Posts Tagged With: horsewomen

Courage, Willow

That’s what I often think, while remembering the scene in the movie, “Willow”. He is a tiny being standing before a frightening situation. He whispers to himself, “Courage, Willow”. Life as a horse trainer and instructor requires courage. Life as anything these days requires courage! I think perhaps it always has.

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Courage for me, as a stablewoman, means taking on another horse whose owner lost her job. This is a horse I rode and I like and who will fit into our program… yet, it takes courage to decide to be responsible for one more. I think it’s because I take these responsibilities seriously. Horses are my family and each family member is not a possession, but a friend. It takes courage to have so many friends!

I see courage all around me. I had a student who had suffered a severe head injury in a car accident (and had been in a coma). She used her riding to regain motor skills and balance. She would call herself “wimp”, “chicken” and so on. I thought she was the bravest woman I knew. I know a man who broke his hip and was up, back to work in weeks and facing limited funds with an animal family to care for. He found a beautiful place to live where he could keep his horses and dogs and, by staying courageous, created a new, happy life.

I know a man in his 80’s who cares for a large herd of horses and runs an organization almost single handed. He has had a shattered ankle, broken hip (and replacement), a heart attack, had a branch imbedded into his eye, the list is long of his “battles” and yet, he is still the strongest man I know. I can’t keep up with him loading hay! Courage is his mantra, I believe.

And I watch friends who rise every day to care for an elderly parent or an infirm child or who go to school while holding down a job (or two!). They practice great courage daily.

I stand in front of a hay barn whose roofing has blown away and just tie the tarps tighter for the predicted wind. I dig the post holes for railroad ties for the fence to hold the new horse that is coming and soak in epsom salt baths each night. I remember looking at my shriveled arm as a child, after a devastating injury, and proclaiming that I would still ride. “Courage, Willow.”

We cannot presume to judge the courage of another. It may take more of it for someone to drive at night or to climb a ladder than it does for others to ride a bull. We are all facing different battles, different paths. But we all know what courage is! We all conjure it up on a daily basis and we need to pat ourselves on the back every time we take a deep breath and push onward.

 

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Love is Perfect Kindness

I’ve written about my life in the shack that I held together with tarps and duct tape – I’ve written about many aspects of my different, strange abodes through the years… Tonight, I had a profound flash of memory as I was fixing my supper. With Quorn (a meat substitute, protein source) cooking in my Wok, standing over the new black gas oven gifted to me by a friend whom I adore, I remembered the shack. It was a constructed “room” that I set up on my land, then brought a battered trailer to attach to it (not very successfully!). I had electricity in half of my home, water to a kitchen sink, bathroom sink and tub. I had no furnace, no water heater, no stove and no real roof between the structures (I use that term loosely).

I used a stick style, stable bucket heater to heat water in, yes, a bucket to take, yes, bucket baths… squatting in my tub and pouring the hot water over me with a ladle. You can get really clean, even wash your hair properly with one bucket full of water if you plan particularly well.

And with a few working outlets, I kept an oil filled radiator space heater going in the bedroom and one in the bathroom during winter. In summer, I installed an air conditioner in the bedroom with it sitting on a T post on the outside of the window, held in place with, well, duct tape. In winter, water would freeze on the table in the kitchen and in the pipes. I had to keep a tiny trickle going on the below zero nights (they were awful and scary). All during this time, I had my 4 splendid horses who had worked Equine Assisted Psychotherapy with me living just below my “house” in large pens I had built with an acre of turn out. I also had 3 dogs, one of which was my sweet, 20 year old Basil who is still with me today.

I held tarps on the gap between the “structures” with bricks, duct tape and roofing tar – I was up on the roof after every wind storm which meant at least twice a week. I lived without a human with me – alone I was not, because of my animals. And, I lived out at the end of a road in the high desert with few neighbors. It took courage. Stablewoman type courage.

I remember at night, returning from outside lessons or walking around the land, looking at the warm glow from distant neighbors’ windows. I remember crying, wishing for better for my family and myself. I remember cooking in the electric Wok. I remember cooking Quorn each evening and placing it on a salad, taking it to the bedroom to eat in the warmth or in the cool.

 

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I remember that bedroom was covered with futon mattresses on the floor where all my dogs and I slept and how I kept blankets on them at night, moving across the futon pads to pull covers up on little beings sound asleep… depending on me. I remember so much and I thank all my lucky stars for that experience AND for my life now. A life now that is better and yet, the same, because I am still cooking the same meal, loving different horses and dogs (and still loving Basil!) in the same deep ways and I remain totally grateful and full of courage. I’m a stable woman.

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Days end

Such a long day for us today. Starting with a very good lesson on balance and posting the trot with a student on sassy Hank, it ends now, 12 hours later with feeding the herd in the soft evening light. I feel the Autumn. The day itself was spent enlarging the small arena here. It started as a round pen, jumbled together with what materials I could afford at the time.

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The round pen started out where my Mother’s mobile home now sits. It was relatively portable, so we moved it. The new location was smaller, so the pen became so, as well. After a year and a half, it felt like it was closing in on us! We have a big turnout / arena area, but often need two places to work at the same time.

So today, after having started the new enlargement of the little arena last week; my working student and her Mom and Dad arrived early and stayed late as we all put up fence. I devoured homemade, fresh, soft pretzel rolls brought by said Mom and kept an eye on my Mom who needs attention and help throughout the day and night.

Last night, I had run down to Lowes to get landscape timbers for posts and 2X3 inch planks for the fence rails. Having worked constantly through the day since 6:30 AM, I treated myself to coffee and an omelette at IHOP. It was already dark outside, so I relaxed at my brightly lit, tiny booth and watched the servers go back and forth… their feet work hard, too. The coffee carafes were copper colored and reflected the lights from above in curving lines that sparkled. I tried to eat slowly mindfully, then drove down the rest of the hill for lumber.

Night time can be strange. The store felt huge and hollow, the Ladies’ room was downright eery as I fished for my little flashlight (just in case the lights would go out) for a sense of safety. I needed two big lumber carts, had to go from one end to the totally opposite end of the store to gather materials, constantly adding up the prices in my head. I did well. I spent only what I had allowed myself and it turned out today, I had exactly enough with 4 poles left over to make cavaletti!

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Things here are not posh. We don’t really do posh. I’m lucky to keep my office and the adjoining bathroom clean for clients and friends to use. I’m not bad, just not particularly scrubbed most of the time! With the herd of 6 horses, now 3 dogs and my Mom to care for, I live a sometimes cluttered life. But no one suffers. That is a fact.

And now, we have a bigger small arena. I’m smiling a lot tonight. After the weekend lessons, I’ll be able to pay the hoof trimmer and buy white paint from Tractor Supply to paint the new arena fence.

Look for happiness at the end of each day. Expect joy at the beginning of each day. Touch every life you can with love. That is the way of the stablewomen.

Katharine.

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The Well of Experiences

Your horse’s experiences are like drops of water in a vessel. If his well is filled with mostly positive experiences, he will expect positive things in new situations. If his well is filled with negative “drops” – negative experiences, he will expect negative things in new situations. Just as you can over fill a vessel with drops of water, replacing what was held within it; you can also add positive “drops” to your horse’s “well” until the negatives have been replaced. Unfortunately, negative experiences are also drops in his well of experiences and even the most positively, lovingly handled horse can be changed by brutality. Be fully aware always of the types of signals you give to your horse.Image

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