Back in 2005, ’06ish, I was working for an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy program and we were setting up facilities at a private home for my four horses and me. I designed a single roof shelter that could cover the 4 horses with individual pens connected to it. We set up a round pen for activities and a friend loaned me a little RV type trailer to live in right beside my precious horses.
When we were loading my horses to move them from the stable where they had been living to the new place, my Arabian colt, Darjeeling kinda panicked in the slant horse trailer and thrust the barrier divider against my body, slamming my head against the wall and breaking 3 of my ribs. He fell out of the back of the trailer and I immediately decided to walk him in-hand to the facility (it was close enough to do so). A friend walked my Dorje’ (older, wise Anglo-Arab) to keep Darj calm. I was in pure agony and Darjeeling probably was, too.
I had a big, angelic gaited mare, Sandalwood and Darjeeling’s cousin, Dharma Gita, another gray Arabian I had raised. Later, Sandy would pass over and Dalai (another gaited mare) would join my herd.
I spent that first night in the little trailer desperately trying to find a position of less pain so I could sleep. The next day a friend who was a surgical assistant helped me support (and confirmed) the broken ribs. Then, with very little ability to even inhale, I started seeing clients and putting up more fence! I had the trailer hooked up to water and electricity. I had a tote thing to haul my black water (sewage) across the few acres to dump it in the septic tank. I pulled it with my Jeep. Everything was agony, everything was miserable while my ribs healed. Everything was my responsibility but my only authority was over my own horses and I covered all of their expenses.
So, I decided that it would become an experience of deep practice for me on all levels. I had no television, no music, very little light… but I read at night and studied things important to me. I devoted all of my waking hours that were not with clients to taking care of and bonding with my horses.
One night I woke up to heavy rainfall battering the roof and… a sopping wet mattress. The roof leaked over the bed. My brother came the next day and helped me get a big tarp tied over the trailer, being careful not to block any vital vents. For heat and for cooking, I hauled 2 propane tanks to the city to fill them and waddled them up into their little shelf for hook up.
Eventually, we got a bigger trailer thing for me. Eventually a nice barn was built and for a while the horses and I were more comfortable. I felt like we were doing such good work (we were). But I did, after almost 4 years in EAP, burn out. My horse, Majic (with me now) worked for 7 and a half years in EAP. He has my utmost respect!! Part of the burn out had to do with none of the facility nor program being my own. I was working hard to create and enhance that program for someone else (who I cared about) and in time, I was unable to keep going.
I saw things that shook my soul during that work. I experienced things that touched and healed my heart. I heard of things that scared me deeply and haunt me to this day. It all required that I be tough and tender and hold myself to task day in, day out. I’m really glad I did it all, it made me a better person… even though I would never do it again!