On a quiet weekend playing on my phone and Facebook I get a casual message that would challeng me for the next few weeks, and actually change my life.
“Would you come and meet Buddy?”
The hesitation was for only a moment. I had agreed to take on a rescue horse, but knowing the commitment and expense brings on a whole lot of reality.
The idea that I already have three horses, that at times I am challenged with, to bring another in was not my dream thing to do, it is a commitment. Not a decision for a day, this would be for years. That commitment became reality when I said yes, thinking of my 32 year old gelding I have had for 23 years, that kind of commitment.
As I drove into town, I had the preconceived notion that I would look at him, a hard to catch saddle horse, how hard could that be?
When I pulled up and walked out to his pasture, there tucked underneath the trees was a shy, wild looking sentinel. A Welch sized bay horse, said to be about twenty years old. He stood and looked at me for a moment through the fence about twenty yards away. Lisa began the story the best she knew how.
“I got him from a family, that got him for their son to break. They bought him at a yard sale.” We think he is from the Warm Springs mustang herd.” I have had him for six years.” Lisa paused. I don’t know if for fighting tears or being vulnerable to admitting. “I don’t know anything about horses, but I couldn’t let him be where he was at. I brought him home, and here he is.” I was thinking he could live it out here, but… with the changes in life, I am asking, hoping and praying someone can help him.”
So here I am on the off side of the fence, looking at the aloneness of this little bay horse, who is looking off in the distance, like I don’t exist and creating imaginary obstacles to keep his mind busy and away from the girl on the opposite side of the fence.
Horses have been my life, like so many people I sure don’t think myself special by any means, but there is more to my story than what is seen here. I start to let old memories flood me of the past when I wanted to be a trainer and was trying all the latest fads of training… No! Not today! No memories, just today.
Shut off the mind and listen to what this little guy has to say. No corral, no rope, just me and a little bay horse in an acre of land filled with juniper tree and desert soil.
I open the gate…
He retreats to the furthest corner. Head high, wild and determined.in his mind he had made a commitment to himself. A vow never to be broken, two words in our English language filled the silent heart of little guy, and I read it loud and clear on that day. “Never again!”
I quietly followed him around the pasture, fifty yards, forty nine, forty eight…an hour and a half later, ten, nine, eight. foot by foot we came together, no as friends, not as companions but as two different species speaking two different languages, one with a fur coat that felt no wind, living in his world of imagination. The other feeling the wind blow the cold cutting into her flesh like a knife, ignoring the ache and shiver, ignoring the mind chatter to start another day, or that this little horse is to far gone to be helped. Only focusing on what he sees through his eyes, what he smells, what he hears and tastes. Only focusing on his world as he lives it.
Noticing the scars on his head and nose, I made a promise to him. “Yes, Never again.”
No effort made to touch, no fake promises, no tricks, just a horse and a girl on a cold windy spring day. Ignoring the possibilities, the dreams of tomorrow, Ignoring the temptation of feeling. That would come later.
At this point I knew Buddy was not the name. And for what this horse had been through, this was a war horse, the war within his heart, the aches, pain he has been through. As for the future decisions he has to make in the coming days. What he will choose to release or hold on to, a mirror image of my self. It was time for this little war horse to journey back home. A place of peace, of acceptance, of the journey through life, I whispered a new name, Joey.