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.

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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.

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Goodbye Soul Dog

It’s been just over three months that I let my soul dog, Google go forward to his journey off planet. He was 12 years and 8 months old. Not bad for a 72 lb dog. It was so hard to do, but I feel I had a very complete experience with him. I waited for a sign from him that it was time. Believe me, your animal will let you know when it is time.

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On his last day on the planet, I invited close friends to sit and visit with him out in the yard and the sunshine. All his dog friends were there and people came by to say goodbye. It was one of the very rare sunny days we had in a cloudy and cold early Spring. When it was time to go, we had to plan how to get him into the truck to get to the vet because of his severe arthritis and inability to move much. We decided to place his jumbo sized memory foam bed into the back of the pickup truck. Then three of us lifted him as gently as possible onto it. Then I got into the back of the truck with him and lay down behind him, hugging him and talking to him. I told him to look at the gorgeous sky of blue with tons of white fluffy clouds, and that he was a New Mexico dog for his whole life, and not to forget that. I saw him sniffing the air and still being curious about life.

The experience at the vet was very special. I stayed in the back of the truck with my dog hugging him. We agreed it was best to have it happen outside. Google was an outside dog and going inside the vet’s office would make him unnecessarily uncomfortable. My veterinarian is a member of the Jemez tribe. He said, “I am going to talk to Google. This is my Indian prayer.” He said a very special prayer speaking to my dog, in his tribe’s native language, before Google Doggen passed. This was so different than having someone pray over my dog. Then my vet interpreted the prayer and told me what he said. After everyone went back inside, I spent more time with his body, it was so hard to let go. I wanted a few more minutes to nuzzle his neck and dig my nose into his soft fur, like I had done so many times while he was alive.

At the crematorium I had several items picked out to go with him from home. I had a Mexican falsa blanket to wrap him in, some locally grown sage, incense sticks, and the most important item, his favorite old, deflated basketball. Hey if a dog spends his whole life chasing a basketball, he should get to have it in the end! I told the staff to ‘wrap him up like a burrito’ with all the items. Google deserved the best sendoff I could give him. I picked out a great urn, had it engraved, and also selected some jewelry where you can have some of the ashes inserted. One of those necklaces is hanging on the rear view mirror of my car, so he always rides along with me.

When you give it your all, for every part of the process, it helps with grief and loss. Don’t hide from any part of it. Be with your pet until the end. When you are fully present for the entire journey, it helps with grief and loss. Part of that experience was having him cremated and making a shrine in my home on a bookcase. Every week I buy fresh flowers at the grocery store. I have his old collar wrapped around his urn. It is a way to honor his memory, and still have him near me. It is hard to believe I can’t go out and find him in his usual spot under the porch, or pet him.

The Shamanic experience is about ‘soul retrieval’ for parts of your life you lost along the way—when your heart feels broken. What I did with Google Doggen was so complete that there is no part of my soul that needs retrieving. That is the best way to describe it. Yes, I miss him, but I feel so complete in his full experience here on earth, and with me, that I don’t have a heavy heart when I think of him. It’s finished. The feeling in my heart is light and free.

Sweet Dreams Google Doggen

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