Horses & Journey

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/

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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Domino & Journey (right), playing around while warming up.

~ J

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Time got away from me, again!

Well I’ve done it now, even more behind on my posts and getting pictures up! The last couple of months have just flown by in a whirlwind. For whatever reason the normal ‘flow’ that I write with has been off. Instead it feels more like slogging through mud to get the words from had to form. Please bear with me and my fumbling ways lately..

February and March was a hectic nonstop adventure. After only being back in Seattle from Alaska for about 2 weeks, I flew into Portland Maine where my most excellent friend Tracy picked me up. I stayed with Tracy, her husband and their cute dog Bella for a few days. A nice sized snow storm hit Maine the day I flew in, so it was very pretty and white. Sadly both Tracy and I were recovering from head  colds and wanted to be as healthy as possible for our upcoming Tracker class in a few days, so there was no snowshoeing to be had *sigh*. On March 3rd Tracy and I drove her car to Newark New Jersey to meet up with fellow friends Linda and Afsoon at a hotel (and the last warm bed) before we headed to the camp in the morning. The 4 of us had a blast and probably drove the rest of the hotel nuts…

Tracker class was AMAZING. I simply cannot sum it up in a concise way, so you will have to wait (probably awhile) for the in-depth version. It was chilly and damp until the snow storm hit (I know right it snows everywhere I go!) and then it was the bone deep damp cold that sneaks in and never leaves. Whew it was a test for most of us to focus while being uncomfortable. I like to think I passed..but I won’t claim to have. The four of us ladies became even closer than we already were (didn’t seem possible..), reunited with fellow Tracker friends from past classes and snagged some new ones into our group of insane laughter. Was truly a life changing class and I so incredibly glad I pushed through the uncomfortable emotions (of doing the class on the anniversary week of Mom’s death) to be present for it.

Once Tracker was out, I took a train to D.C and stayed with my Aunt Cathie and her family. It was nice to see all my little cousins (some of whom aren’t so little anymore). I stay a night and most of two days before catching a night bus to Knoxville. Sounds sketchy I know..but it was very clean, the nicest bus I’ve EVER ridden and it was a double-decker (which I thought was cool). I arrived first thing in the morning and Best Friend Lorien picked me up. I visited with the family, spent as much time as I could with the younger kids. Again another post (with pictures). It was a fairly nice visit and I didn’t seem to piss to many people off with my strange ways… Okay maybe a few. I did get rather sick the 2nd or 3rd day I was there (school kid germs..) and that made everything much more difficult.

I flew back to Seattle (River!) March 20th. Recovered from the travels (and being sick). Tracked down shoes and a dress for a friend’s wedding here in Seattle. Was a really fun sweet wedding for the both of them, same day I was back on plane to Alaska where I am now. Doing dog stuff, making some money (I have to be able to eat..) and yep you guessed it – arrived just in time for a nice snow storm. We had to hike back to the house the roads were so damn bad with ice.  River is with me this time and very much enjoying the trip. We will be in Alaska for most of April.

~Joannie