Some of you may be familiar with my relationship to horses, but others hardly at all since I do not talk about them or write on here of them all that much. Leaving the horses was one of the harder things I’ve done in my life. To me, they are not pets or animals, they are not something to ‘have fun’ with, they aren’t pasture ornaments or a status symbol. The words ‘friends’, ‘family’ and ‘mentors’ could be loosely used to describe how I feel about them.
All my life I struggled with fitting in, feeling isolated from people (not because there was no one there, but because I couldn’t be myself with most people) and feeling alone. Particularly as a child and teen, the only friends who I could be myself with were my horses. I would take whatever book I was reading on a nice day and sit upon the round bales (large rolled bales of hay that usually stand about 4 feet tall and wide enough to lounge on) in the middle of the pasture, where I would of course be surrounded by the horses eating their hay for large periods of time. If I was upset, I would go and tell my horses. If I needed to get away, I would just sit on my mare Domino in the pasture. If I just wanted to run away altogether, I would take her off the farm for a run – just the two of us. Sometimes we would be gone half the day.
I never felt alone, I never felt isolated or misunderstood when I was with one of my horses. Many of you will probably scoff at this next statement, but the horses talk back to people who know how to listen.
It wasn’t until my teen years that I realized it wasn’t just me who the horses helped on such a deep level. As some of you may be aware, they use horses in therapy for Autistic children/adults, trauma survivors, and so much more. Corporations will send employees to a seminar on leadership where all they do is work with horses. So when I say that my horses are some of my best friends and mentors, I am not talking as a little girl who only has eyes for her pets; I am talking about the few beings on the planet who have always been able to anchor me to this world, regardless of the amount of shit it throws at me.
Obviously I am a fan of all animals and horses, but not all horses are able to or will interact with humans on this level. My horses ended up with me for a variety of reasons, and were very cut out to work with people in these ways. So when I had to sell/give away many of them, it was a horrific process of deciding who would stay with me, and who would go on to their next home. None of them wanted to leave. Some of them were in very poor shape, and none were getting any attention and only the most minimum care (this was in the first year after Mom was killed). Yet not one wanted to leave the farm, the family or me. All of my horses handled very well, so when I say that they refused to get into trailers of their new owners, you should understand this was them knowing and understanding what was about to happen.
The horses I did decided to do my damnedest to keep were: Domino, my grey Arab/mix mare who I had the longest; Journey, my black grade Quarter Horse who I had only bought the year before, but with whom I knew we were to do great things; and Mikka, my Mother’s Lipizzaner filly. I had one other young mare out on long term lease, Juniper. To the rest, I said goodbye. There are no words for what it was like then, and now over 3 years later I can still barely talk about it. If you are curious, I wrote just once about it a while ago. https://lifeofjourney.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/the-horses/
Myself with Journey (left, black) & Domino on the Solstice, 2010.
Juniper ended up coming back to me over a year ago, when the lady who took her on an extended lease — as part of the deal where she got my stud colt Cohete, who is worth thousands of dollars — went back on our agreement. Maybe I’ll explain another time, but since I have neither money nor resources, I cannot get him back – just another scar that doesn’t fade. So these four mares: Domino, Journey, Mikka and Juniper, are the ones I am trying to find a place for, where we can all live and do our work with other people who would like to learn the skills of the Horse. This Summer is when I will put the plan into action (hopefully).
While I was at the farm in March (2013), I was able to spend a little time with the girls as well as ride. I kept getting the message from them and particularly Journey that while they were content to wait for me, the girls were very excited to begin the next part of our lives together.
Journey, early on when she first arrived to the farm. Here she is in her full winter coat.
Now the reason for all of this background and explanation is two-fold: one, to update everyone on how serious I am about the horses you’ve barely heard anything about, and two; to give you understanding of why I now feel the way I do upon learning that my black mare Journey died a few days ago. My family doesn’t know why, their only guesses were lightning from all the storms that they had, or that she was a victim of livestock shootings in the area. Both are just senseless.
Journey was around 10 years old (peak age for horses) and healthy. She was in good condition when I saw her in March, and very much full of life. I had even started telling a few close friends that she would be the one they would work with when they came to learn once we were settled.
Journey after a hard days work.
I have a lot of thoughts rattling in my head, most of which are angry and bitter at the moment – so I won’t share them. I may or may not write more about Journey on the blog. She was very special to me and to my mare Domino. Journey and Domino were inseparable, and always loved to work together. I had visions of them growing old and cranky like two peas in a pod, dying within days apart so that they could always run together.
Domino & Journey (right), playing around while warming up.