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Horse Moments

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Photo: Crissi McDonald


I wrote one sentence for this month’s blog, and it felt hollow. Two sentences in, and my inner Chicken Little was running around, feathers flying and wings upraised in panicked supplication screaming “The sky is falling and you’re writing a blog?!” It occurred to me that I may be feeling overwhelmed by what is happening in our world.

How do we cope with these times? With any time that is gargantuan in its chaos? This is a huge question, with a much bigger answer than I am able to find for myself most days.

There are many answers that offer comfort, answers that once I put my focus on them, alleviate the nail-biting anxiety that the sky will, indeed, fall as soon as I stop watching it. I guess you could call this mindfulness. But to be very honest “mindfulness,” to the degree and seriousness of which it’s talked about lately, ties my knotted brain in even tighter knots.

Not that mindfulness is bad; most of the time I enjoy its practice. When overwhelm throws its grappling hooks into my heart though, I need answers with more horsepower than focusing on scrubbing dishes, or eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

Aren’t we lucky there are horses? I adore watching them carefully lower themselves to the ground and roll in grunting, leg waving pleasure. I like to watch and hear them eat. It calms me to walk into the paddock and groom each of them. Touch their satin muzzles. Stand close and listen to them breathe.

I believe when we have horses in our lives, all of us are in on a secret. For each of us, that secret is different. It’s made up of moments of trust, and moments when we swear they read our minds and hearts. Moments of flying manes and waving flagged tails, summer grass breath, warm furry coats and large kind eyes. Moments that exist outside of what they can do for us, and instead light us up because of their singular and unique existence.

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Last week when my husband and I were at a clinic venue, we walked out to gather our herd of five from a large pasture. They were grazing at the far end. As the yellowing grasses crunched under our feet, I called to them: “Hooooors-ezz!” My horse Rusty picked his head up, ears forward, eyes shining and galloped straight to me, skidding to a stop and lowering his head. I stood beside him, not wanting to put the halter on and end a moment that was magic in its surprise. The joy of Rusty’s gallop toward me got me thinking that in those ten seconds, such a brief moment, all felt right with the world. My heart rested even as his leaped to power his gallop.

Because moments like these are what we have, aren’t they? Heart-bursting moments, scary moments, sad until your nose runs moments, wishing we were in control of it all moments; they are part and parcel of this being human thing.

I’d been letting world events get me so panicked that the very things that could banish it became invisible. I forgot the secrets I share with our horses. I’d been lost in the fog of what was happening, what could happen, and OMG please don’t let that happen. When I saw the beauty of Rusty’s gallop, it was brighter than any dark fog of worry. That moment reminded me to start paying attention to other moments; how it feels when a horse breathes into my ear. The warmth of their coats on a sunny day. Or the sound of a nicker when I bring them something good to eat. Those moments made shadows of my worry.

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Does any of this change the world? No, maybe not. Does it change how you interact with the world? It can. What I do know is that in the moments I feel as though my feet are frozen in place, when I pay attention around horses, there is a thawing that happens. I can think again and breathe again and take the next step without bolting for the nearest hiding place. Paying attention with horses may not make what is happening in our world any better, but it sure does make our internal world brighter. And we have our horses to thank for that.

“There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” Seneca

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Comments (111)

Guest
Aug 18, 2023

Thank you! I found this with my little mare. As I can´t ride anymore and she isn´t a horse happy to just stand around, she is ridden by others. Now I hear she is good in avoiding to work. When I say, no, she isn´t, probably they just didn´t give the right cues, all I get is blank stare, Seems that the idea, that a horse is always following the cues of the rider is not widley known....

Ursula,

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Cynthia McCormack
Cynthia McCormack
Jul 14, 2023

So very beautifully said!! 💜

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Guest
Jul 10, 2023

So true!

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sandy
Jul 09, 2023

I am reading Untethered Soul by Michael Singer for the second time. ( I considered it to be “ my bible” ten years ago after making a major life change). your beautiful poem is like having dessert after I just finished the last chapter! Crissi you are so beautiful from the inside out. 🙏💖

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Guest
Jul 06, 2023

I love this! I would also love to know more about Top. We have a 16 year old QH, whose previous job was a ranch horse, dragging calves, etc. We tease that his first answer is always a definitive "NO". He's coming closer to yes being his answer of choice for most things, but it's taken a long dang time.

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Guest
Jul 03, 2023

Such beautiful and thoughtful words. I shared with friends and they were equally taken with your poetry.

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Guest
Jul 03, 2023

Love Love Love this..... Thank you!

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Guest
Jul 01, 2023

So beautiful, so true . A perfect poem and a,great way of thinking about things. Thank you so much for sharing Crissi.

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crissimcdonald
Admin
Jul 02, 2023
Replying to

Thank you very much!

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Guest
Jul 01, 2023

Sweet and poignant. Thank you, Crissi.

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crissimcdonald
Admin
Jul 02, 2023
Replying to

You're welcome. Thanks for taking the time to watch it. :)

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Guest
Jul 01, 2023

Well said! Thank you for sharing in the moment.

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crissimcdonald
Admin
Jul 02, 2023
Replying to

Thank you!

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