Today is my horse, Denali’s 20th birthday. I have owned him 10 years in which the time has flown by. We have been through a lot, with Denali being diagnosed with EPM 8 years ago. It was tough to have a super athletic horse go to a mostly to sometimes sound horse, but at least he is safe to ride. Over the years I have learned so much about myself through him and he has been a good teacher both on the ground and from the saddle.
You can say it was love at first site when I met him. I just really liked him. I knew when I was driving out to try him out that I was going to buy him. It didn’t take but me sitting on his back to confirm this. I didn’t really have the money to be buying a horse so I did what any irrational horse person does – I put him on a credit card at a 2.9% interest rate. It was cheap money to borrow and he was worth every penny! I had been away from riding for a few years so it took a while to get my confidence and seat back. We had fun working on the flat, jumping, and going for an occasional trail ride for a couple of years.
Then things changed after I moved boarding facilities. He didn’t want to move forward at all. I had the vet out to look and he couldn’t find any explanation for the lameness. I thought time would help but it didn’t. I sent him to a friend’s place for some training thinking it was me. Then I got the dreaded phone call – your horse is acting ataxic and we think it is EPM. The vets didn’t believe it but they gave us the medicine anyway, and the light came back on in Denali’s eyes. Of course the whole vet process and the phone call came the week of my wedding which was not good for my stress level, but thankfully it all worked out.
After that it was rehab – slow and steady wins the race. It took over a year for Denali to do a full body shake after getting up from rolling. It was a time of patience and perseverance. I started riding him after a year or so. We were doing good until he tripped and pile-drove me to the ground one day. That really shook me up so I called an animal communicator. It felt like there was more to it than tripping and there was. According to the animal communicator Denali said “He did it on purpose. He was tired of my crap and me not being grounded. He didn’t want to talk.” I didn’t know what ‘grounded’ was. Well I went in search of it and found it.
I went to a Equine Experiential Learning workshop in California a couple months after the incident and started to grasp how I was living not fully present and grounded in my body. With the help of a teacher here in Boise and a year long Equine Experiential Learning facilitator training workshop in California I really started to work on myself. (Yes I am qualified to lead Equine Experiential Learning workshops – maybe one day I will). It would take years of working to get my boundaries and empath abilities in a good position to function in the world while remaining grounded in my body. I have Denali to thank for this because without that wakeup message I don’t know where I would be right now.
Fast forward to now. I go out to visit him every week, sometimes once a week and other times several times a week. I try not to have expectations of what we are going to do because I could go out there and he doesn’t want to be ridden, or other times I don’t want to ride and he says get on. Its the vise versa too, there are times when I really want to ride and I can tell he doesn’t want to, but I hear him say lets go. I just listen to my horse and what he would like to do just as much as he listens to me. I think it is two way street when we give our horse a voice.
I know we are tightly woven, he is my special horse. I ride him in my dreams doing the work of the light. He comes to me in dreams to let me know what is bothering him or if there is something he needs – he lets me know that he protects me, he is my warrior horse. I know he is with me during the day too. I can hear him say ‘why haven’t you taken me here’, when I am out at Celebration Park. I love this horse so much. I would never change anything even though it would have been wonderful to have had a sound horse the past eight years, but what is even more wonderful is to have had this amazing animal in my life. Denali has pushed me to grow into the person I am today.
What does the future hold – that is to be decided in the future, but what I do know is that my photography is morphing along with my myself and my relationship with Denali. I am now only doing equine, family and pet portrait work along with my contract job providing photography for Idaho Life Magazines. I have a photo project brewing, which I hope to get a start on this year – it is going to be amazing! And it might just morph into something big and even more amazing! Stay tuned.
Happy 20th Birthday Denali! I love you – Tracey