November 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
This afternoon I said farewell to a beautiful soul and treasured friend Honey. She came into my life on August 21 last year, the birthday present I had ached for since I was 5. In the time I have had the privilege to be her carer on earth, she has blessed my life and my family with such lessons of trust and true companionship. Her wise ways and gentle nature initiated me into caring for all horses with softness and courage, and she stretched my heart wide so that she might reside in there for an eternity.
She was a rescue and it is a profound honour to know that this last year of her precious life has been, I believe, the best one – a life in which she has been able to run free and heal all the wounds her previous life seemed to constantly whisper to us.
But the damaged knee has been the one thing that has continued to cause her pain that she has asked to be free from and today we have knelt beside her and let her go to the field of dreams.
A gentle nuzzle, a soft sleep and an honoured life that has shaped me in ways I am only now beginning to realise. Farewell my equine friend.
Such heartfelt thanks to all those who have been there as we have lived and loved with her. Kim, Lio, Candy, Jazz, Jade, Mark, Kirriley and so many others.
Honey, you were a deeply loved member of our family – Tex, Hannah, Jonah and me. We will hold your spirit in our hearts forever. RIP.
September 24, 2015 § Leave a comment
July 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s been so many months since I last posted yet the words have not been absent, they have simply taken a form not yet known. All this, in among life and all that claims me yet the enduring presence of Honey in my life has been an umbilical cord to that which is rich and keeps me real.
So as the bite of winter can no longer be ignored and the paddocks turn to slippery boot-sucking obstacle courses, there is still joy in going to see my Honey. Yesterday she emerged from a stand of trees to my call, coming to me as two lovers meet, waking with me, not simply following, all the way to the gate.
Our one year anniversary of being in each others life is approaching – next month as winter takes a second wind, we will continue to stand in each others presence and I will run my hand up her neck deep within her cosy rugs to warm my fingers where her mane meets the rise of her withers. It’s like tucking in, like sharing the essential need for warmth unites us just a little more. And as I snuggle in my bed some nights with wind howling and snow forecast on the mountain, I want to go to her to check she is ok. But her message to me is clear, ‘I am fine, I am animal. I am suited for this natural change in the seasons’. And in this she reminds me of the same capacity for adaptation I have. Because I have shunned winter in the past, hunched my shoulders against the discomfort of cold that then causes my back to ache for months on end. I have been given a gift this winter because Honey has drawn me out of the confines of my isolation from nature to be in the world more. And in this I find a new relationship to my wildness, to the heat of my own body and its resilience.
Honey is happy. Honey is not the depressed mare I first loved. She has come through a tunnel from old life to new, enveloped in love and willing to put past hurts aside and start over with me. For her, for this I am ever grateful. She looks well, she is well, her spirit has slowly replied to the love I could not hold back from her.
And she rewards me every time I see her. I recognise how that my intense need to ride away is not to appease some adventure seeking part of myself, it is simply a call to my wildness, to be in nature and limitless. This is Honey’s gift to me now as chaperone and shamaness of a freer me.
July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
Over the past two months Honey and I have been healing each other with the help of some very special healers. We have held mirrors to each other and found so many ways our bodies have held the same trauma and manifested the same symptoms. My right shoulder, also hers. My pelvis, never quite the same after children, also part of her body story. Candy, her therapist says, ‘Shes had at least 6 foals, and several that didn’t make it on top of that’ and I get an overwhelming sense of how her body responded, just like being inside her. I know it because I know it for myself too.
So Honey has had craniosacral help, acupuncture, ENAR therapy and a more gentle and intuitive form of healing from Candy that I cant quite name. Along side this Kerry ushered my body through a doorway and has given me relief that I haven’t felt in years.
Yesterday when I rode Honey she told me her knee was sore. I’d been feeling a twinge in the back of my left knee for days with no reason for it to be there. Suddenly I got it. When I first rode her I was conscious of how much our bodies intersected, how meridians entwined and we became extensions of each other. Now I am pondering how that sense of interdependence exists all the time, how we communicate beyond words and in constant dialogue. Imagine knowing this with all living things.
February 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
February 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
Honey now has shoes on her front feet. It’s worth a try we think. Perhaps it will make her a bit more foot sure, more steady. Kim has assured her it is for comfort, not for anyone to ride her hard.
And it helps, it really does. I ride her first in the arena and then quietly along some of the tracks on the property and she is much more confident. Yet I still cant get past this nagging doubt that it is hurting her. And I find my confidence in riding her is waning because her lack of surety feeds mine. And I don’t want to cause her pain.
A few weeks ago I had a voice in my head. It said ‘she’s not a riding horse, that’s enough let her retire and enjoy paddock life’. I heard this clearly and knew what it meant but I couldn’t locate it in this time of now. I felt it was a message from sometime in the future but it stays with me and I ask Honey to affirm it for me when she can.
Next week an animal healer is coming. She is apparently one of those people who can feel into a horse and know the answers. I know I can do this too but I truly believe there are people out there for which this is a gift. To give Honey every chance, to be sure, I am going to listen to what Candy has to say…what Honey has to say.
Today when I went into to the paddock Honey came to me and followed me out to the gate without need of halter or lead. Just like her smooches last time I went to see her, there is a deeper sense of connection between us again. The feeling I had in our visits during January, that feeling that we weren’t connected has been replaced by a sense that we are close now whatever happens.
January 24, 2015 § Leave a comment
I am out for a movie and a snack with a friend I have started to get to know more deeply in the last few weeks ‘Who are your friends?’ she asks me, and I pause for a moment. I have some lovely women friends, although the theme of my life seems to be that the women I most relate to always feel the urge to seek new adventures and head off to different towns, different states, sometimes different worlds. But there is one new friend that I know will always stay and I wonder how I offer her name without sounding like loser. ‘One of most nourishing friendships this past 6 months has been with Honey, my horse,’ I say, and it is a truth that cannot be explained, but can be felt. When a horse enters your life and your heart there is a friendship that is elevated above the ruminations of ordinary people. . Later I recant this story to Kim – she gets it. She knows better than I the long hours of devotion spent with the horse and the reward that flows as a blessing through your veins, though your life.
It is s bright day and Hannah and I arrive to the quietness of a near deserted property. We bring in Honey and Coco and hang out for an hour. Without design on the day we ease into the space of saddling and Honey accepts her new saddle with grace. For the first time Hannah and I set out, just the two of us, for a ride. Around the dam, around the property, just mother and daughter riding their beloveds. I say to her ‘ this makes me so happy to be doing this just the two of us.’ Her smile says more than words. Honey trots and moves with my request. Her feet are holding well so we have decided to try a pair of front shoes and see if that helps even more. Her knee, the thing we really thought was going to be problematic is not an issue. I am learning.
And I have learnt much. Especially these past few weeks. I have spent five days on horseback up in the High Country doing things I never imagined I could. I have lived and breathed horses for this time. Sleeping alongside their holding pen under the brightest full moon, in a swag so the stars could kiss my forehead. I have climbed obscene mountains and plunged through countless river crossings. Over 110 kilometres of mountains and trails through the magnificent High Country. Over Mt Stirling and down the Howqua River, I rode through my delight, my pain my fear, through myself. Until I emerged and I felt I had earned my place to call myself a horse rider at last.
And it was a baptism to country as well. The spaces inside me called to feel the ruggedness of the mountains and the essence of the dirt from which my bones were formed. I felt a part of the land, rightful in my place as a woman who can survive, in bush and in life. I feel my resilience and the historical thread that I carry to the women who pioneered this land centuries before me. I feel my place in this line and I feel for the first time my real place in this land, this life. It is a gift I was not expecting. I do not need to don the Akubra or uniform of the bush woman, instead I know that I am this and it fills me with love and relief.
It has been different between Honey and I since I returned. I have been reluctant to ride her, until today. Last week when I had the first opportunity to really hang out with her (since I got back from my ride), just the two of us, I took her for a long bush walk – that seemed enough for both of us.
I think I wanted to hold the spirit of my adventure, was scared I might go back to ordinary or not much horsewomen back in my old place. But today I rode and it was an echo of the life I touched during that five days out in the world. It has all come with me, and it has bought me here…it has been unfolding for decades.
December 31, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s the last day of 2014 and I wake with an urgency to write that I haven’t had for several weeks now. I welcome the words with a sense of relief. More than ever Honey has been my mirror. As the past weeks have been dominated by my deep involvement in a community activism group against inappropriate development in my little town, coupled with the general silliness of the festive season, I have found myself a little bereft of words. My distraction from my own life plays out in my connection with Honey, just as it plays out in my notable absence from my writing practice. And Honey is way more forgiving of me than I am of myself.
Yet this writing hiatus (I don’t believe in writers block) has served its own purpose. I have made my mark on the world in other ways and Honey has been my champion. When I stood up to present a speech at the tribunal I imagined myself climbing onto her back to lead a gallant charge, and as I slipped into the inevitable state of exhaustion that succeeds such battles, she was there with a soft nuzzle to remind me of my true home.
Honey too has faced her own tiny battles in her recuperation these past few weeks. At times it feels that we roll from one learning to the next. This time it has been a skin condition caused by bug bites, a grass allergy or allergies to bug bites. Perhaps it is all three, but her discomfort and extreme reaction required a vet visit, and days and days of medicated baths, antibiotics and special creams. I saw her daily, sometimes twice a day, while she recovered and when I wasn’t so in my head in the ‘doing’ we shared long moments of solitude. She let me care for her, and in that space–almost by default–I got to practise a little self care during a time that was ravaging my soul.
Honey and I have been riding a little more. Her tenderness means dirt roads and uneven surfaces may never be our friends but in the soft leaf litter of the bush, and the shell grit of the arena she is a willing and surefooted companion. I have taken to riding her bareback in the arena – bareback, bitless, barefoot – it feels real to ride without ‘stuff’ in between us. The contact between my legs and her soft breath is astonishingly powerful. Without a saddle we are both naked and that feeling of slipping into her being is so much more pronounced. There is a freedom in this that builds my confidence and skills – so much more is at stake bareback – yet the deepest part of our relationship is steeped in this new level of trust.
I have not been able to shake this feeling of needing to ride out into the bush for days on end. I know this now as a true need of my soul so I have taken a leap and booked myself into a five-day bush ride in the High Country of Victoria next week…yes next week. I am simultaneously petrified and overjoyed at the thought. I will ride through the heart of the landscape where I belong, sleep rough, be dirty, write voraciously and in all of this, hopefully be transformed by the experience in some way. I am certain our souls reach for that which not only nourishes but challenges a deeper connection and I am trusting that the sore backside everyone warns me about will be irrelevant in this ‘ordeal of the spirit’. So I will return I sense, a different creature of nature, a fundamentally better rider, and a transformed vision of myself that a little girl some forty years ago knew in her boneseed would be a profound quest of the spirit.
And this ending time to the Year of the Horse is only the beginning of my lifetime with horse. I am ready…
November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
My most prized childhood possession still lives on my bookshelf today. I have turned the corner of the pages showing my favourite breeds and colours. Nothing has changed. I notice how many more pages I have liked where the horses are running free compared to those shown in situations of dressage or competition.
In the absence of having my own horse as a child, this book was the source of my daydreams and desires.
At night as I lay in bed I would step into its pages to greet my favourites, ride the pages through snow and scenery that evidenced the books British origins. Much later I would read horse novels about girls who got to go to pony club and imagine myself there with them. Every scene had its origin in this book in some way. The smell of a tack room, of leather and horse sweat, also encased in this book. So it sits now, on a shelf at the end of by bed, as a sort of shrine. I will never part with it, and I doubt it will ever leave me.
November 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
I am so thrilled to see Honey being chased around the paddock today by Toby, a lively painted pony who has taken a shine to Honey and follows her everywhere, to the point of being somewhat of an annoyance to her! But in this space, we see her move, to canter, without any sign of lameness and perhaps yet another piece of the puzzle falls into the Honey history puzzle, of perhaps a learned lameness that is triggered by memory rather than an actual physical condition. Nevertheless I am bolstering her with horse herbs and keeping things soft and strong with her and I am amazed at the turnaround in just a week.
When I arrived to see her yesterday Kim was just starting on a therapy session with some of the student art therapists from her course. Honey was there in her capacity as therapist too, and I was humbled to be included in this group. Chatting with these amazing people I was immediately drawn back into the importance of a transpersonal perspective on life, one that I have been living but could so relish the gentle reminder of the rarefied quality of this paradigm. It is increasingly obvious to me the overarching importance of nature as healer. I feel this for myself, that all the talk therapy in the world, important as that is, cannot achieve what the immersion of self in the natural world can. Our horse therapists are the chaperones of this experience and they know this better than we do. Next weekend I am participating in a four day certificate in Equine Facilitated Learning and I hold the possibility of this deep in my womb, like a tiny baby is transforming within me ready to be born. Whatever this work looks like it carries with it the promise of being the most ‘aligned’ thing I have ever done. And I know this too because I cannot help but write.
And I cannot help but ride as well.
Honey’s bitless bridle is perfect and again today I have ridden her bareback in the arena, feeling how new this is and how utterly real I feel being an extension of her amazing body. I am both sure and unsure, at the edge of a feeling of brilliant aliveness and a contentedness that I have always searched for.
This horse is changing me; she is carrying me home.
November 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Last week we were thrilled with how perfect and much condition Honey is showing, this week she is lame and we suspect may have laminitis, a condition (also called foundering) that is promoted by an overburden of body weight on the horse’s feet. And of course the first thing I did was consult Google and be confronted with how this issue can make it necessary to ‘destroy’ the horse.
I sat with this wrench of the heart for the longest time as I watched Honey gingerly pick her way around the paddock (the ‘Jenny Craig’ paddock is just as it suggests the weight loss paddock).
I felt the desperate feeling of what it might be like to lose her when I have only just found her, and I sat with the knowing that one day, even if it was 15 years from now I would need to say goodbye.
And I mourned.
In one hand I held the deep grief that sat as a stony presence in my veins, in the other I held the knowing that with this life she now has, Honey will be assured that her end will be in the most loving of spaces, full of dignity and careful acceptance of what is best for her. Somewhere I found a peace in between the two, and the sense that she ushered the process for me as she watched me weep as I leant against a tree.
It is astonishing to me how quickly a horse can fade, and bounce back. Much like a child it would seem. A few days later it seems she is much improved. I go to see her and cant ignore a simmering excitement to try on her new bitless bridle. I even spend a few minutes on her back in the arena, and she moves as my knees softly touch her sides as if we have done this a million times before.
I know now it will take four seasons to truly know Honey. To truly care for her I need to embrace her needs as winter turns to spring – to always prepare her for the next month and the next with herbs and help so that we prevent the pain and suffering she has become accustomed to.
And this time when I go to the paddock, it’s not just Honey that comes to greet me. Three other horses come to me, even one I haven’t met before – a grey mini horse – that seems to know this place. I wonder, do horses intuitively know, or somehow signal each other somehow about those humans that they can trust? Perhaps they chat while they hang about in paddocks and share stories about the humans they’ve known and who they think is worthy of their exquisite attention. Whatever it is , I am blessed beyond bliss to know I have been accepted.
November 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
‘A ride,’ she says. ‘Yes.’
Today was a day of tiny miracles. After a morning of grounding meditation and clay art with women and horses, Honey felt ready. After 11 weeks she is ready to be ridden, ridden by me. She rushed to the fence when I suggested today might be the day, eager, content and open.
I bridle her with a bitless bridle – another promise to treat her with respect and gentleness – and borrow Rojo’s saddle. A quiet walk for us to the fairy tree is our dream together – a gentle hour or so where I can show her again and again that I will not hurt her – I will not ask her to do anything that hurts her.
So we walk on the grassy bank beside the road and never so much as trot. She is steady and true to me and I find myself marvelling at how much she responds to the lightest of touches. She is the epitomy of softness and strength – the feminine in equine form.
I smile and it comes from deep within my belly. Here I am riding my horse. It sounds so simple yet it is as if the world is rushing into me.
There is something utterly familiar in riding Honey and once again I feel an urgency in my bones to ride out into the bush and be there. As if something ‘of the land’ is calling me to ride and explore – nature, brumbies, my ability to thrive in a world that is the earth of my birth, yet so foreign to daily life. Riding for days on end, a vision quest on horseback. I promise myself I will.
Life is a series of small miracles. That we even wake to a new dawn each day is an endless miracle that we rarely pause to note. But today’s small miracle was the balm to a longed for ache. I rode my horse.
November 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
While I have mostly written as a response to seeing Honey, my intention is to write when I am inspired by her. This can be any day, any time, and in the slipstream of life I often see her without bringing words to page. It is true also that her story continues to weave itself in my absence and this week has been a chapter for her that speaks of her destiny.
This past week, Honey stepped into her new gift as a healing horse, participating twice in Kim’s equine art therapy program. I wasn’t there and while this carries a tinge of sadness for me, it is also right that she take this sweet step as her own being. Because every moment I feared her knee might never be right, I was bolstered by the idea that she would choose to be a healing horse, not just for me but for other women (and men and children) as well.
And this has become this week.
So I am told how attentive she was, and how she responded to moments of depth and discovery in the women who groomed her and attended to her. I hear her stories of being in commune with women and facing into a circle with her utter presence and grace. I am so proud of her. I know that me not being there meant she was clear to relate to others – that me, my presence as primary carer and lover, may have changed that dynamic and I am so glad that, just as we send our children supported into the world to experience their greatness, Honey has also shown her way.
And yet I am curious. Eager to hold this space with her too, for other women, to encourage writing and revelation. And I am purring with excitement for this new direction for Honey, and for me. That together we will explore a way of sharing with the world that truly means something.
Honey is a healer. From the moment we met, I felt that and this week has made manifest a destiny for both of us.
October 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
This from my favourite poet Pablo Neruda. “Their colour was honey, amber, fire.”
From the window I saw the horses.
I was in Berlin, in winter. The light
had no light, the sky had no heaven.
The air was white like wet bread.
And from my window a vacant arena,
bitten by the teeth of winter.
Suddenly driven out by a man,
ten horses surged through the mist.
Like waves of fire, they flared forward
and to my eyes filled the whole world,
empty till then. Perfect, ablaze,
they were like ten gods with pure white hoofs,
with manes like a dream of salt.
Their rumps were worlds and oranges.
Their color was honey, amber, fire.
Their necks were towers
cut from the stone of pride,
and behind their transparent eyes
energy raged, like a prisoner.
There, in silence, at mid-day,
in that dirty, disordered winter,
those intense horses were the blood
the rhythm, the inciting treasure of life.
I looked. I looked and was reborn:
for there, unknowing, was the fountain,
the dance of gold, heaven
and the fire that lives in beauty.
I have forgotten that dark Berlin winter.
I will not forget the light of the horses.
October 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
When I was a child all I wanted was a bay gelding. I’m not sure I even knew what a gelding was, but I did have very strong preferences for colour and every animal I have ever owned has been in the spectrum of chocolate. So it amuses me that I have ended up with a buckskin mare, but as I approach Honey in the paddock today and see how much her colour is changing with her winter coat coming out, I can see that indeed there is this same hallmark bay colour also in her ever-changing hue. After weeks of brushing with seemingly little progress, a few warm days and nature herself seems to have turned her into a sleek beauty. She looks divine.
She knows I am there but keeps eating for a while and I wait for her to come to me. I always let her take the last few steps towards me – I guess it makes it feel to be her choice and that’s good for both of us. I halter her but then sling the lead rope over her neck. ‘C’mon sweetie, let’s go,’ I say and I start to walk a few steps up the hill and away. I sense her close by and when I dare to turn around she is there right behind me following me. All the way to the gate, past grass and the herd and all kinds of distractions she walks with me at liberty. She is with me, and I am with her.
I groom her slowly although there isn’t much to do with her coat so released and the dry weather soaking up the mud that would normally cover her. Her feet have started to show signs of wear, the hardening ground of the approaching summer is already apparent. We go to the dam and this time I take my shoes off and walk in with her. It’s really hot and although the water is cool I can see that Honey is not one for too much exertion in the heat. And that is fair. I put aside my notions of a quiet walk and sit down on the log. It’s been too long since I have done nothing like this and I feel all the breath I have been holding in slip out. Honey drops her head into my face as if to say ‘at last’.
Walking back to the paddock, I try and observe how she is moving. Is the therapy working? I am too close to see clearly. I so want to buy a bitless bridle online as a sign of positivity, but instead I just keep returning to the website making myself more and more confused about the ‘right one’. Time will show the answer. Time is the best thing I can give her.