I adore my horses. They are my therapists, my teachers, my family. A never ending source of amusement, and, often times a huge pain in the rear. Oh... and the reason I'm broke and poor and can't pay my Hydro bill.
Horse ownership (and all that goes with it) didn't come easy for me, though. There were some hard lessons to be learned. I divide my journey with horses into 3 distinct phases:
1. Childhood and youth
I grew up in a fairly rural area in Northern Germany. There was a riding stable a short 15-20 minute bike ride from home... and that's where I spent most of my time. Summer holidays were spent at a riding camp by the sea. Pure bliss.
At age 39, I decided to make the last of my dreams a reality: Get my very own horse. (Mis) Guided by ignorance and serious delusions regarding my abilities, I bought the first horse that crossed my path: A 6 year old OTTB...
After giving the horse back to where I bought him from, I had two options: Give up and consider the notion that I wasn't a horse person after all or, forget everything I thought I knew and start learning from scratch.
It has been brought to my attention that what I'm writing about Willie's condition can be (or is being) interpreted as some sort of shortcoming by Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue Centre. There is no shortcoming.
The only reason that Willie left the Rescue after only a month or so is because of me. The stars aligned beautifully when I discovered that a horse trailer was going from close to where I live to within 10 minutes of WHHR, and back in one weekend. Hitching a ride with them allowed me to come and get Willie myself, and without having to make another trip 'down south'. Cost, time... it all adds up.
I'll attempt to put my favourite photos all in one place here. They are my favourites because of when or where they were taken, not necessarily because they are the prettiest. I'll add to this as time goes on and as time permits. Enjoy!
Hah! That's what I get for opening my big mouth about peace 'n all.
I suspected it last night and confirmed this morning: Tika is Alpha. And, I'm not sure Willie is all that enthused. I was standing with him last night... Tika was sort of behind me and off to the side when Willie's ears moved back and he turned his head slightly away from me. I knew it wasn't because of me and suspected that he had gotten some sort of nod from Tika to beat it. He looked a little miffed.
I haven't seen any flat out ear pinning but, ears are definitely flicking, there is subtle nose pointing, and feet are moving. Willie's feet, that is. So, it is decided then, I guess.
This means, they will now get 2 piles of hay. Tika can be a bit of a bully; I've seen it before. I won't intervene for now... let them sort it out.
What I'm about to share is difficult to put into words. It's perhaps one of those things where 'You had to be there'.
A couple of years ago, it occurred to me, that the atmoshpere in my little barn had changed. I wasn't exactly sure when, only, that it probably hadn't just happened the day I became aware of it.
Our little herd of 3 at the time (Tika, Galahad, and I) felt utterly comfortable, safe, and at peace with each other. This was true for all of us together, or with one of us taken out of the equation. It was winter, the horses came in every evening, and I would spend a few minutes with each of them before leaving them for the night. You know.. crazy horse people stuff. Talking about the day, 'n such. There was an air of calm, a sense of peace, trust, and love. Intimacy, without necessarily the need to touch.
But, it is trips like these, where one's faith in humanity is restored. We (3 tired humans and 2 horses) found ourselves stranded by the side of the highway, 1 1/2 hours short of our destination shortly before midnight. The truck had gone from purring along perfectly to undrivable in a matter of an hour. A few phone calls, and a gentleman (whom none of us had ever met), got out of bed, and into his truck, met us, hooked on to our horse trailer, and took us the rest of the way. Canadian Tire took care of retrieving the ill fated truck. And, throughout all of this, the horses were just AWESOME. Quiet, calm and patient.
It was 3am by the time horses were tucked into their stalls and I stumbled into bed. Willie and I made the last leg of the trip the following morning.
Thank you for good Samaritans, and the friends who put us in touch with them.
A date has been set to go get the butterball and bring him to my humble island dwelling. March 19th/20th.
It's been 7 months since I've had to say Good-bye to Sir Galahad. I did not want to have to look for a new horse; I expected us to have many more years together. It hasn't been easy finding a new horse, either. It made me realize what huge shoes Galahad left to fill (somewhat ironic, since he had small Arab feet). I will now give back Sable, my 'horse on loan', and welcome Willie to the family. Thank you, Sue and Heather... you have a lovely boy and he was a perfect guest for the past 3 months. I hope that Tika will adjust quickly; he and Sable have become very chummy.
So, I will set out next weekend to pick Willie up from Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue Centre. If you ever feel like donating a few dollars to a good cause... do keep them in mind, please. I could write a book about what goes on there: the dedication, the compassion, the heart break, the phenomenal recoveries, and the love for horses.