animal wisdom

About this time last year I made the trek to Montreal to see Emily.  I was really excited to have a mother/daughter weekend in such a vibrant city like Montreal.  The day had been long, driving my truck loaded with more furniture for Emily’s apartment, carrying it up 2 flights of stairs in the rain, checking into the hotel, taking a breath then out for dinner.

No sooner had we arrived at the restaurant, both looking forward to a girly cocktail, I received a call from Pat saying that I needed to come home. ” WHAT?! I just got here!” I shrieked into the phone…yes, I shrieked. I was tired and knew instantly that he would not have called if there wasn’t a good reason.   “What happened?”.  He said that Bella, my then 5 year old mare had had an accident and got caught up in the wire fencing.  The vet had already been out and gave her pain relief, dressed the gaping wound that stretched the whole inside of her hind leg, and administered antibiotics. Ugh!  I knew that I wanted to be home to see her, but another part of me just wanted to leave it with Pat for the weekend so that I could be with Em…sigh…o’k.

Emily and I had a great night together and the next morning I set off to drive home.  I found Bella with her leg in full wrap, standing quietly in the run in.  She seemed to know that it was serious.  The vet came later that day and he showed me how to unwrap, irrigate, and dress the wound.  Burk, a friend of ours who happens to raise Clydesdale’s, came over to show me how to give the daily injection.  I felt so unprepared for this new level of care for my horse, yet like giving birth, there is no going back.

From September to December, I had Bella in the cross ties each morning.  She allowed me to unwrap, clean and dress her wound.  She was patient and quiet.  Sometimes I would drop the roll of gauze or the outer wrap, she would look back at me in acknowledgement and sigh.  Weekly, I saw improvements but they were incrementally small.  By mid December the wound had healed enough to let her out without a dressing.  She seemed to sense a shift and when she and Redford were let out that morning they ran like they had never run before.  It was quite beautiful to watch.

Even though I was disappointed that my fall riding season had been cut short I had been delivered an exquisite opportunity to bond with my horse.  Until we moved to Summerhill, Bella and Redford had always been boarded.  I had never been involved in daily care, let alone nurse a serious injury.  The injury to Bella created a situation where we both learned to trust one another.  She grew to know that I would care for her wounds with  gentleness and care.  I grew to know that she would allow me to fumble with bandages, give injections and work underneath her great girth. We were probably both daunted by our new roles.

Mucking stalls this morning, I realized that the injury was the turning point in our relationship.   Bella  allowed herself to be vulnerable in my presence; not so easy with flight animals.  I allowed myself to show her that I had faith in her as I moved about her underbelly.  We both established a deep level of trust.  I think instinctively we both know that we would manage, but it required the whole duration of the trauma to solidify our roles.

She knows now that I would always have her best interests at heart.  It  also changed the way I ride her.  I am a better rider because I instinctively watch for her signals of discomfort, frustration or just sheer laziness.  Each and every interaction, an opportunity to grow.  Each, an opportunity to demonstrate that I understand.

It also occurred to me that humans require the same degree of authentic interaction in order to grant trust.

life throws lessons at the oddest times

I have read many times that there are always opportunities to learn and grow, if we are open to the lessons.  Well today I did something I have never done before, and am very happy about it…I galloped my horse, Bella!!!  O’k not earth-shattering but to me it was like bungy jumping off a bridge!  Very scary, and the outcome would be kinda unknown.  You might cry, you might poop your pants,…that kind of thing.

I have seen lots of competitions and events where the riders move their horses into a gallop, but I never really knew what it felt like…I like a “nice controlled canter” ;).  As you all know, my new name could be Little Safety Suzie.  I am all about safety these days.

The reason I was able to do it is because last week I had someone at my farm show me.  Not intentionally.  We had a horse (Dakota) here for a few weeks on trial,  hoping that it would be a good safe horse for Pat.  Wrong!  The horse was a maniac!   The facility that we had him from sent the barn manager and her assistant to come and take him home.  Dakota was so wild, that they had to ride “the stink” out of him so that he would be calm enough to load.  I am watching the insanity in my riding ring (a few times the horse would rear and be back on his hind legs)  As soon as I heard the instructor tell her assistant to put Dakota into a gallop, my attention was immediately piqued.  This is like getting to the Olympics!  O’k not really, but kind of…for me!  I watched intently, as the student confidently went from trot, to canter to hand gallop, then gallop.  It was awesome to see this difficult horse respond.  I was thankful that I decided against Dakota for Pat;), thankful that I paid to have the owners come and pick him up, and thankful that I grasped a lesson for myself out of all the drama and chaos.

Sometimes that happens.

I went out to the barn this morning with the intention to gallop Bella, and I did!  It wasn’t so scary after all.  The best part was that in my head, I was at The Olympics!  I won!

So this is my humble advice:  throw caution to the wind(safely!), be open to the lessons for your life, and then try something you have never done before. Who knows where that will take you!  Happy Day.

let ’em roll baby roll, shake your booty ya ya


An odd segue, but stay with me;)  Just warning you, this post is about good advice and great music:)

Animals are  just like people:  if you have the right ones around you, they add so much value  to our lives.

Did that sound lame?  o’k then..,..Winston Churchill said it this way, so it has to be better right?

There is something about the outside of a horse, that is good for the inside of a man”.

I am feeling frisky(was that my outside voice?)…felt like something fun to match the horses playfulness today!

Or, should it be…shake your booty! watch?v=pOr7TMuk461&feature=related

Gotta get me some bell bottoms pants…

new kid in town)

Today was quite a day.  My beloved, Patrick, has talked of having a horse of his own ever since moving to our farm last year.  I was skeptical about this because he has been in the saddle twice…but who am I to deny the man that supports me in this fine life, to which I have become accustomed?:)

I did not want another horse this year.  It is a lot of work maintaining two horses and to add one more was not appealing.  However, referring back to the fact that Pat is my sugar daddy, I recognized that perhaps I could send some sugar his way;)   Pat spent a couple of months on the internet researching horses for sale and after a false start, we found Dakota an 8 year old Palomino gelding.

Dakota is of the same breed as Mr.Ed and Trigger…0’k if you are under 40 you won’t get that reference…so just stay with me!  We thought that with any luck Dakota will be as genial and smart as his two famous predecessors.   Maybe a new kind of reality show?

We loaded Dakota on the trailer and he was nervous, the poor guy was leaving his herd of 8 years.  An uneventful unloading and walk to the pasture allayed our fears that he would not settle.  He was thrilled to find so much fresh grass.  My other two horses, looked up and said “what the?”…then went back to eating….which is what they do best!

After a few hours in the grass,  and a meet and greet by the water trough, we brought all 3 horses in for the night.  I felt like I had just brought home a new baby, and hoped that the other two children wouldn’t poke the baby in the eye!   Ah well, it is what it is.  I think that Redford may be a bit jealous of the new kid in town, and Bella is happy to see a new kid in town!  

They all seem to be standing taller, more alert with tails high.  Is it just me, or do we do that too when introduced to new people?

a change in the optics

A bit of a crazy day today…we were in Toronto, Pat on business and then picking Emily up from the train!

We were late getting out of the city, getting home, bringing the horses in, and making dinner..

After dinner, we fall into the regular pattern of clean-up…
then I lose Pat….
then I lose Emily……

Downstairs, I hear the beauty of a daughter singing with her father accompanying on guitar….

Her voice stronger, more assured; maybe just me but….

I walk back upstairs, see the laundry room…

I see the dishes to be put away…

Somehow, the ordinary is extraordinary.  Children do that to you…or, any time your heart is full and your feet light.   Happy Wednesday:)