30 Years to Learn the Equine Art of Healing

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Psst! It took us 30 years but she finally got it!

Dollar, my elderly quarter horse, developed a series of colic episodes within a month or so, each time with a different known cause. To you who are unfamiliar with the horse world, “colic” is a potentially life threatening tummy ache having multiple causes but is usually, but not always, indicated by a blockage in the digestive tract. In most cases, it is treatable by a vet. Usually the horse will turn and bite at his or her side, and will want to lie down and roll which can be dangerous in some cases causing a twisting of the gut which is alleviated either by death or a $10,000 surgery, or in some cases, thankfully, a miracle. In any case, it is not something to take lightly.

The first occasion with Dollar I saw coming early in the afternoon. My horses do not colic often but after purchasing my first horse years ago I was trained in the different acupressure points for use when a horse colics. I have used it successfully over the years I have worked with horses, even with horses that were not my own. I have never needed a vet for colic with my own horses.

But this time nothing worked. And the vet was hours away. I tried various things with Dollar but he continued to worsen until it was extremely unsafe to be in the corral with him. He was flailing, throwing himself to the ground or against the fence, pulling himself up to a standing position just in time to crumple to the earth again and again. He is in human years 90-100 years old and I could see his energy waning. I surrendered to the inevitable. My guy was leaving us. We just needed to wait it out as I sent him as much love and compassion as I possibly could, and thanked him for all that he had given to me and taught me, and all that he had suffered on my behalf. There seemed to be no connection with him.

I have learned over the 30 years of being taught by my horses, that when I am presented a challenge by them, there is something for me to learn from a spiritual perspective. I spent far too much time trying the conventional or even alternative approach which in the past had always been effective, but as I entered a new phase on my journey, those methods no longer brought the needed results. I was being nudged to move beyond even alternative ways. One of the things the horses have taught me is that when I touch in at the spiritual or mystical place, the horses move through their discomfort quickly. But this night, it seemed not even that was working.

To get some space for myself and my spirit, I went inside the barn for awhile. When I checked a little while later, I found Dollar lying quietly asleep. Although I was happy, I considered that it was pure exhaustion that had quieted him.

There was a slight drizzle and I wanted to throw a cover over him while he slept, but did not want to risk awakening him to his driving pain again. I tip toed to my car parked nearby and I too slept. When I woke before the sun crested the hill, with somber resignation I looked for Dollar’s silent carcass. What I found instead was Dollar standing calmly nibbling at food as if nothing had happened the night before, and a small pile of poop nearby, that magical sign we all await when a horse colics. It is an indicator that that things are moving again in the gut and, in most cases, all is well.

A week later, tummy ache again, this time it was mild. I spent the day with him expecting things to work out. By late afternoon, there was no change, neither better nor worse. Easy enough just to keep waiting and hoping until approaching nightfall joggled me into action. Because of my history with the horses, I knew that often when I sketched the horses, they got better. The thought kept nagging at me and I kept putting it off feeling I had no energy for it. That skeptic voice wanted me to believe that it was just wishful thinking anyway. Even after the many years of experience to the contrary, the skeptic continued to win. Since there had been no improvement with Dollar, I finally overrode its voice, and reluctantly got my sketch pad and charcoals. As an uninspired effort, I made a couple of sketches of Dollar, then put the pad away and went on to other chores. About 15 minutes later, I happened to notice that Dollar was eating and then, since I was paying attention, he pooped in front of me. Hmmm. Okay. Great! He was okay again!

Over the next couple of weeks, Dollar showed signs of colic 2 more times. The first of the two, I was still being stalked by the persistent and convincing skeptic. Again, I reluctantly got my sketch pad, sighed, then haphazardly sketched Dollar as if by rote. I was sure the statute of limitations had kicked in and I would be left with disappointment and Dollar still in discomfort. However, to my amazement, his colic symptoms reversed within minutes. He was eating and he pooped.

With his final colic, there was no hesitation on my part. Sidestepping the skeptic , I immediately grabbed my charcoals, sketching pad, a bucket to turn upside down for a stool, and headed out to the nearby pasture where Dollar was lying down restlessly and pointing to his side. I had settled in with a good start on a very pleasing sketch of him when he abruptly got up and walked away. Simultaneously, I received an important phone call and completely forgot to observe him. Ten or fifteen minutes later, I found him at his food bucket and was feeling satisfied with that manifestation when he stepped away from his food, lifted his tail and pooped. With that exclamation point, I could only laugh heartily that he had not only recovered from his colic once again, but he had waited until I was watching to do his final pooping magic. Such is the language of horses! I was finally getting the amazing lesson.

It wasn’t until then that I remembered that the night of his first colic when he was in such violent pain, and just before I’d found him quiet and asleep, I had sat on the steps inside the barn and sketched him. I had not put that together at that time. I had finally realized the connection between my sketching him and the reversal of his colic.

It took 30 years of pieces, parts, and inklings but the whispering equines finally got it across to me, the equine art of healing: There is more to our physical talents and gifts than we realize. They have gathered me up, challenged me, taught me, healed me and taken me with them on an amazing mystical journey.

And well done, Dollar! He has been stronger than ever, and no colic has occurred since.

The Black Horse Spoke Through the Sunsets: the spiritual side of death

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The black horse died. The loss for the humans was harsh. He, in his intrinsic wisdom had known his own destiny; there was important work to accomplish for his humans, beyond the realms of the physical world.

As his time approached, he quietly orchestrated comforting messages and synchronicity to wrap softly around those he loved. He had whispered to a past caretaker who lived hours away, drawing her near to share, unbeknownst to her, in his final hours. Viewed with human eyes, it had appeared that she “just happened” to drop in for a visit that weekend, but as time continued to fleet away, it became evident that she had been called.

There was also a woman who had walked closely with him from the first week of her arrival at the ranch a year before. He had recognized her as a human who understood the language of horses, and had spoken to her almost audibly. They’d had numerous conversations together through the year. She referred to herself as the “woman in the wings,” and was soon to become his mouthpiece as she translated his messages.

Though the black horse was uncomfortable in a body stretched beyond its limits like a woman in painful childbirth, his soul was fully at peace as he stood in the warmth of coastal sunshine in the presence of the two he deeply loved, his guardian and the caretaker, pressing his head quietly against them. It was surreal. The “woman in the wings” was there lightly touching his rear end and his tail attempting to stimulate physical relief. However, the pain relief he experienced came from the love and peacefulness he felt that day as he stood close to his humans, and whenever his person was near.

Later that night, in the haze of his last hours, others who loved him seemed to float in and out as if he were in a dream. He felt their love and intentions, but could not respond. In the end, he departed in the quiet of the night seemingly alone. He was not. He was in his own barn in the rich golden light of a multitude of angelic beings who had been there all along, silently encircling him in the shadows as he travailed in his parting work. As the time neared to escort him home, there was a mix of somberness reflecting the seriousness and intensity of his calling, and eagerness as they slipped in close for the release of his pain body.

They were joined by the spirits of the horses from his herd both alive and physically near on the other side of the barn door, and those who had charted the way ahead years before, including countless other beings along with the “woman in the wings” who was often called on to accompany humans or animals into their new life. All were gathered around him for the journey. In the reverence of these moments of his departure, all were feeling the deepest awe and respect for what this horse was accomplishing beyond normal human perceptions.

Though not with him physically, the “woman in the wings” had felt celebration and release during the late night hours. She had hoped for his healing on the earth plane. That was not to be. Instead, she was experiencing his powerful surge as he ascended leaving body behind. And then there was quiet calm.

A sadness settled in at the ranch with the loss, but a quiet and fragile joy emerged in having known this magnificent being and having been a part of his life and his mission.

That night was a new beginning, not only for him, but for the “woman in the wings.” The evening after he had transitioned, he came through the sunset. She was dismayed because a very large and compact tree blocked her view except for tantalizing hints of warm light rich with deep color around the edges. She was quizzical. “Why a blocked sunset? There was nothing comforting in that.” He reminded her that he had died of a blockage in his body. In her grief, she brushed his response away because she already knew that. It was not a new understanding. So what was the metaphor? She had missed the sunset and the richness of the sky on fire. There was nothing resolved for her, and she was left with her intense sadness and a sense that he had betrayed her by only a hint of the sunset. However, she was able to rest in the comfort that he had come to her even though she did not understand the reason for his mysterious message.

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The next evening she was surprised by another sunset. This time the blockage was gone. She could see the unobstructed full expanse of the sunset as it rested peacefully over the Pacific Ocean. The black horse then revealed to her that he had absorbed the blockage and taken it away in his death, her blockage, and those blockages of the humans in his life. He explained this was why he had to go on his own terms. It was a sacred act. The blocked sunset had been an important metaphor for this message.

She began to understand the meaning of his death beyond normal human perceptions. The black horse had intercepted physical and emotional issues that would have weighed down the humans he loved. The weight would have been more than they each could bear. He not only had intercepted taking it into his own body, he had carried it away as he departed the earth plane. This was not a new phenomena, he reminded her. Some veterinarians have observed their 4-legged patients developing disease while their guardians go into remission. His homeward journey was making sense. He called her into the comfort of his mystical home and as she sat with him by the crackling sunset fire that was clearing away the obstructions literally in her life as well as her mind, she understood the magnificence of what he had done, and the cosmic scope of his act. He had given her another glimpse into that transcendent world she was seeking even while confined in a physical body.

He was not yet finished. There was a third sunset. This one had obstructions, but there was something different about it. The “obstructions” were elements of artistry. They were formed by human hands, ornamental and reflective, both attractive and functional. The sunset graced all that was natural and that which was manmade with its color and beauty. She was standing in divine presence with color literally surrounding her. The metaphor came to life and throbbed with vitality within her. Residual, tattered and time-wearied skepticism that had always taunted her began to disintegrate along with the blockages they bring. The actual transformation had been activated in her. She began to experience blockages as ornaments and reflections of beauty in her own life that she could never have imagined. Spirit merged and gilded all that was natural within her and that which was mundane and functional in her life. The process had begun. The black horse had launched the next chapter of her life’s story. Empty pages were beginning to be filled with new awakenings as old patterns were replaced with authenticity and a life infused with the spirit-filled ornamentation of her true self. The change was tangible.

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Her tribute to the Black Horse: You are a divine portal that has transformed our lives. Thank you for carrying our painful blockages, and for lighting the way to the world beyond with all its magical mysteries unfolding in our everyday lives. You have spoken. You have spoken through the sunsets.

-the woman in the wings

Continue reading “The Black Horse Spoke Through the Sunsets: the spiritual side of death”

Walking Away

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Amoura. “Walking Away”

Amoura was the third to open her classroom door to me. I had learned non-resistance from Shaman, and sensitivity rather than anger from Kaheka. Since non-resistance was so amazing, I was prepared to experience that with Amoura, but I wasn’t quite sure how to apply it to her, and did not want to do it as a technique, and especially if not appropriate.

I wanted to check her hooves and to clean them from impacted debris. I don’t usually put a halter on to pick up hooves. When I leaned over to lift her front hoof, she walked away.  For some reason that makes me feel a little awkward and silly when that happens, as if someone is watching and I feel embarrassed that the horse had her way with me.  I must admit that I become more determined and forceful. Today I had an overflow of peaceful energy from Shaman so I stepped back and relaxed into the process. I let her walk away (as if I had a choice!). I was feeling a kind of non-resistance but we weren’t making any progress toward solving the hoof issue, though I could have let that go.

Of course I continued to try again, and again unsuccessfully. Each time I peacefully watched her walk away. I noticed, though, that she actually wanted me to clean her hooves and would circle around, and come up to me, but then walk away just as I reached out for her hoof. This is something Amoura has done since she first joined the herd. She wants to cooperate but because of her abusive background, she has difficulty trusting.

“Fear,” she whispered. Aah. Professor Amoura gave me a “classroom” tip. It was fear! As I had learned with Kaheka, I started to reassure her in a soft, gentle, voice. She immediately stopped in perfect synchronicity with my energy shift, and lifted her hoof. Four hooves later, she had clean feet!

Such a subtle shift in recognizing her fear, and a simple reassurance was all that was needed. I could have haltered her and forced the issue, but we would have both missed out on the deeper connection, and on the lesson she wanted me to learn. Does it take time and patience? Sometimes, yes! But the deeper connection with the horse is worth the wait, and sets the stage for going even deeper next time. It is also preparing me personally for working with ordinary problems with other horses in non aggressive ways, and with humans as well.

 

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Amoura. “For the Joy of It”

Non Resistance

Bury Your Head In This. ..And Smell His Horsey Breath

Shaman is a teddy bear disguised as a large horse. People love to bury their heads in his neck, smell his sweet horsey breath, and sink their lips into his soft muzzle.

He recently presented me with a new problem to solve, after Kaheka Boy and I finally resolved a halter issue with him (prior post). It all started when I recently made a commitment to get more serious about working with equine problems other than my own. Since then the horses in my care have lined up to present new lessons to get me ready. As the “professors” in their equine university, they never miss a chance to groom and school me for what is next. Thankfully they always show me where I have already changed but didn’t realize it. One of those times is demonstrated in this story.

Apparently I had to first be shown a technique that I didn’t like. An acquaintance wanted to show me a 1-2-3 step to get Shaman to step forward on “demand.” (her word, not mine) Multiple times he failed steps 1 and 2 and ended with the 3rd step which was jerking on Shaman’s head and using the abrasiveness of the rope halter to get him to step forward. No. That is not to be my relationship with horses! That was clear. So, I was now ready for my own step forward with my equine instructors.

A friend, who is honing her skill of listening carefully to her horse, said to me recently that her desire is to work with her horse in a way that allows her to choose to cooperate without threatening consequences. We both value an authentic, cooperative, and deepening spiritual relationship with our horses. A horse may change its behavior because of uncomfortable or negative consequences, but that change is based on discomfort or fear, and hierarchy, not trust and cooperation which is my goal here at the ranch. While there may be the desired outward change, their connection with their human is not the same.

Daily I move Shaman back and forth between paddock and pasture at supplement time. He tries to sneak away under the rope I use as a corridor to guide him. After multiple attempts, I hoped he would settle into a routine. He didn’t. Finally, I put a lead rope gently over his neck like a bolo tie with my hands as a clasp beneath so I could guide him to our destination. He immediately did an awesome musical figure 8 with his huge neck and head and almost dislodged the rope, pulling his head under and away from any confinement. Clever. And a bit mischievous. I, instead of bracing and holding the rope taut like I normally do, was extremely surprised by my spontaneous and effortless response which was a new experience for me. Without thought, I simultaneously released any tension on the rope. Still holding it, I let it drape loosely in place beneath his neck, and felt that inner place of peacefulness and harmony. He stopped immediately. There was no resistance for him to push against. I waited. At last he took a step to move forward with me.

For 5 days we did this. Each day he whirled his head around to free himself from the rope. Each day I relaxed and released any tension. The 6th day, after putting the rope softly over his neck yet again, there was quiet. There was no figure 8 with his head. None. Instead he immediately stepped softly forward on his own initiative toward our destination. It was a gracefully choreographed movement which I am sure was designed by the gods with me as his dance partner. We then walked side by side with his bulky body light as a feather!!

There was no human jerking his head, and no figure 8 maneuver on his part. Instead he chose to step forward quietly without any waiting…and without any threat. We floated back to the pasture. He gave me these moments of feeling what two Olympic ice skaters must experience during a gold medal performance. Complete synchronicity and pure harmony. We’ve been experiencing that daily since then. The joy of non resistance. Not a technique, nor a rule for all times, but a pure moment when what was right for that time emerged spontaneously.

 

The Painting that Packed Its Bag and Headed Out On A Journey of Its Own

Oil Painting by B. Smith  6″x8″

“ When I put the thick glistening gold paint on and watch the fine red thread of color migrate from the canvas back to an outstretched bristle of the brush and then see it collide with a tiny mound of blue violet edging the white lily of the painting, I know and feel why I paint. It’s the squealing in my soul, the physical flood of endorphins and the slow motion visual magic of mistakes turning towards magnificence…” Carole Watanabe, artist/business woman from The Ecstatic Marriage of Life and Art

As I am embarking on my journey as a professional artist, I soon had to learn that the painting above had a life of its own beyond the canvas, the paint, and the brush…and my own ideas. It all started with the quote above, and has evolved into a true story that is almost unbelievable.

After reading Carole Watanabe’s quote above, I decided I wanted to experience the sensuous feeling of brush and paints on the canvas that she described. Up until that moment, my experience with painting had been limited to the thrill of reproducing something with some degree of precision. There would be a lot of labor and frustration, then the joy of accomplishment. In contrast, for the above painting, I threw all to the wind like my free spirited mare, Mariah, has taught me to do, and decided to paint from a card sent to me many years ago. Jumping right in, I slapped paint on the canvas using a palette knife which I’d always wanted to do, and never had tried (Why not, I wonder?). I loved the effect of the purple underpainting peeking through where the next layer of paint didn’t quite cover, and the texture of the thick paint as I smoothed it on learning quickly not to overwork it. I painted faster than I’d ever done before finishing it up in less than 2 hours as opposed to days and weeks. I loved the painting, but more than that, I loved the experience of painting! I felt lighthearted, happy, and joyful!

In my exuberance, I took it to my landlord who loves my more precision-oriented horse paintings. When I showed him this work which was different than anything I had produced, he became quiet, squinted, and then said, emphatically, “That’s not very good.” At first, shocked at his bluntness, I rode the wave of recovery with first a laugh at his daring, and then an appreciation for his lack of pretense. I was carried along on the wave because I was in the joy of my experience. I’d had a lot of fun painting with wet paint on wet not knowing with each stroke how it would look. I experienced what Carole was writing about, the awesome merging of colors.

Not being daunted I sent photos off to my artist friends and told them what had happened. I did a disclaimer saying that my landlord might be right. I hadn’t had time to process, and the day may come when I would feel chagrin that I had shared it with anyone. But for now, I was exhilarated and wanted to do more paintings in that style.

I put the painting in the car to share with a friend at the ranch where my 5 rescue horses are pastured. We don’t often cross paths, but when we do, we have crazy and wonderful interactions around our horses. Today she just happened to be there. I showed her the painting that was oozing with thick paint that was still very wet from a few hours before.

She looked at it and she too grew silent as my landlord had done. Uh oh. She is also a very forthright person. When she spoke, my guarded mind had a hard time catching up with her words as they spilled out. She wanted to buy it! She was serious and offered me a good and fair price. How could this happen so easily and so fast!? Yes. Of course I will sell it. I hadn’t yet signed it nor varnished it, and I wanted to show it at a possible venue for selling my other paintings. We decided I would take it home to complete my agenda.

I carefully placed it in the car feeling a new sense of protective responsibility for what was now “her” painting even though we hadn’t yet finalized the sale. Feeling a little uneasy, I made sure the painting was placed where it couldn’t hit the floor with sudden braking nor be crushed by something falling. The painting made it home safely. Since the landlord’s large puppy that chews on everything within and beyond reach was gone for the night, I put the painting safely on the table away from a fresh bouquet of flowers that might drop pollen on it.

The next morning, after giving my memory time to reboot, I shuffled off in my slippers to look at my painting with fresh eyes. Of course it was still there, Silly. No gremlin intruder had carried it away during the night, so why had I been so nervous about it? I did, however, notice a lot more pollen on the table than  expected. Cringing, I hastily moved the painting further away from the flowers, then instinctively swiped my finger through the pollen. A cold awareness crawled over me in slow motion. The “pollen” was fresh paint. The colors of my painting! Then, I noticed it over the whole table. My focus went immediately back to my painting! I ran for my glasses. A mystery was developing. Sure enough there were tiny footprints on the table—and on my painting! During the night, little feet had walked all over my wet painting! The absurdity of it all! It was surreal! I wiped up the table and found one identifying animal deposit left discreetly behind a basket on the table. There had been a silent intruder after all. Le rat! Who would have thought!? Was he a mischievous and fun loving teenage rat who sneaked out of the his parents’ nest in the darkness to create a little havoc in the world? And just happened upon some fresh paint perfect for painting graffiti over the surface of the table? Harmless fun?! Or was it a wannabe artist taking the liberty to add multiple touches to my painting?

No matter the story that night. Le rat left foot tracks on my fresh work of art that I had joyfully painted, and was poised to sell; a painting that I had been diligent to protect from harm. It was no longer the same painting. The story is too unbelievable, and too hilarious for me to be really upset, even with the potential loss of a sale. But I could have used that money!

There is more. When I checked the book Animal-Speak, The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, by Ted Andrews, I discovered that one of the keynotes for rats is “success.” In Ted’s words, “…though rats don’t have a very elegant reputation, they are tremendously adaptable. …People born in the Chinese year of the rat are said to be success-oriented…This drive for success may be what the rat has come to speak of with you….” Perhaps this 4-legged graffiti artist has brought me opportunity for success in ways not yet known. I will thank Le Rat, and send him on his way to do the rest of his work somewhere else far away!

The rest of the adventure still lies ahead. Once I had finished the painting, it packed its bag and took me on its own journey as I scrambled to keep up. We traveled through the rejection by my landlord, the offer to buy it by a friend, the protective efforts on my part, the visit by le rat during the night, footprints on fresh paint, the altered painting, and now the story. I am fascinated. What is next? There is a delightful “squealing in my soul,” and a children’s story percolating in my mind.

Oil Painting with Footprints below by Le Rat.

   

My Love Affair with Amoura

There is a special bond between us—Amoura and me. I’m not finding words easily to describe the feeling we share. The way she looks at me and watches me, the way she humbly responds after throwing her head violently because an unexpected movement triggered past abuse. She lowers her head and her eyes shamefully for having given into her past. I reassure her and she responds. Her prior owner often slugged her in the head, a memory not easy to overcome.

Lately I have been talking softly to her, “Shhhh, it’s okay, you are safe.” She quiets and looks at me with big dark eyes and seems to melt. We melt together into a new trust that has become a thriving seedling. The inside connection is powerful. An experience of love. Amour. That is who she is and who we are together.

Amoura came to the ranch a few years ago, and the closest she would allow me was about 10 feet if that, any closer she would pin her ears. Seriously. One time she charged me, but I instinctively and instantly threw my arms straight out like wings that looked like a wooden beam to her, and I simultaneously stepped directly toward her, which quickly quelled her aggressive attempt. There was such vulnerability underneath her facade, so much fear.

The evening of her arrival at the ranch, I could hear her tummy from afar making all kinds of gurgling noises, and I knew it was a form of colic from stress. She had been raised alone on one ranch for many years and now in her upper teens had been moved for the first time. I could understand her anxiety. A different location, a new home, other horses, dried grasses instead of year around green, and the unpredictability of a new human.

I hung my body over the old wooden gate and put my hands up with palms softly outward toward her using the energy work my first horse taught me. Amoura and I were both surprised as her gut grew quiet. Right then and there she decided I wasn’t so bad after all and edged over closer to me still on the other side of the gate. Eventually she pushed her rear against the dilapidated fence nearby somehow intuiting that I was a human who loved massaging equine tails and rear ends.

I went to work cautiously and well-armoured with gratitude that there was a fence between us. Those back legs were too fast for my comfort and had a keen and swift edge like a recently sharpened knife that could quickly slice through any obstacle, getting the job done in a moment. This was not a time for me to be reckless.

To be able to touch her from a position of safety was a treat. It was her first step in trusting me. It was definitely not instant calm, but it was a start. I still needed to approach her with caution, with the intention of stopping before she pinned her ears, hoping to ease her out of that reflexive habit.

Her name was Babe when she arrived. There was no way I could call her that. The thought of it hung up in the back of my throat like a fish hook. It must have been a rude cowboy that named her. It was a cheap name for this horse who is flavored with elegance in her sturdy quarter horse body and certainly in spirit. Even though she’s a challenge because of human violations, I sensed a spiritual depth still being uncovered.

Amoura brought me her new name. It was night time again; seems to be when the magic kicks in with the horses and me. Daily chores done, horses all fed, and time to relax under the stars. I was standing near another mare who was in the final stages of her life. A friend I respected had mentioned to me that this mare, Carob, had a deep love for me. The words sounded alien to me. At that time in my life I didn’t expect the horses to love me, nor did it occur to me that they might. I did my job with feeding and caring for them and assumed any affection was related to what I gave to them. That was it. Neat and tidy with no expectations. And of course, no disappointments nor vulnerabilities. And besides, Carob really belonged to my friend who was my partner with the horses. The two of them had a very deep connection. A love relationship for Carob and me was not even a consideration at that time, as if love is rationed.

I learned differently from Carob. She genuinely loved me even in her awkward and often aloof way of letting me know. She was not an overly affectionate horse, preferring not to be touched because of her extreme sensitivity to the carelessness of human energy. She would offer me a quick affirming nudge with her head then just as quickly return to her personal space. She would stand near but not touching while I did an oil painting, hang her head over me while I sat and wrote, and like a housemaid wiping her dishwater hands on her apron, then placing her hands on her hips she marched across the pasture to scold the new and contentious horses to get with it on my behalf. They were all cues I had missed because she was a tough broad. No cuddling with Carob.

With stars blinking their own rhythms above, I stood with Carob near the fence separating us from the adjacent pasture. I was deeply engaged in conversation with her, acknowledging her love and telling her that I received it even though I wasn’t sure how, nor how it might feel. As we stood side by side not touching, I felt something nibble on my outside elbow. I turned to look and there was Amoura with her head stretched well across the fence, just barely able to touch my elbow. There was a definite purpose in her action; no coincidence here. I was intrigued by her gesture and her timing, though slightly confused by the distraction during such an intimate moment with Carob. But Amoura’s message came through immediately. Her name was Amoura and she and Carob were sandwiching me in love. This moment was bursting forth from the heart of the Divine. There was not just one, but now two offering me love in the language of horses.

When Carob died the following week, I understood there had been an important exchange between Amoura and Carob that magical night. Amoura had accepted the torch of love from Carob to carry on with me and the lessons of love.

Over the years I lost the consciousness of that divine encounter; but Amoura had not forgotten. From time to time I would wonder how a horse embodying love was so challenging that I didn’t trust her. But, through the years she has moved in close to me like an unseen angel when I was going through an emotional or spiritual transition or crisis. Even today, she will silently slip in behind me without my knowing. When I’m not aware and think I am alone, there is a very gentle nibbling on my hair out of nowhere. I smile knowingly when I discover it is Amoura. Her quiet touch brushes my soul with tenderness.

Her lameness has come and gone since a trailer incident 5 or 6 years ago, but in the past few months, it has become more obvious and acts like it has burrowed in for good. I cannot find the source of her discomfort, but once I let go of the conventional approach with questions and treatments which I usually pursue unsuccessfully, I am reminded of what I have learned from the horses over the 25 years together. They have taught me that equine issues that they present to me are solved only by approaching it spiritually so it is best to get on with it. That is what the two of us are doing. Her lameness has lured me back into her spiritual world after months of personal distractions.

We are back on the journey into love. Almost a year ago I began wondering about love. I’d always believed I was easy to love (right!), and that I loved easily having been raised in a loving home. But, at that moment a new thought rushed in. I suspect Amoura was whispering a divine message through the trees nearby. What if my perceptions were amiss? What if what I think is love, isn’t? What if the majority of us don’t know but think we do? If we haven’t experienced the truth of love, we have no standard by which to compare what we think is love. We toss the word around so loosely, sometimes so carelessly. What new and expansive sacred world awaits our discovery? These thoughts were more than I could deal with at the time. I set them on the back burner to percolate until the right time. In hobbles Amoura. Her lameness is a love lure. I am curious what she, a damaged and a most unlikely candidate as a carrier for love, will bring and where she will lead. She, the one horse I don’t fully trust, is the chosen one to bring me the most important experience of life, authentic love. When I receive from her, she too will heal. Please join us on this journey into love.

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