The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, March 25, 2013


Sometimes an event pushes you past your comfort zone boundaries, in to a place that just plain hurts. It's how you decide to react to that event that determines what comes next. Do you sink in to a "sea of misery" or do you rise to the occasion, learn how to swim and push yourself to the next shoreline so you can move on?

Last week a well meaning, just a bit too enthusiastic young animal activist sent me a video. It was titled "A MESSAGE FOR YOU FROM A KILL BUYER". In the name of keeping to my word for this year, Center, and because I've always thought the other opinion was important to understand before I make decisions, I opened it. I thought maybe it would be from one of the people who used to work in that industry who had a story to tell or a suggestion to make about how to help. Or maybe it was even their side of the story, about why they thought horse slaughter had merit. On that one I already knew I wouldn't agree but listening and learning is always important.

It was an opinion, no doubt about it. And it was probably one of the most shocking videos I've ever watched because my guard was down. I was sitting here, drinking an afternoon cup of tea and catching up on email. I was relaxed, the sun was out and my huge, sweet smelling St. Bernard puppy was draped across my feet. I was open to suggestion and ready to listen.

It was a video made by a man from New Mexico, surprisingly well crafted. It starts with a handsome, young gelding standing in a small, slightly messy paddock. Sweet tempered young horse too, no fear on it's face...just curiosity. In the next frame you see the man,a skinny guy wearing a cowboy hat, walking towards the camera leading the gelding. He stops to pet the horse, then pulls a gun from a holster and shoots the handsome sorrel gelding (found out it was only two years old, later when I started to investigate the background on the video) in the forehead. The horse falls to the ground and, while the horse lays there thrashing, the man turns to the camera and says "F8ck you, animal activists!" He turns and looks at the dying horse and says "Good!" and walks out of camera range, leaving the horse there to die. 

I reacted all right. I cried so hard it made me sick. I cried for two days. I lost sleep, couldn't eat, had a hard time focusing on anything. I also ran for my own horses and Willow to check on them right away. It was an instinctive thing to do. The horse that died in the video looked exactly the way Lucky did when I brought him to anything I wanted to do, ready to go, sweet tempered and willing. Beautiful too. I felt like I had been sucker punched, right through the computer screen. I'd been accosted by a stone cold killer. That was the way it felt. 

It's taken a week of cleaning and organizing (I think better when I move) to make myself look at it from a different point of view. It's not easy to look death in the eye and do that.

This person, single handedly, has galvanized a much larger audience in to action with that four minute video. People who have been ignoring the issue of horse slaughter are paying attention. And people who've been vocal but not particularly active are doing something. Make no mistake, I would never condone that kind of video...ever. But he did kick the so called industry of horse slaughter in the pants when the video was published. 

I was already an activist. I sign petitions, write emails and make regular calls in support of the S.A.F.E. Act before Congress. If passed, it will make horse slaughter for consumption illegal in the USA and make the transferal of horses for slaughter,  across the borders in to Canada and Mexico illegal. It's a bi partisan bill, maybe the first in a long time, and my hope is that it will pass.

But what do I do? How do I react in a more effective way? My goals have changed direction because of that video. I need to pass, officially, through the upper levels of the Parelli program. I want my skills at a higher level so that I can begin to rescue horses, one at a time, and help to find them new forever homes. To do that I'm going to need help from a Parelli Professional or student who is much higher up than I am. I've pushed myself through Level 2 but I need to pass Level 3 and 4 (at least on the ground). I need advice on how to do this as safely as possible.

I've started an outline of steps ... my own patterns, so to speak. It's kind of scary when I begin to look at the whole picture. I can flip over to a RBE kind of panic when the goal begins to look like it's on the other side of a mountain range. So far I've been doing things by taking millions of baby steps, looking ahead but not too far. I can be very goal oriented and when I get like that with my horses things just don't work out the way I want them too. Much too direct line. So, step number one is : CENTER, my word for this year. Keep a balanced point of view. Use this huge wave of emotion to learn how to surf and reach the shore still standing.

Step number two : Improve my knowledge of technology. I'll need it to make audition videos and to send videos to the Parelli folks I would like to work with, so they can give me on line advice. Right now I'm more likely to be able to afford that rather than trying to get to a clinic. There aren't many of those in my neck of the woods anyway. (although I would probably go to one close in as an audit).

Step number three : Print out the list of things needed to do and begin to check them off, record them on Parelli Connect. I have a barn book that I write things down in but I lost my way a bit last year when I had an accident and scared the silly willies out of myself. Turns out that it's much harder to recover from brain freeze than broken bones. That will be my "million tiny steps".

Step four : Organize my time better. I'm an artist. I have a tendency to be intuitive about the way I structure my day. I've begun to change my habits and set times aside to reach my "million tiny steps" goals. Mornings have always been for barn chores and feeding horses, tidying up the house, and exercise. Now I need to set aside specific times to play/work with Lucky and Apache, Willow too. 

I need to clean up my act, so to speak.

Step five : Find a way to save money. I've already started making our own yogurt and kombucha, buying no packaged food at all. I'm going back to conserving the way I did when we were in college all those years ago. I need to be able to get myself to an instructor and spend an intense week or two being pushed outside my comfort zone HARD. We'll be growing the majority of our own vegetables this next year too. Buying organic is expensive and it's one of the places I won't give in or give up. Good food, exercise, sleeping well and being happy where I am, when I am and how I am are the best things I can do to help myself reach my goal. Those aren't hard goals to stay with. I already do that, fading hippy chick that I am.

My list goes on, but this is a good place to start. This is a hard old world. The only way to balance out the bad energy is by putting out my own little bit of good energy, staying positive and believing I can do this. I've stumbled through this so far. Now I want to dance.

Look out world, I'm coming through. 

I am, always, Nancy, smiling and taking a really deep breath... in with the good, out with the bad. " I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I KNOW I CAN.