Blog 9 May 31 2018
“The Cowboy and the Questions…”
After carefully planning my route for convenient rest areas and gas station stops, Rhett and I arrived at the clinic facility.
We walked around the property and got him settled into his large paddock with his hay bags, water buckets, feed pans and salt and mineral blocks. It went pretty well considering he had had so many changes over the last 7 weeks and had traveled many hours in a trailer to a new location.
I was feeling happy and looking forward to seeing what Rhett had to show us about any previous ‘training’ as I only had stories of what he had been through. Rhett seemed to be in a good place too and for that, I was so thankful.
At home, his only learning over the weeks had consisted of learning to live in a herd, learning new rules for space conversations with humans and horses and learning to get in a trailer.
I took Rhett to one of the best natural horsemen in the country. As he/we worked with Rhett over a several day period, it became clear he wasn’t going to quit his very dangerous habit of kicking out whenever you got near his girth or hind legs. Several times he came at the Cowboy.
It is a miracle neither Rhett or the Cowboy were not badly injured during the process. We were doing our best to do right by this horse and it became clear over those several days that what works with 99% of horses was not going to work with Rhett.
Hindsight is the ability to understand, after something has happened, why or how it was done and how it might have been done better. How many times do we think about scenarios ‘in hindsight’. In hindsight, I would have done B instead of A. In hindsight, I would have done C instead of B. Hindsight creates different a set of memories than reality.
In the big picture and scheme of things, we were all trying to help Rhett. The Cowboy was trying to help Rhett, and Rhett was being, well…..Rhett. Fault can be found with all of us, but we were all trying to do our best at the time.
I sought out the Cowboy’s help and he did his best, but it wasn’t the right plan for Rhett. I thought what was being done to him was needed to find out what he knew and what he didn’t know. That was not the case as it turned out.
There were several times over the course of those days that I thought about pulling him early from the clinic, but I guess I just kept hoping the Cowboy could ‘fix’ him. They would make 2 steps forward, 3 steps back some days and other days, 5 steps forward and 3 steps back.
But Rhett’s indomitable spirit, his absolute refusal to get with the cowboy’s program was the factor that made things escalate past the point of normal horse ‘fixing’. The Cowboy said several times that all of Rhett’s challenges were totally ‘man-made’, that no horse would be like this of his own accord. How very sad for everyone involved.
After several days of seeing not much progress and seeing some extremely unpredictable and dangerous behaviors, the Cowboy recommended considering euthanasia for Rhett. The Cowboy was trying to protect me and possibly anyone else from future harm. The tying up of Rhett’s hind leg was to try and solve the dangerous situation around Rhett’s hindquarters and violent , lightning fast kicking.
The whole situation had been based on trying to make Rhett safer to be around. And Rhett refused all conversation and suggestions, with gusto. (Like, ‘holy Toledo, someone is going to die’ gusto…)
Seeing what I saw, feeling what I felt, crying as I did in the moments with the Cowboy working with Rhett, did send this safety factor and many other questions and thoughts flooding my brain.
What kind of traumatized horse had I adopted? What amount of damage did Rhett have that this professional Cowboy couldn’t ‘fix’? What business did I have thinking I could help him?
That week was the distant past for Rhett and me and we found ourselves in a much different place after those clinic days. It did lead to a way forward for him. A way forward for me. A way forward for US. (Learning and Life Lesson)
Those days with the Cowboy are what showed me the problems and their severity. Those days didn’t lead me to a solution but they led me to a change in thinking, feeling and being with horses. (Life Lesson)
Obviously, Rhett wasn’t euthanized. (Years later, I found out that euthanasia was recommended on two other occasions… so now, three times total.) Those days led to a horse worth fighting for. Those days led to the beginning transformation of who Rhett would become and who I would become. It wouldn’t be easy, it sure wouldn’t be quick. Those days led to my learning path progression that was worth fighting for.
We experience things in our life to show us a different way. We experience things in our life to fail epic-ally but it is through our failures that miracles can occur. (Life Lesson).
For everything, Life is made up of moments. Most of the life we live, we don’t remember. Even if it’s stored somewhere on our mental hard drives, retrieving most memories isn’t in our ability. What we do remember, on the other hand, are the moments that impacted us most.
So for Rhett, his past was getting in the way of his present moment with The Cowboy. How horrible a life had Rhett had previously to have this level of anger, fear and worry about humans, ropes, saddles, tarps, barrels and whips?
We remember the things that change us most in life, which is why we remember our first times better than we remember anything else. The bigger the first, the greater the influence, and the more it changes your life.
“What was Rhett’s true beginning like?” I thought many times.
Most of these experiences we can’t possibly understand without experiencing them ourselves. How can we possibly understand the experiences a horse as had from neglect and abuse? We can imagine how we might feel, but we can’t actually know. We almost entirely only know and understand what we experience firsthand. (Learning Lesson)
All we can do is see it, feel it, acknowledge it and move on. We can’t really ‘change’ it until both parties are willing.
Rhett had his long overdue teeth done over the next day after the clinic ended and then we headed home.
Home, where the heart is.
Home, where Rhett and I would enter into a mutual ‘contract’ of learning what works and what doesn’t for us both. A home where he doesn’t have to worry about being ‘fixed’ as we would figure it out together. We were headed home.
“Yes, let’s go home” Rhett announced to anyone that was listening. (Language Lesson)
Do you see your personal ‘lesson’ in this story so far?
Next: “Let’s start anew Rhett….”
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