Not in a Rocking Chair

Posted by Sharon Labels: ,

Lately several people have been telling me its time to slow down. A series of incidents inspired those comments, the latest an injury to my leg when my horse hit it jumping a ditch in the bush behind me. Although I appreciate the concern of well-meaning friends and family, Joyce’s comment on Facebook when I posted a “Note to self” is the one that lifted me most.

“Wouldn’t have happened in your rocking chair!” Joyce said.

Indeed it would not have and aren’t I happy that isn’t all there is to my life! My leg will heal just fine and I don’t regret any of the decisions that led up to the injury. I enjoyed taking my little mare on a new experience that day. I loved teaching her new things and sharing my day with her!

It was Sapphire I saddled to check the fence at the river's edge last Friday, a beautiful, warm fall day. Since the ‘path’ directly to the corner along the fence was overgrown, I crossed the river channel downstream and rode on the river rocks along the river, then cut into the bush to get to the corner. The river had collapsed the fence there  in the spring and would need to be repaired.

I rode across this channel and around the trees to follow the river.
Sapphire quite willingly negotiated the underbrush to the corner, where I got off and checked out the fence while she quite patiently waited.

The view up river from the corner of the fence.
To exit, I decided to lead her along the fence through the bush back into the open instead of going back over the rocks and she seemed amenable to that. But, just before we stepped in to the open again, we must cross a small ditch. I could not get to the side but gave her lots of rein - not enough I guess because she jumped the ditch and hit the back of my calf with a foot.

It hurt, of course, but I didn’t think it would be more than a bruise. Not so. My jeans soaked with blood and the incident ended with a trip to the Red Cross outpost so the nurse there could suture it.

So, Joyce – you’re right! That would not have happened in a rocking chair. It would not have happened either if I had quit training horses or had been too chicken to give my young mare a new experience riding through thick brush! And I am so happy I can say that! The life style is worth the risks.

Joyce was probably referring to a line from my book, “A Life with Horses”, where I wrote, “When I am old and sitting in a rocking chair, I'll have memories.”

That would be “when I am old”! And, in a rocking chair or not, I’ll have a scar on the back of my leg to remind me of a ride along the Chilcotin River on one of my favourite mares...

She Breathes on my Heart

Posted by Sharon Labels: , , , ,

"In the steady gaze of my horse shines a silent eloquence that speaks of love and loyalty, strength and courage. It is the window that reveals to me how willing her spirit, how generous her heart."

The above roughly-paraphrased quote from an unknown author embodies a sentiment I have always known to be true but of which I am reminded of from time to time. This past week was one of those times.

My connection to my horses and theirs to me has always been strong, so much so that I take little notice but sometimes what passes between us is more - telepathic, even spiritual. So palpable I can 'feel' it. I write about such a time in the blog posts, A Peace in their Presence, a morning when my mares bathed me in peace and softness, and A Filly Named Feather, how a special filly lifted me. Then, in A Life With Horses, about how four foals supported me in the only way they knew how at a particularly difficult time in my life:
Oddly, the four foals sensed my emotional dependency. They attached themselves to me in an almost protective way. They never failed to greet me when I walked into their field. They checked in to see how I was doing and then, satisfied I was all right, wandered back to their mothers. I thought they needed me (and of course they did), but they knew I needed them more. They gave me a safe place to fall. (From A Life With Horses)
August 2004: Wildwood Honor, Wildwood Splendor, Running With Wolves, Wildwood Courage

This past week my horses again offered a safe, soft place to fall.

Wildwood Sapphire

I arrived back home from an overnight in Emergency at Williams Lake hospital (See I Fought Them All and They All Won) last Sunday afternoon and immediately checked my horses. I could see the four mares that pastured together in the river field waiting at the fence to greet me and I walked there first. Something was different. Although they often come for a visit, today they were more attentive. Actually, where they before asked for attention, now they were giving attention. I first noticed the change in Sapphire, my four-year-old mare. She hung at the fence longer, lowered her head to be stroked, ran her nose up and down my arm and face. Breathed on me. Generally, she and her friend, Mistral, both came to me but that day, Sapphire was more interested in me than Mistral. She wanted to be at my side.

Wildwood Soul O Silk

Silk also, was unusually attentive. Her eyes never left me, her ears forward listening, her body relaxed and giving. Although she always looks at me like she really 'sees' me, now she looked at me with tenderness too. Was I imagining this? I don't think so because two days later, as I walked down the trail to the bottom, the mares met me. Silk looked at me again like that as if to say, " I am so glad to see you! I was just coming up to check..." 

I love this mare with a love that frightens me. Her soul and mine are enmeshed in a way I cannot explain. Although I have the support of friends and family, Silk is here for me every day in every way. I feel that although she does not speak. No. She does speak  . . . but in a different language . . . and I am so grateful. 

Of all the horses I have ever owned, Silk is perhaps the most intuitive. Highly intelligent with a raw energy that could scare some riders, she and I bonded the day she was born and we have not been apart for long ever since that time. She likes to know where I am and the feeling is mutual.

That these two mares of all my horses should be the ones who "gathered 'round" for the past several days should not have surprised me. Sapphire is Silk's daughter. She is also the daughter of Running With Wolves, one of the four foals in the photo above.

I didn't catch Sapphire last Sunday even though she wanted me to. On Monday, though, I relented. I turned her in the pen opposite the house, the one I can see from my window. We're both happy with that arrangement. On Tuesday I rode her to check fence/ gate in the river field. Although she is often high-spirited like her mother, looking for bears in the bush, she was not that day. She walked quietly, head down and relaxed as we circled the pasture, waded into the channel of the river and up the hill home again. Sapphire is continuing the legacy of her dam, Silk and maybe her grandmother, Tamarac, great-grandmother, Mahogany, and great-great grandmother, Duchess. All those fine mares "carried me" in good times and in challenging ones.

To some of my readers, this may seem like a lot of nonsense; others will understand perfectly. As I heal and adjust to a new reality, I value even more the company of my horses, who give back more than I can ever give to them. They breathe on my heart.   

I Fought Them All and They All Won

Posted by Sharon

Sometimes the best way to tell a not-so-funny story is to see the hunour in it. Reliving the past weekend is one of those times.

The days preceding the weekend were typical work days – feeding, caring for and riding my horses, house work, yard work, and garden - with one exception. Unrelenting sciatic pain made everything I did harder. As the week progressed, I decreased my work load, riding only two horses every day and those with vague symptoms of light-headedness that I attributed to lack of sleep as well as body pain. On Saturday morning I promised myself I would ride three horses. After  a short ride on Wolf (just getting in him in shape), I broke for lunch then, in he afternoon, I rode Mistral and Peace. When I came back in the house for a cold drink, however, I knew I must make a call to the nurse at Alexis Creek – there was stuff going on with me that needed to be checked out.

I called Heather, advised her of my symptoms and before I could say any more, she told me she was coming out to see me. This is where things started to get out of control.

Heather arrived with a bag and a machine that would soon be hooked up to my body. As I lay on my own couch with wires attached to me, she watched the results for a few minutes before telling me, in no uncertain terms, that I would have to go to Williams Lake – by ambulance!

“No,” I said. “I can’t!” The already-erratic lines on the paper spewing from Heather's machine squiggled even more wildly. (My heart was beating at up to 160 beats per minute.)

“I can’t leave.”

“You have to.”

I resorted to pleading.

“Not by ambulance, please. Too much drama. Someone will drive me.”

“No, Sharon. By ambulance. I’m going to phone.” (Lost this one…)

I let this sink in.

“Can I go out and get everything ready with the horses?”

“No. You can’t. We’ll look after everything.”

“Well, can I make some calls?” Heather took some of the paraphernalia off of me so I could call a friend to look after my horses and dogs. I did that and then I saw my opportunity.

“I’m going out now,” I announced as I headed for the steps downstairs.

“I’ll come too,” Heather said. (Won this one…)

Back inside, resigned to the inevitable, I packed a few things to take with me. When the ambulances (not one, but two – don’t ask!) arrived, I was ordered back on the couch (Lost this one – one nurse and three paramedics in the room…) where Heather started an IV, commenting that I was "tough everywhere" when she couldn't get the needle in.

“I wanted to get her on oxygen but she wouldn’t stay still long enough,” she told the paramedics. (A small victory… I just ran around the yard getting set up to leave – how could I need oxygen?)

Finally, everyone was happy that we were ready to go. A brief discussion with one of the paramedics determined that he would hold the bag attached to my IV as I made my way to the ambulance. I got up and started walking.

“Slow down!” (Apparently the man could not keep up with me…)

Then I saw the stretcher at the bottom of my steps.

“You want me on that?” I asked. “I don’t need to go on a stretcher! (Lost again...)

So they hoisted me up into the ambulance like I’ve seen a thousand times on television . . . and I immediately became claustrophobic!

“I can’t do this!” I said.

“Do you want to drive?” asked the driver.

“Yes.” (I lost this one too, of course - it was a rhetorical question.)

So for that outburst I got a shot of Atavan. (Fought that too and lost!)

It's a good thing I didn’t know until later that the RCMP had set up a road block at the end of my driveway, completely unrelated to my situation. I wish I had the picture my neighbour described to me: Road block with RCMP, two ambulances driving out of my driveway and my friend with truck and trailer stopped on the highway waiting to turn in to my driveway! (And I didn't want any drama!)

In emergency at Williams Lake hospital, I was transferred to a bed, hooked up to various wires and tubes (including oxygen - yes, they got their way in that one, too!). The doctor assessed my condition and advised me that I might need a pacemaker (situation going from bad to worse!) but, after all tests were complete, diagnosed my condition as atrial tachycardia and told me he would put me on beta blockers. I could go home in the morning if I was stable. Good news!

I cannot find anything humourous to write about my overnight in emergency on a Saturday night of a long weekend in the Chilcotin. The high point of the evening was when the nurse brought me a phone and I heard the voice of a friend on the other end of the line. I assured her ( and her me...), then kept the phone for a few more calls including one to the good friend feeding my horses and caring for my dog, Mischa.

The next morning, I was released and had to call for a ride home. As I said to the paramedics, "You mean you can take me against my will but you won't bring me home?"

As I waited for my ride, a chance conversation with a man waiting for treatment, yielded unexpected offers - he wanted to know if I wanted a room mate and then asked me out. "You seem to be a nice lady," he said. (Not that nice...)

So I am home now, very glad to be here and feeling a little more in control. But, for a few hours last weekend, I was not . . . and there seemed to be very little I could do about it!

I fought them all, they all won! Damn! Hate it when that happens...

PS Thanks to Heather (nurse at Alexis Creek), paramedics, doctor and nurses in Williams Lake, Crystal and Tim (who did chores and kept Mischa), my friends and family for support and Marion (who was prepared to   drive from Alberta  and stay at my place should my 'hospital holiday' be any longer!)