I kind of knew the guy. He paid me a few times to bring horses to the suburbs to surprise his kids, and since this was my greatest ever fantasy as a child which never happened, I did it happily.
Then when he called out of the blue one day and said:
“I just bought two horses on impulse for my kids, can I board them at your place, or I can keep them here at this cow farm?”
I have to admit I was silenced.
DISCLAIMER: I take responsibility right here at this moment in time to tell you that asking questions is very very important – and i didn’t ask enough of them – or any. What a moron.
I should have asked simple horsie related questions like…
“Have the horses ever been touched by human hands” – to which he would have replied had he known anything at all:
“No indeedy. The baby has never been handled and she is a massive 900 pound unruly 18 month old and the mother is a ridiculously fat and hard headed, unsaddled but nicely tempered brood mare who WILL run you over if you are not intending the same direction that she is”.
Yes indeedy, this is what he would have said if he hadn’t just bought two horses he had no clue about from a gambling debt. Yup.
Being the functional deniar that I am – my mind quickly “made up” an entire fictitious scenario; that he had of course, like any reasonable person would have, bought his “two inexperienced head strong kids’ – a couple of old horses that were heading off to meat.
HOW do I make this crap up?? I may never know but it’s what makes me a good writer I figure.
The fact is I did not ask this or any other question.
Why not?? You may ask yourself.
Well, frankly I do too.
Meanwhile, we arrive at the farm, meet up with “the guy” who escorts me into a 100 year old cow-barn/large equipment storage facility, scary old pace with ghosts and dead things. There in the back of the low roofed barn, complete with foot deep (horse leg breaking) gutters for mucking cow stalls, is a stall containing two horses – we;ll really, four beady eyes staring at me from the dark abyss.
And they opened the door.
The muck in the stall was to my knees, and I’m quite sure neither of them had seen the light of day for – well, maybe a very long time.
They were two black matted (wasn’t quite sure at the time) dirty horses. One pure black it seemed and the mother with a thin strip and snip on her face. The baby clung behind the mother, trying to scare us off with her bared teeth.
The mother, who they called Molly, was immediately friendly, and made eye contact with me on her own.
It was then I discovered the baby had barely been handled and never haltered. She was also 900 pounds, massive and nearly 2 years old. This was going to be a challenge but there was no way i was leaving them at the well intentioned cow farmer’s barn with the coming -40 weather.
Molly got on the trailer without a hitch, no problem at all, leaving her baby frantic and running rampantly through the low roofed scary tractor sharp tools and leg threatening place. Luckily we were all pretty experienced “farm folk”, and knew to arm ourselves with plywood and to create a human tunnel the baby would follow onto the trailer where her mother waited amazingly patiently. The baby’s name was Summer.
Summer was still nursing on Molly at nearly two years old and had barely ever had contact with humans. Her feet had never been touched by a blacksmith and were looking perilously long, but she could not even be haltered yet, never mind willing to give her feet – an ultimate sign of trust in a horse. We were unable to handle Summer in any way really for about the first six months. We had to handle her “by proxy” through Molly. Coming off the trailer we learned early that Molly was our ticket to Summer. As long as Molly was with us, Summer would follow, one person hailing her energy from behind, we learned to stay out of harms way and eventually got her into the barn, frantically waving our arms to get her into a stall without her mother. We could see poor Molly needed a break from this incessantly needy horse.
We handled Summer much in this way for about a year. It took her fully six months to stop lunging across fence lines with her teeth bared, in a protective stance with her mother as a barricade against humanity. Eventually she saw Molly enjoying the interactions with people and began to let us touch her head for brief periods. A young astute horse girl who was staying here began to try and get Summer’s halter on. It was an ever unfolding drama here at the farm, the closer we got , every inch felt like a victory. It became a source of amusement to watch Molly look bored with it all, always sweet and consistent in her behaviour. I cried the first day the blacksmith was able to finally halter and handle summer just enough to do her front feet. We were lucky enough to have someone working with us who understood her limitations and didn’t push her past what she was able to accept, which was greatly appreciated.
Good experiences prevailed for the horses and eventually Summer and Molly began working with us as therapy horses in the WillowCreek Stables retreat. we would ask attendees to choose a horse that resonated with them, and often there would have to be straws drawn especially over molly as she tended to draw people who wanted a peaceful experience.
Sometimes summer would attract someone I felt had “too much energy” for her. She was quite a magnet for mirror energy and two like her created an explosive experience I had come to understand. She needed someone very quiet, even shy, and was excellent at bringing people out of themselves and making them smile.
We knew eventually we would have to separate mother and baby – but I guess due to the timing of my own birth mother’s dying and issues that adopted people sometimes have, I was completely tortured by the idea of separating a mother and baby. I knew it wasn’t or healthy, so i put Summer in the big field with the larger herd, and Molly stayed with Master, my old horse, who became obsessively attached to her. I mean, candlelight, wine, whinnying – the whole shebang – obsessed.
Somehow though, i felt that summer and molly were so brilliant, and so amazing and awesome and beautiful that me using them merely as companion animals was a waste of good talent and strength and really, unparalleled personalities. I was really beaten down for about a year and a half, while recuperating and adapting to severe traumatic loss of which I had had a bunch in a small period of time, and i was simply unable to give the energy to the horses I felt they needed.
Three years after they were abandoned at our farm, a man came to inquire after buying some horses that were potentially good carriage horses. After a long conversation with him about his lifetime of experience with this particular breed of horse, and after months and years of feeling like i was unable to hold up all of the responsibilities of my farm any longer, I gave away Molly and her baby summer to the man, hoping he was the one who could “better fulfill their potential”.
I thought they would be better with him
I thought he could make them happier
I thought I thought…blah blah blah…
I was wrong.
I stayed quiet through this time and made choices, to keep reading, learning and breathing. I focused on music, and the future. My children and grandchildren. i focused on philosophy and understanding that I am not the only one who is going through a shift in personal understanding. That everything that happens, although it feels like so much – is not personal.
He said i could come and visit and see how they were whenever I wanted to, but I didn’t go often after I delivered the horses to his house. That day I stayed for as long as I could but i didn’t like to visit, it made me feel sad to think of them, but I figured over time this would pass.
When I would arrive at his farm it was as if Molly could feel me comic- always running like lightening to greet my arrival from wherever she is int he field or shelter. I felt wonderful to now she was far from forgetting me.
In reality, I think Summer is very lucky to have had her mother escort her to her new home – most horses are separated much younger and with much less care. Yet, three mornings ago, I woke with an undeniable need to have my horse Molly back. I have never done this, in all of the years I have worked and re homed dozens of horses – I have never had this heart breaking feeling even after three months. Thank God the man understood and was willing without a fight or argument. She has been fine and well cared for. I have visited her, but there is something that is missing, and frankly it was me and her together.
Molly and I belong together as sure as anything. I don’t feel that she “belongs to me” – more that we belong together. I think that that is real love.
And Molly, my sweet girl, may or may never become a great saddle horse, may or may not become a great harnessing horse – she actually may never have a ‘function” at all – other than to be loved by all of us. That sounds like a pretty good deal any way you slice it.
I am filled with so much gratitude – A long list…
For my husband not telling me i am insane six days before leaving for Australia again – to bring Molly back.
For him even calling the man for me when i was too worried of just crying like a crazy person on the phone.
My nephew for his willingness to add another to the long list of things to take care of on the farm while i am away.
I thank God for the lessons of the past few months that showed me that true value is in how other beings show you who you are, how they support your growth by presenting you with challenges and how their mere presence in your life can shift an change your understanding of the meaning of absolutely everything you thought you knew.
Tomorrow morning Molly comes home. My heart is singing 🙂