Re-Assurance

DSCF3861

I have relied heavily on signs for as long as I can remember.  I use them for enjoyment, validation, information, to guide me, to reassure me.  With out signs as guide posts I don’t know where I would be today.

One of my most significant experiences with “signs” came after I euthanized one of my horses for a quality of life issue.  Prior to that event all other euthanasia’s in my history were due to failing health, catastrophic injury, basically they were all euthanasia’s that were obviously needed.  Because of this so much of the pressure of the decision, was in a sense taken out of my hands.  Of course there was pain and grief after the euthanasia’s but there wasn’t significant guilt on my part as I felt I had no other choice in the matter.

This story began eleven years ago when I adopted my first off track thoroughbred.  His name was Assurance.  He was a stunningly beautiful boy, Steel grey, nothing but muscle and an attitude to match his huge presence.  He came to me injured.  A cracked Seasmoid bone, low level laminitis and hind gut ulcer issues.  I was informed of his ill state before he got onto the transport to come to my ranch.  I was giving the opportunity to turn him away but something deep inside said “take him”.   So I did and I have never regretted that decision.  It was a challenge & a journey that I was interested in participating in.  I learned more from Assurance during his life and after his passing than I’ve learned from 1000’s of other experiences.  Of course on the outset of our journey together I had assumed our story would be of his miraculous healing and wonderful secondary career at a dressage horse or trail horse extraordinaire but that was not to be.  Our journey together taught me about life, death, healing, perseverance, intuitive communication, the afterlife, the list is longer than I feel I can put in to words.

Assurance was with me from 2005 to 2008.  In the last months of 2008 his bad days so far out numbered his good days that the decision to set him free from his daily life of pain was made.  His passing was incredibly difficult for me.  I was tortured by guilt, fear and regret that I had done the wrong thing.  That I had given up to quickly.

To help me deal with Assurance’s passing I asked him for signs that he was ok and that I had done what was best for him.  I let him know or maybe he already knew, that I needed allot of reassurance that he was ok now that he was out of his body.  All of the signs I specifically asked for had to do with birds.   For some reason it seems very easy for both humans and animals to communicate from the afterlife via birds.  One of the very specific things I requested was that a hummingbird come up to me in my back yard and hover right in front of my face for a long period of time – this was the sign I felt I needed to see to be sure he was ok and that he forgave me.  I also asked for allot of random bird sightings and to see a turkey on our property.  In all the years we have lived here, we have never had any turkeys living on our property or even visiting. I love the wild turkeys and so wished that some of them would adopt our property as their sanctuary.

The day after Assurance left his body, the first turkey arrived.  One of my friends, who knew of my wish, named the newly arrived turkey, Assurance.  I was in awe that the sign came so quickly and it was of such a special nature.

Almost daily after his passing, something odd and out of the ordinary would occur with a bird.  They would fly right in front of my car, so close to my windshield that it would scare me.  They would land in the middle of the road in front of me and just sit there and stare at me as I slowed the car to a stop.  One day I was in the passenger seat of my car and a duck fly beside my window for a few hundred feet, we just looked at each other as we moved together at about the same speed.  I was visiting a client’s horse on their property when we both heard an odd bird noise.  I looked up in the Oak tree next to us to see what can only be described as a tropical bird, beautiful, multicolored and huge.  No doubt escaped from someone’s home or maybe just on a fly about around the neighborhood, none the less, I had never ever seen a tropical bird perched in an oak tree before.

Over and Over Assurance showed me he was ok via the bird signs.  I was feeling better each day but a bit confused as to why he would show me all of these birds but not the one very specific sign I had asked to see regarding the hummingbird.  I found it a little odd but I figured I would understand the reason for the delay soon enough.

Assurance had been gone several weeks when I awoke one morning finally starting to feel a little better and owning that maybe it was the right thing to do and maybe he really was ok.  I asked him if I could have one more sign, one more little miracle to help me be certain and to put my guilt to rest.  I asked him to surprise me with something I wouldn’t expect and couldn’t conceive of on my own. A couple of days later, I received the bill from my vet.  It was a busy month here at the ranch so I knew that there would be 3 horses listed on the bill.  The vet itemized each procedure under each horse’s name.

The first horse listed was Dreamer, my old horse.  He had a stroke 2 days after Assurance’s passing.  Dreamer survived his stroke and had a pretty profound recovery.  The next horse belonged to one of my boarders, just routine stuff.  The third horse should have been Assurance but that was not the name listed.

I immediately assumed they had added a horse that did not belong to me, it happens once in a while.  So I looked at the itemization for the unknown horse and it detailed euthanasia.  So I looked back at the name of this foreign horse and his name was Spirit, he was detailed as a grey, nine year old, TB gelding.  I burst into tears, tears of joy, tears of sadness and tears of knowing that this was very much the communication that I had asked for from Assurance.  He had given me another sign, one more miracle that was clear and undeniable.  My vet knew Assurance very well.  He would never have mistakenly called Assurance “Spirit”.  There was so other force at work that helped to send me this sign in this way. It helped me feel like I could finally let go of my guilt and regret.

A few days later, I was out in the back yard watering my plants, when I noticed for about the 100th time  the chair that on the day Assurance passed, I had placed Assurances halter, lead rope, name plate and lock of his tail hair.  I had not been able to touch those things since the day he left. It was as though if I put those things away he would be gone forever.  But today felt different.  With all of Assurances help from the other side I had let go of much of my guilt and was now pretty certain that Assurance was ok – Pain free and happily in Spirit.  I felt I could now pick up his things and finally put them away.  As I stood there watering my plants and thinking about this, a hummingbird flew up to my face and hovered maybe 5 inches away from my nose.  The bird was bright red and flying so close to me that I could feel the wind generated by its tiny wing span.  This was Assurances final sign.  It was his final good bye, his Re-Assurance that he was well and happily in “Spirit” now.  The instant it occurred I realized why he had waited to show me this specific sign for this was the first day since his passing that I had forgiven myself for what I had done.  I had let go of much of the guilt and pain associated with his euthanasia.  Had he shown me this specific sign early on it would not have had the same meaning that it had on this day.  I will be forever grateful to the big grey horse that taught as much in life as he did in death.  His gifts of Re assurance will never be forgotten.

To read more about Assurances time with me –  http://www.harvestmoonranch.net/assurance.html

 

Advertisements

A Simple Truth

 

hummingbird2

I was out feeding the horses a few mornings ago when I allowed my mind to wander from what I was doing to thoughts of issues that were stressssssing me out and causing me allot of internal conflict.  Before I knew it I was literally having a fight with myself inside myself.

Gratefully it didn’t last too long because two beautiful hummingbirds were drawn to me.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you want to look at it, they were drawn to the energy of my inner conflict.  They were busy having their own conflict.  The hummingbirds were zipping around my body at an incredibly high rate of speed and using me as a tool while they postured & fought.  I have never seen hummingbirds do this. They seemed to be in a highly confrontational state.

These little birds moved so quickly that it was mostly just a blurr of brilliant red with a hint of green and grey.  My eyes could not even come close to keeping up with them.  I would just get a split second view before they were behind me and then right back in front of me and then above me.  It was absolutely fascinating and delightful. It brought me straight back to the present moment and out of my state of conflict.  I loved it!!

I wish they could have stayed longer.  When they flew off into the trees I stood there feeling very aware of why they had visited me.

Physically they brought me back to the present moment.  Symbolically they reminded me of who I am and how I truly feel.  Most importantly they reminded me of the effects of the energy that I put out into the world via my thoughts.  The little birds that were in conflict were comfortably drawn to me as I was also in conflict – we all vibrated on a similar level of conflict.

My thoughts and the energy created by my thoughts are my gift or my weapon – the choice is always mine. The little birds reminded me of this simple truth.

The spiritual & symbolic meaning of Hummingbird:         It is the only creature that can stop dead while traveling at full speed. It searches for the sweetness in life. Its long tongue lets it bypass the often tough and bitter outer layer to find the hidden treasures underneath.  Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can and its presence brings joy to the observer.  If you have Hummingbird medicine, you adapt easily to whatever situation you may find yourself in and make the most of your new circumstances.  You don’t waste time looking back and wishing for “what was” for you are concerned with making the most of “what is”.  To restrict that wonderful, free, loving energy is to suffer great depressions and feelings of uselessness.

 

Some days are about more than just a trail ride

105

I decided to take Rose out for a trail ride this morning.  I wanted desperately to ride at Ragle Park in Sebastopol.  The trails are generally closed to horses all winter due to mud but I thought (or really just hoped) that the trails might be open since it’s been very dry for a few weeks now.

As I hooked up my trailer this morning I had the knowing that the trails at Ragle were in fact closed but….the little intuitive voice said go ahead and just check. I thought oh that’s interesting since I know I won’t be able to ride there but I’m supposed to go anyway.  I thought Ok what ever I’ll go, get turned away and then head over to the Laguna – my back up plan.

So that’s exactly what I did.  As I drove up the Ragle Park entrance road I saw the little typed paper sign attached to a saw horse that said exactly what I expected – Closed to horses.  The ranger and I had a nice chat and then I continued on my path to the Laguna.  I did wonder what the detour was all about.  I kind of assumed it was a “timing” kind of detour.  One that would make sure I arrive at the Laguna at the exact right time for something.  I hoped it was something fun as it sometimes is like running into a friend or two.

When we arrived at the Laguna parking lot all was quiet.  A typical weekday morning at the park.  We tacked up and headed out.  No other horses were at the park today.  Everyone on the trail was quite friendly – Lots of smiles, hellos and a few brief questions.

Rose and I rode our traditional loop and then we headed back toward the trailer.  As we rounded a curve in the trail that sits just below a small hill my stomach began to churn and my thoughts went to my husbands words.  He’s said to me on more than one occasion that he would like me to carry pepper spray when I go out on the trail alone, even if it’s a well traveled and populated trail like the Laguna.  I’ve never disagreed with him about it I just haven’t felt the need to pursue it.  I figured at some point it would be easy to purchase some pepper spray and that’s when I would handle it – in the future when it would be easy.

As the thoughts of his words are running thru my mind I realize there’s a reason I’ve just had this thought and I just don’t know what that reason is yet.  Rose and I began to head up the hill and that’s when I noticed a person with a dog walking fairly quickly and with purpose off the paved trail away from Rose and I.  As I looked at the dog and the owner I got the mental image of the dog hanging off of Roses nose and a hideous fight ensuing.  I thought to myself now would be a good time to have that pepper spray.  Not just to keep me safe which is what I think my husband had in mind but to keep my horse friend Rose safe.  My intuitive voice also chimed in that this is why we needed to be here today.  My intuition never leads me into damage so I knew we would be fine but I didn’t yet really understand what this was all about.

We continued up the hill both Rose and I taking deep deliberate breaths – we were in sync.  When we were about 40 feet from the dog and owner the dog began getting worked up and started to bark and then snarl a bit – Scary enough.  Rose was now on high alert which alerted me further.  Rose and I were on the same page about getting out of there but trying to do it in a way that didn’t inflame the situation further.  No gait change, both of us breathing and trying to just stay grounded.

The dog & owner were standing out in the field a good distance off the trail as the dogs behavior started to escalate.  It became very clear that the owner knew her dogs behavior and intended to try and keep us safe – I just hoped she was strong enough to hold onto her dog.  It was not a small dog.  The dog was jumping, barking, snarling and salivating – yes I could see the glistening strands of saliva as the dog threw its head with force from side to side in an effort to get away from her and get to us.  Thank god the dogs owner was in fact physically strong enough to hang on to her animal and that her leash was strong and tight enough to not break apart or come off.

Rose and I just kept up pace, stayed grounded and got out of there.  Once back at the trailer I got her un tacked quickly and loaded her into the trailer so we could get out of the Laguna.

To be clear I never really felt any true peril in all of this. My heart rate was rising but I was paying close attention to my intuitive & feeling self and those parts indicated that this was all part of something bigger.  I felt it was a lesson, a warning, a reminder.

Our detour from riding at Ragle earlier in the day also now made sense.  Had we not detoured when we did we wouldn’t have been in the place we were meant to be at the exact time we were meant to be there.

I suspect there may come a time in the future when I might need to protect myself and Rose out on the trail.  I feel quite strongly that today was about just that – getting prepared and not waiting until the future drops the preparation in my lap.  Lesson heard loud and clear.  Grateful for the opportunity to do something about it with out any harm done today or hopefully in the future.

The Big Pretty Buckskin Horse

025I felt nervous as I led the big pretty Buckskin horse from his paddock to the stall where Bert Lambert the “sedation free” dentist would work his dental magic.  I knew that if anyone could see a horse clearly and put it into words – it would be Bert.

The big pretty Buckskin had been my attempt at finding a good riding partner.  My own mare, who I adored but was honestly never a great trail riding horse, was in her retirement now and I was looking for a new partner.  A more agreeable partner.  I had also decided that in 2014 it was time to alter my relationship with horses from mostly caring for them to spending allot more time riding and enjoying life with them.

When I had started the search I was clear in my mind about what kind of horse I was looking for.  I wanted a sound, good minded, well mannered, well seasoned, kind and fun trail horse.  I did not want another rescue, rehab project or horse who didn’t like being out on the trail alone.  It seemed so simple when I started my search but as life goes and as deep rooted issues often control our perceptions & actions, it was anything but simple.

I have long been attracted to the fiery, big, bold and somewhat difficult horses.  When I was younger and fearless this was not a problem it was an honest attraction and an honest relationship.  I loved the horses that most others shied away from.  As I aged my love and attraction for those fiery horses didn’t leave but my patience and ability to enjoy their antics was no longer present.

It can be allot like the human partners we choose.  All too often we are attracted to exactly what will eventually drive us a little crazy and leave us feeling as though something is missing.  In human partnerships I understand this well.   In equine partnerships I understand this but the transition from what I was attracted too to what I wanted was a bit more challenging.

In the middle of 2014 I began scouring horse sale ads, made numerous phone calls, spoke with many owners and looked at more than a few horses. Nothing was really jumping out at me.

Towards the end of the year I saw a horse for sale on a trusted trainer/friends website. He was a big pretty Buckskin.  We spoke and the horse sounded great.  He sounded like exactly what I was looking for.

It was all so easy.  I knew the trainer, I trusted her, I knew that her own horses were well behaved and she didn’t put up with too much silliness when it came to work time.  So I thought any horse coming from her direction would be perfect for me.  What I hadn’t really thought about was that this was not her horse.  This was a horse she was helping out and what ran thru my mind more than a few times in the weeks before he arrived was that this whole thing felt “funny”. I conveniently ignored that “funny” feeling. The big pretty Buckskin horse fit my old attraction pattern but I wasn’t fully aware of that yet.

Not long before the horse arrived at my ranch the trainer let me know that he was a bit thin and a bit off because he had been unhappy doing his previous work which was a lesson horse.  I immediately started to unconsciously dumb down my list of “what I want in a horse”.  I reminded myself that I do rehab so what’s a little time getting him back in shape.  I told myself that I’ve waited this long to have fun on the trail so what’s a little more time dealing with him being a bit off. Then the trainer added that the horse had been rather spoiled by his original owner as a foal and adolescent horse – one of my personal pet peeves when it comes to horses.  I was doing allot of talking myself into this being the right horse for me even though word by word this horse was getting farther away from what I said I wanted.  Of course it’s easy now to say I should have declined to take him but there was a bigger part of me that needed to revisit having a dysfunctional equine partnership and work thru the feelings and underlying energy that surround that issue.

The big pretty Buckskin arrived mid November 2014.  I got right to work doing what I know well.  Getting his diet in order, making appointments with the chiropractor and the massage therapist.  Giving him adequate exercise to rebuild muscle.  What I didn’t get to do was ride – the one thing I said I most wanted.

I am always fascinated by the human beings ability, my ability to say one thing that they really truly mean and yet do and settle for another.  For me ignoring what I said I really wanted was driven by the underlying energy with in my own personal make up that said I must work really hard for anything I want.  Some how if I pay this due of working really really hard then I will at some point deserve the payout.

So here I was again, doing exactly all the things I said I didn’t want to do.  The big pretty buckskin was nothing but work.  There was very little joy involved in our relationship.  I knew to get him to a place of even being able to ride him, we were looking at months of rehab and after all that who knew if he was even capable of doing what I wanted.

By mid December it was quite clear to me that the big pretty buckskin was my “old programming”.  I felt my old pattern of work, work, work and it was really painful this time.  Once I knew he wasn’t what I wanted I then became faced with what would come up for me if I decided to stop “working really hard”.  What I found in that space was the pain of giving up, the guilt of giving up, the feeling of having been wrong and of letting someone down, ugh, it was kind of a mess under there.  So I held onto the horse a little longer, a few more weeks, while I began to process the mess I was unearthing.  I had unfinished personal internal business to be dealt with before I could let go of the old programming and have what I really wanted.

At the end of December after a really awful appointment with the equine chiropractor where the big pretty horse was just non stop difficult I made a decision and emailed the former care giver to say I had made a mistake.  He wasn’t the right horse for me.  I sent the email off and with in seconds I was overcome with such intense grief, pain and the fear that I really felt I might have acted to quickly. That maybe I had given up on something potentially great.  So I emailed her right back and told her what I had just experienced and I wanted to try a little longer.  Oh my what a deep rooted issue I had.

He stayed with me one more month.  During that month I became more and more sure that this was just all wrong and that the grief, pain and fear I had felt when I told his former caregiver that I wanted to send him back was all about me and my grief, pain and fear over so many situations in my life that had created my need to give, fix and set aside my own needs and desires for the needs and desires of others.  It was such a messy web of feelings.  So complicated yet so simple.

On that morning of my final decision in January of 2015 I led the big pretty buckskin over to meet Bert, the dentist, who was here to work on our horses.  As we walked up Bert said “well that’s a pretty horse”.  I smiled on the outside and cringed on the inside.  Not a congruent behavior for me at all but I felt what was about to come and could only react.

Bert took the pretty horse and led him into the stall.  As he began to look him over Bert said this horse is off.  I acknowledged his observation.  Over the next few minutes the pretty horse was difficult, fussy and seriously ill behaved.  At one point the pretty horse decided he would use his head to smack Bert since none of the pretty horses other diversion techniques were working.  Bert avoided the hit, settled the horse and then stopped and just looked at me.  He said “why would you want a horse like this?” “Don’t you want to have fun? Horses are supposed to be enjoyable, there’s nothing enjoyable about this horse” “He’ll hurt you some day and he won’t think twice about it”

His words pummeled me.  The words opened up a wound so long closed off that I felt like I might die standing right there as he spoke to me.  The words were all true. They were all words I’d been saying too myself but to hear those words from his mouth made the difference that I needed to take my next step.  I gathered up the pretty horse and walked him back to his paddock.  As I put the horse away, I also put away my need to prove anything to myself about this horse or our relationship – I finally felt that I had nothing to prove, nothing that I owed, nothing that I needed to fix beyond my own choices and behavior.  A feeling of neutrality about the whole situation washed over me.  I could finally exhale and let go.

That night after all the horses had been put away and work was finished.  I headed into the house and emailed the former caregiver.  I said I’d decided it just wasn’t going to work out for the pretty horse and myself.  He would need to go home.  Arrangements were made and I felt nothing but relief this time.  No second guessing, no guilt, no anger, no frustration, no grief and no pain just the feeling that I had finally, after all these years stepped over a void that had been long elusive.  Those layers of pain were replaced with an honest and more current energy of I tried, I learned, I’ve made a decision and I want something different.

After the pretty Buckskin went home I continued my search for the right horse.  This time no short cuts and no compromises. I was prepared for the search to take as long as it took.  Ironically or perfectly not long after the big pretty Buckskin left my ranch a friend offered me her former trail riding horse, Rose.  Rose was no longer up to the 20 mile rides my friend did but for the kind of riding I enjoyed – Rose was perfect.

This time around it was a different kind of easy.  Everything about the horse felt right in my body.  There was no dumbing down of what I wanted, no altering of hopes or needs.  I have easily had more fun with Rose this past year than I have had collectively in the last 10 years.  With out going thru the experience with the big pretty buckskin and letting go my need to fix & work rather than enjoy I know I would not have been able to have the experience I am now having with Rose.