Life

I’ve got the Orange Barrel Blues…

The past few months have been an exercise in creative planning – Our little city has been digging up every major road and Highway used to expedite traffic and get us to businesses and jobs; all at once. And what was a reasonable path through the maze one week is entirely restructured the next so there is no predicting any of it.

Businesses from one end of town to another are closing up shop (some having thrived for decades!) because no customers can manage to drive to their buildings. Not just for a week or two of inconvenience, some businesses have been inaccessible for nearly a year.

Having lived here since 1981, I am fortunate to know most back ways to the places I need to patronize and things that are not an actual need, well, it’s just not worth the effort, time and petrol wasted…

My beautiful picture

So, yesterday, I drove our beloved Michelle to the airport in a nearby big city a couple of hours away. We crossed state lines, were whipping along at 70 mph on 3 lanes between tractor trailers when instantaneously traffic went to 10 mph and one lane. Several times we came to a stop (in these cases, I pump my brake lights and pray for good brakes behind me!). Then, just as quickly, we’re back to multiple lanes at 70 mph.

Home safe and relatively sound, I briefly considered a little detour into our city to grab some groceries… then I saw the line of tail lights, single lane of vehicles and spattering of orange barrels down the hill. “Hell no.” I was already fending off a migraine. “We’ll eat more lentil loaf and like it!”

So today’s sojourn to order fencing supplies and catch a bite of lunch was a great test of my intuition and, I’m proud to say, we made it to each place easily, serpentining through the incoherent jumble of orange objects. Decades ago, an ex-husband said that a wise person would invest in an orange barrel business. Crikey, how clearly he predicted that!

I am profoundly grateful that we live up on the mountain, in high desert and well away from so awful much orange.

 

 

 

Advertisements
Categories: Life, struggle | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Something to depend on…

That’s what the horse’s gut requires. Right now, in New Mexico, we are having some struggles with getting hay, affording hay, the quality of hay…

Since we base all the horses’ diets here on roughage and there is no pasture on this high desert, hay is our most vital component for health, for nourishment. Changing the equine diet suddenly is detrimental to gut health. The only way to avoid digestive disturbance is to have at least one consistent food given every day, religiously.

For us that was Bermuda hay. As a base it is a good choice here. It does not have to be trucked in from a great distance like Timothy and other (nicer) grass hays. It can be in front of the horses “free choice” because they will not over eat Bermuda hay. Up until recently, the quality had been outstanding, each bale the same as another with sweet aroma, soft strands of tender dry grass… our experience for several years.

Lately, we have been lucky to get bales with sticks and clods of dirt in them. We were buying our alfalfa through friends who brought it over from Arizona. The advantage to it over locally produced alfalfa hay was/is the hay is grown all year ’round and there isn’t a rush of nutrients as happens here for the first cutting in spring. Yesterday, I had to purchase 4 bales of local alfalfa for $88.00 to grind for Vega. He is worth it. But, we pulled out some pieces of plastic and I had to examine a couple of beetles (they were not blister beetles) from it. It can drive you bonkers.

We got through a relatively harsh winter on beautiful grass hay donated by loving friends! We had some giant bales (one ton bales) also partly donated, partly purchased by us. It spoiled us! The struggle to unload such big bales and to chainsaw them in to manageable “flakes” was well worth it because the quality was so high.

Of course, all of that has been fed… used up by the first of this month.

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

So, now I search for a source of the beardless wheat hay I bought last spring that sustained the horses’ good health all by itself. It looks like, come May, there will some affordable beardless (touch wood). Last year, the monthly hay cost was between $1,000 and $1,200. To be able to buy enough hay for 6 months would be a wise and wonderful thing… to gather $7,000 in donations to do so has not been our reality – we’ve been excited to get enough donations on a month by month basis!

Then there is bran, linseed meal, herbs, salt, etc. etc. Not to mention the stress financially of needing X rays or dental work on one of the horses…

So, something we depend on is a grass hay that we can base the horses’ rations upon consistently, day in, day out. We depend upon donors who provide the funds to buy the hay. We depend upon each other to drive to get the feed, unload it, secure it from the weather, feed it… so far, Mark and I pay for all the petrol to do these things. Dharmahorse does not have enough money to cover it and while we barely do, we believe in this Sanctuary.

So, something we depend on, above all else is each other. And that makes everything else possible.

Categories: Life, Saving Horses, struggle | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Comfort Zones

We all have them – those places where we feel at ease and the places where we want to escape, run, leap, dive under to find to a better feeling.

Sometimes being forced (or choosing to step) outside of our comfort zone can grow us forward; sometimes, it frays the insulation on our nerves to a point of shorting out.

Human, equine, canine, all of us face daily comfort glitches. For horses, their comfort zone is usually a certain distance away from a scary object. As they move a bit closer, they enter a “flight zone” where they go on alert and prepare to bolt. Closer even, their “fight” zone puts adrenaline into the bloodstream and they are ready to lash out if necessary.

Thinking about it, this applies for peeps and dogs, too. We all prepare through stages to protect ourselves.

One way to expand our comfort zones and feel at ease in more situations is to condition our responses and our bodies for coping. With our horsemanship, we do exercises that increase our balance and dexterity so that we become more comfortable when faced with a riding challenge.

A Dharmahorse exercise is to ride with a round cushion on our head to refine our balance – gradually moving up through the gaits as we gain proficiency. We walk, on the ground, with a book on our head first. The soft cushion is used mounted because horses don’t appreciate books falling onto their butts! Some don’t much care for the cushion, either.

You can work on hip control and pelvic tilts by placing that book on a table, hanging over the edge a bit. When you push the book forward with your hip bones, that is the tilt used to secure you in sitting trot or at canter. It is like pushing a swing forward as a child.

If you use one hip to push the book at an angle, you are practicing the aids for canter leads and lateral movements. The main thing to remember is to keep the hips loose and flexible so you have free range of motion. The rider’s seat starts out as interfering, becomes “following” and eventually influences the horse. We must have total control of our hip movements. This actually makes us more secure and we can move from one level, one gait, one path to the next with confidence.

From Yoga to dancing to tight rope walking; anything that increases your strengths (physical, emotional and mental) will expand your comfort zone.

Be bold, be aware and push the boundaries, just a bit!

Categories: Life, Relax | Tags: | Leave a comment

Pathways

Even when it seems like we are treading water – movement is assured in this life. As I have watched several horses pass over to the next life, assisted with a precious spirit I tried to save and listened to the grieving of others whose animals have departed, I feel honored and humbled by the beloved beings I have known

Whether for decades, years or months, the connection to another is deepened by the knowing of each others’ essence and the realization that the veils between this life and the next are thin indeed. I have known horses I will never forget. The special ones who have been rescued from dire conditions and certain death are the most memorable sometimes. The ones who tried valiantly but could not rally against the neglect and injury are the most memorable always.

My beautiful picture

As I look toward the rest of winter and we all retreat a little bit into our personal hibernation of the spirit – using the longer nights and cooler weather to rest a bit more and meditate a little deeper – I can exhale.

So much depends upon the love and awareness we have for our animals. Their lives are literally in our hands and we must do the best we possibly can for them.

Categories: Life, Saving Horses | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Panic

Sometimes waiting is the best of answers. Moderation is the wisest way.

As I wrestled, lately, with thoughts of letting my precious Majic go – the horse who came here with me and started this incarnation of Dharmahorse with me – I felt such despair and sadness. He has helped hundreds of people through the years… helped them learn to ride; helped them overcome fears; helped them feel safe; listened to them and made them laugh…

majic

Majic has been dealing with his mechanical founder for a few years now. He has had great years where he could give rides and gallop in the turn out with Lung Ta. He has had bad times when his metabolism, the weather and the hooves have all seemed to conspire against him. But, he never stops eating; he never stops “smiling”.

The past couple of weeks have been a struggle for him – in cold weather, to boot. We had put down pea gravel for the other foundered rescue (it is really helping her – a 30 year old mare who was a victim of horse tripping). I thought I was being wise when I put Majic in with her (Damaru) and at first the gravel seemed comfortable for him. Then, he lost his footing getting up from a nap as it made him slide and he fell backwards onto his bum, wrenching his muscles.

Back in his old pen with his stall full of shavings, he needed assistance to get up each time from a lie down. To do that, I had to lift him with a longe line around his hind end. Soon, I was in trouble, wrenching the neck and back muscles I had hurt four years ago from lifting my Mum when I cared for her in her last years.

Suddenly, as if he knew I was in trouble, Majic started getting up on his own! His strength is slowly returning… I ordered the Cetyl M supplement that healed my 18 year old dog of hip and back injuries (she lived, mobile, till 21) in the equine formula and can’t wait for its arrival. I am glad I didn’t give up. I am glad I didn’t panic.

A year ago, our precious “Vega” ( a retired Eventer who will be 40 years old next year) was injured when a young hoof trimmer brutalized him for trying to pull a hind hoof away. This brutality consisted of lifting his leg high enough to break ancient bones while fighting with and yelling at him (the most mannered horse I’ve ever known!). Elderly Vega was being trimmed too short and just couldn’t bear it – I yelled “STOP!” but was too late to prevent the damage – by now, I feel sure no bones broke – but we thought for almost 3 months that he wouldn’t survive. Vega was in constant pain, limping on all 4 hooves. We put 4 hoof boots with pads on him. He got pain killers, herbs and homeopathics daily. I cried every night.

6

His body was and is strong from a lifetime of being an athlete – thank goodness. He recovered, pretty much. One hip (the one that was brutalized) still gives him some trouble… and I will never forgive myself for allowing it to happen – but Vega forgives me. And I did not panic while he was healing… I took it one day at a time. So did Vega.

So now, when Vega gallops full tilt in his pen (like tonight as Mark is mixing his chopped hay to soak), I thank all the forces in the Universe for his recovery.

I won’t let the young man touch any of our horses again. And I have come to believe that many barefoot trimming practices just take too much hoof… in an attempt to make hooves “look” a certain way, how the horse feels can be forgotten. A horse should feel better after his hooves are trimmed, not worse. Majic’s founder, way back, was the result of being trimmed WAY too short… and I will forever blame myself for that, too; for allowing it to happen.

And, I’m not criticizing anyone or anything tonight. No one is perfect and we all learn from mistakes and miscalculations. I learn stuff every day! And, if I take a deep breath; consult my “gut”; refuse to panic; remember past foibles; follow my heart and use what I have in my “tool kit” for horse care and self care… I can sleep at night and rise each morning ready to do whatever needs to be done. And, as a Buddhist, follow the “Middle Way”, all things in moderation…

Life is good. No panic needed.

 

Categories: healing, Life, Saving Horses | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The Well of Experiences

Our lives – and those of our horses are filled with experiences. You can think of these as drops like water that fill a “well”. Of a positive or negative nature; these “drops” determine what we expect from current circumstances and experiences!

My beautiful picture

Become Trustworthy
This is the main way in which we can support the trust of our horses. We must be the source of positive experiences in their lives and through repetition and building of the confident, pleasant encounters – we actually “crowd out” the negative memories in time.

This is a Natural Path of simple, mutual respect that brings Harmony to our relationship with Horses.

If your horse has mostly negative experiences in his “Well”, with every new experience he faces, his expectation will be something negative! Only by patiently and consistently adding positive “drops”/experiences, can you overcome the initial response of fear, anger or apprehension that is generated by negativity.

And a being whose experiences have been mostly positive will be open and often eager to face a new experience.

Categories: Horse Training, Life, Saving Horses | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Living in the Past

Happy… and I’m smiling… with apologies to Ian Anderson, I find myself reviewing so much of my life with horses and the lessons they have taught.
311084_267565039922940_7324012_n

As a riding instructor, I often quote old instructors from my own past and even more often, tell the tales of horses (also teachers) from my past experiences.

When working in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, I saw the deep learning that occurred with equine contact and felt it myself, as well. The past might be, at times, a lingering vision of dreams not realized or a small voice drawing one into regret – but it need not be. Just as we choose our focus in the moment, we can choose the things remembered.

I have had riding instructors ask me to dismount and tell me that I had “no idea how to put a horse on the aids”. What I chose at that moment was to learn how to do so!

I have had instructors teach me how to breathe properly; how to understand gravity; how to calm and center myself and how to raise my energy and my vibration. These things have served me well beyond the riding – they have kept me safe in bus stations; helped me find strength when I needed it (when loading hay or changing a tire) and allowed me to feel grace and peace most of the time. I draw these positives from my past.

The horses set examples beyond my expectations year after year by being the greatest friends anyone could have. They always have shown me the energy I was projecting by reflecting it honestly back to me. That has been a valuable gift.

When I talk and teach about the “Well of Experiences”, those drops that have filled it (both positive and negative) actually are subjective in a way. At least for us as humans – we can choose to learn from every experience and therefore make them positive in their end results.

My beautiful picture

Categories: joy, Life, Relax | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond Aggression

In my favorite book, “Shambala, sacred path of the warrior”, Trungpa Rinpoche talks about the true warrior attaining a  state of gentleness. About the Dralas, energy beyond aggression and how our true natures are fearless.

“It is not just an arbitrary idea that the world is good. but it is good because we can experience its goodness.” He says, “Shambala vision is tuning in to our ability to wake ourselves up and recognize that goodness can happen to us. In fact, it is happening already.”

In her book, “Excuse me, your life is waiting”, Lynn Grabhorn says about Joy and Fear:
“When we’re experiencing anything that Joy isn’t, such as fear, worry, guilt or even mild concern, those emotions are sending out low frequency vibrations. Since low frequencies are every bit as magnetic as high frequencies, they’re going to attract only cruddy stuff back to us, meaning anything of that same low frequency that will cause us to feel (and vibrate) as lousy as what we’re sending out”.
While some fears can keep us from driving fast on icy roads or walking down dark alleys at night (and I tend to call those wise discretion…), attaching to any fear by giving it more than a fleeting consideration is to allow its invasion and influence within your very soul.
5-31-2008 9;18;43 AM
Many years ago a teacher told me that horses are only afraid of two things, “Things that
move and things that don’t move”. I was speechless, having not heard it before.
Tonight, I’m thinking about how very clearly we hold ourselves hostage if we connect to fear…
Some fears come from a “what if” dialog about the health and well being of our horses – often generated by drug companies and a medical system that sees through eyes of aggression:
“Attack” dis-ease, Vaccinate to make immunity (the body does have an immune system), use chemistry to rid a body of what’s not wanted, synthesize properties from nature for supplements and medicines without regard for all the other subtle properties that prevent side effects – it is an aggressive system that, on specific instances, can be useful temporarily. But, as a philosophy, the fear based protocols can be devastating.
Energy Beyond Aggression
That’s how I want to be.
Categories: Horse Training, joy, Life | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Find Yourself

Every morning when we wake up, we face ourselves. While our thoughts may be of work to be done, plans to be made or people to please; our first awareness each day is of our own embodiment. I have found that if I wake up to chaos – a jumbled bedroom, a messy bathroom, a kitchen in disarray – my awareness is naturally negative. If we begin each morning defeated by circumstances and our own thoughts, how can we expect to grow and accomplish things?

Simplicity can free you. I had a riding student whose business was teaching people to un-clutter their lives. When offered a brochure, she would read it and hand it back, making a note if necessary in her own little book. She did not even take on, momentarily, the objects that would become clutter in her life. Her car was clean, neat, simple inside and out. I can only imagine how her home would be! Her life, truly, must have been (and is, she is just no longer my student) filled with clarity.
After knowing her, I took a long look at my own “feng shui”, the energy of our home and stable. I found that I had, once again, accumulated tons of things I did not need, but felt compelled to hang onto… just in case. Now, I must quickly say that you have always been able to walk freely throughout my home and see every wall, window, piece of furniture, etc. But, the clutter was there on the surface and, with the picture of my former student’s probable abode in my head, I decided to find myself under the accumulation.

A roll of trash bags in hand, I started at one end of the house and worked my way through… I only partially filled one large trash can, but I had opened up my world and the morning after, I faced a lovely bit of simple neatness. With wonderful dogs sharing our home, I know it will never be spotless – but organized it must remain so I do not lose myself again under the insulation of clutter.

And insulation it can be. If you want to disappear and be “comfortably numb”, nothing works quite as well as just not caring, not cleaning and being a victim. Slipping quietly into the cocoon of the “setting sun world” where you do not have to shower, shave, dress or be productive. It can happen. Then, when your senses return, you see the sadness of it and look to the “great eastern sun”, the sun rising on your world and shining light into all the corners.

You take a deep breath, then another, clearing the “mind” and “soul” clutter with each exhalation. You begin to see everything around you, the trees, the earth, the horses and dogs and the world you create as sacred. Then you see yourself as a genuine, good human being and you find the joy of a day spent in meditation with a pot of tea and a cheese sandwich and it hits you – life is its own answer.

As I walked about the stable yard this evening, I felt a deeper connection to my past. I was remembering past stables, past horses – but not in a regretful or comparing way – I felt a keen sense of it all being linked. As if the energy of all the things I have done, seen and been were just as real and immediate as what I was doing tonight. I felt more real. more valid, more present than I have felt in years. It reminded of my childhood when I would spin head over heels under water in my grandfather’s pool with a swim mask on; churning thousands of bubbles, then release and let myself float to the surface with those bubbles… watching them… being them. In those moments, I felt connected to all the water on the planet. It was as if all water everywhere was dancing with me.

Tonight, I want you to feel deep connections to the important things in your life. I found the clarity and inspiration of my meditation to be my catalyst. It never hurts to relax. It never hurts to just breathe. It is powerful to take a penetrating look directly at yourself and allow that vision to become something awesome.

Categories: Life, Relax, vision | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Forward

20141116_131535-1a

In my home of New Mexico, we have had a lot of winds blowing… really blowing! I have talked too much about this with friends and on social sites and I have realized how powerfully we experience what we focus upon and obsess over! I read a friend’s comment about how she rides her horse in all types of weather so that when they get to a competition (where she has spent a lot of money to participate), he won’t be put off guard by wind or rain or snow or what have you. She is wise.

It all made me think about challenges. We all face them. Something that is overwhelming for one person can be a “piece of cake” for someone else. It is like my friend’s philosophy about riding in all sorts of weather – we are like the horses. The horses that go out in the wind are not bothered by the wind. When I have to cook for a lot of people, I don’t feel stressed because I have cooked for over 150 people…. breakfast, lunch and dinner! (at the organic herb farm commune where I lived years ago). But, if I had to fly a plane, I’d be in trouble…

Challenges strengthen us. I have had to face days of cancelled lessons – therefore no income – and had to make myself see the big picture of lessons to come. To know that there will be more cash flow is an act of faith in the horse business; Faith in the foundation one has built that cannot be broken apart by some bad weather days and students going on holiday; Faith in the hard work that has pressed one forward to a family of horses and humans working together. Trust that the people who also love these Sanctuary horses are aware of what it takes to support them and therefor always help when needed!

There are business people who believe we should not speak of our hardships or concerns – we should keep our clients bathed in the glorious light of our perfection… personally, I am much more inclined to trust someone with some humility than a person who always tells everyone how wonderful she/he is! I believe we are all wonderful. Animals and people – we are all doing the best we can and all come from our “wells of experiences” to act and react in what are totally appropriate ways, considering what we experience.

Want to change something in your own life or your horse’s / dog’s life; something about how you react in situations? Then change those experiences entering the “Well” – like drops of water in the well, each experience gathers and determines what is expected in a new situation. If most of the experiences are negative, you will expect something negative in each new situation. Same thing if they are positives!

I am facing this spring with a new attitude. I am looking for every positive thing to reinforce in my experiences. I can train myself to be happy, unconcerned and strong just as my friend trains her horse to be dependable in every type of weather. She and her horse face these things together. I can face my life with my body, mind and spirit. Even when we feel alone, we never really are. We have our animals and each other and each day that comes to appreciate this fact. We can cherish what is, revel in what was and dream what will be. And, when we least expect it, miracles occur!

wedding7

Spring forward! Into life and spring forward with your dreams. Mine are simple because I like simple. I will “train” myself to expect the positives.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.