Tuesday, September 20, 2011


That which the dream shows is the shadow of such wisdom as exists in man, even if during his waking state he may know nothing about it.... We do not know it because we are fooling away our time with outward and perishing things, and are asleep in regard to that which is real within ourselves. ~Paracelsus, quoted in The Dream Game

It was about a year and a half ago when I had the first dream.  I was riding a brown and white paint bareback.  As often happens in my dreams, I wasn’t myself, but rather a young Native American girl with black hair down to the waist.  We were riding in the forest and I could hear the leaves rustling on the path we were taking. When a stick snapped in half under the weight of my mount, I bent over and whispered: “Ssshhhhh.  We are hiding.”
The next time I saw the pony, he appeared in a dream that had something to do with a big hotel.  I can’t recall the details, except that the same brown and white pony was there, hovering in the backdrop of my sub consciousness.  Who was this pony?  Why was I dreaming about it?  The pony disappeared for a while, but only to show up again months later.  Every time I woke up remembering nothing else about the dream except the soft look on the pony’s face. 
I believe dreams have something to tell us, important messages we are left ignored in our waking life.  Or, if you believe in past lives, dreams are a vessel that takes you back to the wisdom you learned long time ago, but forgot you ever had.  And sometimes, if you are lucky, dreams help you look into the future.  I have always been a vivid dreamer; sometimes I wake up in the morning feeling exhausted after what seems like hours of action.  Other times I lie in bed and marvel over the insanity of my imagination.  And then there are times when I open my eyes remembering nothing else but a small lingering detail, almost like remnants of a feeling or a thought. 
I didn’t know anyone who owned a brown and white paint, but I did know that this pony had something to say to me.  When I met horses with similar coloring, I felt drawn to them, as if inherently I was looking for something, or rather – someone.  I talked to my friend about my dreams, and together we wondered if this pony was someone I had known long time ago, in another life time, or perhaps someone I would once meet, years from now.  Whatever the answer, I knew that even if I never saw the brown and white pony in real life, it had made a permanent impression on me through my dreams.    
That all said, I would like to share an email I received from one of my readers a few weeks ago. 
I’m Carol, keeper of 3 beautiful horses who along with our 3 dogs, 2 cats and 3 chickens are my reason for getting up every morning – I do work too but am self-employed as both a travel agent (for the income) and as an equine herbalist (for the knowledge and pleasure).
My 3 horses are Kelso, our herd leader, a wonderful gentle gentleman, aged 22, ex-show cob (not in my lifetime) who has been with me for apx 5 years – Kelso is semi-retired, a bit arthritic, a nice gentle plod out when weather conditions permit for him (chronic sweet itch so can’t go out often in the summer as too hot/fly-ridden). Then we have Murphy, now aged 17, and my ‘special’ boy who came to me 10 years ago when I got back into horse ownership following injury which kept me out of the saddle for 8 years – he was my ‘green + green = let’s figure it out between us’ and he is totally under my skin. Finally there’s Cookie, now 11, our adorable native pony who came to us 6 years ago as our daughter’s third pony.
It is about Cookie that I am sending you this private message because discovering your blog by accident has, I think, given me the answer to my gnawing underlying concern I’ve been going through for the past few weeks.
Cookie is adorable. She’s kind, gentle, sensitive, loving, affectionate. She’s Kelso’s personal grooming slave which is interesting considering he’s almost 16hh and she’s 13.2hh. She stands her ground with her two ‘brothers’ but is devoted to them, as they are to her. Our herd seems very content and happy together.
My ‘human’ situation is this. Around 3 years ago it became very obvious that our daughter was losing interest in riding and her pony in general. Not because of anything Cookie had done. She was simply losing interest, as sometimes happens – either it’s in you (as it was for me as a pony mad child which has stayed with me all my life – I’m now 53), or it’s not. Husband and I were really upset as our daughter and Cookie had had the most wonderful time together – they’d done a bit of Pony Club, cross country, show jumping lessons, and wonderful family trail rides at weekends. We just couldn’t believe that almost overnight, she lost interest.
Nothing I could do would get my daughter interested. Bribery, punishment, you name it – nothing worked, and so I ended up with a reluctant, pouting, sulky child riding because I forced her too. Eventually I gave up as the whole riding experience made me miserable to the point where I finally realized I wasn’t enjoying it. I resolved to loan Cookie out to a family where she would be ridden and loved.
Cookie lasted 2 weeks with the first family. She was desperately unhappy, didn’t settle, and when the opportunity arose she would bolt across a field and dump the child in the hedge. So Cookie came back home – admittedly it was lovely to have her back because I adore this pony and hated to see her go.
I found a lovely petite adult to ride Cookie out with me for a short while, so for the time being we kept Cookie moving while I hoped that my daughter would change her mind.
We then found a wonderful private yard right behind our house so we moved the horses, which meant I lost my petite adult. I advertised for a ‘sharer’ and we found mum Sue with daughter Hollie who absolutely loved Cookie on site. We went out for a lovely hack and Hollie did very well so the deal was done – Hollie would become Cookie’s sharer. Until Cookie decided she didn’t want to leave the boys and go off on her own, and again she bolted across fields and dumped Hollie in the hedge, so that was the end of Hollie.
After a few months I had a brainwave. Ask the local trekking centre if they could use a 13.2 pony! After all, Cookie came to us from a trekking centre so it would be an ideal environment for her, plenty of pony company, and she’d be ridden! The proprietor said she’d give Cookie a go and picked her up. Two weeks later Cookie was back. Apparently she ‘didn’t settle well’ and despite putting one of her most fearless, competent riders on her, Cookie made her feel very nervous – not ideal for a trekking centre with novice children. I remember thinking at the time that the owner hadn’t given Cookie long enough to settle, but I wasn’t going to leave her there if she wasn’t happy. So Cookie came home again.

By now I was started to get the impression that Cookie didn’t want to leave us. We’d tried to find her other riders but each time, and very out of character with her (she’d never bolted or thrown my daughter in all the time she rode her), Cookie came home. I decided that Cookie had spoken, and finally I’d listened – Cookie wasn’t going anywhere.
Again we had a long gap where Cookie wasn’t being ridden. However, she never seemed bothered by it, and on the odd occasion when I plodded out on Kelso I would lead her off the big fella and we’d all get a leg-stretch. She never showed any adverse signs of not being ridden other than getting a bit porky but being a herbalist I manage their environment and supplement them all with appropriate blends to keep them healthy – they’re also all barefoot and we ride bitless.
Then around 4 months ago I found a wonderful sharer, again a petite adult, who adored Cookie, and together they’d go off for hours over the countryside and pop over jumps and have the best time ever. Cookie lost weight, fittened up, and looked and seemed very happy. Then unexpectedly, a month ago we lost our sharer as she suddenly had to move house. Us humans were all devastated, sharer included, and once again Cookie had no rider.
So this last week I’ve been battling with myself with my head saying ‘Cookie needs to be ridden’, ‘Cookie needs to be ridden’. I finally called a local riding school on Friday asking if she could be useful to them. They came, saw, loved her, and I’m meant to be taking her over tomorrow. It’s only a mile or so away so not far, and the arrangement is that I’ll go over every day to help her settle, and if she doesn’t, she comes home again.
Hurrah! I’ve found what seems like a great home for Cookie, with plenty for her to do, lots of kiddies to love, cuddle and groom her, she’ll get fit and be happy!
So here’s my human dilemma. Why, since Friday, when I should be riding on the crest of this ‘I’ve sorted something for Cookie’, have I had an underlying niggle saying ‘no’, and to keep Cookie with her boys and us in our lovely paddock. I seem to have this eternal ‘thing’ in my head that says that Cookie needs to be ridden – why? For her health, happiness, sanity? Isn’t it what ponies are meant to do? Won’t she just get stale and vice-y if she doesn’t ‘do’ anything?
So why have I now been worrying all weekend that Cookie won’t settle, she’s told me enough time in the last couple of years that she doesn’t want to leave us . . . and why am I so hell bent on thinking that she HAS to be ridden?
My two selves are fighting each other – the sensible Carol is saying, for god’s sake get a grip, it’s a fantastic life for Cookie, let her go there, settle her in, she’ll always be ours, and when she’s older and no longer rideable she comes home to retire. The sensitive, emotional, instinctive Carol is saying ‘no’, it’s another move for Cookie, a separation from her boys and from us, and that’s not healthy, not good for her happiness, not good for her sanity.
Sensible brain/emotional brain – neither one’s winning. Yet now I’m trying to find excuses in my head for not taking her over tomorrow, even though I know there’s no written agreement, no sale, no anything!
So, to bring this all together, I was reading a blog the other day – Thursday, I think, where the blogger mentioned she’d discovered your blog and had spent so much time reading it that her family didn’t get their dinner that night. I clicked on the link, and started reading it. Loved it. Say no more. My family barely got their dinner that night either.
I haven’t had a chance to read more of it since then until this morning. I’m an early riser (horses/dogs/cats/chooks) – husband isn’t, so my weekend mornings are a nice, quiet, me-moment to go back to bed with a coffee, laptop, plug in headphones with nice soothing music and play blog catch-up. I uploaded yours and read your entire first page from top to bottom.
When I got to the post ‘To Live Life Backwards’, something stirred in me. Not that your situation was the same as one of mine, but it was the calling of Little Love’s name. I do that with Cookie from a distance. She lifts her head, no matter how far away, and starts walking towards me. Murf does too. It’s special, and makes me feel good and warm and fuzzy. I don’t kid myself that it’s not pure cupboard love, but still makes me feel nice. Fact is, she knows me, knows her name, recognizes my call.
Then I got to ‘Never Forget Me’. Now I started to become aware that this was getting a bit spooky. Blimey, I thought. I was meant to read this. What ifs. What if I sent her to this riding school and in the months to come we passed her on the trails – what if she recognised us, or Murf or Kelso (depending on who I was on) recognised her – what if they started calling to each other, as they do now when I’m leaving/returning to the yard and they’re all calling out to each other? What if Cookie will really, really miss us. Which she’s demonstrated several times in the past that she does.
Then we got to ‘Unmapped Country’. By now I was aware of the spookiness of the coincidence that your blog posts were here especially for me to read. Why does Cookie ‘have’ to be ridden? I can only put this down to some ingrained training or ‘expectation’ that comes with years of riding and horse ownership. This post put everything in perspective to me. She doesn’t ‘need’ to be ridden. No matter what the circumstances, in your blog’s case a scared rider (haven’t we all been there!) which is NOT the case for Cookie, but more my expectation that it’s the RIGHT thing for Cookie. But isn’t her being happy, content, safe, secure, loved and settled in her existing regime with her boys all she wants and needs?
I’m so glad I read your blog. Part of me still thinks the riding school is the better option for her as of COURSE she’ll settle – eventually. But the other part of me, having read your blog, now has the majority vote. I’m going to call the riding school today and thank them enormously for their consideration but decline their lovely offer. Cookie stays put, happy in her 4 acres with her boys, and I’ll just keep plodding out with her on occasion with the big boy to give her an occasional change of scenery.
To conclude, the Carol insecurity is tightening in my chest and is saying that if after all this, you think I’m terribly terribly wrong, I’d love to hear it! However, in some spooky, ethereal other-universe way, I think I was meant to read your blog, right now, at this time, day and age. I could have been about to do the worst possible thing for our gorgeous, sensitive, loving girl. Or the best. Either way though, she’ll be perfectly happy staying put until I eventually, possibly, maybe, find someone else to come and ride her.
I don’t know about you, but when I first read Carol’s email, I was rooting for Cookie.  I could see this opinionated little mare before me as if she was really there.  Cookie obviously deserved to be heard.  I wrote Carol back immediately, supporting her decision to keep Cookie at home with the boys.  When Carol wrote back, relieved I had taken the time to answer, she said: “Cookie must have sensed that I was calmer and back to my 'normal' self after reading your reply - we all went to the yard as a family (a rare thing - usually it's just me), and husband Richard and I were cuddling the girl with Rich by her withers and her head in my tummy. The sun was shining, the air was still and warm. Cookie then turned her head round to Rich and nudged him. The next second Richard jumped up over her back, no prompting from me, and just lay across her. Bear in mind he's a good 13stone-plus, and hasn't ridden for years, let alone lain across a bareback, untacked pony! Very out of character! Cookie remained stock still, very chilled. Next thing Rich scrabbled his legs up and over and sat on Cookie. She stayed looking really happy and calm. Then Rich leaned forward up her neck and wrapped his arms around her, giving her a big cuddle. He stayed there for ages, just cuddling our girl. 'Are you comfy?' I asked. 'Yes, really comfy,' he said, and grinned the biggest grin at me. 'I've never sat on Cookie before.' 'I know!' I replied. It was a lovely moment. Then he slid off and we were all back to normal.”
Carol also attached a picture of Cookie.  When I opened the file, I cried out loud; Cookie looked exactly like the pony from my dreams!  The strange thing was that I had somehow known this all along.  From the moment I started reading Carol’s first email, I had imagined Cookie to be a brown and white paint. I had never met Carol, nor did I know if she would think I was completely crazy, but I felt a need to tell her about my dreams.  I wasn’t sure how she would react, but it ddn't matter, I just had to share my experience.  She said: "...here's my freaky back to you. Don't know why but I somehow felt that you'd connect with Cookie - I felt a real need to email her photo over to you…it's quirky how life pans out, but this great big universe of ours is a whole lot more powerful than we can even begin to understand!” 
Carol was certainly right about the universe part.  I can’t tell you for sure if Cookie is the pony I had seen so many times in my dreams, but I do know that I haven’t seen her since.  Did Cookie and I connect months before I connected with her owner?  I will never know, but I have a strong feeling that something out of the ordinary happened here. Or, on second thought, is this something that occurs all the time, but we just happen to miss it? I do believe we are all connected over the vast universe by the energy between us. In my case this connection used to be something I was not aware of, but slowly, as I have connected more and more with horses, I have also discovered an uncanny ability within myself to “know” things.  There are so many things I cannot even begin to understand about the aptitude we posses, but I do know I want to understand it further.  Why does heeling by prayer/manifesting seem to work?  How can I sometimes feel other people’s emotions, even if they aren’t with me at the time?   How does my energy affect others; people, animals, plants?  Can we balance the bad energy in the world by adding more good energy?  If I think of someone I haven’t seen for a while, can they feel it?  Do things happen for a reason?
I wanted to share Cookie’s story because it awakened so many question in me.  I hope it does the same for you.  We may not know the answers – yet, but what I do know without a doubt is that our souls are more powerful than we can ever imagine.   
Thank you Carol for allowing me to post a picture of Cookie and share your eloquently written story about this amazing pony!
PS. I have been writing this blog for two and a half years and one of my favorite things to do is to read the comments people leave.  Occasionally I receive emails from people who have felt a need to comment personally on what I have written.  Many of these letters have moved me to tears; the heartfelt stories of the authors and their horses are often powerful and charged with emotion.  When I started writing this blog, I never imagined it would offer me this sort of a connection with people I have never physically met.  It proves to me that even if sometimes we may feel lonely in our thoughts and beliefs, we are never completely alone.  There is always someone else in the world, experiencing something similar.  Thank you for reading (and writing)!

 “Black horse wisdom is felt more deeply than it can ever be explained…It champions knowledge rejected by the mainstream: instinct, emotion, intuition, sensory and extrasensory awareness and the human-animal partnership often associated with tribal cultures…It is an innately pure, nonjaded, spirited, yet immature, source of knowledge.  It has been neglected for so long that it initially lacks the ability to interface directly with the modern human mind.”            - Linda Kohanov