Where is home?


Photo © 2021 Simone Sutherland-Keller ~ edited with Prisma app

Chapter 11


Simone and I were on the hunt for a boarding stable. Raven had been in quarantine for over a month, and before we started her strangles testing, we needed to find a place for her to live when I finally got to bring her home. Simone had just bought a little Yakima orphan mustang foal, so we both had horses that needed a place to call home.

We looked at a few places – a private property offering boarding, a self-care boarding facility – but the first rejected me on the basis of Raven’s strangles (fair enough) and the second was willing to take us, but they were located 30 minutes away from the city where we lived and to drive up twice a day to feed our horses would be difficult, especially in winter. Simone and I also both had horses with special circumstances. Her young mustang still needed to be gelded (relieved of his baby-mustang-making anatomy), Raven had just survived a contagious and life-threatening equine illness, and both ponies needed vaccines and boosters of those vaccines 3-4 weeks later. We were asking for a boarding stable to take us on with some rather risky baggage, and it wasn’t going well.

Simone is the one who found it – a place less than 10 minutes away from where each of us lived. I had no idea it was down the road from my apartment; I never drove that way down that particular road, always going towards work in the opposite direction. I couldn’t believe it – it was perfect. The property had nice, big pens with shelters for each horse, an indoor arena, a large outdoor arena, and a field out back with a grassy track. There was also access to a trail that went up the mountain with a city view at the top. Simone for the win!

We made an appointment with the barn owner and took a tour, talking about how we could make a boarding agreement with the special circumstances our horses brought with them. The owner must’ve believed in our trustworthiness, and said she would check with her vet and see what she could do to accommodate us if we could get a few things in order: for Simone, it would be gelding her intact mustang and having vaccines administered; for Raven, getting her three strangles tests done with negative results, and her first round of vaccines done. If all went according to plan and the barn owner’s vet made her feel comfortable bringing in a recovered strangles horse, then we would have a safe place to bring our new ponies.

During this hectic time, I was feeling like things were out of control. It wasn’t enough to save my mare from slaughter and then live happily ever after. Things kept getting thrown into our path, and I had to find a way over the next obstacle and keep looking ahead. I wrote in my journal at the time:

I guess I need to remember – I need to be patient – I need to learn patience, and know that I can only do so much, but I can’t control everything. I can do my best to help the situation, but I have no control over whether my horse doesn’t feel well, or how long it takes her to recover her full strength and health. I can only help her and love her, and make sure she has what she needs – the rest will take time.

I won’t give up, I’ve just had a setback. I just love my Raven girl and want her to be her spunky, beautiful self, and enjoy her second chance at life.

Right there was something that I really needed to learn – that I can’t control everything in my world. I had spent my entire life (fueled by anxiety) trying to anticipate and control the circumstances that I was confronted with. It was a way to protect myself and feel safe, though it never made me feel calm, just more anxious, because I was always trying to predict the worst outcome, and I thought that way I would be prepared for anything. It was like saying, That can’t hurt me, because I’ve already predicted how hurtful it can be. I wasn’t accepting that things were going to happen and I could not control them happening. I could only control my reaction to them and how I moved forward. In my life, when things were not easy, I would retreat and try to escape, or withdraw deeply inward and not want to face the hardship or setback. This new scenario presented a set of obstacles that I could choose to just withdraw from or escape from – but for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to. I was compelled to step up and confront the difficulties and seek out ways to resolve them instead of planning my retreat from them. Raven mattered enough to me to start chipping away at the protective barrier I had built around myself, and again, to start trying. I wasn’t stepping outside of my comfort zone to please other people, or even to help myself. It took an animal coming into my life to nudge me into personal growth. I told myself, One thing at a time.

And guess what? Those little bumps in the road were not the end of the fucking world, as I tend to make those things in my mind when they come along. Raven was cleared as no longer contagious for strangles and got her first set of vaccines. I kept the barn owner updated about the tests, and she agreed to let us board there, and even set us up in a little “quarantine” paddock out in the grassy track area until Raven could get her vaccines boosted. Simone’s little mustang was gelded and vaccinated, and would be situated in his own quarantine paddock across from Raven, so they would be able to keep each other company. All was coming together.

Simone and I took a chance on bringing each of our horses with baggage into our lives, but they were the horses we needed. Could we have just bought trained, healthy, “normal” horses that would be easy to accommodate? No! We had to make it an adventure – and that has made all the difference.

Simone & her mustang Ryker. Photo © 2021 Sasha Hoffman ~ edited with Prisma app

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