Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Cannot Stop

“Impermanence is the very essence of joy – the drop of bitterness that enables one to perceive the sweet.” - Myrtle Reed

One of the hardest things about finding the Path is the fact that it is your personal journey. And with personal I mean that no two journeys can be the same. As you travel, not everybody around you will travel with you. In fact, there will be many who will never even get on the Path; friends, family, fellow boarders, trainers, will continue to do all those things you are trying to move away from.

This, to say the least, can make matters complicated.

I can’t pinpoint the moment I took a turn onto the Path of the Horse, but I know the seed was planted years and years ago. Anybody who has followed my blog for a while knows that meeting the black mare called Little Love and having her as my guide and anchor in this process has been absolutely monumental. She pushed me to seek new ways; she stripped me down to the very core of myself, a place where you have no other option but to see things as what they are.

Unfortunately, Little Love’s owner does not quite share my vision.

I know I cannot force anyone down the Path, and I have learned this the hard way. Even if I ride bitless, it doesn’t mean people around me or even someone riding the same horse as I am riding, will stop using the bit. Even if I stop forcing the horse to work in the arena when she clearly hates it, doesn’t mean others will not continue believing in this sort of work and even enforce it with a whip. Even if I tell someone about all the things I have discovered, the emotions I have encountered, the self-reflection I have gained, the insight the horse has shared with me, I cannot guarantee she will believe me or understand me.

On the 13th of March I wrote a blog entry I called “What if”. I believe this entry is the closest I have ever in my entire blog, come to actually telling the truth of how I feel about Little Love. She has taught me so much and since that time last spring, I have made even more progress in discovering the truth about horse human relationships, which in itself has been absolutely priceless. This knowledge, however, has put me in an unbearable situation: between a horse and the horse’s owner.

I know, Little Love is not my horse, so in reality, I have no say in what her owner does with her. But, I cannot stop trying to influence the situation. I cannot stop trying to fight for what I think is the right thing for my horse friend and for all horses, for that matter. I cannot stop trying to shine the light down on her owner, in hopes of her catching the one ray that will transform her to see what horses really are about – for once and for all.

Do I have a right to do that? I’m sure there are people out there reading this and thinking I don’t. But how can I stop? How could I ever let myself give up? And how can I continue, when my emotions are clearly overriding all rational thinking? I realize I am far too deep in the woods to find my way out.

A few weeks back I took part in an Animal Communication workshop with Marta Williams. The workshop was about talking with horses and I was excited to see that there were a good twenty people present, some obviously very talented in communicating with animals.

During a group exercise I volunteered to share Little Love’s picture with five people. I gave no background information other than her name and age. The group did very well with the picture and relayed fairly accurate information back to me, information which I was able to verify. They had obviously been able to communicate with Little Love intuitively.

In the end the group asked if I had any personal questions to Little Love, to which I was looking for answers.

“Yes,” I said, trying to hold back emotion. “Can you ask her what she wants in terms of the future? Does she want to stay with her owner or would she like to be with me?”

Ah, such a selfish question, I know, but I couldn’t help myself. I have come far with my personal journey, but I have not apparently yet reached the completely selfless place we all hold within ourselves.

The animal communication team went to work and soon I had my answer: Little Love didn’t want to choose.

The answer didn’t surprise me. In fact, this was the same answer Little Love had given me, but which I had denied. I thanked the group, trying to not show my disappointment. What had I expected?

Then a young woman, who had demonstrated amazing communication skills during the course, reached her hand out and said: “I don’t know if this makes sense, but Little Love told me that she can’t leave her owner yet, because there is still work to do.” She looked at me. “Do you know what she means?”

Yes, I did know what she meant. Despite my own desperation over the situation, I couldn’t help but smile. Leave it to Little Love to put everything in perspective. For horses it is never about what they can do for themselves, but what they can do for others. There was a reason why Little Love had shown up in my life, but there was also certainly a reason why she had shown up in her owner’s life much earlier. Some nuts are harder to crack than others. Little Love was obviously not ready to throw in the towel when it came to her owner, even if I was.

I continue to support Little Love’s owner in her endeavors with her horse, even though it sometimes brings me to my knees. I never imagined it was possible to feel such desperation and pain over a horse, but apparently it is. I can try to guide her owner towards more humane ways of being with her horse, but how can I stop myself from feeling the way I do? Am I selfish to want to steel this horse away from the world and take it to a place where she can be a real horse again; stall-free, iron-free and even rider-free?

In approximately eight months I will be moving away. I do not know yet where, all I know is that we are moving to another country. This country may be relatively close or it could be on the other side of the world, beyond an ocean or two. The possibilities are open, the future is unknown. Where does that leave me and Little Love?

I don’t know.

All I know is that when I think of leaving her behind, I cannot stop my heart from breaking.


“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” - G.K. Chesterton


  1. It can be very hard to love an animal that does not belong to you – one you have little (if any) say over. My heart breaks for you because I can relate.
    Before Griffin came into my life, I worked for a gentleman who owned several horses. I got along well with him and loved what I did.

    One horse in particular earned a special place in my heart. She was an Appaloosa mare named Missy that I had developed a certain fondness for. Fortunately, no one else in the owner’s family liked her, so the majority of the time I had her to myself. I will say there were a few occasions however, when he would have visitors that she would be “used” to entertain them.. Those times were hard…..and it was hard not to say what I felt, and be nice to these people.

    Shortly after I got Griffin, her owner offered to give her to me. He stated that he would o sell her (since she was the least favorite) if I did not want her. His interests had changed and he wanted to purchase some gaited horses. Words can’t explain how much my heart pulled into 2 directions. There was absolutely no way I could afford 2 horses. I had such a tight bond with Missy, that I almost returned Griffin to the adoption program he came from, so I could keep her.

    ..but there was another problem…

    Griffin was an extremely frightened horse when I got him. Every instinct I had told me that he needed me, even though I barely knew him at the time (….and little did I know just how much I would NEED HIM in the future when my best friend; my brother, was killed).

    I made the decision to keep Griffin even though it was painful to let Missy go. In the end things worked out, because her owner eventually decided to keep her. I took comfort in knowing that at least she would stay in her own, familiar home.

    I know that moving away from Little Love may be hard for you – but I do feel from reading your blog that you are truly a one of a kind person and there are many more horses out there that will benefit from getting to know you. Somewhere out there – there is another horse that needs you just as much as Little Love…. And possibly more so.

    I also think that it is great that you support Little Love’s owner in her interests. I haven’t shown horses for quite some time. I completely lost interest in it a long time ago (for a lot of reasons) and I don’t always “agree” with some of the things that are done --but--I still have friends who enjoy the show ring and I support them when I can, simply because they are my human friends. …and I also agree that it is often a fine line in speaking out against something you know is wrong (and knowing full well what kind of horrid response you will get) and simply staying quiet. I believe setting good examples ourselves with our own horses is the best place to start in getting others to change 

  2. Shelby in CaliforniaDecember 1, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    What a beautiful comment Carol wrote, such support and tenderness for a really emotionally charged situation. It's people like Carol, Katariina, and many many others who will gently show a different way to connect with our horse friends. It's really about understanding what the horse is telling us, honoring the intelligence of their knowing.
    Thank you...

  3. I agree Shelby, Carol wrote a beautiful comment. My situation is not perhaps ideal, but there is always something to learn from it, even if the learning doesn't happen until afterwards. I always try to think that life has its ways of working things out - in the end. Sort of like what happened with Carol, Grif and Missy. Time will tell what future has in store for me and for Little Love, but whatever that is, I will try to make the best of it.
    Thank you both, Shelby and Carol,

  4. My heart breaks for you. To love and let go, that's the life lesson. Thanks also for your wonderful tribute to Saphie and Sam. I posted it here at Sugar Mountain whereI try to follow the path of the horse, while those around me wonder. Wonder about me, and perhaps the path they are on with their horses.