My animals have been communicating with me.
As of today, I am making a commitment to my 4-legged partners to truly “hear” them and let go of my agendas.
Since adopting Dreamweaver Sunday, she’s been telling me she’s hurting. Let me recount the ways she’s been informing me of this.
My Eponaquest mentor Brent, came with me when we evaluated the rescue/purchase, from the horse trader. The trader knew nothing about Sunday, so she could not tell us anything about her history. The trader had a lot to say about some of the things I noticed during my first visit, before asking Brent out to come with me to take a look, but even this novice knew that the jagged scar on her knee was not a “hobble scar.”
After giving us his blessing and securing a vet check, Brent’s trusted advice was, “30 days with Sunday doing nothing, just be with her.” After seeing how the horse trader I rescued her from rode her and suggested I ride her during the pre-purchase trail ride, I was clear we were going to have some big unwinding to do, so I followed Brent’s advice, “Just be with her.”
However-full disclosure here-I was truly eager to ride.
My inner child who dreamed of her own pony for 50+ years, was very eager to ride into the sunrise, with her very own horse.
And so, about a month and a half into our relationship, I placed Sunday’s newly purchased, used saddle on her back and put on her new bitless bridle. We’d practiced on the ground with both items without issue. With images of sugar plums dancing in my head, I put my foot in the stirrup and climbed on top. My heart was racing (first warning), I’d been thrown off Annie Two-Moons, a year and a half earlier while riding bareback, and truth be told, I don’t think I had fully recovered from that painful event.
Dreamweaver and I walked off slowly toward the metal gate. So far, so good. I ducked under the gate as she walked through without a spook. We took our first long slow walk around the arena. Everything was going well until I attempted to do some Serpentines with her. As soon as I went to turn her, she refused to bend her neck and she became a wild, bronco. She threw her head up, (what they do in flight mode), and began frantically running toward the fence, behaving as if as if there was a mountain lion mounted on her back. The lion of course was me. As I tried desperately to use the one-rein ER stop I had learned, I was praying and cajoling all the while. Just as I imagined myself flying over the back of her neck, she slid to a full stop while in a canter-gallop, just before we hit the metal rail. My heart was racing 1000 beats per minute and I know hers was too. After thanking my Higher Power and Sunday for not throwing me, I didn’t move an inch. We stood by the rail, recovering, with me still astride, catching our breath, harnessing our minds-both of which had been hijacked by fear-allowing our bodies to return to neutral.
Common old school response: “Turn her around and show her who’s boss!”
My response – “Holy SHITE, that’s not the gentle, loving horse I’ve been with on the ground the last month, what’s going on here?”
After regaining our composure-or so I thought-I attempted to gently turn her neck and continued to get the same response. She refused to bend her neck. There was absolutely no willingness to give or flex as there had been during our 30 days of ground work. I decided not to push the agenda and decided to attempt to end the ride on a good note. Since she was willing to walk forward, I asked her to walk one large circle around the arena. We circle once around, both of us relatively calm and I dismounted and called it a day, feeling very grateful neither of us had been injured.
At that moment I decided to go back to the beginning…ground work.
As I arrived back at the hitching post, to take off her saddle and hose her down, the barn owner approached me. I was still pretty shaken, but felt more sad, to be honest, as I wondered what I’d done wrong to cause such a big reaction. The barn owner had seen what happened and while I was still in the arena, without asking me first, called a friend of hers who is a horse trainer, to help me before I “Got killed.” And so, already vulnerable in my thinking and believing-as I often do when something is new-that other people know better, I did in fact call her friend. She turned out to be a really nice woman who was willing to work with me in a non-traditional way, by listening to what I felt we both needed, with no rough housing (aka violence). Still the issue continued.
I kept hearing a voice inside, “Her rib is out,” and “The saddle doesn’t work for her,” but try as I might, I could not get a chiropractor in AZ to come down the the Baja lands. I often hear this voice when I work with humans, so I’m used to it by now, but with horses, it was new, so I didn’t completely trust that I wasn’t projecting. So, while in Arizona, I began researching, reading books by trainers I truly respected (Mark Rashid, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Magrit Coates, etc.) and called in friends, mentors, vets and acupuncturists, as I continued to search outside myself for help, believing that everyone else knew better than I did, due to my lack of horse “ownership,” expertise.
Still I kept hearing Sunday speak to me, “The saddle bloody HURTS, get off me!”
And here’s the truth.
On the ground, we danced, we flowed, we connected.
Anytime I forced MY AGENDA and mounted her…
it was rodeo time.
When I finally got Dreamweaver Sunday home to Colorado, I immediately called my trusted vet Cindy Wallis, The Natural Vet, to come out and evaluate her. Sure enough. Ribs out, sternum out, haunches out. Cindy adjusted her and told me to get rid of the saddle and ortho pad I’d purchased-with guidance-because they were exacerbating the issue. Of course this is exactly what I’d felt all along!
So these days we are riding with a fleece bareback pad and a halter. Some days are good, some days are bad. Still no flex or give when I’m on her back, but she’s happy as a clam to come all the way around when I’m standing on the ground beside her. My suspicion? We are still dealing with the rib issue and she’s still letting me know somethings off, despite the 3 adjustments. Is she being “stubborn,” or “pig headed,” about being ridden, as they say? I’ve asked myself that question a million and one times.
The day before yesterday I went up to the ranch, haltered her, did some gentle grooming and brought her into the round pen. Although the wind was blowing cold, the heat of the sun warmed both our bodies. I’d brought the bareback pad with me, but I’d carried it. When we entered the pen, I got the message…”Just be.” I’d also brought my pendulum up with me for the first time, to use it to see if what I was feeling, would be confirmed in a reading. It was.
girth areas response…
right rib girth area BIG response.
As we stood in the sun, I massaged Sunday and each time my hand even attempted to approach her right rib-girth area, she would swing around with her teeth. She never actually went for me, but it was her way of saying, “THAT HURTS!!!” This time, agenda’s aside, I listened. This time, agenda’s aside, I “heard.”
So I started with Reiki and gently worked, my way into some T-Touch. I had spent the night before, watching some older videos of Linda showing us how to do the basic massages. As I tenderly massaged worked the small circles, she began to relax. After some time, she allowed me to touch the tender area. I continued gently massaging her and she was finally able to let go, lower her and lick and chew.
When I came home, I did some more research and found this article. He might as well have written this with Sunday as his patient. This is EXACTLY how she’s been behaving.
This week, I’ll call Cindy to gather her thoughts and see about how to manage this issue. My intention is to get her stronger, not just adjusted. I want help her to heal, not just be fixed.
As for Sir Blue, for 2 weeks he’s been communicating that there’s been something pretty “BIG” and scary down on the river path behind our house. Let me just say there isn’t much this guy is afraid of. Usually it’s sniff the breeze, catch the scent and off he goes. During our early morning walks I noticed a change in his behavior. There were a few mornings, his ears went back, he tucked his tail and turned around, pulling me with him. I know enough to listen, so we headed for home. I suspected from his reaction, there was a mountain lion on the prowl. This week my brilliant boy’s communication was confirmed through a community email. There had been a sighting of the lion and a deer had been taken killed just a few doors down. I felt truly blessed that my dog had communicated his concern and I was willing to hear him.
How would our lives change, if we could slow down, put our agendas aside and truly listen to one another…?
Here’s to my teacher Linda Kohanov and the incredible gifts of interspecies communication, if only we will truly hear their wisdom!