From the get-go, there are those who may take issue with the title of this blog post; namely my husband, who would prefer to tell everyone that I bought a horse! All kidding aside, he’s been a great sport about it, which is a good thing because as it turns out buying a horse is a family affair. I’ve been talking and dreaming and scheming about buying a horse for over a year now. There were always really valid reasons for NOT doing it. In fact, one may argue that when you add up the pros and the cons of horse ownership, only a fool would take the plunge. Call me a fool then, but I’ve fallen hook, line, and sinker.
There’s something as intangible about the reason for buying a horse as there is to having a child. My husband, an analytical engineer, really wanted me to be able to formulate WHY I needed to buy a horse. Even I could admit to him that there was no good reason, but simply that it was something my heart wanted beyond measure. Sometimes the best decisions in life come from that place – heart space.
I met Otis on the Thursday before Memorial Day. I cautioned my heart before walking into the barn; be reasonable I said. This is the first horse you’ve looked at. The chances are almost zero that this will be the one. Don’t get attached. Try to view this with your head and not your heart (ironically, this is the place where most of my worst decisions come from).
I slid open the door to his stall, and he gently made his way over to me. He immediately bowed his head into my hand and nuzzled. He let me nuzzle his face; his trust in me remarkable, even after all he’d been through that day (brought from his home to a new barn). We formed an alliance in one single moment. Me, a women who knows just enough about horses to be dangerous, and him, a horse who was willing to put his trust in me and hope for the best. I slipped his halter on over his ears, and he flinched. I later found out he doesn’t like having his ears touched. He also doesn’t like puddles of water, and he’s not sure about men. Gently together, we’re working though those things, and already he is happy to let me scratch his ears.
As I stood with him and watched him graze I thought about the leap of faith these animals must make each time they change hands, and find themselves in a new environment. And my responsibility to walk with him down that road together. He’s underweight and needs to eat more. He doesn’t know how to jump yet, and he’s not sure about having his back feet picked out. But his heart is huge. Everyone who met him that weekend commented on how gentle and affectionate he is. How loving and sweet.
I knew when I drove away from the barn that first night that Otis was mine. My head still mounted a silent rebellion: It’s the first one. You haven’t even tried another horse. You don’t know him well enough. But my heart crashed out the sound with a certainty I felt into my bones. When I got home I looked up the name Otis. I’m a big believer in these kind of messages from the universe. I smiled as soon as I saw it: Otis: One who listens well.
Indeed. Otis is a beautiful listener. Not in the sense that you might be thinking though. There are two kinds of listening. The first is the kind we tell our children to do: listen and OBEY. The second is the kind that we are all meant to do: listen and hear. Listen and feel. Listen and love. I bought Otis to be my companion in the round pen. To work with me, and my clients as we try to see ourselves more clearly. What more beautiful meaning to his name than one who listens. And in response to that, I am trying to be one who listens as well. I am not the owner of this animal. Sure, money changed hands so that he could be in my life. But the idea of owning Otis is absurd. He is as much of a free spirit as you or I. To believe any less is simply disrespectful. I am instead his partner. My end of the bargain is to keep him safe, well-fed, healthy, and hopefully happy. His end of the bargain is to be my teacher. With my ears and my heart wide open, it’s the start of a beautiful relationship.
From the get-go, there are those who may take issue with the title of this blog post; namely my husband, who would prefer to tell everyone that I bou...