Thursday, October 30, 2008
What We Get Back From Horses
Can you find my Beautiful Mustang? Thanks to Tracey from The Mustang Diaries, Mesteno, and On The Shores Of Carpenter Creek, who took this picture, I assume, at the Burns, OR holding facility. What an amazing 'Stang woman to document these wild babies and their herds. Thank you so much for finding this picture of my girl.
I was on a trail ride yesterday, and Tracey's logo on her Mustang Diary blog kept running through my mind--"Ride Wild or Stay in the Barn"! What a great saying--it really inspires me to do that cliff ride you see in The Man From Snowy River--or not--but certainly it inspired me to ride a bit higher in the saddle and with more bravery.
What is it that motivates all of us to adopt wild horses, spend all of our extra money (plus more) on hay, vet care, farrier, land, barns,--ride these huge creatures up hills and down valleys, stick by our lame ones, groom, feed, and clean their stalls day in and day out--take pictures of them, write about them, blog their lives, bond strongly with other horse people--what am I missing here? What makes us CRAZY for these animals?
I imagine there are lots of people out there scratching their heads wondering why.
I'm contemplating the theme of why our "passions" are vital to our lives. And, I'm thinking that, for me, my passions are what make me believe in myself and living. I assume it's the same for everyone.
I remember when I first bought a horse--a little colt in Lewiston, ID for $500.00. I was 18 years old and didn't know a thing about horses--but I wanted one so bad. He was a weanling, and it would be a long time before me, a novice, would have him saddle trained. In the meantime, I purchased a 7 year old appy and tortured that poor horse with my ignorance. Oddly enough, he turned out pretty good, and I had a man stop by the pasture one day--watching him--and offer me money right there on the spot to buy him for his wife. At that point, my baby had grown up and I couldn't ride two horses, so I sold him.
Those were hard times. I was a college student and had to work two, and sometimes three jobs, to afford the care of my horses. Eventually, I had to admit I couldn't do it anymore, and I sold my baby when he was fully trained--he was sold to another man for his wife. (I was good at training horses for "wives", apparently.)
There was a void in me for many years--as I waited patiently to return to horses--but the void was filled with raising my three children and dreaming of the day I could afford a property in the country somewhere, large enough to keep horses right there by me.
Then, my life took a turn for the worst--my marriage of thirteen years collapsed, and at that very time--a time when I had all these feelings of failure and lost hopes and dreams and sense of self--I found out I had melanoma, too.
What a feeling, I can hardly describe, of hopelessness. Not only had my vision of myself and my future ended in chaos, but my body also seemed set on death at the too young age of 34.
So, this is where the "passions' came into play. In all that loss I had to dig deep and find what was "true" about myself. Was I a complete failure, as I felt--or was there something in me worth preserving--something good. I rebuilt myself block by block--only putting blocks in the foundation that were "true"--beliefs about spirituality, my place in the world, animals, others--each block had to be tested and genuine--no one else's--put there by me and me alone. I wanted to resurrect a self that was my real self. And then it didn't matter if no one else liked or loved me--I'd at least love myself.
Horses were a block that was true and deep. They provided a mirror to me of my weaknesses--my fears, but also my strengths. Working with them developed my strengths--and continues to develop them day by day.
I owe them so much--that their care seems a small price to pay. Lucky for me, my husband feels the same way and is equally challenged by horses. They provide him an outlet to work with his hands and see the fruit of his labors--something psychiatry rarely does.
When we go after what we really love, doors open up and we meet friends who share our passions and provide opportunities to expand on them. That happened for me here in Spokane when a group of women opened up their hearts and lives to me and my daughter when we moved here two years ago and started the non-profit club, Moms Daughters & Horses-- a club that has grown and expanded its deep-hearted charity.
Now that circle of friends has expanded to the Mustang women who have mentored me since I adopted Beautiful.
Horse women are a special breed, that's for sure-and I'm very thankful to be at this place in life--it was a hard road to get here, and I'm sure there'll be more challenges ahead, but I believe if you take it day by day and do your best to be honest with yourself along the way, you'll be prepared to face whatever comes your way.
There's a saying I once heard from a cowboy, "Never hold a grudge against a horse--every day is a new day for them." He said this after my horse, Cowboy, had taken a kick at me and I was about ready to sell him. Turns out, he was right, and Cowboy has turned out to be my fast friend and main horse. There's nothing I enjoy more than a ride with my 'Boy. But what if I had nursed those bad feelings--that grudge--and sold him back then because of his temporary failure?
There's a lot we can learn from this journey with horses. Happy Trails!