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

Where There’s A Will …

Connection

Change of any description, if it is to be undertaken with mindfulness, takes energy.

The move to a new barn at the beginning of the year has required a great (and positive) shift in the way I view the equestrian world and my place in it. It’s also invited me to step up to the challenge of beginning to live the dream I’ve had since childhood ~ of being a competent dressage rider.

It’s been a meandering road to get to this point, mostly due to my own lack of self-awareness and a life time spent in survival mode. And now that I am here, I’m learning to adapt to a new way of being while still negotiating the pitfalls of energy-depleting adrenal fatigue ~ one of the side effects of living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for so long.

Still, we’re on the right track now and it will take as long as it takes to evolve into the partnership I have dreamed of for Bear and I for so long.

Changes are already happening. I find it difficult to write about it while we’re in transition simply because there’s so much going on I don’t know where to start. And, I don’t want to exhaust myself in the attempt to do so.

Suffice to say that while I learn to ride Bear according to his training imprint he is gaining strength and stamina and is so much more relaxed. It’s almost as if he’s come “home” in himself somehow. No more arguments because my hands are so busy (because they aren’t anymore). No more miscommunication. As I begin to integrate the nuances of the new skills I’m learning Bear settles into a frame of mind that demonstrates to me I’m finally beginning to “get” it while he is more happily engaged in our work.

I cannot begin to tell you what a difference this has made to our relationship overall. Something has changed. A switch has gone on. Our bond is tighter. It’s as if as open as he was before he is even more so now simply because I’ve stepped deeper into his functionally imprinted world and left my own dysfunctionally imprinted one behind.

What a relief! What a gift! To see the world through his eyes and understand what it means to be “at home” at what you’re doing. The more at home he is, the more at home I am. It’s magic!

The elements of training that have brought us to this point involve a lot of technical explanation that I’m not going to get into, at least not at the moment. Suffice to say that working with a highly skilled dressage coach who has invested himself in Bear’s and my progress has made all the difference. In just five coaching sessions, and all the rides in between, Bear already feels like a completely different horse and I feel like a more competent rider. My default to hunter frame is a thing of the past.

Notwithstanding the obstacle of adrenal fatigue and the drain that is on my energy my dressage dreams live again.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

~*~

Speaking of wills …

Last year, as some of you know, I remarried. This has made it necessary to revisit and revise my Last Will and Testament to reflect my change of status. Of course, it’s important to adapt a Will according to any change in life circumstances. I’m no lawyer but I believe it’s safe to say that to file one once and never look at it again is probably not the smartest thing to do. Life circumstances change constantly and a Will, naturally, must reflect this.

As you can imagine, my horse figures into my Will, as he must. What is to happen to him (or any of my animal companions) should I make my grand exit from planet Earth before them?

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed …”
Antoine de Saint-Exupèry

My arrangements in the past have been pretty loose, as far as Bear is concerned. Now that I’m revising my Will, I’m going to tighten things up and attach to it a Limited Power of Attorney outlining what I want done for Bear in my absence.

This idea was suggested by the owner of the barn where we are now and I think it’s a great one. This way even when Lloyd and I are away on vacation there is a written document which stipulates the steps to be taken in case of emergency, and it’s all been established ahead of time while cooler heads prevail. Beats a desperate phone call in the middle of the night while we’re half way around the world and I’m having a panic attack. 😉

When searching for a template online I came across this one from a fellow WordPress blogger at Capital Cowgirl. It’s most comprehensive and, as you can see, adaptable for equestrians and pet owners. I’m going to use this template for my other four-legged fuzzy companions as well.

If you are a horse owner and/or have pets as a part of your lifestyle, I suggest taking a few minutes to draw up a Limited Power of Attorney for each one and attaching them to your Will. As well, give copies to the caregivers in question so your instructions are readily available. This way you know you’ve done your due diligence with respect to the care of your animal companions while you are absent, for whatever reason, and the people to whom you have entrusted their care have a clear understanding of your wishes on the matter.

Bear is so important to me and, as you might imagine, I have given lots of thought as to what I’d like to happen should I pre-decease him. The option of the Limited Power of Attorney is sound and, attached to my Will, makes my wishes official.

And where there’s a Will … there’s peace of mind.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

How my horse saved me from an in-store cosmetic makeover …

Who are you?

Slightly off the beaten track today, but I felt I just had to share this little moment of unguarded candor from Saturday.

I was in the cosmetics department of the local drug store, minding my own business while engaged in the daunting task of selecting a suitably coloured lip gloss for daily use. (To my gentlemen readers: this can be a laborious endeavour for most women, make no mistake. 😉 )

Holy horsefeathers! … With so many lip-plumping, shine-enhancing shades and varieties and brands on the market these days what was once a simple foray into creative cosmetic self-expression has become more of an exercise in close-your-eyes-and-pick-one.

Ploughing through 12 or more shades of pink to find the one that works best for me is not my idea of a good time. What’s even more frustrating is when I do finally find the one I like and want to replace it a year later after it’s been well used, it’s either been repackaged and renamed so I can’t find it, or worse, discontinued. Thus the search for a new shade begins all over again. (And this is true of ALL cosmetic products.)

Another consideration: Do I trust the salesperson (usually a woman) to have my best interests at heart when debating the merits of pink versus peach against my skin? Sometimes I wonder. Call me a skeptic, but when she says I look good in a particular shade does she mean it or is she simply trying to make a sale?

Hmmmmm …

Perhaps this is more about my own trust issues, I don’t know, but I’ve bought a lot of lipsticks over the years that, under artificial store lighting, looked really good but, when I got home and tried them in natural light, made me look like a charicature of myself.

My make-up case is a veritable lipstick grave yard.

But, I digress …

During my little escapade I became acutely aware of a roving make-up artist brought in by the store for the day. Her mission: to provide make-up refreshers or, if a hapless “victim” purchased $75 worth of product or more, a full makeover.

She wasn’t really harassing people, but you know how it is … when you’re in a hurry you don’t really want to be bothered interacting with someone whose real purpose is to sell you stuff you don’t need. Frankly, I already own a full complement of expensive product I haven’t been able to use recently due to my ongoing entanglement with adrenal fatigue. I haven’t been able to get out much. The barn has been my social focal point and, as you might imagine, there isn’t a great call for a full face of make-up there.

So, doing my best to make myself invisible, I crouched low to the ground and ruminated with much focused intensity upon which of the the many gloss colours at my disposal might be most lip-smacking appropriate. I don’t wear a lot of make-up, but I am particular when I do.

Then, as the wolf is to the rabbit, I was pounced upon.

“Can I help you find something?” the over-made-up make-up artist enquired with a saccharin snarl.

How to wriggle myself free?

“No thanks!” I responded quickly and resumed my focus on a seemingly fruitless search.

The prowler wouldn’t take the hint and continued to hover, almost standing on top of me. So while still crouched, I turned on my heels and decided to get a closer look at her.

She was young middle-aged, I’d say, and face painted in such a way, no doubt, as to demonstrate her prowess in the cosmetic arts.

Heavy foundation, piled-on layers of eye shadow in shades of cerise and black, false eye lashes, big ruby lips, and hair dyed black sporting a streak of cerise that flashed carelessly through long unkempt bangs — a little too Goth, for my taste. Still, I smiled, thanked her for her query and returned again to the task at hand, hoping she’d go away.

I was to be disappointed.

“We have a special offer on today … ” she began her cheerfully whining speech.

I only half listened as she went on about this and that to do with the special in-store offer.

“Blah … blah … blah … blah … blah … or you can have the full makeover with a purchase of $75 or more. Would you like to follow me?”

That’s when I finally turned to the unrelenting and, without pre-meditation, flashed this bolt out of the blue:

“No thanks … I’m going to the barn after this and my horse doesn’t care what I look like.”

A pregnant pause hovered between us. A quizzical expression crawled spider-like across her mask such that I could almost hear the synapses in her selling strategy snapping in panic behind it …

Abort! Abort! Abort!

Then, after a moment and with wonderfully punctuated hesitation, she said …

“I … guess not …”

She then turned and walked away.

Victory complete, I exhaled with relief and returned again to my torturous lipstick hunt.

It was the wonderfully dumbfounded hesitation in her response that amused me.

Perhaps she’s never spent time with a horse. Perhaps the notion of going out in public without a full face of make-up is anathema to her. Or, perhaps, both notions are as foreign to her as wearing a full face of make-up every day is to me.

Had I intrigued her or confused her? Or did she think my manner downright rude and boorish?

I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.

What I do know, from personal experience, is the trap that’s set as soon as you park your derriere in the make-up chair of a cosmetic department.

Let the up-selling begin!

You come in for a lipstick and, unless you are really, really strong, leave with a full compliment of new face paint you will literally never use — all because the make-up magician made it look so good. Once home you’ve either forgotten, or have no idea, how the tricks work.

Experience has taught me that being cornered in this way is to be avoided at all costs. Like my horse, Bear, I don’t appreciate being bullied into doing something I don’t want to do. And sometimes, like Bear, I need to get myself out of that corner by demonstrating a little bit of attitude.

So, ladies, (gentlemen: feel free to pass this along to the women in your lives) if ever you feel cornered by some over-zealous cosmetician, feel free to lean on my exit strategy. And, hold fast to the immortal words of French poet, Antoine de Saint Exupéry:

” … it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

And that is how my horse saved me from an in-store cosmetic makeover. 😉

Nurture what you love … including yourself …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

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Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

The little matter of hay …

Hay

This week I received an email from the barn owner where Bear is boarded which noted that, for the foreseeable future, boarders will be charged a $30 per month hay surcharge.

Several factors, including last year’s drought and a drop in hay acreage, have contributed to the doubling of hay prices in recent months. ie. a round bale that cost $40 this time last year is now over $100. For some horse and barn owners this will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back on whether or not they can continue their stewardship of the horse.

Make no mistake, this is a serious situation. Already many horses in Canada, the U.S. and beyond have been abandoned, or prematurely sent to slaughter or euthanized simply because the cost of their upkeep has risen beyond their owner’s means.

It’s a fact of life. Good quality hay is a staple of the horse’s diet, so we must either pay what the market demands (even when greed becomes a factor which, some would say, it has) or, if we cannot, be forced into the unpleasant alternative.

Thankfully, Bear will be okay. Our barn manager is resourceful and we can manage the extra cost while being mindful of our budget. We have been assured that once the hay shortage has passed and prices correct themselves the surcharge will be dropped and board bills will be adjusted accordingly. When this might happen is anybody’s guess, of course.

Having said this, if it happened that I was ever unable to properly provide for my beautiful horse and there was no other in whom I could trust to see properly to his needs, I would be put in the very difficult position of having to decide whether or not to euthanize him. It doesn’t even bear thinking about. 😦

I agree with French author and aviator, Antoine de Saint Exupery, when he wrote in his delightful book The Little Prince, ” … we are responsible forever for the things that we tame.” To me abandoning Bear would be like abandoning a child. I could not even consider it. So, to me the only viable alternative would be to ensure he does not suffer.

I am confident I won’t need to do anything quite this drastic. In my mind I see Bear living to a ripe old age where, when the time reveals itself, I may need to assist him to that plentiful pasture in heaven. My preference, of course, would be that he gently meet his eternal rest while out in the paddock happily eating hay. 😉

Winter hay

Now, lest you think high hay prices only effect horse owners, you may wish to reconsider.

Cattle operations are in the same boat. In fact, anyone raising large animals and who relies on hay as a major source of fodder is feeling the sting of this shortage.

As a result, all of us can expect to pay more for food in the coming year. It cannot be avoided.

So really, I guess I’m simply giving you a heads-up.

Pray for a healthy dose of rain this year so we may all eat heartily.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

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Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Responsible Forever

‘Men have forgotten this truth,’ said the fox. ‘But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.’
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
1900-1944

Going to the barn to tend to my horse is a daily ritual. Indeed, it is a responsibility I take very seriously.

The above quote by French pilot, poet and author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, sums up quite succinctly this duty of stewardship that I feel.

Bear entered my world as a four-year-old — wet behind the ears and full of beans. It became my responsibility to channel his youthful energy into a mature and happy horse. This could only be achieved through gentle nurturing, informed and patient training, and good care.

Bear has come to rely on me for these things. Consistency, on my part, is key if our relationship is to continue to grow. He rewards me with his trust, his beauty, his desire to please and his amazing sense of humour.

He is a diamond of a horse wrapped in bay velvet … and I have tamed him.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012