Tal wasn’t doing well again. The whole story is for another time. His feet were uncomfortable and just as happened last year, I had come to a dead end not knowing what to do because both conventional and non-conventional efforts weren’t working once again. I checked in on him and reassured him, letting him know I was going for a walk which is the best time for me to hear what guidance is being offered. Gently stroking his face, I whispered that I would come back soon to be with him.
I spent time taking in the beauty of the redwoods and the waving grasses, breathing the spring air, and feeling… well, not joy exactly, but feeling a sense that I was on track no matter how uncomfortable. I pondered my life, the difficult but solid decisions I’d been making recently, and the new changes taking place. I thought about my journey with Tal a year ago when my changes brought improvement in his condition.[Journey Into Surrender, Parts 1-7] I observed how in some ways the situation seemed the same again this year. However, in truth it was completely different because of what I now understood, and because of a growing inner confidence in my spiritual path.
When I finally headed back to the barn still not knowing what to do for Tal, I felt a heaviness encroaching and pushing away the quiet I had been feeling on my meditative walk. He seemed to be getting worse. I was losing the deep connection with him in the past couple of days. He had withdrawn into a cavern after some very joyful times in the last few weeks as we’ve traversed these new paths together through the laminitis dilemma. [Goofy Mariah: Divine Comedienne]
I embraced my “not knowing” rather than fighting it. The feeling was relief. The new ways of responding to physical problems were surfacing in strength in me as traditional and alternative approaches were losing their foothold. For strange yet ultimately wonderful reasons they had become ineffective unless I was given specific guidance. These are the kinds of circumstances when many animals are put down, and in my fearful times I’d wondered about Tal. But he pressed on with me. He was my shaman teacher uncovering and honing gifts I didn’t know I had. Lessons over the years were beginning to merge with the ones I was learning of late.
I continued to walk to the barn in silence. Then the words came, “Do your art. Sit with Tal and draw him.” Friends of mine and those of you who have followed my blog know this mantra. This was not a new concept for me, just repetitive because I keep forgetting.
Lessons From the Past
Years ago I was being prepared for this time in my life. I rescued a sick horse, Mano, who was never able to recover but the lessons I learned during that time keep coming like the waving grasses during this time when I’m finally ready to trust them. They are collected in my inner sacred place, recorded in an ancient book of wisdom with crinkled parchment curled on the edges and stained with age. The imprinted lessons glow in the warmth of heavenly candlelight inviting me to remember once again. This time it is with well-seasoned understandings.
When I was caring for Mano in those years gone by, I was getting a deep inkling that drawing him would somehow help his healing, I tried but the results weren’t instant enough for an immature self, nor was I as comfortable with drawing at that time, and it went by the wayside, filed somewhere in back chapters of that divine book of lessons.
Arriving at the barn, I had my clear instructions. Grabbing my well worn barn stool, and my art tools, I sat down to draw Tal. He was very restless, moving his weight from one hoof to the next and kept turning to look at me. As I was sketching him, I was surprised by his next movement. He awkwardly maneuvered his body around and shuffled his way to be near me where his head could touch my shoulder. Such affection touched my spirit.
After doing a quick composite of him, I felt he wanted more contact from me so I laid aside my drawing, and spent time brushing him, cleaning his feet, and a lot of time combing his thick white tail. He grew quiet. Very quiet. I knew this was working.
During this interaction I had offered him a couple of homeopathic remedies which he usually takes, but today he told me that he didn’t want them because “you are my remedy” he had said.
So, quiet he became, and more relaxed. After a time of peaceful rest he decided to move out of the stall and eat some grass hay. Hope quickened within me. While slow at first, he began walking more effortlessly.
Throughout the day he continued to improve and when I returned to the barn in the early evening, he and Dollar were diligently massaging each other’s withers as they stood with the fence between them. I stopped in a hush, smiling all the way to my toes, not wanting to disturb this beautiful and long awaited interaction between Tal and his sometimes buddy, and sometimes rival. A significant indicator of Tal’s dramatic improvement.
What made the difference in his dramatic improvement in one day? I’m not sure, I’m still learning. Perhaps it was all of it, going with the divine flow, and starting with the drawing for sure was important as per instructions, and certainly the mutual activation of love between us, and not to overlook the magic of touch in the grooming, and the tail combing.
Tal was right he didn’t need his homeopathic remedies that day. His remedy came in the new way that is unfolding with us here at the ranch as he teaches me and prods me to step out of the shadows of my self limitations and fears into the joy of life as it was meant to be lived.
She had told me so many times that she loved me. I didn’t get it. I couldn’t. She had lived at our ranch long before we moved here. She was a tough broad. A nipper. The day I finally purchased her, she stood near me, close, not touching. Then, she quietly leaned her head on my shoulder. Not long, but enough. I believed, but I didn’t. After that, we often stood side by side, both facing forward, my body next to hers, and hers next to mine. Close, but not touching. Sometimes she would turn her head and touch my arm. Briefly. A tender acknowledgment, then back to our position. One day standing together, she interrupted our rich stillness, and thanked me for not touching. When humans learn not to violate our space when we don’t want to be touched, she said, we will share more secrets. She did. Many. She was my bridge to the mystical. And there, we touched.
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→
It was Monday night. I was in my weekly ceramics class when the telephone call came. One of our horses was down. “Oh my god, oh my god” became my mantra which seemed to be the glue that held me together as I found my way to the telephone to hear the details. It was Carob. My mind went into clutter as I rushed to put my tools and projects away, grabbed John, my working partner and co-owner of Carob, and together made our way quickly to the car.
With our breath held tightly, we wound our way for 40 minutes through the mountains toward home. We talked about Carob, our herd matriarch. She had recently had difficulty getting up due to what we assumed was a sore shoulder. We hoped that was all it was. We worked hard at not being paralyzed by fear, and tried to keep our minds and conversations focused on hopeful images. We could do that for short periods, and then our thoughts of the worst come rushing in like a dam that had broken. There were moments when we felt we were drowning in the swirl of impressions we had received from the neighbor who thought that one of her legs was broken.
When at last we arrived home, the guest at one of our cottages was standing beside the road marking Carob’s approximate location in the pasture. He had been holding a flashlight vigil until we arrived, comforting and encouraging her from a distance. I was relieved that he was there, and deeply grateful. As I jumped out of the car, I saw her grayish white coat in the eyes of the flashlight. My heart sank like a lump of clay to the pit of my stomach. She was trapped in a narrow ditch and for the first time we were faced with a true crisis with one of our horses, this time not simply the product of a an over active imagination. I quickly scanned her legs for breaks and all seemed in good shape although positioned uphill from her body, —a problem for horses.
While John stayed with Carob, I called the vet describing the situation. His instructions were to dig her out so she could get some leverage with her feet, get her up, assess her, and call him. He mentioned that it was unlikely that she had any broken bones if she wasn’t moaning and groaning. She wasn’t. Encouraging.
We rounded up neighbors, waking some who had already turned out their lights for the night, gathered up ropes, halter, flashlights and shovels, and started digging. We were grateful that the recent rains had left a soft and friendly soil in which to dig. As we pulled dirt away from her legs, she struggled hard to get up, a little prematurely but almost made it. The other six horses standing in the shadows up the hill, spontaneously whinnied an angelic chorus of supportive cheers that rang out in the darkness as she came close to standing. She whinnied her response as she sank back to the ground, somewhat disheartened, but nevertheless in a position that took her closer to level ground. As the digging continued, she waited another 15 minutes which seemed to be her pattern, and she tried again. The chorus of horses praised her efforts one more time. And she whinnied back her thank you along with her determination. It was a remarkable interaction. As we continued to dig, we all felt their inspiration. more→