A few years after my divorce and I was finally feeling pretty good. As I was driving to work on my long commute I was thinking, what do I really want to have in my life that I truly desire? Maybe there is something I have put off that I have forgotten about? Really reach out there and think about what I want that I had denied myself. Make it really big! A few ideas came to mind and then I realized what would be the jackpot. How about a life with horses in it? Something I had wanted my whole life but never attained. Yes. Exactly! I would be over the moon if I could spend my time with horses.
As a child, the idea of owning horses was a rich person’s hobby. It seemed impossible. So, that dream and that yearning went unfulfilled for over 40 years. For some reason the dream of having my own horse as an adult seemed impossible, due to my thoughts and memories as a child. Don’t let that happen to you!
Shortly after my desire to revisit the idea of horses in my life, a popular coupon company had a special on riding stables around town. I started hanging out every Saturday at a stable all day long. I loved all the girls that worked there, we had a great time, and I became a regular. But I was no closer to getting a horse of my own.
A friend of mine always seemed to have horses coming and going. She knew of my desire to get a horse that would be my speed. She was familiar with my level of experience so I trusted her judgment. One day she said “I have a horse for you that is blind in one eye and lame, but he would be a perfect starter horse for you.” We went out to take a look at Scar. He was probably around 22 years old and was a beautiful, large quarter horse. But his overly long hooves needed a lot of work before he would be rideable.
After three months of farrier work, Scar was no longer considered lame. I was able to ride him and finally had a horse to call my own! I boarded him at the feed store for about a year, and then brought him and Silver, another horse I got from the same place, to my house. Scar and Silver spent a lot of time together at another ranch so I knew they would get along fine. I had purchased $1000 worth of corral fencing, found a spot to keep hay, and built a tack room for saddles and equipment. Keeping horses on my property was what I would consider the ‘jump to light speed’. Totally new territory, and terrifying at the same time to be in charge of such large animals.
Scar had a lot of issues however. He would go bronco at the drop of a hat. And I mean like a bucking broncho, not just a little upset. Saddling Scar was most difficult when the wind blew. And wouldn’t you know it, the wind almost always came up when I started to get Scar ready for a ride. As if the wind was saying, “Hey you can do this!” in a test of my abilities to quiet the fears of my panicky horse. Scar had been in an accident many years previously and still had huge, deep scars all over his body, hence his name.
I suspect the scars were more than skin deep, and he had a lot of fear and panic issues. I had to be so careful putting his blanket and saddle on. Working on his right side where the scars were, was the hardest trigger area to work on. I would be working on him slowly but firmly and then his whole body would shake all over and his eyes would roll back in his head. His body was ready to pop up in the air like a rocket. It’s as if he wanted out of his body. He never went bronco with me on him, he settled right down as soon as I was in the saddle. It took work and courage for both of us to get to that point where we trusted each other and we worked through all the panic triggers.
A girl’s first horse is a right of passage, and he was the best horse I could have asked for! Scar tipped the scales at 1400 lb, with muscles upon his muscles. I called him the Charles Atlas of horses. A Roman gladiator in horse form. He was a standoffish glutton and I loved him! Working with Scar made me very careful around horses in general, as in respectful, not fearful. I loved this horse and we bonded deeply. I appreciated every ride and every experience with him.
Horses are a mixture of opposites. They are extremely powerful animals. At the same time they are totally unaware of their own power, much like I was at the time. Since they are prey animals, they spook and are frightened of almost everything. Even a plastic bag would scare most horses unless they have been trained not to be. They have incredible sensitivity to everything around them, especially energies (and you know my mantra of everything is energy). It’s why a horse can sense if you are scared or not. They can sense your nervousness a mile away, even before you get near them. They are a mixture of raw strength, subtle energy sensors, and are ninjas of graceful movements. They are the only animal I know of besides dogs that are innately eager to please. It’s hard to believe an animal of that size can be so lithe and full of grace and poise. People could take a thousand lessons from being around horses. I did so in my years with Scar.
Scar was not a loving horse, nor affectionate in any way. When I would give him a treat and try and hug him, he’d grab the treat and try and get away from me. He was a moocher, not a lover! But I still loved him anyway. It was his way. He ate anything and everything and would come up to my front door, bang it open, and try and grab the treat pail a few feet away in order to spill its contents and eat the goodies. He continued to do that long after I moved the treat bucket behind the door. He would lift the cover off a metal garbage can over and over with his nose (even if it had a bungie cord on it) until the damned thing opened and he could rummage around in it. Ever the moocher.
I rode Scar for five years and retired him in April to life at pasture. He’d had a hard life before he came to me, and he deserved a good, long retirement. However less than two months into his retirement he got laminitis and was in excruciating pain. I had to quickly find a vet to come and take a look at him. Both my equine vets were either out of town or unavailable for almost two days. Finally my country vet made a special exception in his schedule for me. It was bull season and they were moving cattle around on the mountains working 14 hour days. Plus there are a lot of logistics involved in bringing a horse with painful hooves to a vet in a trailer, etc.
When the vet came to give Scar the once over, I knew what the prognosis would be before he even came. Having put down Soul Dog a few months earlier, this was crushing news. How could I lose Soul Horse so soon afterwards? But I knew he needed to be put down as soon as possible. I had to wait almost another whole day until all the stars were in alignment and we could make it happen.
That last day I had Scar and his brother from another mother, Silver (an off the track Thoroughbred), out in the front pasture. We all hung out with Scar saying our goodbyes. Scar still explored the garbage cans for food! Even in his pain, he was being himself to the last. In life, Scar was very stand-offish, not a lover or affectionate at all. But on his last day he was cuddling, nuzzling and hanging out with me most of the day. I am sure he knew it was the end. I thanked him for the short but amazing time we spent together. He changed my life forever.
My Native American vet did a wonderful job and put Scar to rest quickly and quietly with prayers and a small ceremony fitting an old war horse. We were even graced with the presence of a large hawk, my vets favorite wild animal, at the end of the ceremony. The large bird was sitting atop a large Juniper tree, confidently surveying her domain. We cheered to have confirmation that all was well on the other side. A sign that we had done the right thing.
My very best and first horse, is laid to rest on a mesa in central New Mexico. Scar, I love you so much, almost to bursting. Long may you run.
Comments are welcome and encouraged! Please click on the title of this blog entry so all you see is this one entry, and scroll to the very end to make a reply.