What are you doing with your horse today?
It’s a beautiful day. I woke up to +8 with a forecast high of +14. Crazy. Today is a great day to put work aside for a bit and spend some time with your horses. Even if it’s five minutes.
I find that hanging out with my horses, as one with the herd, fills a spot. They have an energy that we share; one that has become a part of me. I realized that in the transition to the new property. For months, I operated Amazing Horse Country out of the old ranch, where I kept my horses. The new property was a place I drove to whenever I could and worked my butt off. But it wasn’t home. It was a pile of work and at times great frustration; trying to get water and power and fences built. At the end of the day, I couldn’t wait to get home – to my herd.
In December of last year, I brought my horses over to the new Amazing Horse Country and turned them loose. In that moment, this place ceased to be simply a work project and became our home. What I’d felt as a missing piece was the horses. My herd. That energy that is part of who I am.
Becoming that intimately connected to a horse is a thing of beauty. It’s what makes riding more than riding; the energy and focus of human and horse poetically interwoven into athletic motion.
The other day my good friend, Sharon Leney, stopped in with her camera and took some pictures of me with my horse, Ty. She told me to simply “hang out with him and do what you do.” Sometimes that’s hard when the camera is on you. But I love Ty. He’s 28 this year and showing his age. He doesn’t get around as easily and has slipped from #1 in the herd to #3. I have nothing but respect for him. He makes me laugh with his antics (which are all centered around food) and makes my cry with his honesty.
Ty and I share something. Two years ago today, we lost our mutual best friend and companion, Spud. Spud was a protector. He stood strongly by Ty’s side and kept the herd safe. Spud was a horse that was exceptionally attentive to others’ needs. An extraordinary communicator, he would come and get me and lead me to anything he thought was out of order, be it a closed gate, empty waterer or injured horse. I shared a lot of laughs with that guy.
We know that other animals can feel loss; the absence of a loved one. I believe horses are exceptional in that that, because they have a high degree of intelligence coupled with a strong sense of empathy and awareness of herd energy. When we lost Spud, Ty suffered from depression and quit eating. I knew how he felt, because I was feeling the same way. A part of our herd – our energy and life – had been rudely taken away. There was a big black hole; like the glue that held our herd together was gone. We stuck together. As a herd we continue to adapt and evolve. It’s life.
I recently received an email from a client letting me know that she was getting out of horses because she’d lost a horse to colic. Loss is painful and the thought of avoiding the potential for pain by avoiding a relationship with another horse (or person) is natural. It’s also natural to feel like we’re not honouring our lost friend by getting another horse. It’s tough and I get it. I feel, however, that my journey through that process of loss was guided by my relationship with my horses. And not only my horses, but every horse I work with; every horse that all of you bring to Amazing Horse Country. They all have that spirit; that unique energy that makes them special. The energy of the horse.
Ty and I share another mutual journey of healing. Years ago he fractured his neck. His recovery was long. I slept in a cot in his stall. I didn’t know if he would survive but either way, my commitment was to be there for him. Not long after, I suffered a fractured arm and leg. Off work, I spent time with my horses every day. Ty was right by my side. Two broken guys, healing up together. And we both pulled through. The following summer I rode Ty to the top of Powderface. We were back in the mountains; something we could only have accomplished as a result of our partnership; our understanding of each other. Our mutual support and positive energy.
Ty has been retired for a few years. He suffered a fall that exacerbated the neurological issues he had from breaking his neck. He gets around OK and I’ve even seen him lope – but it’s not pretty. My role in his life right now is twofold. I take care of him and do all I can to make sure he’s happy, comfortable and fed. I can see in his eye that he appreciates that. When Sharon was here with her camera the other day, Ty was glued to me. He was super happy just to share space with me. There’s an incredibly peaceful energy with that horse; one that made him the great herd leader he was. It’s nice to soak in that once in a while.
My other role is to honour him. Simply for who he is. He’s a rock that has held steadfast through some pretty tough deals that life has tossed his way, and he continues to give. To the herd and to me. He’s an individual that offers so many lessons about life.
Thank you, Ty, for not only what you’ve taught me but for your continued friendship. Today, I honour you.
Who are you honouring today? I’d love to hear your stories.
Interested in having a photo shoot with your horse? Check out Mountain Horse Photography. Thanks again, Sharon.