Notes on filling the big void left by a dysfunctional relationship (or two)
That's Tommy, above. The lower photo. Tommy's a rather advanced age for a horse at 28, but healthy, hale and hearty, like I'm trying to be. I met Tommy the other day when I returned to Field of Dreams Norwegian horse farm a few miles west of my house on the main drag out of town.
I'd approached those folks a long time ago about possible leases, long before I blew out my body with all the surgeries. I tabled that bit of joy until this week, when it was clear that I could begin, albeit tentatively, riding again.
I shouldn't be riding the stable bad boys right now with three fresh screws in my left hip. I can, however, ride an older, well-mannered horse who is less likely to toss me on my arse on the first go-around the corral. A lesson horse for rookies right now is perfect.
I'm waiting to hear if the owner will lease him to me.
The Universe provides when the student is ready.
I've missed working on animals. The pleasure I get from massaging them is enormous, as healing as a hug.
After talking with the stable owners, I got their permission to enter the pasture where Tommy and his mate Marvin, an even older Arab, were munching hay.
I've worked on large animals for years. I've learned how to respect their body language, and search for that one spot which makes a horse's upper lip quiver in pleasure. Different on every animal. Many have several of those spots.
I found Tommy's: chest and butt. He was very happy to have me work on him while he searched out the sweetest, greenest shoots of his hay. Every so often he would swing his great head around and poke me with his nose. Sometimes a horse will nibble or even bite me, which isn't a sign of aggression, but of mutual grooming.
Those bruises are compliments, the horse's way of saying "that feels terrific. Here, lemme return the favor."
Soon, Tommy was putting his head into my chest while I scrubbed his face.
Then I walked away, faced him, and waited. After a few seconds, Tommy walked up to me and put his head against my chest.
That's the moment, right there.
I nearly wept.
When an animal accepts you like that, it's just wonderful. They've chosen to allow you to touch them; they like what you do.
Penny Nelson knows this about her beloved animals, too. As she and her husband scout for a new home, and places to re-home their fur babies, there is likely great sadness in knowing that some of those moments will be memories, not future experiences. At least as farm owners.
It's been way too long since I had a stable home where eventually, the owners ask me to work on their animals. Where I could enter a corral and end up with a bevy of beauties surrounding me, waiting their turns.
I am filling the void left by releasing two toxic relationships, endless time spent with folks in white coats, and returning to an active life. It's been a long time coming, and worth every bit of the wait.
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