Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Gift of Time

I’ve been treating Siete for an abscess in her back left foot this week. Over the years that we’ve lived here, we’ve been particularly plagued by this problem as we transition from summer into autumn. It’s a combination of dry weather followed by wet, and the emergence of lots of small rocks in the pasture. So, I know the drill. When I came out to the barn, Siete was standing with her back left foot cocked, and the look she gave me clearly was her way of saying, “Oww!” At first, I felt a small moment of panic since our farrier, John, has moved to Montana. The new farrier isn’t scheduled to come until early October.

I decided to just soak Siete’s foot in Epsom salts and then apply a piece of Animalintex inside one of the Soft Ride boots. Moments after I started to treat her, she instantly relaxed and was obviously no longer in pain. I remembered the days when just getting Siete to stand still with her foot in a warm bucket of water was a real challenge. I thanked her for her good behavior. I thought about how caring for my horses, year in and year out, has taught me not to over-react when something goes wrong. I knew I could handle this, and if I couldn’t, well, we’d be meeting the new farrier a few weeks earlier than planned.

I’ve been reading pro’s and con’s about soaking the foot to pull out an abscess. This time, I didn’t soak it again the way I had for all those previous abscesses. The hoof was clean, so I just moistened and changed the Animalintex in the boot twice a day for three days. Siete was moving around just fine, and I was tempted to stop the treatment. For good measure, I kept the boot on an extra day. Yesterday, I took it off and so far, so good. It’s a big relief for me as well as Siete. I’ve been really busy, not spending enough time with the horses. Each day, I start out promising myself and the girls that I’ll be back later to do this or that. Then, my schedule gets crazy, and next thing I know, I’m tucking the horses in for the night, feeling bad that I never got back there like I said I would and apologizing to Silk and Siete.

When I read Carolyn Resnick’s most recent blog post last night, she asked us what we thought our special gift was with horses. There were some great responses, especially her own. What resonated most for me was when she said: “ I like horses as they are, without them having to do something for me. Even while sharing space with a horse, they do not need to show me affection while in my presence. I am nourished by being in the same area as a horse, and that is reward enough.”

I had a hard time trying to express what I think my gift is with horses. Then, I realized perhaps it is that I am always there for them, reliably on time, anticipating what will make them feel good, and never minimizing or forgetting about their needs. No matter what else is going on in my life, I must care for my horses. And the reason that I do comes from that core belief which Carolyn expressed. I’ve loved being around horses from the first time that my mother wheeled me to a neighbor’s pasture while I was in a baby stroller. Horses don’t have to do anything for me. I just feel better when I am with them.

So, if I can make Siete’s foot stop hurting or share one of my favorite Honey Crisp apples with Silk or do anything to make my horses happier, it also feeds my soul.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shifting Gears

I opened the gate to the pasture this morning, and a gust of cool wind wafted across my arms and face. It was a welcome relief from the incredibly oppressive heat and pressure that was in the air as Hurricane Earl came and went this week. My energy level quickened. I expected that Siete would rush from her stall the minute I pulled on the door, happy to be able to run in the cool breeze. Instead, she lumbered out slowly to investigate whether the small pile of hay that I dropped in the pasture was more delectable than the one in the barn.

It made me think about expectations. For me, the fall is always a time of great expectations. I feel this urge to race against the clock and accomplish something before the days get too short and the ground gets too hard. I want to create something new, meet the goals that I slacked off on all summer.

This week, I’ve been especially hard on myself, since I realized that I now have the gift of spending time alone for at least half of the day. My daughter started high school, and she gets on the bus at 6:30 each morning. My mom is no longer here in the house with me, and my husband was away on a business trip. So, I was all by myself, with many precious hours to do anything that I wanted and no one to tell me what to do. It paralyzed me. Of course, the heat was part of what was slowing me down, but also there was the demanding voice in my head that kept reminding me that I should be doing this or that. And the other little nagging doubter in me that kept questioning whether I could do it good enough to make it work.

I spent a lot of my day sprawled on the couch with my orange cat draped across my lap, staring at all the piles of things that I planned to do. Maybe I needed this gestation period to summon up my “windhorse energy”. This morning, I was concerned that Siete wasn’t prancing around, full of pent-up pleasure in the delightful breeze. Then, I reminded myself that neither was I. So I made myself relax and just be okay with the way things are now. It was such a relief to stop having these expectations. A weight was lifted. I decided to just go with the flow of what would make me happy, so I picked up a brush and while Siete munched on her hay I cleaned the shavings and dirt off her back and untangled her mane and tail. We’ll run around when we’re ready, but not today.