That Special Horse – Story Contest Windup

Amazing Backcountry Contest Image

I felt connection, saw progress and was fueled by hopes, dreams and belief in goodness.

Pistol felt my vulnerability. My weaknesses. She never took advantage of them. I forged a new kind of trust with her.

That pony taught me so much about horses, their language, their deep hearts and emotions…their overwhelming desire to be accepted and respected.

She is a healer for other humans too, besides me, and seems to be drawn to comfort people carrying deep sadness.

I saw and felt his comforting presence and told my horse we would be just fine because Big John would look out for us. I believe he still will from his endless pasture in the sky.

There are so many good lines in your stories.  I could publish pages of quotes. Everyone who has owned or experienced a horse has a story. I’d like to thank you for sharing yours. We will have the winners list up soon (Easter weekend was perhaps not the best time to end a contest)

In reading your stories some aspects of your relationships really shone.  Some of you had life altering experiences with your horses.  Some of you sacrificed countless hours, not to mention dollars, pursuing goals, dreams and even extensive rehabilitation.  Some of you defined horsemanship as you had come to understand it: your horse as a teacher. Some of your stories echo the unfortunate heartache of losing your equine companion.  Some of you discovered that, in the horse, you found someone that understood you without prejudice or condition.

Amazing Backcountry Contest ImageJust what is it about horses that evoke such deep emotional responses ?  Is it their power, energy…their life?  Do we envy their freedom and strength and bask in our ability to share in that with them?  I have my theories.  Despite the fact that the possible answer is undeniably poetic and beautiful, it is also at its core quite simple and sensible.

I believe it is important for us to share our stories. As we share and learn with each other, not only do we make evident the importance of horses in the lives of people, we validate it. I have many of my own stories to tell too. They will all be in the book, if I ever get it finished…You may have already read some of them on the website or in magazines, generally as educational pieces. In order to touch briefly on the horse-human equation I’ve already started writing about, I’ll brush the horse hair off my keyboard and recount a personal experience.

Recently, I spent an extended period of time in the hospital, mainly due to the mistakes of some doctors which resulted in unplanned surgery and subsequent recuperation. Through the struggles and discomfort I had, I was able to keep an excessively positive attitude. This was noted by nurses, doctors, friends and family alike; I could not help but be positive and joke around. Why? Because I had a goal that I was getting closer to being back with my herd.  Every day that I felt better was another step closer.

At one point the physiotherapy crew was coming to my room, with the intent to get me up and moving around using a walker.  I was not aware that they were on their way, and by chance, met them in the hallway. I was energetic, happily scooting around on crutches with IV machine and various other tubes barely under control.  The walker had lost its appeal before I left the door of my room.

Well so much for that plan, they joked.  One of them followed up with, With most patients, we have to work to kick their butt out of bed and get them moving.  With you it’s the opposite: you’re the type of person we tell to slow down!

I will tell you why.  It was because of my burning desire to be with my horses. Even from a distance their influence on my daily life tugged at me constantly, but positively. I joked quite a bit about kicking out my roommate in my hospital room and replacing his bed with a stall so I could bring in a horse to replace him. Farfetched, yes, however I was absolutely serious about spending time with a horse.  I make no secret of the fact that I feel better and heal better around horses. Obviously many of you do too– your stories…well, they tell the story!

Amazing Backcountry Contest ImageHealing with horses is well known and common.  Horses are part of therapeutic programs; some even government funded.  What many people don’t realize – something that is a core of my training program with people, is that just as a horse can create a positive dynamic for a person, a person can create the same dynamic for a horse. And once the horse buys into your ability to offer that, (and this doesn’t take long) well then you have just opened up the door to a whole new level of understanding horsemanship. From the horses perspective.

From my hospital room I thought mainly about Ty.  A 20 year old gelding that I have nursed through many life threatening injuries including a broken neck. It is not possible to express our bond within the limits of the English language.  Ty reciprocates energy in a natural way of a herd leader by providing a space full of peace and positive energy. I was looking forward to healing in that space.

Unexpectedly Spud, my 10 year-old-ish paint horse, filled this role.

A quick aside: Spud and Ty are joined at the hip.  Although Ty is the leader, Spud will go to bat for him in an instant. Most recently when Ty was injured and in a pen by himself, Spud wouldn’t leave the area.  So I put the two of them together. Spud stood by Ty’s side for weeks. At one point, one of my rascals unlatched the gate: Ty got loose!  Spud was in a panic.  Ty and the herd were in the pasture well out of site. But Spud stood at the fence near my house calling until I came. I had no idea Ty was loose until I walked to his paddock and found the gate swinging in the wind. Still excited, Spud took me out to the pasture and – no word of a lie  helped me lead all the horses back. It was more than obvious that Ty was not going to be caught and the only way to get him back was to take the entire herd.  Spud did this for me, and only settled down once Ty begrudgingly following the herd back – was safe and secure. Spud seems to be exceptionally alert to the mental and physical state of horses and people.

Back to the near present.  I had waited a long time for some horse time. Hobbling on crutches on the ice, I carted a lawn chair out into the paddock. Immediately Spud trotted up to me, assuming a comfortable spot by my side, and put his head down by my shoulder. He stood by me for the better part of an hour, until I had to get up. Exactly like he did when Ty was injured.  A protector? A source of strength and healing energy? A shared place of peace?

All of the above, most likely.  I had been in a lot of pain, but sitting there with Spud,  I felt none.  None. I was surrounded by the positive energy of those horses.

I was at home again.

Amazing Backcountry Contest ImageA herd leader like Ty can create a space of peace around him that the other horses want to stand in. We can do this too. How ? Think about it. What does a horse really need?

Freedom from fear/predators, freedom from hunger/thirst and freedom from herd related stress.  What remains is peace. It is as simple as that.  What makes a horse special is their natural ability to share and communicate that.

Part of my training methodology involves emulating the horses natural behaviour, particularly how they communicate through energy and feel. And of course putting that to good, productive and most importantly fun use for the mental and physical benefit of both horse and rider.

Amazing Backcountry Contest ImageWhat I believe I, and many of our story authors have come to realize here, is that the horse is entirely capable of sharing their peace, energy and emotional strength intimately – with a human.  I also believe, amongst other things, this is something that draws us close to our equine companions. ??Closer on some levels than we are sometimes willing to let ourselves be with other people. The ability for us to let down our guard and energetically, empathically and emotionally share our very selves with an animal that instinctively communicates that way is an indescribably incredible gift. It’s encouraging to me, as a trainer, to see that many of you have discovered that.

Once again, thanks for entering the contest.  I hope you enjoyed writing your stories as much as we enjoying reading them.

As you know the Grand Prize of this contest is a spot in one of our clinics this summer.  The goal is to develop your horsemanship skills in a fun and supportive environment, and put your learning to the test on the obstacle course. With nightly campfires, free camping for you and your horse, an exceptionally reasonable price and generally just a darn good fun time….

…why not join us? For more information on the clinics and to register, just click here.

Stand by for a BIG announcement on the contest winners and our Amazing Sponsors!

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About admin

Scott has a wide variety of experience in the horse industry including mountain riding, outfitting, training horses and riders, starting and re-starting horses, producing horsemanship webinars and podcasts, running the Canadian Cowboy Challenge and of course, operating Amazing Horse Country. He affectionately refers to his herd of horses as his "kids". Scott has uniquely integrated his horsemanship with a knowledge of equine bio-mechanics and psychology to gain a thorough understanding of these great animals.