Fall – A time of change & an opportunity for healing

Fall at Crane

 

One day last fall I had a bit of a meltdown. On that particular day I had – had enough. My breaking point was right at the surface, I got triggered and I broke. There was some yelling, some kicking of random items as I stormed past, and unfortunately I had an audience. Other people to witness my loss of control. I’m not proud of my meltdown as its not my normal coping mechanism but I’m also not ashamed of it either.

What was interesting to me about my meltdown was how I felt about it afterwards. My inability to control myself in that moment kind of fascinated me. I started asking myself to put into words what I was feeling in that moment of breakdown and honestly I found it challenging to find words to adequately describe what was happening in my body and being at that moment.

The following day I woke up and decided that going out for a long ride on my horse by myself was the only next step I could see. Riding always rearranges my mood and often helps illuminate what ever I am having trouble understanding.

So I loaded Rose up in the horse trailer and off we went. The drive to the trail head is fairly long, about an hour, so I had allot of time to think along the way. On my drive I asked myself once again to put into words what I was feeling during my meltdown and the information came to me rather easily & clearly. It was simple – I was in allot of emotional pain. My soul was in pain. The whole of my being, who I am at the deepest level, was in pain. My meltdown felt like my inner most being was trying to claw its way out of my body and the interior pain I felt as these emotions were in full eruption – was nearly intolerable. It seemed my bodies only possible reaction at that moment of intensity was to erupt, to melt down – To lose it for a minute.

After this understanding of my behavior became a little clearer to me I realized that this pain that I was feeling was very old. The pain had been with me since childhood and maybe with me for longer than that. As these thoughts ran thru my mind my body finally calmed. My thoughts then shifted to the ride I was about to have. As I neared the park I gave some thought to what kind of experience I wanted to have on my ride that day. I wanted to be clear and intuitive for the ride and most of all I wanted a healing for myself. A healing for that part of me that felt deeply broken inside.

The ride was beautiful. Cool fall weather, brightly colored grape wines covering the hills with neon green grass surrounding just about everything for as far as I could see. It was breathtaking. Near the end of our ride I had the urge to stop, get off, mostly untack Rose and sit at the edge of the creek that ran along the trail. While sitting there I had the thought that my healing was on its way. I didn’t understand exactly what that meant but I knew enough to pay attention & be aware of my surroundings. I closed my eyes, breathed deeply and took it all in. I sat in the moment until it felt like it was time to move. Continue reading

Milestones

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50+ pounds lost.

That was the milestone where I was sure I would tell people what’s been going on with me.  But that milestone came and went a while ago and I didn’t say much.  I quietly kept my milestone mostly to myself with the exception of telling family and a few friends.  I can honestly say that my desire to keep quiet quite surprised me.  I really thought I would want to share my good news with everyone but I just wasn’t compelled too. I was still in quiet mode.  A mode I have been in for the better part of the last 12 months.

 

2015 was a brutal year – from beginning to end – I lost so many of the horses I loved, I lost some friends I truly cared about, I lost my passion for my work, I lost many illusions (not a bad thing but hard) I was losing my eyesight & my health due to an ever progressing auto immune disorder and as last year came to a close I seemed to lose my voice as well or maybe a more accurate way to say this – I lost my passion to speak.  I stopped saying much to friends or family.  I stopped posting most of my thoughts on Facebook.  I mostly stopped blogging, I stopped writing & I stopped working – I shut down my commercial horse boarding/rehab business that I had loved so much for so long.  I just needed to stop.

 

During this period of stopping I rested.  I let go. I spent allot of time being introspective.  I re focused my energy on me. I also found a great nutritionist at the beginning of the year.  Well actually my best friend of 25 years found her for me, come to think of it my friend also found me the ranch we currently own, but that’s a story for another day.

 

The nutritionist had a deep understanding (from her own experiences) of auto immune disease & nutritional triggers. She helped set me on a path that has forever altered my life in a way I could never have imagined.  The diet protocol for someone with my level of auto immune illness was crazy hard!! But given that I had tried just about everything else i.e. drugs, vegetarian, vegan, raw, juicing, paleo & blah blah blah…. I thought why not just try it and see, what’s the worst that could happen?

 

The protocol is call AIP with a focus on Low histamine foods.  I won’t go into great detail about what it is but suffice to say, I don’t eat any dairy, gluten, grains of any kind, beans, seeds, nuts, sugar, sugar substitutes, preservative’s, chemicals, nightshade veg or any spices derived from nightshades.

 

What does that leave?? Organic meats, about 20 vegetables and 10 fruits that are safe.  Eating only homemade foods, no food from restaurant’s or takeout.  Eating nothing that was packaged & preserved.  At first I thought there’s no way I can do this but then I remembered hey! You’re losing your vision rapidly at age 49 and your body is aging so much faster than it should be, you better give it a shot.  I tried it and it worked.  Within weeks I was feeling such a difference in my body.  Within months my life had changed dramatically. I had energy.  I could breathe (most days) My eyes had stopped rapidly deteriorating and the weight that had been so stuck to my body for the last 15 years finally started just pouring off me.  For the first time in a long time, I had true hope.

 

So here I sit today, with true hope for my future and new goals.  Things that had only been a distant dream because I didn’t have a body that would support those dreams – until now.

 

Looking forward to a future filled with things I had only dreamed of.  Like endurance riding, always wanted to do it, never had a body that could handle it but that’s changing!  Another 6 months or so and this body should be able to do just about anything I want.  Looking toward my next milestone and enjoying the journey to it.

 

Re-Assurance

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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

 

A Simple Truth

 

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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

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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.

The Beginning of the End

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Over the years I’ve gotten very comfortable listening to my intuitive voice.  I mostly know when its just fear talking to me as opposed to intuition giving me much needed guidance. This past year when I had to euthanize my beloved mare Lotta, that little voice came in to guide me once again.

What really struck me when my intuition guided me to let her go before the unbearable pain started for her, was that with out all of the horses and people who left before her, I would not have been able to hear, understand and execute what needed to be done.

One of the skills I honed while running my ranch was the ability to “know” the outcome of an illness when it came to rehabbing the horses.  When a horse would show up and get off the trailer I would always hear exactly what was to come of them.  The words were always short but clear.

The first time I heard and fully understood that my intuition was speaking to me, I heard the words “she wont be staying long” as a beautiful and heavily pregnant pmu mare stepped off the trailer and onto my property.  I was horrified and confused.  My first inclination was to ignore those words, put them out of my mind and pretend I didn’t know.  But the universe did what the universe does.  In the next few seconds as I am working to clear my mind of what I just heard, the cowboy who was delivering the mare, walked past me, mare in hand, looked directly at me and said “this one won’t stay long”.  He didn’t break stride as his words flowed into my awareness.  I knew then it was the beginning of the end for this mare.  I didn’t know the why or how on that day, but I understood it would be coming.  One year later the mare died, by her own choice and on her terms.  She left behind her baby of six months old.

It was so clear after seeing the whole thing from beginning to end that the mare’s goal was to leave that baby safely here.  In a life that would fit that baby as the baby had never known anything else. But the mare had known a very different life, a life she didn’t want to leave.  An equine family of huge origin, 1000’s of acres to roam on and live with her family in relative peace.  The life she had come to here, on our ranch was no comparison to the life she had left behind.  She literally stayed long enough to make sure her baby was ok and then she exited the picture.  Just as my intuition had informed me and as the cowboy had confirmed.

This first fully conscious intuitive incident had set the framework for a new and more expanded understanding of this little voice in my head.

I remember feeling somewhat tense the afternoon of June 6th 2015.  It was the day that the beginning of the end started in earnest.

That afternoon I was watching the rambunctious ranch geldings, Sam, Bode and Skip playing and running in the arena.  In the middle of the arena stood their owners.  The horses made their rounds at high speed as they had done so many times before, stopping for the occasional bout of rearing and biting one and other.  I didn’t know exactly why I was tense that day but I did know I would find out soon.  I was hoping it was something harmless and unrelated to the geldings play.

It’s always in the moments after the incident, what ever that may be, that the understanding of the feeling, in this case – tension- fully becomes illuminated.  In many ways understanding feelings that precede any incident, change, etc. is allot like learning a new language – an intuitive language.

Sadly the brand of tension that I felt on that day will forever be marked in my private mental dictionary.  Specific brand of tension = very sad outcome.

On the last lap around the arena as the horses moved toward a hard right turn and past their owners who were standing in the middle arena, the horses sped up instead of slowing down.   I held my breath as I heard the voice of Sam’s person say to her horse, slow down….not so fast…..  As her words still hung in the air, the horses rounded the corner and Sam slipped and fell down hard.

We all heard a loud crack.  Sam popped up onto all fours but was obviously very injured and obviously very much in shock.  As I moved toward the arena gate he stood next to his owner as the others in the arena gathered the running horses.  His owner said she heard the crack and was afraid it was a bone.  I knew the audible crack was actually him landing on the lunge whip that had been propped up against the fence but I also knew that he was in fact broken beyond repair.

The little intuitive voice said to me in those calm, quiet and often in these cases, disconcerting words – “It’s over”.  I was crushed.  “Its over” – I wanted to wonder what it meant but I knew. I felt deep in my being that it meant it was all over.  Not just Sam’s life but the life of the ranch where we both lived.  It was all over.

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful for this knowing that comes to me.  Because it says things I don’t want to hear, I don’t really want to know and that I certainly don’t want to believe!

As we waited for the vet, the owner’s boyfriend asked me how bad it was.  I said it’s very bad.  “It’s over”.  He didn’t understand why I would say that and I can understand why he wouldn’t understand.  It’s taken me years, 49 to be exact to “know” what that little voice means.

In my early years I would hear the intuitive guidance but I would often choose to ignore it.  Then the outcome would occur anyway and I would be somewhat to very displeased but in the back of my mind I would be saying to myself, you knew this, why didn’t you act on that.

Of course the answer to that was because action on intuitive guidance with out proof takes an extraordinary amount of faith and understanding.  In my younger years I simply didn’t have that much faith or understanding.  I was still learning.  I am still learning.  Gratefully the lesson to not ignore that little voice is deeply embedded in me now.  I don’t know how much easier it makes things for me but I do understand it when I hear it or at the least I understand to listen to it.

Sam would survive two more months before it became clear to his person there was no hope what so ever of his recovery.

During the two months that Sam was alive after his accident I was becoming very aware that my ranch life as I had known it was also coming to an end but I kept that awareness somewhat buried deep inside.  I didn’t share that information with too many people.  Mostly because I didn’t really want it to be true.  I had always known that when the last original horse to this ranch left my life in their death that the ranch as we all had known it, would be done.  During 2015 we lost almost as many horses as had been lost in the whole ranches history of being open.  Three of those horses were originals to my ranch.

Several days before Sam was scheduled to be euthanized.  My personal and most beloved horse, Lotta began acting oddly.  She was off.  I assumed she was just reacting to the state of Sam and his impending exit from his body and of course reacting to my own distraught state of being.  I guess what I’m saying is I didn’t think she was ill.  I just thought she was reflecting me and the events surrounding all of us at the ranch.

On the first day Lotta was off it was just that she wasn’t herself.  On the second day, first thing in the morning when I went out to feed I found her lying down.  Not thrashing or sweaty or upset just laying there and looking up at me.  I felt a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach as I approached her and then I heard that little voice.  It said “2 for 1”.  I was almost outraged that the voice would say something so seemingly callous.  I didn’t fully understand what 2 for 1 meant but I did understand that Sam was scheduled to be euthanized so did this mean Lotta would go at the same time?? That just didn’t seem possible or real on any level.  The intuitive voice was ever so slightly confusing for the first time in a long while.

As the day proceeded my mare got sicker and sicker.  She would not eat or drink and could not poop.  It was particularly surreal to watch her go thru this knowing what the little voice had said to me.  She wasn’t happy but she wasn’t in extreme pain either.  She wasn’t really even agitated except for a few minutes here and few minutes there.  I had my vet out to see if there was anything he could do.  He administered the usual protocol, fluids, anti inflammatories and a pain killer.  He was very hopeful because her heart rate was not indicating that she was in great pain.  He said no food until she poops and added “I think she’ll be fine”.  We hugged and he left.  I wanted so badly to believe his words! Maybe “2 for 1” meant something all together different than what I was thinking. I hoped.

The following day many people stopped by the ranch to say goodbye to Sam.  His euthanasia was scheduled for next morning.  The people who stopped by to say goodbye to Sam were surprised to see Lotta in the round pen next to Sam.  Most seemed to think that Lotta would pull out of it, that she would be just fine.  It was strange to me on some level to hear these words from others but then I reminded myself that being able to see this level of exit was not something most people are very interested in or maybe more accurately they could see it, they might even have known what I knew but no one seemed to want to verbalize it.  I knew she wasn’t fine.  She was leaving, I could feel it.

As the hours ticked by that day and that night I felt her impending departure getting stronger and stronger.  I prayed for her to change her mind.  I offered everything I had to help her shift the circumstances but she was steadfast.  She was leaving me.

On the morning of Sam’s departure, while we waited for the vet to arrive, I stood in the round pen crying and hugging my mare.  She was still externally quiet but now her heart rate was raging.  Despite the constant flow of pain meds the pain of what was happening inside her body was beginning to take over.

When the vet arrived he said to me how is Lotta? He fully expected for me to say that she was fine.  I shocked him when I burst into tears and said she’s not ok at all.  She’s leaving me.  We decided to go check on Lotta first before we went to help Sam pass.

It was clear within the next few minutes what Lotta’s fate would be that day.  The look on the vets face said it all but just so I understood fully he added the words “I’m so sorry I really didn’t think it was going to go this way”.  Her intestines were restricted beyond hope.  Her heart rate was now sky high.  He said I really don’t see any hope here and he expressed his own disbelief of her current state.  He administered a stronger dose of IV pain medication to make sure her last minutes with on earth were as comfortable as they could be.

He said it was very surprising to him that she wasn’t thrashing around given her heart rate and level of extreme compaction and distention. I thought about his words and it seemed quite clear to me.  She didn’t need to thrash around for me to understand.  I didn’t require that level of communication from her to understand her situation.  Had this occurred 10 years ago or so, she would have needed to thrash around for me to understand her pain and her next step.  But that was then and this was now.  I knew this would be the outcome when I had heard those words “2 for 1” four days earlier.  Lotta and I had understood all of this from the first sad moment it had been communicated. It was just a matter of a few days to say goodbye to friends and allow the end to settle in.

The whole experience that morning was one of the most surreal experiences of this life time to date.  The vet helped Sam cross over first while I sat on my front lawn with Lotta watching her sleepily & quietly nibble at some grass.  Then the vet made his way over to us and he helped Lotta cross over. It was very quick.  She left immediately.  I have witnessed and assisted in more than my fair share of euthanasia’s this life time.  Lotta and Sam’s were both incredibly fast.  Almost instant.  It rarely happens quite that quickly.  The whole thing was just unbelievable in so many ways.  In just 15 minutes time the two cornerstones of my ranch, my oldest equine friends at this time, exited my life.

I sat with Lotta on the lawn as the procession of other horses at the ranch came to say their final goodbyes.  Baby Dahlia, whose mother had left her so many years before came to see Lotta and say goodbye.  Baby Shadow, who had been Lotta’s surrogate baby for many years and later her paddock mate, came to say goodbye.  As each horse passed by us my sobs slowly degenerated to a numb and odd humming inside of me. My body vibrating with change and my mind reeling with the words “2 for 1”.  Those words seemed so cold.  I hadn’t shared the words used to express this horrible knowing with anyone yet, not even my husband. It felt terrible even uttering those words.  I knew there was a good reason for those words to be used and that soon I would be comforted by hearing them ( I hoped )  but at that this moment it was hard to conceive what that reason could possibly be.

As I write this today I can no longer remember who said those words to me, a friend? My husband? Or maybe the young man who arrived at the ranch to pick up Lotta and Sam’s bodies.  I was sitting next to Lotta, holding my check book in hand because even in death life doesn’t stop.  A check would need to be written to cover the cost of their removal.  When I asked what the amount was, someone said the amount aloud and then added that there was a discount because this was a “2 for 1”.

I can’t adequately describe what I felt as I heard those words come out of someone’s mouth in regards to Lotta and Sam.  It was a mixture of horror and deep knowing that I done the right thing.  I had been able to use the voice to help me help her before she got so painful and so sick that it was a traumatic end.  Because of those words I knew what to do and hearing those words after the fact sadly validated that I had done what I was supposed to do.   A mixture of knowing, sadness, gratitude and horror all wrapped up together.

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