Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teachings from the Four-legged Kids in My Life

I think it's no secret to my readers that I love horses. I've been truly blessed to have had these amazing animals in my life since I was about five-years-old. There is something sacred and powerful in having a relationship with a horse. At least for me it is. I started really thinking about my relationships with each individual horse in my life, and like a good friend, each one teaches me something on a regular basis about life, family, love, my writing, friendship, etc...

I thought I'd share what I am learning from my family of four-legged kids over the next few days. I'd also love to hear back from you as to what the animal kingdom has shared with you.

I thought I would start with Krissy. Krissy is my nineteen-year-old Thoroughbred/Warmblood mare. Krissy came into my life five-years ago. I purchased her from a jumper barn where she had been a pretty successful show jumper. My hope for her was to continue jumping with me, but at lower levels than what she had been doing. I figured she would be a great teacher, and she has been. Just not in the way I expected.

Krissy and I quickly bonded. She is very sweet and kind, and we immediately became friends. Not long after bringing her home, I would notice on occasion that she was a little off. For the non-horsey folks here that basically means that she seemed to be having some lameness issues. I had the vet out and we did various tests on her to determine where the lameness was coming from. Long story short, after two years of ups and downs, we discovered that Krissy is a wobbler. This means she has a neurological condition stemming from the vertebrae in her neck. It could be hereditary, but with this horse most likely it was caused by an injury.

I retired Krissy and was pretty devastated. However, little did I know what this mare would now become for me. She has become a teacher in patience and acceptance. Her diagnosis paralleled my Dad's diagnosis of multiple systems atrophy, a neurological disease as well.

Now, I have had people ask me why I keep the horse around. She costs me a lot of money to feed and keep. There are some who have even suggested having her put down. Some horse people feel that unless a horse can be ridden, then he is no longer useful. I disagree.

Krissy has shown me in her own way that every living being is of value. When I go out to see her, she always, always nickers at me showing me that she is happy I am around. She always puts her head down for me to scratch her face and tell her how much she is loved. But it isn't a one way street. Love translates in all languages (animal and human. In fact, there is a dog licking my toes at the moment. Oh wait. That is because there is a bone near my feet). I can actually feel the love and gratitude that Krissy has for me. It is through her that I have learned to accept that not everything in life is going to be the way you want it. Not everything is always "peachy keen." There are ups and downs such as my dad getting sick, my mare getting sick, etc... However, it is in how you handle those things. Drama does nothing for us but bring on stress and discomfort. Staying grounded in the face of things that we can not control helps us move through the difficult times.

Right now as my Dad deals with a disease that has imprisoned his body, I see how he has gracefully accepted what he has to deal with. In some ways, he reminds me of Krissy who just allows and yet still loves, still shares and teaches me everyday that life is always good. It's just a matter of how you view it.
Krissy and me