Sunday, November 26, 2017

Would You Like To Dance?

"So much wasted time."

David Cassidy's last words as he was dying.

When the nurse told me to “go to my happy place,” she said I told her it would be the horses. (My husband and children gave me a bit of grief about that!)  I woke up feeling euphoric, just as the nurse was telling my husband the story. It felt right. It felt like I had truly been with my horses.

I’ve written before about how it feels for me to climb into the saddle—it’s like a swoosh of endorphins flooding my brain. I also have this image of heaven, my herd galloping to meet me when I pass over. It gives me comfort. I love my family with all my heart, but my relationship with the horses is other-worldly. I hope the readers will understand what I mean, and maybe even be able to clarify it more, in the comments section.

Yesterday was the first day I was able to work with my horses—Cowboy, Leah, and Beautiful--since the heart ablation.  I didn’t expect it to be any different, but it was. Something had changed in me, a way of communicating. It's as if, when they fixed my heart, they also helped it to feel more vividly the emotions of my horses.

The idea of The Dance became clearer and shifted from a--

We're going to dance!

To a--

Would you like to dance?

I had more patience to ask and wait for the give.  More patience to see it as a series of dance steps, rather than a whole dance.  And, this great understanding that learning the steps to the dance is not wasted time, but rushing the dance or not dancing at all IS wasted time.

Seeing it that way, I was able to get insight into my relationships the three horses I worked with, and I want to share it and ask you to leave a comment explaining how you see your own dances with your horses.



As I tried to take Cowboy's picture, he wanted to come to me.  He didn't want to graze.  He didn't want to walk back to the herd.  He wanted to dance.  With me.

We are those long-time dance partners you see on the dance floor, feet shuffling back and forth, back and forth, hands held tight--knowing the rhythm, the steps, the give and take.  Imagine the most perfect couple out on the dance floor, the one that just has you mesmerized, and then look over to the side at the ones who aren't that good, but you can tell they've been dancing together for a long time, too.  That is us.  Cowboy and me.  There is still a bit of tension here and there, but we've learned to dance together and we're used to each other.

Cowboy doesn't like the tango.  We don't do the tango.  We only dance the ones he likes.  For the most part, I lead, but there are some steep or rocky sections, where I let Cowboy choose the path, and he always gets us where we need to go.  Opening and closing gates--the tap-tap on his side--he scoots over a wee bit. A gentle squeeze--he takes one step--a gentle squeeze--another step.  He hears me softly say, "Whoooaaaa," and he stands still enough that I can reach down to the chain and unlatch the gate.

Dancing with Cowboy wasn't always this easy or fun, but it is  now.  I wish I'd been a more patient partner in the early days, but he has been forgiving.  Nowadays, we dance as much as we can to keep his body going in his older age. 



It struck me that I'd been stepping on Leah's toes a lot as we've been learning to dance together.  She's a gentle soul, takes everything deeply, doesn't want to make missteps--and I need to honor that. 

Yesterday, we danced on the ground first.  I worked with her at a trot, in circles, all around the arena.  We danced over the poles, around the barrels, along the rail.  She was a lovely partner.

I wanted a plan in saddle.  What dance would be learning?  Which steps did we need to learn?

I decided the dance was opening the gate (without actually opening the gate), and the steps would be moving off my leg and learning the gentle--one step forward--stop and rest--one more step forward--stop and rest--side pass, side pass--rest--don't be frightened of me bending over--rest--don't be frightened of the sound of the chain clinking against metal--rest. We could call this the waltz, and our practice a dry run.  No music.  No putting the steps all together.  Just work at learning the subtle shifting, counting--gentle pushing away and pulling in.


Beautiful Girl.

If you can't dance well together on the ground, how can you possibly dance well in the saddle? 

Bee had a week off, and she was on edge.  She wants to learn to dance, but but she thinks she knows the dance already--and constantly attempts to take the lead from me.  Her dance is one of self-preservation--I heard a sound, let's get the hell out of here!  She is in the early stages of the steps: getting used to the feel of bridle and bit, the tug of a rein, the pressure of a leg, the weight of a rider. 

Yesterday, we worked on the ground dance.  At first her trot was fast and fearful, but we twirled around the arena in circles until she slowed down and tuned into her dance partner.  At that point, she watched the up and down of my left hand as it urged her to continue forward over poles and tires.  She felt the tug of my right hand guiding her forward, then into a circle, then forward, then over a pole, then forward, then into a circle--and so on. 

We have quite a few steps to learn together, but working with her, and the others, is my happy place.  Why rush the dance?  Those older couples you see on the dance floor probably didn't look so great when they were first learning.  The element of TIME is essential. Forgiveness.  Togetherness. And just plain wanting to dance together in the first place. 

This is not wasted time. 

It's precious time.


  1. It is so very precious. I had a beautiful dance with Carmen this weekend and it left me awestruck.

    1. I read all about it! That was, indeed, a beautiful dance.

  2. Very nicely written and thought out. I needed to dig up some weeds in the round pen and decided to take Lostine with me just so we could hang out together without other horses interfering. It was an amazing experience. Despite there being food growing on the ground, she stuck by my side with every step I took. I had to keep asking her to back up so I could swing my pick. I suspect she was staying close for self-preservation reasons, but it was nice to be needed. I've come close to death several times, and it always reminds me how precious time is. Unfortunately, I've turned into a bit of a Scrooge when it comes to sharing my time with others because I constantly feel this pressure to get everything done on "my list", and I'm often not willing to consider other people's agendas. I'm like, "Nope. If it's not on my list, it won't happen." So, I'm trying to spend time doing activities that I enjoy, but that also help others in meaningful ways.

    1. I don't blame you one bit. Time is so precious and, as our lives get more complicated--limited. You are wise to be stingy with it.

  3. I'm so glad that you're better Linda; When I think about Heaven, I think that it will be slightly different for every one who gets there... Your Heaven is filled with all that you love, my heaven is different because it's filled with all the things _I_ love. Despite each of us having our own special Heavens, I also believe we will move freely in and out of our own Heavens to be with the people that we love. My heaven will have every horse & dog & cat I've ever loved, and many that I never met but somehow wanted as well. I think that Mr Shoes Heaven will have spectacular golf courses; & I dearly hope that we will have one Heavenly bed to cuddle each other in for the ages.

    Padre is my best & forever dance partner - he knows every step ever invented & he's a master of them all. He needs no direction, & if I falter, he catches me & carries on.

    Bella is my salsa partner, she likes it quick & efficient. She'll do the slow moves if I , but if we are insist, but if we are supposed to be on 'quick' and I fall behind, she may let go of me. Then she'll laugh.

    Fancy is my ballet girl - every step she takes is bigger than I could hope for; she floats slightly above the ground line, almost surreal. She's the girl everyone wants to dance with, but are afraid to ask because they think they won't measure up. They see her rightly as 'Beauty & Grace', but they can only imagine how 'genius' she makes her partner feel because she is also always 'Kind & Willing'. I feel no need to share her secrets.

    1. WOW! You have some heavenly dance partners there! Padre, Bella, and Fancy--all different, but all dancing in their special ways. What more can you ask for??

      Golfing in heaven? Haha. Maybe!!

  4. Um...
    P.S. David Cassidy was my little girl crush; Mommy thought I watched The Partridge Family for the music.

  5. The Bible says that "we'll be given the desires of our heart", so that could be very different depending on the person's loves. Mine will have all those beautiful animals that have graced my life with their love, especially those horses and dogs that I've dearly loved. As far as being with my horses, and also riding them, it is the only time that I feel truly at peace. Other-worldly is indeed a nice way to describe it. I'm peaceful and content on my horse, and that's something I strive for in other areas and have yet to achieve.

    I'm so glad you're feeling better. Will have to read your older posts and find out what happened.

    Oh yes, David Cassidy...when I was a young girl, he was my true love. My girlfriends and I got to go to his concert in Portland. We were about 12 years old and were overcome and nearly swooning with the enormity of actually seeing him in person. :) I still remember to this day the outfit I wore. Oh dear...
    Around that same age, we also had a little dance club and got to put on shows for the entire grade school, in the gym, on the stage. Of course, to David Cassidy's music. The Futures. My name was Love. :)

  6. I like the dance comparisons. I think Bee is your Two-step partner.
    Beamer is my dance partner that goes where I just think about going, but I must admit my favourite part of his dance is when he is playing in his pen- and tonight, forthe first time in months... he danced. Will post the video tomorrow.

  7. Rosie and I are just beginning our dance together. I feel we will be good partners but it will take time and patience to get to know one another’s moves. Your three partners are all different but luckily you’re a good dancer and know lots of moves!


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.