He Sent Me Home to Paint

 

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[This post was published briefly months ago so may be familiar to my followers. It has been rewritten and edited]

There was sweetness in the sorrow I felt when my memory took me back to the day my first horse, Apolinaire, died. At the end of his recent visitation through Dollar,l my emotional balloon was stretched to full capacity. Knowing I needed  to release my tears, I was driven to walk the pasture paths that the horses have created through the wooded areas, revisiting the different places where Apolinaire and I had been together during the last four days of his life. Retracing our story together, I lingered at the very spot where many months ago he lay in exhaustion.

He had sent me home that day to paint.

To leave him in such a condition was difficult but I had been through this drill many times before with the other horses who were having acute or chronic physical issues, with miraculous results. Each time I had been guided to write, sketch, paint, to simply stand nearby and tune into nature, or to “please leave and let me work this out myself.” The malady magically disappeared time and time again.

Knowing his directive was not one to ignore, I left.

Once home, I painted with a restless spirit but with spiritual awareness, sensing that Apolinaire and I were most likely walking his death journey as companions. It was premature he told me that night and reminded me of the day years ago when he’d shared the way he was to die.

At that time, he had wandered away from the herd which was unlike him. He stepped over to another pasture and stood alone silently calling to me. I responded and stayed at a distance giving him space and dignity. Since it was late afternoon, the coastal fog had found its way inland and dimmed the light of day, creating an appropriate mood for what he was sharing. When he finished, I had thought his death was imminent, that he would likely disappear during the night. There was no distress. Sadness, yes, but most of all I felt a deeper closeness to him. He had trusted me with something intimate and sacred. But, the time for manifestation had not come.

Now, years later, I understood that it still was not time for Apolinaire to go, but an ominous feeling was pressing in. He was giving me continuous instructions as to my role in the partnership and in the process.

I was to hold space for him while he did his intercessory work which was very serious and challenging would make the difference in whether he was to live or die. For the most part, the magnitude of his cosmic work was not revealed.

I was to hold the belief he would recover as the other horses had done many times before. This time, however, my growth was in the believing. It was important even if there was never a manifestation of that belief. That one was tough for me. It didn’t make sense to me nor can I make sense of it now. All I know is that deep down there was a powerful freedom in it and there still is. I gave up attachment to results, and was free to hold space for his recovery and allow the Divine to flow. There was no more resistance to “believing” because it might not manifest since that was no longer a part of my formula. This is new to me and there is much more for me to discover about that practice.

Back home after putting away my paints and returning to the pasture, I quickly found my way to the spot where I had left him lying on the ground. My breath caught with new hope when I saw he was no longer there. There were indicators that reminded me of the “yellow brick road” that helped me find him tucked in the thicket, well away from where he had been lying. His eyes were brighter, there was new energy in him. I was encouraged.

As time went by, I continued to work on my painting and holding space for Apolinaire. Each time I returned, he showed improvement. My hopes were running high. Things seemed to be progressing.

On day 3, an acquaintance stopped by the pasture. I was not able to tell her that I was in an important process with Apolinaire. In fact I tried to hide it from her not wanting to talk about it. I surrendered to her arrival thinking maybe it was meant to be and might bring the ultimate healing. I completely forgot about my deal with Apolinaire. My only hope was that he would stay hidden.

Forgetting I was on a sacred mission with my horse, I lost my connection with Apolinaire that day as I followed my distraction. It can happen to me so easily. I suspect I am not alone in that tendency.

I had not spoken up which was a disservice to my guest, to Apolinaire in particular, and to myself. I lost the day with him. I lost my sense of confidence and holding space. I didn’t paint. Didn’t even think of it. From that day, he went downhill extremely fast and I forgot everything I’d been learning and went into crisis mode.

The next morning, he waited for me to arrive. When he turned and looked at me, I knew he was dying. My heart sank, and I gave up. In less than an hour, he was gone.

I had known it was a challenging task. I do not feel guilty nor that it was my fault as one might expect. We were on a treacherous journey together. I had known that.

My painting had brought continuous improvement for Apolinaire as it had done for the horses over the years. This time there was a bigger challenge. I became distracted and stopped painting. He went downhill. He died. It is sometimes a tough journey.

When he sent me home to paint, he sent me home to that other worldly place where the soul sighs with relief. There I find my joy and the peaceful pool of healing. There I am out of the way; the Divine is free to flow and the extraordinary follows.

Kaheka on the Move

20160819_103631                         Kaheka

The whole herd is on the move. Literally. We are relocating in a few days to a small ranch with a lovely homestead feeling. And it’s for sale! I’ve always envisioned an opportunity like this. Depending on how things evolve this is either a temporary stay on our way to a more permanent place or this will become our permanent place as the magic kicks in. That is my desire. And the magic is working lately even in finding this place.

Revision: Since writing the above post, the magic has taken us on a detour at the last minute. We have not moved to our dream place after all, but maybe there is something better, or maybe something will change and we can buy it or find a buyer that would lease to us. In the meantime we are still on the move, and need a place now. Time is of the essence.

I am including in this post a link to our Gofundme site that a young and supportive friend set up on behalf of the horses all of whom have been rescued; and myself, and not to exclude Henii, the rescued Airedale mix). We are in transition and would welcome support for feed and care of the horses for a few months until the vision becomes self sustaining. This would be a “bridge” like entrepreneurs use during a start up.

We also need funds for trailering the 5 equine beauties, as a friend calls them. If you are inspired to be a part of our journey by contributing or by prayers in whatever way you do that, we would be grateful.

https://www.gofundme.com/kaheka2016

Beverly

The Equine Art of Healing

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Mariah (left) and Kaheka

Mystic Mariah, one of two mares in the herd, is a vivacious teenage dancer; light on her feet, easy to plop to the ground for a feel-good roll, bounce back to her feet, then off on a run with head flung high to the wind.

She’s also a bit mischievous with a dry sense of humor that I forget sometimes when I get annoyed at her dramatic flair for throwing hay ever so flamboyantly out of her food bin. And not just hers, but everybody elses’ as she goes from bin to bin taking over their spot.

But I couldn’t help feeling endeared by her the day she coyly deposited a tiny bouquet of flowering grasses in the middle of the sketch I was doing of her. Or the day she made me giggle and laugh when I was doing a charcoal sketch of Shaman Tal and she sauntered over with a gleam in her eye to have a look. She proceeded to erase the whole thing with her mouth, bringing me spontaneous laughter that filled the spacious stall with healing. Something about the whole scenario, my sketching and our laughing brought the restless Shaman to a peaceful quiet, and out of discomfort.

Mystic Mariah has been an active healer often through her humor and her presence alone. Recently, however, I discovered something new that came out of a problem. Mystic Mariah has always been a “noisy” breather from the day she arrived here about 10 years ago. Her audible breath would come and go and I never quite found the pattern for certain. Probably it happened most often when she was feeling a little anxious about something, just like we humans.

In the past year her breathing has become more noticeable on a regular basis but she hasn’t shown stress. But most of us have viewed it as a problem which has distracted us.

A few days ago, that all changed. A bright spirited young woman from Nevada was here on the western coast for respite. She came for a visit with the horses. Arriving ahead of me, she had some time to interact with the horses while I quickly finished my breakfast.

When I finally met her at the gate, she greeted me literally beaming with excitement. Unable to contain herself she blurted out that Mariah was teaching her to breathe! This Mariah with the breathing problem, was teaching this young woman how to breathe?!? How could this be?

I was unexpectedly swooped up and away in an invisible tornado, and swirled into a sudden shift in perspective. I was filled with curiosity, and at the same time a dance of delight. The whole pasture suddenly came alive with a song of triumph, and an otherworldly illumination sparked by this young woman, Steph. There was an intriguing sense of celebration of something new that I later discovered was more expansive than I could have imagined at the time!

Surprisingly, I had not noticed, consciously anyway, that though Mariah’s breath was noisy, each was slow and deep. That is what Steph had tapped into…long breath in and slow breath out. Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….. This is how a horse normally breathes, we just don’t hear it. Mariah’s just happens to be audible. The long slow breath is a challenge for typical human patterns to sustain. But, Steph was trying to master it.

When I quieted from the sudden and involuntary change in my perspective about Mariah’s breath, I began experiencing it as strength instead of weakness. I, too, started letting Mariah teach me, breathing long and slow breaths with her as Steph had done. A powerful new understanding began to emerge and take root.

Here at the ranch, I’ve known for years that the horses are insistent on giving to us. They are determined to offer us deep healing, and don’t take kindly to clients, nor to myself, when we try to fix them. One very friendly horse, Kaheka, abruptly walked away when one guest reached out her hand to energetically fix and heal.

The healing they offer is often wrapped in symbolism and metaphors that require interpretation. Mariah’s breathing appeared as a problem and a weakness to most humans, then Steph instantly decoded what was presented to her and she received it, then passed it along to me and others with a recorded version.

After Mariah literally breathed life and transformation into human beings, it was her turn to receive but not in the way one would expect. A few days after Steph had been here, Mystic Mariah went through a healing crisis. I at first was ready to call a vet but Mariah interrupted swiftly and spoke firmly that what she was experiencing was a good thing, a healing was taking place. I felt it to be true without question.

After Mariah’s message, I felt strongly grounded with a new sense of courage and boldness in embracing her healing. Twenty-five years of equine mentoring, coaching, and hardcore training converged in that moment. Internal arrows darted through my mind in a review of the many lessons from my equine mentors over time, reminding me and connecting me with all they had taught me regarding healing. I was most certainly taking a master exam for my doctorate in mystical living in the trenches, I say laughingly but with some seriousness. For that very day I had been prepared par excellence by the equine teachers.

I had been shown that doubts, and the very act of seeking proof would chase manifestation away. I was able to easily reject my inclination to do so this time, but a remnant of doubt caused me to struggle with trying not to listen to Mariah’s breathing for fear that I would be disappointed. Mariah interrupted again quickly and succinctly informing me that neither audible nor quiet breathing were the proof of whether or not she was healed. The healing took place in another dimension unscathed by whether there was manifestation or not. Freedom rushed over me in refreshment like a clear mountain brook bouncing lightheartedly over rocks. It quenched my thirst for something more. I could listen to her breathe and make no judgment, and stand simply and firmly in her healing.

That being said, after many weeks I have noticed that Mariah’s breath has softened…not always, but mostly. A few days ago when her breath was especially quiet, we put our nostrils together and I breathed in the sweetness of her pure and gentle breath.

She and the herd reminded me that healing comes with our receiving what they offer us. Our healing and theirs. Steph was able to receive from Mariah. Others, myself included, had not seen past her weakness or her problem..noisy breathing.

Steph started the cycle of healing by receiving from Mariah, and then sharing with others. Then healing came back around to Mariah. For years I have been experiencing this cycle of healing with horses once they brought me to the place of simply receiving from them.

This is the equine art of healing.

Out To Pasture

(I just came across this letter to the editor in The Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA), Mendocino County, California on July 28th, 2010)

To whoever accused me of being “severely neglected”—

My name is Filly and I am the equine equivalent of a 95-97-year-old woman. I know you have this beautiful image in your head of what a horse should look like: smooth muscles rippling under a glossy coat perhaps. Just strike that from your mind! Unfortunately, I am never going to look like that again.

I am a skinny, bony old lady with wrinkles, a sway back, stringy muscles and some gray hairs. But if you had taken the time to look me in the eye you would have seen the light in them that has nothing to do with pain and neglect. Maybe you did look but just couldn’t see.

I am still enjoying myself. I have a roof in winter and 75 acres of freedom and grazing during the dry season. My humans keep an eye on me to make sure I have all four legs under me and am not in pain. I am wormed and have all I can eat. Despite my arthritis, I am still quite mobile. Being skinny helps with that. I can even still manage a short canter on occasion.

I wish the general public was more aware of what a normal appearance is for a truly old horse. There once was a time when people had “horse sense,” and it was synonymous with “common sense.” That seems to be in short supply now. Having this unrealistic expectation of equine beauty for all horses is unfair. I don’t look like the horses on the cover of Horse Illustrated with their young, muscular physiques, glowing coats and lush manes and tails.

If it offends your fine sensibilities to find me in your viewshed, look somewhere else. I don’t go into your human rest homes and complain about your 95-year-old great-grandmother, so don’t come into my pasture and complain about me. I am enjoying what little time I have left to me. My human would like me to live out my days and die a peaceful, natural death if possible. As long as I have a happy expression in my eye, she says she’s not going to bump me off. My fear is that if people make too much of a stink about having to look at me, she may have to put me down.

So, please, I know you probably meant well, but give an old lady a break. You could have asked anyone who works and lives at Ferrington Vineyards about me and they could have told you I’m just ancient. I don’t want to be rushed into my grave. I may be getting senile, but I am not stupid.

Severely Old at Ferrington Vineyard

Filly (via Colleen Kobler)

PS. Oh yes, the Animal Control officer said I look pretty good for my age.

Long Night …Into Light (Part 3)

Not Today
August 19. I don’t want to write. I can’t. Carob died today. There. I said it. She died. No fluffy imageries. She died. All the stories she created have gone limp. They suddenly have no meaning, no point, no purpose. She had overcome the odds so many times, we had thought she was invincible. Not today. It was not beautiful, not lovely like the last story. No magic. Not today.

My body wrapped around her as she lay lifeless. Quiet. Her struggle was over. Relief. Stillness. I was stunned. No tears. Not yet. This was not the way it was supposed to end. I lay there with my head pressed into her middle, her body still warm. I felt her breathing, but she wasn’t, but I felt it. It was sweet, peaceful, soothing. But she wasn’t breathing. I could feel it. I did. She moved. No. She didn’t. She did. I felt her. I let myself feel her. I let go and felt, no more resisting. It was real. At last! I was free to feel her breath, her movement, to believe, to be with her, to breathe with her, to ride with her as she made her departure. It was real.

I stroked her beautiful face, the curve of her nostrils, the shape of her mouth. I admired her slender ankles, the beautiful trim of her hooves. My eyes caressed the gracefulness of her legs. I couldn’t get enough, over and over I moved my eyes and felt the pleasure of her form. I reached out and touched them. These legs had galloped so beautifully in those last moments. A perfect rhythm and movement, strong, determined, flowing, harmonious,…a powerful dance. But now quiet. Never to move again in this body. I ached.

I brushed her gently as my heart whispered messages to her as we remained together in silence. Her tossled mane that had often blown in the breezes reminding us of her unicorn nature was now still. I brushed it. And her tail. As I brushed, it fell to the wind waving behind her as she sailed onward. Questioning why. No answers came. I found flowers in the garden, bright yellow ones, bold, perfect for her. I placed them in her white mane, a special bridal flower in her forelocks, lavender in her tail as it stretched out behind her. I let myself love her, miss her, feel her.

She had come to each of the four of us during that week prior, one in a dream where she was beautiful, tossing her gleaming white mane as she breathed upon the dreamer. She came to John, her primary person, in a dream. She jumped over the pasture fence, did sommersaults, landing on her rear and then bounced to her feet and trotted past him. John’s wife had seen an imagery of her with wings flying to a new pasture of horses. I had found her in the beauty of the reflection of the creek…I had known it was her spirit.

I knew where to go today as she lay there motionless but beautiful, her white body adorned with colorful flowers. I found her in the reflection of the creek. I heard her whinny. It was real.

Bev
~~

Long Night …Into Light (Part 2)

Enchantment
It was Monday again, this time early morning. My husband was out the door and off to work. I was still wrapped in my terrycloth robe but decided to take a very quick walk to the barn in the brisk morning air to check on our mare, Carob. I was keeping a close watch on her since she had been trapped in a ditch for 7 hours a week ago from this day, and had some brief difficulties getting up one time during the week. As I approached the barn, my eyes quickly scanned the spacious paddock where we were keeping her. My forehead tightened when I could not see any sign of her light grey body, and there was no “good morning” nicker to welcome me. As I reached the gate, my concerns were confirmed. I found her laying with legs outstretched on an aged manure pile near an old almond tree. Though she looked comfortable on this cushiony mattress which probably lured her for an early morning snooze, something told me she was earthbound again. Judging by her position on the uneven terrain and the torn up soil around her, I knew she had been trying to get up. Over the past week we had become aware that though she showed no signs of pain, there seemed to be weakness in her hindquarters. A vet visit had been scheduled but unfortunately not until the following day. Needing help at that moment, I looked down the road just as my husband’s vehicle was disappearing around the corner with no way to contact him since we are out of cell phone range.

I sighed, then turned back to Carob and looked deeply into her beautiful black eyes. She was at peace and clearly not in pain. I caressed her face and neck, covered her with a blanket, and reassured her that help was on the way. As my mind went back to her 7 hours in the ditch, I determined that I was going to go through this dilemma much more attune than I was that night. I intended to pay close attention to my own inner guidance no matter what. I went back to the house to get properly dressed and to make phone calls for help, feeling a certain relaxed calm under the tension of another crisis. This time, it looked more hopeful.

Liz, my neighbor and friend, was awake but not up yet; Rick, a newer neighbor in the area was up and planning an important family trip into town, but both would come. I was encouraged to know help was close by. Knowing that Carob was not as exhausted as she had been by the time we had found her in the ditch, I felt assured that with help from the neighbors we would be able to get her up within a short period of time. I called John, my co-worker, and he was on his way from an hours drive away. Each one of us had a sense of calm, and no need to rush. Liz took time to get her coffee, John ran an errand in town. more→