In Memorium

 

Bear flies free

~*~

It was the third day after Bear’s passing. Windy. Cool. The twilight hour. I was still slammed by the shock of his sudden departure, searching for even some hope of peace. It was also the day of his cremation, the final transition from the flesh. There was a lot of turmoil inside me as I attempted to process the whirlwind I’d experience just days before.

As I walked home from the barn I was moved by the beautiful colours forming and fading in the sky. The sunset was going to be spectacular so I sat on the hill and looked to the south, just watching the clouds shift with the force of the northwest wind. Cold weather was coming.

I had been sitting there just a few minutes when, the words, “Look to the negative space,” leapt to mind. I was familiar with this concept from time spent participating in art therapy just after Bear had come into my life, so instead of looking at the clouds, I looked at the space between them. And call me crazy, but there he was, in profile. The orange of the sunset kissing the clouds as his nose pushed through them. His eye soft and half closed; a vision of peace. The quarter moon a twinkle of cosmic delight.

I captured it, of course. It may not be obvious to everyone who looks upon this image, but to me it is a symbolic fly-past full of meaning and comfort and peace.

It has been a long time since I wrote to this blog. Life has certainly been an interesting adventure since we began our journey as horse farm owners, and one of the (sad) realities of this type of life is that death is never far away. Horses, as magnificent and powerful as they appear are also incredibly fragile and sensitive beings. One wrong foot fall could mean a broken leg; a drop in barometric pressure could induce gas which leads to colic which …. and so it goes. Still, I would not trade this life for anything.

Full Tilt

Shakespeare (Bear) … June 24, 2001-November 21, 2017

Bear was my dream horse who led me to my dream life. Dreams are not static. Dreams do not sustain themselves. They are replete with struggle, discomfort and stress, and require constant nurturing, protection and love. However, they’re also the blessings of glorious sunrises and sunsets. The rides on the trails; the triumphs in the show ring; the camaraderie of the barn family; happy, healthy horses; fresh air and the peace and quiet that comes from living in a valley in the middle of nowhere. (Insert your own dream blessings here.)

It’s a new life. All things new ask us to step outside our comfort zone; to let go of what no longer serves and be open to new and wonderful opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. We are asked to be different; to change. For most people this is an impossible prospect. However, as I have discovered it is in the “forced” metamorphosis that we finally learn to see ourselves in truth. Knowledge is power. Once we know who we are and what drives us we have the power to change it. From an equine experiential learning perspective Bear’s last message to me was “Let go.” So, to honour his memory I am looking at my life and setting the intention of letting go of habits that do more harm than good. One of them is my life-long tendency to be a control freak. (“Oh, is that dog hair on the floor? Oh, dear …” she says as she walks by it and into the kitchen.)

I promise to do better writing to this blog. My world as a horse mom means everything to me, and now that I’ve lost my Bear ~ my “first born” ~ I am finding new meaning in what it means to be the steward of such a magnificent being. For that’s what I am, a steward. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, noted French philosopher, aviator and poet wrote in his book, The Little Prince:

“We are responsible forever for the things that we tame.”

Bear entered my world at a time when I needed him more than anything. He was four years old. Young. Vibrant. Strong. A dressage horse. My dream horse. Little did I know that his real purpose in my life was the difficult task of pulling me out of my dissociative life pattern into one of self-awareness and being. An almost 12-year journey for which I can never thank him enough. While I thought I was “taming” him he was, in fact, taming me. We were stewards of each other. And while he is no longer here on this earthly plain, I feel him in my heart and I see him forever in this image, transitioning to that place of limitless peace. I honour his memory by living the lessons that he, a most beautiful and noble horse, taught me.

Thank you for visiting. May you and and your loved ones enjoy a peaceful, happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2018.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2017

Weekly Photo Challenge: 2017 Favourites

 

 

Welcome Reilly …

Reilly Roo

~*~

It’s been several months since my last post. There are a variety of reasons for this I won’t get into right now. One ray of sunshine during my absence from this blog was welcoming this beautiful boy into our family.

Reilly was born July 4, 2016, and came home at the end of August. He is sable merle in colour and his left eye is blue. He’s a sweet, happy dog bringing us immense joy.

Another soul to nurture. Another soul to love.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2017

 

The Essence of the Horse

 

One love

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.

from The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Author, Aviator, Philosopher

~*~

All my life I’ve had one love; one passion ~ the horse.

For a long time it was simply their outer beauty that captivated me.

In recent years, however, I’ve come to realize it’s the essence of the horse, their spirit, that has captured my imagination and healed my heart.

My beloved Shakespeare (aka Bear), the horse of my childhood dreams, has been the catalyst for this great awakening.

We have dreams for a reason … they speak the language that will heal us, if we just give them the chance.

Next week Bear and I celebrate 10 years.

Stay tuned …

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2016

Canoodling

Together

Monochrome Madness 2-33

~*~

One day recently, when I was out and about on the farm with camera in hand, I happened by the paddock “condo” where Bear and his new girlfriend, Galla, were canoodling.

I love to see my beautiful boy so content.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2015

My Happy Horse

Bear and his gal

BIG NEWS!

Following month’s of rehab to heal a hind leg suspensory injury, Bear’s finally on all-day turnout with a small herd.

He’s so happy, and I’m so happy for him.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2015

Life Is What Happens …

Old Home

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

Having lived a rather dormant life for the past few years while recovering from adrenal fatigue, I find myself catapulted into a whole new way of being. It’s all good, but wow! I dare say I have never felt such a jolt of forward energy as I have since about mid May. So much is happening I’m still wrapping my head around it all.

Sharing any of it before the dust has settled is rather pointless.

What I can say is that Bear has graduated to a bigger paddock and is enjoying all-day turnout, which is fantastic! And he so deserves it after all those winter months confined to his stall while he recovered from his suspensory injury.

He has been such a model patient. Wendy says she’s never seen a horse cope better.

What a star!

Does my heart good to see him so happy. He’s going to be a great therapy horse.

In the meantime, life continues to happen. Change is coming. And I will have some news about … well, you’ll just have to stay tuned …

Remember to nurture what you love.

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Time Flies

Bear

~*~

Time flies. I can hardly believe how quickly a month has gone by since my last post.

Bear continues to recover and is enjoying basking in the sun whilst on restricted turn out, (i.e. he hangs out in the round pen, not a paddock, lest he re-injure himself galloping around like a wildebeest.) He’s still bananas for bananas, and having fun just being himself and making people smile.

He’ll be a great therapy horse.

Meanwhile, the dressage horse search continues.

It’s more challenging than you might imagine. Sure, there are lots of horses needing homes, just like there are lots of single people wanting partners. But finding a suitable horse is as difficult as finding a suitable mate ~ it takes time and you don’t want to appear too desperate lest you make an inappropriate choice. 😉 Horse and rider matchmaking is a serious and time-consuming business.

I’ve walked away from two promising horses because of navicular issues. I already have a high maintenance horse, and while I’m all for rescuing and rehabbing horses, it’s not the route I wish to take with my next riding horse. So, I’ll just persevere in my search and at some point, when the stars are aligned and all the cosmic tumblers have fallen into place, the “right horse” will walk into my life and wonder what took me so long.

Timing is everything, of course. There have been other things going on in the background which have monopolized my energies, which is one of the reasons my posts here have been non-existent of late. There’s only so much time in a day, and since I’ve learned there’s just no point in stressing over the dynamics of life beyond our control, I simply go with what is.

On another note … our 13-year-old rough collie, Sass, is fading and this brings much sadness. It’s as if a whole chapter of our lives will soon come to a close. We expect her departure during the summer. The heat is just too menacing and her steps falter by the day. Lately she has won the heart of a three-year-old girl, Gabby, who lives a few doors down. Together, with her grandmother, we go for short walks and Gabby gives Sass lots of hugs and merrily holds the leash as we walk. Sass enjoys this attention as her new friend walks only as fast as she does, which is slow. I’m so happy our old girl has felt the unfettered joy of the love of a child before she leaves us.

I mention this simply to re-iterate the obvious ~ nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

Silver Lining Redux

Hello, down there ...

~*~

It’s been a while since my last post. There’s a lot going on around here right now.

First and foremost there’s good news …

Bear’s injury has been given the all clear.

In his most recent ultrasound taken just about 10 days ago, the vet gave the injured bilateral suspensory ligament in his right hind leg a clean bill of health. The swelling is reduced to almost nothing (the vet said there’ll always be a bit of inflammation due to the nature of the injury), and the lesions in the ligament tissue have practically disappeared.

Needless to say I’m thrilled. Between the services of a good vet, an attentive barn manager, my rudimentary nursing skills and Bear’s good behaviour he is made well again. Now our focus, with Wendy’s help, turns to getting him used to going outside again. Starting with short excursions in a modified round pen made small enough for him to get a turn outside without, hopefully, getting into too much trouble. The last thing we want is for him to re-injure himself.

Over time we’ll increase his turnout and when he’s a little fitter I’ll start riding him again.

Not that he’ll be doing anything too strenuous. With his dropped hind suspensories he’s destined for a life as special companion, happy hack horse and equine therapist. At this rate our first outing, with clearance from the vet ~ a prescribed 10 minutes of walk ~ will be in about two weeks. But first, I want to give him a bath. Now that the warmer weather is upon us I feel a keen desire to wash the winter stink out of Bear’s coat. The usually divine Eau d’Equine is particularly pungent right now after a long winter cooped up inside. Time for a new spring fragrance courtesy of a rose-scented equine shampoo. He may not know the difference, but I sure will.

With Bear’s 120-day treatment all but complete I filed the insurance claim earlier this week. It looks like most of the major vet care expenses (approx. $2,500) will be covered. The insurance premium won’t go up, but the right hind leg will no longer be covered. Another good reason for Bear not to re-injure it.

As we go forward there are some maintenance issues to keep in mind. From now on Bear’s hind legs will always be wrapped to give the suspensory ligaments the extra support they need to maintain stability. As well, he’ll be on additional supplements to help maintain healthy joints and sinews, and his monthly massage treatments will be ongoing.

Bananas for bananas

While on theme of how spoiled he is, Bear was recently introduced to the banana. Honestly, with all the eye bulging, nostril flaring, tooth grinning going on while indulging in this new pleasure you’d think he’d died and gone to heaven. I believe it can safely be said Bear’s bananas for bananas. His daily ration is one-third of a banana, but I’m sure if you asked him he’d tell you it’s not enough. Such a character.

Speaking of characters, I’m still shopping for the next member of my herd.

It is a slow process. While there are lots of horses out there looking for forever homes, I am only in a position, at this point, to take on something very specific to my dressage dreams. Thus, I have found it fairly easy not to get emotionally involved in the process. So far I’ve looked at two nice warmbloods, but neither has, for one reason or another, worked out. There are other horses on the horizon, so we’ll just see what happens. It will likely be the summer before I find what I’m looking for, and while I certainly miss my time in the saddle I feel that this riding break puts me in a good position to develop new habits once I start up again, having not been able to practice the old ones for a while.

It’s like starting over. What a wonderful gift to have another chance to succeed at something I love.

There’s that silver lining again. 😉

Nurture what you love,

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

A Gift of Sunshine

Tunnel vision

~*~

Spring has sprung here in Southern Ontario, and while we are seeing the light at the end of winter’s dark tunnel it’s premature to believe we’re completely through the other side of it to spring. We had snow flurries two days ago and temps are still hovering around the zero celsius mark. It’s also been terribly damp, to the point of being bone-chilling, so too early to put the woolies away yet.

Brrrrrrr …..

Still, this too shall pass.

We have been granted the occasional teaser warm day with bright sunshine, which has melted the ice and dried the ground enough for me to be able to take Bear outside for his daily amble (when their isn’t a stiff nor’wester blowing, of course).

How amazing to finally be able to engage with Bear in the sunshine. A blessing, to be sure.

Hay manEven though he’s been stuck indoors for weeks and weeks Bear’s demonstrated such poise on his first outings outside. A nice alert, flat-footed walk around the dirt parking lot for several minutes; his ears perked; eyes big and curious about who’s in which paddock. The occasional stop to test, with practiced lips, the browned grass for the much longed for fresh shoots that are just beginning to poke through the thawing earth.

As a special treat he has permission to feast at a hay buffet courtesy of an open round bale. Such bliss to stand in the early spring sunshine with Bear as he seeks to satisfy his endless appetite.

Watching Bear revel in this small change of routine makes me happy. He’s been a model rehab patient during his long confinement, so to be able to give him the gift of blue skies and sunshine makes me feel like I’m doing something positive. It was a cold, bleak winter and it feels so good to be out from under that cloud.

Better by the day

With respect to Bear’s recovery, he’s getting better by the day. Things haven’t changed much since his last ultrasound of three weeks ago, except that as of last weekend I no longer apply a sweat to the injured fetlock. The inflammation there has decreased such that a simple stable wrap will do. He lives in them (I still wrap the supporting leg as well) 24/7 except when I hand walk him. This is when he wears Back on Track therapeutic polo bandages to give his lower legs the support they need while exercising, such as it is at present.

Fun with food

Our friend Sarah capture Bear’s “fun with food” moment the other day. His nibble net is supposed to be inside his stall and in this image he has successfully manoeuvred it otherwise. His own definition for “throwing hay.” 😉

Bear’s spirits are good. He’s spoiled with attention, and treats, and loves to entertain whoever chooses to stop long enough outside his stall to indulge his flights of fancy.

Last Monday he had his monthly massage. Evidently he gets tight on the right side from standing around, so the therapist has given me a few gentle techniques to use on him to help keep those localized spots a little more limber.

The Worst Kind of Crap Shoot

In the meantime, I have been starting to shop for another horse, and horse shopping, as pretty much anyone who’s engaged in it will tell you, can be the worst kind of crap shoot, especially without good guidance. There are so many variables; so many things to consider that if you don’t know specifically what kind of horse you’re looking for and keep the emotional component in check you could end up on an expensive and discouraging wild goose chase.

Since my goal with a new dressage horse is to be able to see myself start to ride to my highest potential, I need one with three good gaits (walk, trot, canter) and that is well schooled in the German training system. As my coach put it to me the other day, we want a horse that allows me to develop my riding ability without having to address huge holes in his training. I don’t mind the challenges that will arise as I push myself to a higher plateau of horsemanship, but I don’t want to have to deal with the arguments presented as a result of someone else’s poor horse training.

My coach is in agreement with this.

So, we’re on the look out for a warmblood around eight years old, with good solid gaits and training, a sound temperament and at least 16.2 hands in height ~ in a price range, of course, we can afford. In other words … a needle in a haystack. Still, that’s okay. I’m a firm believer that life unfolds as it should. I have good support and guidance around me, so when the right horse comes along he/she should be fairly easy to spot. At least I’m optimistic.

As always my primary concern, beyond my own safety, is the welfare of the horse, and so I want to ensure that whatever horse enters the picture will be appropriate for, and comfortable with, the kind of training I have in mind under the expert guidance of my coach. Horses are not one size fits all, so being as mindful of their individual needs and limitations is as important as being mindful of my own.

Of course, I am ever mindful that Bear is the one who has put me on this path. From the moment he stepped into my life nine years ago he has walked the bumpy road of healing with me, opening my heart and my mind to new and wonderful possibilities. He’s helped me attract into my life, when I was ready, the circumstances and people who have helped me along the path of personal growth during the past several years, and as such has placed himself at the heart of my healing program and my dreams of one day having my own equine experiential learning practice. With his good looks and charm, funny disposition and open heart he is a gift of sunshine that I’m really looking forward to sharing with those who are ready when the timing is right ~ for me … and him. 😉

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015