Saturday, August 9, 2014

Where the Ponies Come to Drink*

My parents have taught me many things. However, the most important lesson I have learned from them is how to take a closer look around me and at life in order to see the things I need to learn and teach myself rather than standing around hoping someone will tell me everything. 

How did they do it? Horses.

The first horse I rode was my mom's old horse, Magic.

 He was an ex-race horse and a tall one at that. I saw a picture of my first ride once. My mom was holding me all swaddled up in a blanket because I learned to ride before I learned to walk. Subsequently, I have ridden and taken care of horses my entire life.   All I know is that I like to go bareback riding in the hills and ride fast, crazy horses. 
( I got that from my momma. Thanks mom! ;) ) 

Now what does this have to do with anything?

Well, a few weeks ago I was thinking about how I saw so many families whose parents counseled them by sitting down and talking to them, listening to their children and offering help and advice whenever they could. Now, my mom and I talk all the time about life and she tells me hilarious stories of her rebellious youth. But I almost started to feel sad that my dad never really sat me down like that and asked me what was going on in my life (in all honesty he probably never had to since I'm pretty forthcoming with that sort of thing, unprompted. I like to vent to my dad. Thanks Dad! :) ) 

But then I took a spontaneous road trip to Oklahoma and while I was there I was able to relax and run around with my dog in beautiful meadows (My blog's background is a picture I took while I was there) and I even did an entire 30 minute HIIT exercise sequence on the side of the road and not one car drove by. Oh, country roads! 

But also while I was there my parents discovered that the person in Michigan, who they had paid to board, feed and take care of our horses while we were in Thailand, had actually been starving them and using the hay we bought for our horses to feed his instead. 

So they immediately, upon realizing what was going on, went and got our horses and brought them down to Oklahoma to my dad's best friend Debra's ranch. Our horses were just skeletal. Each had lost at least 200 pounds each. Our oldest horse Sheena, age 39, looked like she would not have lasted another 2 weeks. All hip bones and rib cage. But the worst part is, you can't just let a starved horse out into a meadow to eat all they want until they get fat again no matter how much you may want to. If you do that they will most likely founder (debilitating foot condition also known as laminitis due to high protein intake over a short period of time) and in some cases die from it. So the re-feeding process, for the first few weeks, is still a scary time. You have to start slowly and work your way up to feeding them normal amounts etc.

Just for a visual:

Legs and hooves in good condition:

Severe Laminitis or Founder:

(not our horses)

I would post pictures of our horses but it's too painful to see them so skinny, so I won't. 

Our horses have been amazing companions and friends to us and had never gone hungry a day in their life. My dad always says, "Fat is the best color on a horse."  So to see them, all of their beautiful muscles and strength, atrophied due to someone else's cruelty was just awful. (I was and still am so entirely confused at how someone could become so detached and heartless enough to starve innocent, mind animals. )
But the next morning I went out early in the morning and brushed each one of them and combed ( I had to cut some knots out) all the knots out of their hair and pet them and just remembered how much I love the smell of them. 
But even after that I was still agitated because I could not get over how much I disliked the person who did this to them. So, around dusk, when everything was golden, I walked to the pond Debra had out in her field and just tried to think. 

And I finally figured it out.
My dad was right when he told me a few years earlier that, "Horses have made you who you are." He didn't need to sit me down and talk to me about life lessons. He taught and counseled me through horses.

So here come the lessons

Lesson #1: 
Don't spend time on hating people. Spend it on healing, loving, laughing and playing in meadows.

Lesson #2: 
Don't walk through dandelion filled meadows without trying to find a clear path so you won't unwittingly step on an Incredibly Deadly Viper (Series of Unfortunate Events anyone? No? okay.).

Lesson #3
If you want to catch 8 horses at once, just catch and halter a female horse and walk her to the barn and all the male horses will come running after you. No halters required.  Boys will be boys, I guess.

Lesson #4
Seeing my starved horses reminded me that people are the same in a lot of ways in that respect. We all go through things in life that deplete us in some way. Whether we are still searching for our true love, or just trying to get through medical school we all have things missing in our lives. Some might become starved for innocent physical touch. Like my horses were. Others may be starved for words of affirmation. The simple, " You are doing an amazing job, Thanks!" Or those who just want someone to spend a little quality time with them without distractions. But sometimes we might try to gorge ourselves in the meadow before we are ready and we end up foundering because things don't work out in the end. 
The process for healing a starving horse and a starving person is the same. Slowly reefed. So whether you are trying to help a friend heal or you are trying to heal yourself, just take your time. It'll end up better that way in the long run. For healthy long term healing, slow is the way to go. Someday you'll find your Oklahoma meadow and you'll hopefully be prepared and fed enough to go out and graze in it to your hearts content.

Lesson #5 
What I learned while brushing my horses. Different amounts of grime need different brushes. Just a light dust on them? Soft brush will do the trick. Mud? Coarse brush and patience. Impossible knots in their mane and tail due to prolonged unkemptness? Scissors.

 Sometimes we just have to brush things off  that happen to us and we can get over them pretty quickly.

 Sometimes things that have happened to us take more time, effort and a coarse brush to get the grime off of our hearts.

And sometimes we just have to cut addictions and other horrible things out of our lives completely in order to heal.

I can't tell you all the lessons I've learned from horses because it's a lifetimes worth of study and this blog post is alread pretty long but I've shared with you a few of them. However, there is one last lesson that horses, and my parents have taught me.

"The Best in Show" Lesson:
Always have a heart that is soft as silk. A heart that is open more often than Denny's. Have eyes that see with a vision beyond the surface. To speak softly but to be firm when needed. Have courage to stand your ground. That you can't control others, so prepare accordingly. Stay on the path when you can but sometimes you might have to trail blaze. Don't take yourself too seriously. Be Loyal, have pure intentions, be strong, play hard, work hard, hang on and just enjoy the ride.

****"Where the Ponies Come to Drink" Henry Herbert Knibbs****
(One of my dad and my favorite poem/songs)

No comments:

Post a Comment