Horse Tales…Installment #1

Something Good is Going to Happen to You” was the theme song for the famous American evangelist, Oral Roberts. I first heard it as a child and always liked the sweet melody but I especially liked being told that something good was going to happen to me! I had a tough time growing up and eventually became the kind of person who consistently expected and so, looked for something bad to overtake my life. I am sure you know someone like this. That someone might even be you!. It’s not fun, just a terrible burden and invites self-fulfilling prophecies, so if you know someone like this, cut them some slack! Life is not fun when you dwell on disaster, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you are this way, you know that this is true, so be gentle with yourself about it even as you perhaps consider changing this way of thinking. I was that way for much of my life. I finally got free! Here is how it happened.

I started to think: I don’t know the future, so I don’t know whether something good or something bad is on the horizon, it could go either way. Since this is true, I reasoned, it would not be foolish to believe that something good is coming, a happy ending or a dream come true, because that would be no more or no less possible according to the information I have at the time. This new way to look at life helped me lighten up, it started working a small crack into my belief system that got wider and wider until Light was able to filter in! Now I not only believe that many, if not most things will turn out just fine, but I believe it enough to share it with you! I believe that this way of looking at the future is healthier and even possibly more statistically accurate than gloom and doom predictions. The bumper sticker my daughter brought Charlie in the hospital when he had his aortic abdominal aneurysm rupture comes to mind, a delightful reverse of that tired old Murphy’s Law…”Anything that CAN go right WILL.” I believe it because the more I believe it, the more it plays out in my life. Not to say my life is any more perfectly joyous than that of anyone else. Since 2013, my adventures with horses have given me plenty of trouble…and many opportunities to follow my heart!

In January of that year, my neighbor across the road called me up to invite me to come over and meet a rescued horse who was coming to her farm in a few days. She casually suggested that I might enjoy grooming her and relish the chance to be around a horse again. It had been several years since I last had horses and I was dying to be around them again. But then I saw her. A big, gaunt animal, all ribs and skin. Very tall, (16 hands) very thin, and oh! those eyes! She wore the most haunted expression I had ever seen on a horse. And she was, in a word, wild. But it was great to breathe that horse smell, stroke her hair, sing to her, brush, buff and polish a horse once more! In a short while I had her giving me her feet to be cleaned, leading properly and standing still to be groomed…no small feats with this girl! But no way did I want her! At my age and stage, all I wanted was a quiet horse I could trail ride on. She was a maniac and was already over 20 years old and not trained to ride. Not only her nasty temperament, poor feet, and the fact that she seemed to be completely green made her undesirable as the riding horse for my old age, oh no, not hardly! This mare had a serious medical problem. She needed sinus surgery, ASAP! No doubt that had much to do with her disposition. She was really sick with an infected sinus that dripped green mucous and smelled horrific! I continued to play with her and teach her things she would need to know to be a good horse for a good home…with someone else! But the day came when a young girl was coming to see her and would likely take her. I learned that she had only owned one horse in her life and it had recently died of old age. Her mother was not a horse person. I began to worry. I couldn’t get this scenario out of my mind: the mare throws the kid into next week and somebody takes a 2×4 to the horse and bashes her head in…and/or sells her to the meat man. This thought persisted and would not go away. Looking back, I believe that the Holy Spirit laid this horse’s predicament upon my soul. My heart would not let me walk away! My heart asked me hard questions like “Do you really love horses or just love to ride them? “ So I ended up with the horse. I named her Cincala (Cala…pronounced “cha-‘ la”), a Lakota word meaning ‘little girl’. At that point I still had hopes of one day riding her. This was not to be. 8 months later, her first 15 minutes with a trainer doing routine groundwork yielded 5 days of lameness. She had made it through the tricky surgery, yet struggled afterward because she was so very weak. She had come to the rescue nearly starved to death, most likely because she was in too much pain to tolerate chewing, and a few days after the operation her surgical site had become infected. Her white count was 3x that of a normal horse! It looked like we would lose her after all. She pulled through. She even thrived. Today she is Charlies baby and her personality has changed drastically. She is learning to trust. Still, although I was glad her life was spared, that did not leave me with a horse to ride. I wouldn’t have to wait long.

I soon found another horse, a Paint mare who was born in the barn of the woman who had owned her for all her15 years. She was so perfect when I met and rode her at her old home. She was perfect back at the boarding barn where I boarded Cala…yes, she was perfect…for 3 days. Then, I believe she figured out that her mom was NOT coming back, that most likely, I had stolen her, and therefore was a baaaad person! That was when she obviously made up her mind that she was going to give me a real run for my money! And she did. During the last of many efforts to kill me, my head slammed to the ground (from a dead run) just a few inches from a stout tree! But my ride was not yet over, because my boot was hung in the stirrup iron! She dragged me about 80 yards, at a walk, thank God. My girth, (the wide belt that holds the saddle on) had given way and the saddle had rolled to her side, slinging me off when I asked her to turn. I must say, she did a very nice sharp turn, quite athletic, actually. I made a call the next day. She went to live with a horse trainer and his wife. I understand that she is doing fine and to my knowledge, has killed no-one. Two days later the friend who had told me about her called to let me know that she had found me “the perfect horse”. And he was. Charles was the equine love of my life, my 4-Legged son. A former show horse, Charles was a massive, 16 hand, solid black Tennessee Walker cross, and a true gentleman. He and Cala fell madly in love at first sight. It was the sweetest thing! But Charles had terrible feet, encrusted with the worst case of thrush I had ever seen, so I decided to send him back (he was with me on trial). That morning as I cleaned his stall, he backed into a corner and fixed me with the saddest, most sombre look, his big dark eyes beseeching me. He seemed to say “Please. Don’t send me back there. Let me stay.” The place he had come from was chest high in grass, a forgotten back pasture and it was obvious that he had been neglected to the point of abuse. Now, I have never claimed to be an animal communicator, but I know that he spoke to me. I called Charlie on my cellphone right then. “Honey, I…uh… changed my mind about this horse…you’re gonna think I’ve gone nuts, but….. I want to keep him”. I was getting to be an even quicker listener , this time that my heart spoke to me about a horse. Charles was wonderful. In the 2 years he was with us I was able to ride him for only about 6 months, due to the sad condition of his feet and the serious neurological condition called EPM that eventually took his life, but every single ride was a joy ride on this beautifully trained animal with the soul of a champion! Charles had to be euthanized last year on Father’s Day. That was when he was imminently dying from the EPM, No doubt, he contracted it before he came to me from that equally neglected pasture he lived on because horses get it from eating grass contaminated by the feces of certain wild animals. The tall grass provided them the ideal conditions in which to thrive. After 2 full courses of treatment, a blood titer showed that his condition was actually getting worse. One day I got a call from Deana, the owner of the boarding barn where he lived, that my beloved Charles had begun to struggle to breathe. After four days of increasingly strong meds and showers every 2 hours to give him some relief, my vet sadly agreed with my heart-wrenching decision to let him go back to our Creator.

I know you were expecting a sermon and may have wondered why instead, I have so painstakingly related this rambling tale of my horses. I share this as an example of how things can look so bleak, so hopeless, so frustrating. Three horses…one disappointment, one nightmare and one heartache! But my love of horses was not to be denied, and once again, I yielded to what my heart was telling me when I got on FaceBook late one night and saw a picture of a little mare named Lois Lane. My heart insisted that I try again…my heart pleaded with me to trust just once more. This ‘just once more’ was the turning point, and my payback was on it’s way.

Lois Lane had been rescued by HERD, a local organization that purchases horses from the local slaughter pens from whence horses are doomed to travel 1800 miles to Mexico without food or water, crammed into trailers alongside sick, injured, old and terrified horses. When they arrive they will perish at the hands of butchers who slice them up with machetes even before they are dead. Many, like Lois, are not sick, old or injured, they are simply unwanted. And yet, this thrown-away horse is the horse I have been waiting for all my life to be the horse to ride me into my old age; smart, eager to please, gentle, and, most remarkably, willing to learn to trust again. As I was riding her the other day I began to think about this. Lois was a payback, a payback from The Universe, a payback from God for my love of horses and respect for their lives, despite what they could or could not do for me. Lois is a gift from God, a payback. Now, many of us are taught that we, as Christians, are not supposed to want or need any payback, but since when are Christians required not to be human, with human needs, desires and dreams? If you have struggled to follow your heart, you might have a payback coming too! This is why I am writing this, to share with you that even though it looked like I would never have a horse that would not kill me, or that was sound enough to ride, it happened! I’m still alive and riding my sweet Lois nearly every day! I want you to know that if you are in a situation where you don’t know whether or not you have the heart to try again, or the ability to trust once more that your dreams can come true, you too can listen to your heart and go with what it tells you! With each of these horses, my heart told me what to do and I did it. Charlie and I were often laughed at (and looked down upon) by other horse people for throwing away money, love, and time on “useless horses”, but we didn’t care what they said. What our hearts are saying has always drowned those harsh voices out!

Neither must you care what others say. Forget them! Listen to your heart. The Christ Spirit lives in there! Do good. Give love. Live from the heart. God will take care of you…just like God delivered Lois Lane out of the hands of the butchers and straight into mine…right into my hopeful heart! God wants to give you the desires of your heart too! Whatever you do, listen to your heart and keep it open. Trust again. Love again. Try again. Yes, of course there is a price to be paid in the world for following your heart…just look at Jesus! But the price you will pay for following your heart, for living the Love that God Is, is nothing compared to the joy you will receive when you follow your heart. You will get your payback, because love…real Love, is never in vain! How could it be? After all, God IS love!

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

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