take care of him, kept me from fading away and drowning! Thank God for Bucky for preventing me from disappearing and for giving me the strength to do what I needed to in order to take care of us both.

When men in my life have said they'd be there, but failed to elaborate that they really meant they'd also be there for Barbie, Heather, and Jill...Bucky has truly been there for me! Loyal. Accepting. True....keeping me afloat. One of these days, I'm going to get better at "seeing" a good Bucky!

Until then, I'm going to keep learning from Bucky. How to be brave enough to cautiously trust as it is earned. To respect when shown respect. There are and will always be plenty of wolves in sheep's clothing out there. They are their own undoing in time. Don't allow their cowardice and emotional limitations to be your undoing too.  Recognize their limitations for what they are and pray they grow and evolve into what they are meant to become. Too bad they don't have a life float like Bucky.  I will learn from Bucky how to look closely and size up what may be worth another shot at earning my trust and respect. Come to think of it, I bet if I asked Bucky, he'd say..."Why don't you keep an eye out for a man just like me silly human? An extra life float may not be a bad idea for you? Just saying. Now, give me a treat!" 

Hum....told you Bucky was smart!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Horse Crazy

I know who I am. I’m the horse-crazy, girl who loves horses…. I’m the girl who has difficulty trusting in much else.  Many lessons I've taken in the arena of life, have let me down. It is people who have contributed to me feeling like when push comes to shove, I’m left with one thing and one thing only to count on- myself! Well, myself and a horse, or two, or three- of course!

Horses don’t lie. They don’t cheat. They don’t manipulate when they aren’t sure what they want in order to “keep their options open,” for when they figure it out.  Horses know exactly who they are and where they fit in at every single, exact moment in time.  Horses don’t miss out on life, they live it!

Horses don’t judge. They don’t make me feel like I’m not good enough. Like I need to work out more, wear makeup, wear a padded bra, be tanner, or get a different hairstyle! They don’t make me feel like I have to “compete” with others in order to be noticed or to be “worthy". In fact, horses don’t make me feel like I need to change one damn thing about myself! They accept me as I am. They allow me to be me and feel good about it! 

Horses have always shown me love-unconditional, insightful, honest, secure, strong, healthy, powerful love! They have let me love them which has helped me to grow into the person that I am. They have taught me what true love is. It is acceptance. It is kind. It is honest. It is loyal. It is humble in that it is capable of sacrificing self for something or someone else. Respect is the beat to which true love beats.

Horses have given me something to believe in when I’ve been destroyed. They’ve given me the will to gather up the pieces of a shattered heart and put them back together again, one at a time, until I can lift myself up and stand taller than before. Horses have made me tough, strong, and proud! But they have also taught me to have a heart and to care because horses have been my best teacher of  awareness, humility, respect, and sacrifice.

Horses show me truth. They have taught me to pay no attention to what people say. I watch what actions people take. I observe... I see… Watch a horse watching you and tell me that they don’t see!

So when I’m in a pinch, I turn to horses. I go to them to discover what it is in me that will get me through. What will get me on track to where I’m headed. They know me. They allow me to learn what they know of me on my own time. They’re with me when I’m being a slow, stubborn learner, and I can trust that they won’t let up until I learn the lesson I’m supposed to.

Horses have not abandoned me, as many people have. When I need them most, they are there. They speak to my heart offering me the clarity needed for me to make the best decisions for me. Horses of  my past, come back to me in my dreams and memories to guide me when I need them. Noble ghosts who are still teaching me. I can trust they are always with me, still carrying me over the hurdles and fields of life.

Horses have given me the inspiration to share this passion with others drawn to these powerful creatures. Everyone needs something to believe in...something to turn to for guidance when they are struggling. Something to help show some beauty in an ordinary day that will give them hope. I believe in horses and they believe in me. Indeed, life has taught me that there are far crazier things than being Horse Crazy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why No Horse Slaughter in Tennessee

Horse Slaughter Plants in Tennessee are once again on the agenda for Tennessee legislators. A bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden, to encourage opening horse slaughter plants in Tennessee was put off Monday for three weeks.

Here are just a few reasons (with supporting data) as to why I feel horse slaughter plants in Tennessee are a BAD idea:

Horse slaughter proponents argue it as a form of humane equine welfare for so-called “unwanted horses”. The process and mechanics of horse slaughter and the conditions are far from humane. They are horrific. There are plenty of undercover videos showing the graphic process. You can search for and watch such videos online for yourself if you dare and determine if you feel it is “humane.”

No Market & Cost Prohibitive
Slaughter for human consumption in Europe or the United States will not be effective in controlling “unwanted horses.” Due to new strict drug restrictions imposed by the EU (European Union), by 2013, slaughter will be too cost prohibitive a method to use as a means of controlling the “unwanted horse” population, because:

-Effective July 31, 2010, the EU will not accept imported horse meat from countries like Canada and Mexico unless it can prove that certain drugs and steroids were not ingested by the horse within six months of slaughter.

-By 2013, the EU rule will require each slaughtered horse to be shipped with an Equine Identification Document (EID) - a detailed electronic log of a horse's lifetime veterinary record and the drugs it has been given. A number of drugs - including, but not limited to phenylbutazone, testosterone, common dewormers and some antibiotics - must not have been given to the horse in at least the last 180 days prior to slaughter or they cannot be imported into EU nations.” Rachel Whitcomb, EU Standards Could Signal New Challenges for Veterinary Records, Horse Transport and Slaughter, DVM, August 2010, at 2E, Vol. 41, No. 8.

-Under these regulations the only way US horse meat would be acceptable to the EU market is if processors keep the horses in feed lots for 180 days, which is not cost effective, or we breed horses specifically for slaughter and then we are in the same boat as to the so-called unwanted horses.

-If we cannot ship horse meat to the EU because of its regulations, who is going to buy the horse meat?

-Will the market for horse meat in the United States be large enough to support this industry, given the amount of drugs labeled “not for human consumption” given to our horses?

-How will the USDA regulate horse meat for US consumption?

Again, we are back to the same problem of horse slaughter not being cost effective, nor solving the problem of the current “unwanted Horse” population. Better alternative to slaughter: work w veterinarians & vet schools to provide low cost/ no cost euthanasia.

Many other reasons slaughter plants are a BAD idea for communities based on previous slaughter plant history in this country (Dallas Crown and DeKalb, IL) are:
-Horse slaughter plants create environmental hazards and pollution.

-Plants create negative social impact on communities and lead to increase in crime rates.

-Plants deter other businesses from coming into their area.

-Lead to increase in migrant workforce.

-They devalue property.

-Blatant Animal Cruelty occurs- the USDA has documented 900 pages of graphic photos displaying the horrors horses are subjected to in these plants. Not to mention there are plenty of undercover videos on the internet displaying inhumane treatment and cruelty.

Don't take my word on it though, read for yourself the following letter from former Mayor Paula Bacon of Kaufman, TX outlining such problems and issues from her own personal experiences with slaughter plants in her state:

Also see article presented by “The Community Preservation Project” opposing a slaughter plant opeining in Mountain Grove, MO.


There is no time like the present to contact your Tennessee legislators and let them know how you feel about horse slaughter plants in this state. Look up and contact your representatives here. Let Governor Haslam know your position too here or twitter @BillHaslam.
Follow on twitter #NoTNHorseSlaughter