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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Grief So Deep, So Searing

Bluebird (Hobby on top)

There’s a point in the mourning process where no amount of comfort or consoling will help. In fact, it may hurt no matter the intent. Perhaps this is the stage of disbelief, I don’t know. But I am at that point right now. Have been for quite some time.

I don’t want words of comfort, no hugs, no sympathy. I only want my loved ones back. I heard a song the other night that included a phrase, “How do I turn your memory / Back into you instead?” (Symphony in 16 Bars, Kenny White) It really cut to my heart. That’s exactly how I feel.

At this point in my life, though I feel yet young, a fledgling in this thing called life, I have experienced too many losses. They seem to be piling up and each one only gathers all those before into a larger yarn ball of grief.

Just last month I lost not only Rainbow and Twygal but also found out that Fred, another of my colony cats, had died back in October. Of course all the pain from those losses entwined so closely with those of earlier times. The ties that bind. Twygal brought forth memories of Gabbie, Gabrielle’s Galaxy, her namesake, lost in ’94 before Twygal was even born. Thoughts of Mouse, her supposed mother, bring a sad smile to my face. And Aztec, my precious princess, wanders into my thoughts, a very special girl also born in ’94 and lost too soon.
Twygal, Aztec, Rainbow
Rainbow heralds her sister Ozma and her half brother Little Boy, her mother Hobby and the sisters I didn’t keep, Harvest and Jacqueline. Fred, who was once Toe to me, reminds me of Tic and Tac who died only babies, too young to fight. Bluebird, the first of her litter to leave brings back the anguish of losing her mother to diabetes as well as worries for the future of her brothers.

Effie & kittens, Fuzzball, Question, Bluebird
All of these thoughts crowd my senses and stop me from time to time, freeze my thought processes and keep me from creating. Every day I’m brought right back to a time when they were still here. Feeding times mean that Rainbow is no longer on top of the freezer demanding her food, Bluebird’s spot on the shelf is now taken by Glitter and the cat tree is empty, no Twygal to call for my attention.


Pill time means fewer pills to set out, no fluids for Rainbow to fight. Shopping for cat food is no longer the Great American Search for the new foods Rainbow or Bluebird might try. Now I can buy specific foods for the remaining cats and they will eat them. At bedtime Rainbow and Bluebird no longer fight for a spot under the blankets with me and Twygal’s purr no longer rests upon my side as I try to sleep.

My spirit has been injured, my heart broken into so many pieces I’ll never puzzle it back together again. And every pieces carries a soul indelibly fixed in my circle of muses. Someday Rainbow will be our guide back together again.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tennessee Walking Horses

Bunny, a Quarter Horse
I am in tears and not for the reason you'd think. I just watched this video from ABC News Nightline and can't believe the things we humans do to animals that trust us.

All my life I've watched horse shows admiring the beauty of the species, watching the "natural" gaits and the "free" spirits as they floated around the rings. As I got older I began to realize the realities of those spectacles and lost my love for the sport. I knew that poor Hackney ponies were forced to wear chains on their feet in order to make them lift their legs up high in the ring.

I learned that those beautiful flowing tails were broken to make them stand up tall. And I discovered that Tennessee Walking Horses didn't really have that exaggerated gait naturally. I began to wonder just how it was that they got those Western Pleasure horses to hang their heads so darn low to the ground.

I thought I'd heard that a lot of these practices were now banned in show horses but haven't seen a society horse show in many years nor looked into that world in quite some time. I remember years and years ago seeing those horses in their stalls struggling to stand comfortably with their feet fixed with extra high "lifts" on their hoofs. But then I stopped seeing hoofs fixed quite so high and hoped that things had changed. Now, from what they've shown on this video I see that things haven't changed all that much.

Horses are special creatures. If you've ever known a horse you will understand that. A horse is naturally a prey animal but somehow trusts us enough to partner with us as we ride or drive them. To truly enjoy your time with a horse you develop a strong bond with that animal. I always felt that I became a part of the horse and the horse a part of me when I worked with my own.

I knew what Gaucho would shy at long before he even noticed it. I could feel how Mike wanted me to adjust my posture to make his stride more comfortable as the grade of the trail changed. I knew when Blueboy was having trouble with his footing and changed our path or got off of him. And when Toby was done for the day I knew when to turn around and head back to the barn even though he was willing to go on.

Most importantly I took care of my horses and listened to their needs. We enjoyed each other's company.

Why do owners think that Tennessee Walking horse gait is so important that they'd allow someone to torture trusting horses in such a cruel fashion? It doesn't look right at all. I'd rather see they lope and canter like a normal horse. Why does a horse have to lift its feet so darn high while pulling a buggy? Aren't horses showy enough as they are? And why in the world do they think that a Western Pleasure horse gets any pleasure out of holding its head down so low to the ground? That's not the proper posture for horses; I worry that they might be injuring their backs.

If you were able to watch that video what did you think? Have you ever wondered what went on behind the scenes of horse training? What about racing horses? Do you wonder what weaknesses are bred into those poor horses just so they can move faster? Think about it as you watch the Preakness this weekend.

I love reading comments from my readers. Please let me know your views on horses and our relationships with them.