Scar, the horse that changed my life

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.

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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.

Scar

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. 

A lesson in trust

After work in summer I take my dogs for a cool walk down my little river. During irrigation, the river is about one inch deep and mostly stagnant. The river boasts crayfish, gigantic arroyo frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, dark fishing spiders, tons of minnows and other wildlife. Because I recently had to deal with a rattlesnake I said out loud, “Hey is there anything up the river I need to be aware of?” The answer was both felt and heard. “Yes.” Me: “Oh, good. Wait! Is it deadly?” “No.” I could feel this in the core of my entire body, head to toe, as an unmistakable feeling of confirmation. Probably the strongest physical confirmation I have ever received. Consider me warned. I would be on the lookout for…whatever, and it was not going to kill me. Well now doesn’t that sound promising.

As we walked upriver I was observant and cautious. Would I see a deer, or a raccoon hunting for crayfish? A heron fishing for minnows? I did not know if it would be something dangerous, or something delightful. This feeling of confirmation was with me the whole time. The pond was more shallow than usual, and the large minnows were there by the gazillion! What fun! Gypsy had a blast swimming in it, while my other dog Goat Cheese was nearby.

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I walked into the edge of the 5 foot deep pool where the water was about 2 inches deep and took video of Gypsy swimming around. As I finished taking the video I turned around to go back to dry land taking one step with my left foot. The sand gave way and I sunk into the sand up to mid hip. Quicksand! Oh $hit. It felt like there was nothing supporting me and I dared not move one muscle. My right leg was bent at the knee and out sideways on what I hoped was firm ground. With quicksand it is hard to tell. I had no idea how much further down I would go if I tried putting my hands out in front of me to support myself. Sinking in another 2 and a half feet would be fatal. I desperately called to my dogs.

“Get over her NOW! Mama is in trouble and needs your help!”

Both dogs came over, oblivious to my plight. I grabbed them each by the collar and relied on their distributed weight to pull me out. They started tugging backwards, which is exactly what I needed. I was able to test that ground ahead of me and gingerly crawl out. I could hardly believe what had happened. Here on my little river there is quicksand and I managed to blunder into it. But I came out safe and sound. On my walk back home, I grabbed a large stick and held it sideways just to be on the safe side.

Homeward bound, I reflected on what happened. Well for one thing, I was alive! Yay! At the beginning of my walk, Spirit let me know where was something ahead for me. Sure enough, there was. But it was an event, not an animal. I got a very clear, very strong message from the Universe that there was something up ahead for me, and it was not fatal. I was to trust in that. Bottom line is, trust in the messages you get, especially if you ask for them! That was a big lesson in trust and I won’t soon forget it.

Comments always welcome and encouraged. View this blog entry by itself by clicking on the headline, in order to make a reply at the bottom. 

Of snakes and men

On hot days I take my dogs for a walk in the river on my property. In the heat of summer most of the water is diverted for the purpose of local irrigation, growing crops of New Mexico chili, pinto beans, squash and corn. Irrigation for local farmers restricts the river from a five-foot deep rushing torrent to a creek that barely runs at all. It’s fun to take the dogs up the river and back, chasing minnows, crayfish and dragonflies. On the way back to the house, we run up the slope through the small forest of knee high plants with cabbage like leaves and bright white flowers.

On our run back to the house from the river about five weeks ago, I heard a distinctive sound. Your ear never forgets this sound after the first time you hear a rattler. I quickly yelled at the dogs to stay away, get away, and yelled ‘no’ very loudly. They were unaware of the dangerous reptile at their feet. My feet were bare as were my legs. I am no stranger to snakes and have a great respect for them. Their symbolism, independent strength and grace are to be admired. But anything venomous on your property is not a great idea when you have horses (who fear them), and dogs who love to play with reptiles.

I have had rattlesnakes on my property before, but since they were thick as my upper arm and five feet long, I have had to call in neighbors to deal with them. I called my riding friend a few houses down and told him what was going on. He said “You can handle it. Just take a shovel and do it.” I was stupefied. Me? Kill a snake? Oh, no I can’t do that. No, no, no! Every fiber in my being fought the idea. I hemmed and hawed and danced around and could not do it. But I still had a problem on my hands. I needed to act quickly.

I finally saw another neighbor next door. I said “Hey there is a rattler on my property and I am scared of it.” He said “Well just bring it over here and I’ll take care of it.” Huh? Bring it over? Say what? Oh, the sarcasm was there but, I was stunned at such a flippant and uncaring answer. I have been nothing but a good neighbor to this person. He has even said so to may face on many occasions. But for some reason he was playing with me and being downright rude.

In a panic, I called back my riding friend and said “Look I really don’t have the nerve to do this. I like snakes! This is a living thing and I don’t want to kill it, but it can’t stay on my property.” Since soul dog left, none of my dogs would know what to do, and soul dog would have handled it perfectly. Sigh. My riding friend did not come over, and I would never ask outright. I figure if I outlined the situation it was up to him to offer, and not feel obligated at the same time. He insisted that I could do it. He said I had to learn to do this sort of thing, if I was going to live in the Southwest. He continued in a friendly voice and said “Just suck it up and do it. I know you can do it!” I hung up, and did the deed, which made me uncomfortable on many levels. It made me sick to my stomach. I realized after I did it that this was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life. It took more courage to do it than I imagined I had. By a factor of 10!

I took a walk to blow off steam, and on the way back I saw a snake curled up on the side of the road basking in the late afternoon sun. I went a little closer to take a look and saw it was a bull snake. Harmless and also beneficial in its appetite for eating mice. I wanted to make sure it was not another rattler in my area. There are a lot of mice on my property and I always welcome most snakes to live there to help with that ‘natural balance’ of things.

This was a tale of two snakes and two men. One man and one snake were dangerous, and the other man and the other snake were beneficial. Had my friend not insisted I had the courage to kill the rattlesnake, I would never have found that supreme amount of courage and guts it took for me to kill it. The ‘bad’ neighbor had been shitty to me, and I would rather have had him say “No, I can’t help you” or anything rather than his sarcastic and dishonest reply. My good friend had done me a favor, in terms of giving me courage, that he is probably to this day not aware of how much he helped me.

Courage can come from anywhere, deep inside you, even if you don’t think you have it.

Comments always welcome and encouraged. View this blog entry by itself by clicking on the headline, in order to make a reply at the bottom.

Durango CO Whole Expo!

I’ll be at the Whole Expo in Durango, CO for my first ever in-person shindig Sept 10 and 11 booth D-1 along with Heart of the Mother Healing and Gwendolyn Hill! Please stop by and introduce yourself. I will be doing 3-card tarot readings for half price plus drawing for six prizes as follows:

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Below is my postcard that I prefer to give out instead of business cards. I have been a graphic designer for over 30 years and this is my work including my logo. That’s my horse, Scar, on the postcard back.

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Hope to see you there!