I have never had a hard time saying good bye, circumstances in my life growing up shaped me to disconnect with not much remorse, I guess as a defence mechanism I learned to leave before I was left, to not have to feel any more pain. As a child I experienced sexual molestation and abandonment.
No one can really know the complexities that possess your mind as you try to survive and navigate your way through life. The internal nagging voice of doubt and disdain is deafening at times. Trying to avoid it or looking for ways to quiet what you don’t really understand is not your fault. You are raw and vulnerable all the time; I felt I might as well be naked because there was nothing. I could not feel, it was like I did not taste, I was an outsider looking in. I always thought my wounds were visible to others, my mental scars made me deficient to others. I was not worthy by their standards I used to think yet the truth was they were always mine.
Living on a long road of misguided paths, learning the hard way and not understanding, “Why me?” I dreaded the future and my life as I was often so stuck I could not see past the walls of tortured pain, I was being swallowed alive.
I understand why some people will turn to drugs and alcohol. I was saved by horses.
The literal knight in shining amour in this story is the horse. Horses were the first time in my life that my spirit connected to a depth I was unable to control and I shed my walls enough to accept a being to rely on me and in return I would do so for them.
I found myself in the presence of something greater than myself and I could not deny the healing I received, I never took this honour lightly. I thrived for the responsibility, it gave me purpose. As a child that never felt seen I knew and felt that the horses did see me, through their hearts.
As a teenager being able to be in the company of horses was a multi platform of luxury in many ways. For most the perception of wealth to own such creatures yet for me the wealth was no matter what day I was having, drama or tragedy my horse friend was always there.
As a child my uncle had Arabians and I would go to stay with him for a few weeks in the summer, this was my first connection to horse. I would pick choice grass, meander through their field and simply be with them.
As a teen in grade 8 I was introduced through a friend to Burnaby Horseman’s Association. At the time it was 2 horse barns located between a web of free-way trails and many trails that stretched around Burnaby Lake. We could take the bus after school and do our chores. As mentioned in another blog post I was not mentally or financially set to be a rider yet that was fine by me. Just having the opportunity saved my life in many ways now when I look back.
It was here that a 20 year old 14hh Pinto Shetland cross pony named Poki Brown Decals came into my life. He was a stout strong pony that would soon be the next best thing to me as mine. I would soon complete a trial and then carry on to lease him. Decals would give endless amounts of patience, carrying my pain and burdens all the while having his own sorted past.
I don’t have the greatest memory, maybe that is in part to shutting down yet I do clearly remember Decals story. He was owned by three sisters who had acquired him from the Fraser Valley Auction. The family had gone to the Auction in hopes to find a suitable mount for all three girls to do lessons on and on returning to the desired horse the girls had chosen they came across Decals who was standing alone, dripping in sweat, scared and soon to be loved back to life.
Decals went to retirement and I tried to care for other horses in the area and yet it seemed that chapter of my life would be closing for now.
I had left the mainland, and was now living in Victoria; I had a new baby on my own and had invested a lot of time into self discovery and I knew I had to get back to the horses. I did a lot of research for places to offer myself and was keen to do the tedious less desirable jobs.
Unlike others my interest was not in riding horses, I wanted to be with them, care for their needs as they had done the same for me and so I would take buses, walk endless miles for horses with Miss. Hudson in tow.
My next equine friend that crossed my path was a Polish Arab named Romeo. I am not sure how this guy ended up in the predicament he found himself yet like most animals they have no control of their circumstances and they can only hope to be in an environment of love, appreciation and care.
I met Romeo at the second Trail Riding outfit I gave my time too. I had recently had to find a new place as the other was going under and the walk was starting to take a toll on me. I came across a side road by chance off of the Bus Route and Pipeline Road would be my new daily destination.
This is where my education of the hierarchy of horses was first learned and this is where I would learn the injustice of horse “ownership”. As I said before I am not sure how Romeo ended up on the Trail riding string yet I know for certain he was not happy.
I managed to track down where he had come from as he was a good looking fellow that was flashy and stood out amongst the herd of Heinz 57 horses. Romeo was once in the care of a single owner yet was not happy in his job of showing and being ridden daily and so he was re-homed in order to give way to a new horse.
I learned quickly on the Island having a horse was costly and trying to care for more than one if you were in a boarding situation and taking regular lessons even more so I took a liking to Romeo whether he liked me or not.
My time with Romeo was long enough to learn what I needed to, that horses feel immensely and they too can suffer from broken hearts. Life pulled me one way and later on I would hear that death invited Romeo as he just did not want to be here any more.
Decals and Romeo have both crossed over now and they are still very present with me today. I honour them and have new appreciation for guardianship rather than ownership.
I honour these horses by giving all that I am to any equine I ever have the pleasure of sharing company with. This is all that I have; this gives me breath, and life, and fills me with gratitude.