I’ve been in love a few times in my life. The most recent mare I fell head-over-hooves for was a beautiful palomino Tennessee Walker, named Annie. Oh my gosh, that girl was a beauty! Long blond hair, lovely big hip, with the most elegant sashay as she’d walk down the road. My heart went pitter-patter every time she and her person rode by our barn.
I’d not seen her in awhile. I would watch the road hoping she would come by, but nothing. Then, a long time after I’d last seen her, Annie’s person stopped by our barn and told a friend that Annie was gone. She’d gotten into something poisonous and had severely foundered. Her owner tearfully shared that they had tried for months to save her, but she was in so much pain and her coffin bone had rotated so far, that the vet had suggested that the kindest thing to do was to end her suffering and put her down. Her owner was still distraught about the decision, not sure she had made the right choice. Annie’s person’s guilt and self-doubt was tearing her apart.
It’s a blessing to us horses that we live in the moment. We don’t fear death because we don’t project our thoughts into the future and wonder what it will be like when we leave this physical existence. We are now. Being now also means that in spirit we don’t have judgment as to the reason why we may have left the physical world. Of course our natural instinct is to survive, and our fight and flight instincts will kick in if we are threatened, but that’s not a conscious thought. That’s programmed impulse.
Deciding it’s time to help a beloved friend move to the next plane is one of the most difficult things an animal lover has to do. There will almost always be a sliver of doubt as to whether or not it was the right decision or the right moment to act. What if your friend could have been saved? What if they resent you for hurrying them down that path? What if the animal’s ghost is hovering around, upset that you made the ultimate decision for them?
Making the final resolution for a horse, more than any other kind of animal, is especially hard on people. One of the reasons is that there is a very different kind of mutual trust that has to be in place for a person to ride and work with an animal of a horse’s immense size and power. Taking a horse’s life almost always feels like a betrayal of that special trust, even when the person knows it will end unavoidable suffering. That mixture of guilt with intense grief is one of the most painful emotional states a human being can possibly experience.
If you’ve been one of those who has loved and lost a horse, especially when you were the one who had to make the final decision, you know what I’m taking about. I just want to assure you that horses do not hold a grudge, and do not fear or resent death. It’s the final kindness you do for us, letting us move on in a quiet and painless manner. Our wild cousins usually face much worse when the end comes. We really do appreciate you making that ultimate decision, and gently releasing us from our damaged flesh and blood earth-ship.
I know that when it’s my time, Jane will be devastated. I feel her love for me and know her grief will be nearly unbearable for a while. But we both also know that death is part of life, and in her grief she will find joy in the memories of our wonderful time together. She will heal, as will I.
If you’ve been through this and have been questioning yourself, let me assure you that you did the right thing. Your horse knows you love him or her and holds no resentment at being helped along to the next big adventure. If you need to, please forgive yourself. Your horse already has, because he or she knows there was nothing to forgive.
In Loving Memory of Cheyenne’s Golden Autumn, aka: Annie, 2000-2011. Photo by Susan Williams, www.WindHorseOne.com
It’s spring where I live! There is rebirth going on everywhere. I see new grass poking up out of the old dead brown stuff, and little babies showing up everywhere! It’s amazing how the whole world comes to life when the sun gets a bit warmer.
Spring has inspired the earth since the beginning of time. Plants and animals, including humans, react with energy and joy. There’s something about a longer day and a shorter night that brings out the best in us. Green pops out everywhere as the long awaited warmth awakens the earth. Eggs are laid in new cozy nests and long-legged foals appear in the lush pastures. It’s a great time to be alive!
We visited a friend whose dog recently had a litter of puppies. No, they’re not mine, but kinda look like me. I was very intrigued by their funny noises and furry coats. They smelled new and clean, like a fresh breeze after a wet rain. I just love them. I got down low so I didn’t scare them, rolled on my back and let them crawl all over me. It felt so funny when their tiny feet scrambled across my tummy. Playing with them made my heart feel good. I just love babies!
Spring is a time of renewal. It’s a great time to clean out the old stuff and make room for new. That includes not just your house, but your heart and mind as well.
Do you have old “stuff” cluttering your mind? Are there old pains or resentments that are clogging up your rebirth into new adventures?
Maybe it’s time to do some mental house cleaning. It’s time to forgive those old hurts, release those burdensome resentments, and forgive yourself for all your perceived mistakes. It’s time to be reborn!
I still feel bad for chewing up Jane’s new boots when I was a puppy, but I’ve decided to let that go. Jane has forgiven me, and now I need to forgive myself. I learned my lesson and don’t chew shoes and boots anymore, so why hold on to guilt? It serves no purpose, and only diminishes my energy. I’ve decided to spring clean the whole incident away!
When you have some time, make a list of all the things in your past that are eating away at your present energy. Hand-write your list on a piece of white paper. Then buy an outdoor flowering plant, dig a hole, shred the note, and put it in the hole. Add the plant on top of the shredded list. Know that the plant will grow and be fed by the decomposition of this list. Water and watch your plant thrive, knowing it is the release and transformation of that old stuff that is making those flowers bloom!
Then make a list of your hopes and dreams. Make sure your list is stated in positive, present-tense words. Read that list every day when you get up, and when you go to bed. Know that whatever you give your attention to expands. So give your attention to what you want, not what you don’t want!
I want to go for a walk to the pond! I went to Jane and asked her to take me. I kept visualizing the pond and prancing at her feet until she started laughing and went to get the leash.
Off we go! I’ll bet your dog would love to go for a walk too! Do you have a pond nearby? I hope so!
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