Monday, October 31, 2016

Learning to Communicate in Whispers

"Let a horse whisper in your ear and breathe on your heart. You will never regret it."

 Leah's Diary:

My mom is changing.  She used to always be on my face a lot, pulling my mouth here and there and here and there.  First, I was confused, then I was nervous, then I was confused--eventually, I hate to admit, I got mad.  That's not like me.  I'm a good girl.  Cowgirl is mean, Beautiful Girl is really mean, but me, I'm nice. Ask anyone in my herd, they'll tell  you.

Mom's Diary:

The monthly clinic is coming up and I finally read the topic for the day--"Massage--on ground and on your horse."  Wow.  That's exactly what I've been doing!  This month has been all about leaving Leah alone--at first 100 percent--and just riding wherever she wanted to go.  Then, it was maybe 80/20--with me at the 20, Leah at the 80.  Now, I'm asking as lightly as I can--a gentle lift of a rein, for example.

When I first lifted up the rein, gently, slowly--no contact whatsoever, Leah put her ears back at me.  It showed me how far off we'd gotten and how far we have to go to get her back to okay with an ask.

Leah's Diary:

I want to trust my mom, but it's hard.  I'm not sure she's going to listen to me when I'm telling her something.  I don't like to yell, I prefer to whisper, but it was like she was deaf and I had to yell anyway.  Now, she's trying to listen to me, but it's hard for me to get used to.  I sure like it when she bends down and rubs my neck and head as we walk.  She can do that all day.  It just melts me and it's so hard to stay mad at her.

Mom's Diary:

Leah and I have been getting really nice movement both directions around the arena.  The really hard bolting away has mostly ceased with the massage randomly sprinkled in.  What I do now is ride her on a very loose rein, but I hold them down as if they're side reins.  If we're going to the left, I shorten the right rein and loosen the left.  If she tries to bolt to the left, she hits the right rein.  It works like a charm.  And, it's all her.  She's working against herself, not me.

For a whoa, I almost never pull back anymore, instead, I sit back.  If that doesn't stop her, because she may confused it for something else, I say whoa lightly, and she stops.

We're also working more on neck reining.  She likes to break into a trot when we work, but I just let her get it out and move under me and, when she's done, we try again. She's picking it up fast.

Leah's Diary:

Mom has me on a diet. I wish she'd let me eat more. One day, last week, I broke into the barn and raided the hay pile.  I didn't feel bad about it either. I just want to eat!  All I can think about is food.

Mom's Diary

All and all, we've made a lot of progress this month.  Leah is slowly losing weight--slowly.  She's moving better without the extra pounds.

I've learned that she's an extremely sensitive horse--a little aid or communication goes a LONG way.  I'm also learning to speak to her in whispers of movement and then ride with her until she gets it.  So far, she hasn't done anything real scary.  She did take a few steps back the other day when I asked for forward, but they were slow and I kept up the light squeezes, not giving in to her, and she seemed to think it through and realize what I was asking was fair.  I think we're on the right track.  I can only judge by the fact that things are making forward progress and not backward progress.

One thing's certain, she loves the massage and stretching.  She has come a long, long way with that.  Her ability to bend in is about 50 percent better than a month ago.

And, she likes to come to me, it seems.

Leah's Diary:

I wasn't sure about mom a month ago, but it's getting better between us.  I kind of like it when she comes to get me and takes me away from my mare herd.  I get lots of rubs and I don't have to worry about getting kicked and pushed around. It's pretty nice.  

But I would like more food. As hard as I try, she doesn't seem to be getting my hints about that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Stop Harassing the Poor Animal!

RE: Horses that grind their teeth: "I don't have tons of ranch experience, but I have some. And I never heard a ranch horse grind their teeth. Maybe someone who's got a few decades of ranch experience can chime in. But all the horses I have known to grind are 'sport' or 'ring' horses.
In short, they grind because we drive them nuts. Without the constant harassment and nitpicking from people/riders/drivers, they don't do it. Even if it's nice nitpicking, just the constant focus on correcting, adjusting, half halting, driving, etc, etc seems to be too much for some horses to handle.
 Reducing stress can help (feed me mints and make me happier:D) Or ulcer meds. But really the main treatment is stop harassing the poor animal and try to find a way to get it worked and trained that is cooperative, instead of dictatorial.
Work obstacles so the horse learns to maneuver the obstacles. Traverse rough terrain. Get a book on western horsemanship and learn all the cool things you can teach a horse in a way that focuses on the horse helping you with a task. Instead of the horse just having to be an atomoton."  Izabeau Z Solace
I googled "horse grinds teeth" today, and found that answer in a forum.  I had to laugh.  Kind of hits it on the head.  Others commented similarly, saying their horses did it when anxious or concentrating hard on a task. Leah has been a teeth grinder since before I bought her at age two.  If I fed another horse before her, she'd grind her disapproval.  I stopped stalling her and it largely stopped. When she and I hit that impasse a few months ago, it started in saddle.  Yesterday, she did it when I first began to cue her to do what she was already doing.

So, the cue itself caused anxiety or stress in her, and there was a knee-jerk reaction to tell me to fluff off.

Some would say get bigger, work harder--which is what I originally did--two months ago.  However, in this case, that was the wrong answer that exacerbated the issue.  I have a perfectly agreeable horse on the ground who feels trapped in saddle--except when she has some autonomy--some larger part in the decision making.

The Lightning Horse Card is fun to look at--all the lighting up in the face and brain.  I wouldn't hang it on my wall, but I sure like to look at it on the card.  It excites me about the possibilities for connection and about the future. 

Today was a beautiful day, and I so wanted to ride, but I had to work.  I only had time to go out and clean stalls and massage and stretch Leah from the ground.  Here are some pictures of their tranquility before I left.

The Old Red man and his girl herd.  He's usually standing by Cowgirl, but he makes his rounds with all the ladies--standing over them, checking in, protecting them.  Since Shadow passed, the herd became one.  Leah joined up with Cowgirl and Red and now they all seem in harmony.


Now for  more cards!  Teresa from Journey with a Dancing Horse --Here are 5 randomly chosen cards for you to consider!  From the book and card collection: Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery — A Book of Exploration and 40 Cards .  There is a lot written in each of the five chapters, but I'll try to give you snippets from each.

Your 1st card or central issue:

Eye of the Storm: Emotional Collection, Finding Your Center, Developing the Witness

Gift: "When you learn to use emotion as information, you no longer panic in response to strong feelings."

Challenge: "The tendency to suppress uncomfortable emotions leads to whirlwinds of uncontrollable expression later.  Rather than float above the storm, or ignore it altogether, leap into the center and discover its origins."

Feelings are the bodies way of communicating with the mind--like an oil light on your car telling you it's time to change the oil.  When we don't validate our emotions, we make the situation worse with fear, anger, frustration, or embarrassment--"creating confusing conflicting emotional storms are that truly difficult to decipher."

"Emotion connects body, mind, and spirit. Refusing the information that emotion provides is like discounting sight or smell. When tempestuous emotions churn inside like whirlwinds, imagine stepping into the eye of the hurricane. There you can address these powerful energies without getting caught in the spin. [Emotions] hang around and intensify if we persist in ignoring the wisdom they represent."

Your second card or what may be most obvious:

Authentic Power: Physical Collection, Balance and Agility, Strength and Vitality in Service to Higher Goals

The Gift: "Body, mind and spirit join forces to channel tremendous power."

The Challenge: "True power encompasses more than physical fitness.  Whether you're riding a horse, developing a new idea, or guiding a company, you must learn to tap potential without taxing it."

"Physical collection requires discipline and flexibility, strength and sensitivity, intuition and focus, motivation and relaxation, endurance and careful conditioning.  While this combination sounds hopelessly paradoxical to the human mind, horses take it all in stride, teaching us to become masters of our own bodies, minds and spirits as we aspire to ride theirs."

True power... is the product, and the gift, of seasoned self-awareness. To be collected as a human is to feel centered and balanced, prepared to make decisions and movements in any direction, completely immersed in the moment while embracing possibility."
Your 3rd Card or what's on the horizon of consciousness:

The Twins: Union of Opposites, Fluidity of Consciousness, Mythic Reality

The Gift: "Embracing the mythic dimension of life is like meeting a wiser, more adventurous twin."...

The Challenge: "...Learning to move fluidly between multiple states of being is difficult for the modern mind."

This chapter talks about twins and the dual nature of human beings--the earthly and the other.  The author's horse, Rasa, delivered twin horses--one was stillborn and the other was very small and had to be nursed to health.  When the artist took a picture for this card, you could see the image of another horse on the colt's shoulder, symbolic of the connection between our own two selves or sides.

Your 4th card is:

Moonlight's Embrace: Keeping the Heart Open, The Courage to be Vulnerable, Holding the Sacred Space of Possibility.

The Gift: "Opening the heart to life's mysteries allows us to experience the beauty behind the pain."

The Challenge: "Vulnerability is one of the most difficult feelings for the human ego to handle.  Letting go of our defenses takes humility, awareness, and tremendous courage."

This is another big chapter, but it's about death and the feelings afterward. The author tells a story about nursing a baby woodpecker back to health and then finding it dead--or so she thought, at the time (it was actually the wrong bird). She was very upset by the supposed death and she started to question whether she ever wanted to open herself up again to that.  Two days later, her mare gave birth to a colt, Mystique, but it died two days later. She weaves all that back around to the colt (above) who lost his twin--and all the lessons and gifts that each experience gave her and many other people who were involved.

The chapter ends: "By holding the sacred space of possibility for ourselves and others, those moments of imperfection, uncertainty, and even tragedy can actually strengthen and open our hearts.  Resisting the urge to defend ourselves with a rigid mask of perfection, we embrace the beauty behind the pain and, in so doing, inspire others to do the same."
I thought that was an interesting card--knowing what you've lost, but I assure you, I had no idea when I drew it what it meant until I read the associated chapter.

And last--the deeper level of consciousness card

Back to Grazing: Emotional Agility, Trust in the Universe, Letting the Story Go

The Gift: "When you move through emotions like horses do, when you get the message behind a troubling feeling and change something in response, you experience greater periods of authentic peace and fulfillment."

The Challenge:  "To truly enjoy life, to see yourself and others in fresh ways, you must be willing to let go of the stories that keep you tied to the past."

Horses spend most of their time at peace--grazing or sleeping--yet, documentaries always show them in the fight or flight modes--a very small part of their lives in reality.  Humans like drama, but we could learn a lot from horses--

"When you learn to use emotion as information and have the courage to act on that information you too can develop the emotional agility to move through troubling feelings, accessing a deeper sense of trust and tranquility underneath."

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Sublime & Silent Improvisation

"Joy--deeper still than heartache."

"Getting with my horse," is the goal of my work with Leah, but the fact is, riding a super-green horse can be scary.  You feel out of control, and desperate for control, so it's easy to be too much on their face--whoaing, circling, collecting, slowing.  Last week, all signs pointed to my being overly controlled with Leah--the Parelli video where he works with the rearing horse spoke to me.

And then I pulled the Lightning Horse card which reminded me that working with Leah should be--"a sublime and silent improvisation between two souls."

I merged those two inspirations together and could not wait to get out and see what would happen when I worked with Leah.  What kinds of things would she choose to do, if I were to let her decide, as they do in the video?  Who is Leah--my dance partner?  What moves does my partner want to make? What motivates her?  What inspires her? 

The fact is, horses don't need us for much.  I was thinking about it this morning.  Shelter? Nah, they're happy out with the other horses running free.  Hugs & rubs?  Nah, they can do that for each other, too.  Protection?  Nope.  They're stronger, faster, can see better, smell better, kick better.  In fact, the only thing I could come up with is food.  We have this magical way of producing food on demand--summer, spring, winter, fall--we  have what they love--FOOD--but, even that is available to them in the wild.

So, bottom line, they need next to nothing from us and are more than capable of defending themselves.

When I'm on the trail with Cowboy, I rely on that--I trust him.  It's like 95-5--where he gives 95 and I give 5.  I can eat my lunch, drink a beer, chat with my friends--and he's doing all the work and scouting ahead for danger.

With Leah, It was 5-95.  I wasn't sure what she was going to do, so I was calling all the shots.

I started out today with massage on the ground--then I saddled her and massaged and stretched her from on top--and then I let her go.

I did nothing.  No leg, no rein, no movement of my body.  She decided to walk in 15' circles to the right.  (If you remember, that's the direction she NEVER wanted to go before.) Walk, walk, walk, walk.  Circle, circle, circle.  Then she spotted my coat hanging over the side of the rail and walked to that.  Stopped.  Sniffed.

This was the point at which Parelli says to bump them gently with your legs and make it kind of uncomfortable to stand around doing nothing.  Bump. Bump. Walk, walk, walk.  Circle.  Circle. Smell the coat again.  Circle. Circle.

Finally, I figured I should make it an opportunity to practice neck reining.  So, I lay the left rein on the upper portion of her neck, moved my right leg back, my left leg forward, turned my torso to the right and bent her through.  Leah didn't like that too much, so she told me by grinding her teeth, but eventually, she was neck reining really nice to the right.

After ten or fifteen minutes, she got bored and started moving out along the rail to the right.  We did that for a while, then I sat way back in my saddle to signal a whoa--she stopped on a dime.

I began to slowly introduce gentle asks to the right or left--more whoas--but if I wasn't asking, I was quiet.  When I did ask, as soon as I got it I released and gave her the full rein.  Because I was so quiet, Leah was able to really hear the asks.

I figured it was time to move her up to a trot.  Bump. bump.  Trot.  At the trot, I let her move freely underneath me and rode above her in the 2 point position.  It gave her some freedom and it allowed me to massage on her neck, head, and sides as we rode.  We trotted around for another 15 or 20 minutes.

At the end, I felt I'd gotten with her and she'd gotten with me enough to test her around the barrel pattern.  We did some weaving in and out and around and she did perfect.

I jumped off her and praised her to high heaven.

The partnering thing was FUN--I had fun and she seemed to have had fun, too.  I trusted her (and myself) enough to let her go and she didn't do anything dangerous or scary.  It was a thousand times more satisfying than going out there with an "agenda."  She is a stubborn, but sweet horse, and she had decided to fight my "agenda" at the time we were working on opening and closing gates and the T-Bone exercise.    Today went a long way to ending our impasse.  I think it tells her that I value her opinion.  I value her.  We're in this together and we'll work step by step to get this dance right.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Transcendent Horses

Linear doesn't do it for me, I like to look at things backwards, forwards, through the middle, and then find the place of each piece in the puzzle.

The book, Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery — A Book of Exploration and 40 Cards is like that.  I could read it page by page, chapter by chapter, and that would be great, but reading it randomly, out of order, for me, makes it more memorable.

As I've pulled cards for my blogging friends, it's been great for me, too.  All of the insights give me glimpses into the horse/human bond and reminds me why horses are so good at healing broken hearts.  Horses are used every day to help children who are grieving, veterans with severe PTSD, and autistic children.

Horses have healed me, too.  They don't accept you unconditionally, like a dog would, because they are actually quite independent of us.  When they choose to trust us, let us in, partner and even protect us, we've had to earn it, if we're so lucky to ever achieve that.  There are horses that are really well trained--and they do what they're asked pretty readily--but letting you inside their mind and hearts--that is another story altogether.

And, that's where we all want to be.

C-ing Spots Appaloosas, here are your cards.  I can only write a little bit about each one, the book has much more.

You first card, the Central Issue: The Messenger (37): (Creativity, Divine Guidance, Protection)

The gift is the higher source of wisdom that connects you more deeply to your soul's purpose.  The challenge is "you must be willing to ask for help and embody the wisdom and power of the horse."

This horse, "helps you access a divine source of wisdom and inspiration, allowing you to find deeper meaning and purpose in your own earthly journey."

When I read the chapter, I immediately thought about how you were so drawn to Eagle--that one Mustang horse.  You felt you were led to him and that you were meant to be together.  You've questioned yourself and your abilities at this point in your life, and yet, you feel this relationship is vital to you.

Your second card, what may be most obvious, is Illumination 40: (Enlightened Perspective, Wisdom Activated through Experience, and Expanded Awareness)

The gift: "The experience you've gained radiates wisdom, lighting the way for others."

Reading your blog, this seems very true.  You've worked with the greats in the horse world. You've worked for one of the best veterinarians. You've owned many horses and had enlightened journeys with them.  You know how to care give.  You know how to train.  And, lately, you've been writing a lot about how life is lived in the moment and it's so important for us to enjoy each one!

The 3rd card (what's on the horizon) was Depression (17).

This state isn't something to be afraid of because it actually shows us that we need to make some change in our life.  We get depressed when what we're doing doesn't coincide with what we feel is our life's purpose.  Make the right changes and you'll get your energy back.

Your 4th card is Kairos (24)--horse time versus linear time.  Horses live in the moment and they have NO IDEA what a day or year or minute or hour are.  The gift is that "when you're sensitive to time, great strides are made with minimal effort."  The challenge is to wait patiently for an opening and be ready to act.  (This chapter says a lot about timing.)

And last, Intuition--card 5 for you--what's happening at a deeper level of consciousness.  The Gift (30): "Intuition not only connects us to a deeper, more soulful consciousness, it reminds us that the  universe is a latticework of relationships."

This is a very powerful chapter on how horse's help us to be more sensitive to the inter-connectivity of everything.  Being more intuitive opens us up to the infinite around us.  Which reminds me of your last camping trip to Oregon with the horses.  You wrote about how beautiful everything was.  That's what it's talking about.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Crystal Ball & the Fly On the Wall

There are two common sayings that I deeply dislike: "I wish I had a crystal ball," and "I wish I could be a fly on the wall."  I wouldn't want either.

If someone had accurately shown me my future twenty years ago, I would have had a heart attack and died right on the spot. I don't think I'd have had the courage to have lived my future, knowing it all at once and out of context.

As for the fly on the wall, (and unrelated to this except that it's another of those colloquialisms I disagree with) it goes without saying, people say bad things about me--you--everyone--deserved or not.  As my mom always said, semi-quoting Eleanor Roosevelt--"Small minds talk about people, big minds talk about ideas."   Do I want to hear what small minds say?  Do I want some emissary to bring me back trash talk from small minds--ie. gossip?

Uh, no.

Sharing the art work and horse stories, randomly chosen from Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery — A Book of Exploration and 40 Cards, I want to put out a disclaimer--there is no divination involved in the process--no prediction of your future--nothing out of the normal sphere of emotional interpretation merged with art and story--like a horse, art, story Rorschach test--minus the test.  If this helps you open new windows of insight into your life, like it did me, that's great.  If not, enjoy the art.

Andrea, this is your card--The Herd.  (Authentic community, Consensual Leadership, & Balancing Individual and Group Needs)

The Gift: "When we trade leadership roles according to who's calmest, clearest, and most creative in a given situation, the entire community benefits."

The Challenge: "Consensual leadership is not a job description, it's an improvisation. To be confident in your own dreams and talents while remaining responsive to the needs and gifts of others you must check your ego at the gate."

Leadership in a herd changes, depending on the circumstances-the introduction of new member, an escape out onto a new trail--whoever is calmest in each situation takes the lead.  Chickens have pecking order, but horses have consensual leadership, and it's fluid.

"Humans seeking an absolute definition of leadership, and a concrete technique or job description to go with it, don't like this concept much, but it's really not hard to fathom. ...If you propose to create an authentic community where people's true feelings talents, dreams, and motivations are acknowledged, you have to head in this general direction.  No  leader knows everything."
Andrea, this reminded me of the training video I watched and shared a few days ago with Pat Parelli.  The video was about letting your horse make some decisions and become a partner--trusting in your riding skills and your horse's judgement, and find ways to meet both of your needs.  I plan to use some of this with Leah to help me "get off her face" and quiet my "demands."  The demands--assertive leadership--create fights and evasions.

4 Shoes, here is your card: PROMISE (Auspicious Beginnings, Conscious Birth, Nourishing New Life)

There is a lot written about all of these cards, and I'm only taking little snippets from each.  This one has a lot that is really powerful for me to read, so I'll try to do my best sharing it.

The equine birth is a miracle.  The foal is born and "within hours of entering this world, he not only can identify his mother, he runs alongside her, nursing at will..." 

The mare's experience is also miraculous, "Fetuses adapt to the dimensions of their mother's womb. The world of artificial insemination has shown that ponies implanted with eggs from draft-horse-sized parents can give birth to pony-sized foals.  These newborns, however, continue to grow, eventually fulfilling their genetic potential, towering over their surrogate mothers."  (I did not know this!)

But the card is mostly about the "mother role".
The mare shows us a balanced approach to motherhood.  "Exemplifying what Marion Woodman calls 'the conscious mother,' she's attentive to the needs of her child without identifying with the role of mother. She doesn't impose her own image of perfection, her own egotistical demands, or her unrealized ambitions on him."
Human mothers can be much more conditional in their love, and come off as disapproving and very controlling, putting and keeping their children in a submissive role.  Later in life, the child wears "invisible chains. Those chains create stoic, exacting parents whose behavior isn't always related to physical trauma but to hearts frozen by conformity, practicality, and the external trappings of success. To transform this pattern, we must learn how to mother ourselves in a new way. And we must give birth to a deeper sense of self."

This was a good card for me to read, for many reasons--as a child and as a mother myself.

Grey Horse Matters, your card is Field of Dreams: Unexpressed Vitality, Heart's Desire, Self-Care Supporting Innovation.

The Gift:

"No matter how disconnected you feel from the needs of your own soul, this image reminds you that the restless spirit inside, the one that sometimes feels dominated and spurred on by the demands of society and survival, that dark horse racing through your dreams, is not so much running away from responsibility as galloping toward the fulfillment of your deepest heart's desire."

This card is all about following that dark horse of inspiration and creativity in life and your work with horses.

"Self-care is the key. Many educational, societal, and parental dictates are designed to turn people into workhorses. Resist the urge to run yourself into the ground.  Taking time to rest, eat well, enjoy life nourishes creativity, allowing you to move from a surviving to a thriving orientation."

This HAS to be the funnest card in the deck!   It talks about your desire to connect with a horse, possibly a new horse, in a deep, unique, and creative way.  And, this new relationship will lead to new and unique insights..  "You may be craving the kind of relationship that first drew you to the barn, that magical connection between horse and human all too often compromised by the business of training..."

If anyone else would like to see a card--I'll continue.  Just let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Creativity, Sadness, Fire, Transformation & the Power of the Moment

A few years ago, I bought the book and cards, Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery — A Book of Exploration and 40 Cards, by Linda Kohanov (art by Kim McElroy).  Like many horse lovers, I had also read Linda's book, The Tao of Equus: A Woman's Journey of Healing and Transformation through the Way of the Horse and loved it.  All of the cards that came with it are beautiful, and everyone of the cards offers some insight into ours and our horse's lives.

There are several ways you can use the cards.

1.) You can spread them out, look at the pictures, and see which one speaks to you.
2.) You can turn them face down and choose a card.
3.) You can choose five cards and lay them out in the pattern below.

I had been feeling "off" since Shadow's passing, so I wanted the full meal DEAL.  I chose five cards.

My central issue was card 10--Lightning Horse--Creativity.  It's all about less words. Feeling the experience, rather than trying to explain the experience.  It's about the power of NOT putting something to words and then the way it can move you to deeper insights in life AND with horses.

"When you've truly made the connection, riding a horse feels like a series of illuminations rewarded by surges of endorphins. Most of these insights, however, are felt and put to use long before the conscious mind can fathom what's taking place. Flashes of clarity mixed with waves of elation flow...It is a creative act, a feeling of music in motion, of a sublime and silent improvisation between two souls that can never be accurately described."
I can see that is where I'm at with Leah.  I used trainers to get us this far together, but the next step is she and I alone--finding a way through whatever it is that's blocking her--or blocking me.  Becoming a team of two and not three or four or five.  Since we took a few steps back, she has taken a few steps forward. She loves to greet me now and get an impromptu massage in the pasture.  Her eyes are soft and open towards me.  It's where we should have started a year ago.

Card 2 is the obvious or most conscious situation to myself and others, and it's The Master of Sadness card.  Isn't that appropriate?  I just lost Shadow.  What could be more obvious than sadness?  But when I started thinking about it, I realized I've been kind of sad for two years.  My mom got breast cancer, two months later my sweet father-in-law died, two months later my youngest son joined the military &  I live(d) in fear of a war, six months later my daughter got married and then my sister moved away, Shadow died and here I am.

This card is about "Sadness or Grief, The Power of Tears, and Release Rejuvenation". It says about it, "Sadness signifies it's time to let go of a relationship, job, or perspective that no longer serves you. Tears help you release attachment to an old way of being, rejuvenating you for the next stage of growth.  Some people are more afraid of sadness and grief than fear or anger, yet holding back those tears leads to despair and depression."

She writes about her sad horse, Noche, and how he grew old, but she wasn't willing to let him go. Then, it was as if he was detaching from the herd and her, and he was making a choice to leave.

"And when his final hour arrived, I was light enough to be there for him, without reservation, without clinging, without panicking, without begging him to stay for my sake, realizing ...he  not only reclaimed his dignity in death, he opened my heart to infinity."

Shadow had also detached, and when he did die, the herd acted like nothing was different.  At first, I thought it was mean of them--or shallow--or un-noble--but I think it was their natural way.  Shadow seemed like a sad soul this last summer, and he'd often have a tear coming out of his eye whenever I'd pet him.

These cards were all random, but they were amazingly true to my experience.

Which leads me to card #3--or 33 in the deck--Bonfire.  A sudden shift, clearing and releasing, fuel for transformation.

And then, the card I loved to see most because it makes me think of Shadow running on some heavenly plain.

#39--Transformation! Rebirth, power reclaimed, true freedom!

"We are not born to live and die, but to die and be reborn many times before leaving this earth."

My last card was 24--Kairos--horse time--moments infused with meaning and choice.

 "These animals live in Kairos time, always open to the next meaningful opportunity for harmony and communication, without holding on to 'what could have been'."

It was fun to do this and it opened me up to some new ways of thinking--which seem more memorable--visceral--emotional since they're associated with these pictures.

If you'd like me to pull a card for you, let me know!  Who knows what kind of insight may await.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Life Since Shadow

After Shadow passed, I got sick. It was a blessing and a curse.  A curse because I was sick and it was awful, but a blessing because it kept me in bed and away from the barn.  No counting of horses and coming up short, no calling the geldings in, but only having two to supplement.  It worked out good for me to be sick.

During my hiatus, I watched an entire season, plus three, of Poldark. What else do you do when you're stuck in bed?  And, I dug up my horse's papers to see how old Shadow was.

He was only 26.

That is shocking to me.  I look at Red, who is 36, and Shadow, who was only 26, and I'm amazed at how some horses age so much better than others!  Watching from my window, a few minutes ago, there was Old Red pushing Cowboy around and playing with him--as if he was 36 going on 3.

Red had the most humble beginnings.  I had to laugh about his bill of sale.

I found Carl Ingram's obituary today when I googled his name.  Apparently, he was hit by a car and died.  Very tragic. After owning Red, I'd have bought a horse from him any day of the week.

If  you want a good laugh, though, click on this link and read his obit!

Shadow came from a more noble background.  To start with, he actually had an "official" pedigree.  Gray Gus was his "name," and he started life out in Baker, Oregon, a descendant of Bold Ruler.

He goes back to money winning race & halter horses like Winning Song.

and Bunny Mackay.

Not that any of that mattered to us.  To us, he was just good 'ol Shadow.

While I was researching, I looked up Leah's papa from her papers.  Here she is on the registration. cute!

Here are her papers.

Here is her daddy. (BLING)

Here's a video I found of him. Cajun's Smokin Bandit.

There are lots of qualities he passed on to her.

While I was on sick leave, I also watched a training video by Parelli.  I'm  not into one trainer or another--I truly believe there is something to learn from EVERYONE, even, if not especially, "non-trainers."

But there is much, in this video, that I see in myself and Leah.  I went out today and tried something from it, and I intend to try much more.

But I'll write on that in a few days...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

RIP Shadow, Our Big, Bold Gelding

The Barn At Night

Have you ever felt the quiet,
A sundown that steadies your bones?
I stood for a moment as the horses ate grain,
Big, bold geldings as gentle as whispers,
As noble as gods:

Old Red, his eyes blurred with cataracts,
My horse, the orphaned-pinto,
His breath always in my hands,
And the arthritic gray herd leader,
Now totally white with age.

Some people hope for castles,
As for heaven, I’d prefer a barn.

A few days ago we said goodbye to our arthritic gray herd leader, Shadow. He was my husband's horse and, ultimately, it was his decision. Shadow went down hill fast this year and my husband didn't want him to suffer through winter.  

Shadow was a reluctant leader. 

When we purchased him, 13 years ago, and introduced him to Red, they acted like long lost brothers.  It was instant love and respect between them.  Shadow chose Red to be the leader of our 3 horse herd--Red, Shadow & Cowboy.  However, when Shiloh bought our first mare, Cowgirl, a new love sprang up between Red and her, and Shadow decided, literally overnight, that he would be the herd leader from there on out.

Herd leader was a lonely, thankless role.  All the horses loved Red.  Except one.

Leah.  Leah would be the one horse who would mutual groom with Shadow every night at sunset.  And, when the others staged rebellions against him, Leah would stand firmly by his side.

Shadow had many other roles through the years.  When Cowboy broke his coffin bone in 2007, I rode Shadow that year.

 In 2004 Shiloh used him for 4-H and trail rides.

When it came to protecting the herd, he stood up!  Whenever he sensed a "threat", like a new horse, he'd walk out real slow to greet it and then put it in its place.

Because of him, our herd was able to sleep in peace.

And eat in peace.

And, now I can only hope that he rests in peace until we meet again on some heavenly trail.

More pictures of Shadow in better times. He was such a golden-hearted soul.