The past lives of Max & Raven


Photo © 2022 Sasha Hoffman ~ Edited with Prisma app

Chapter 23


One day in June, I was chatting with one of my co-workers at the feed store about Raven and how I knew nothing of her history. My co-worker mentioned an animal communicator that she had enlisted to help with her dogs, and how the over-the-phone session had provided some clarity and improvement. I’m open-minded about spirituality and the possibilities outside of what we can explain, and besides, I was interested in anything that helped me to better communicate with Raven. I decided to give it a try–it couldn’t hurt to get some perspective on my animals.

I emailed the lady that my co-worker recommended and set up a time for her to call. She asked for a list of questions that I wanted her to ask Max and Raven, as well as a picture of each of them. When the time came for her to call, I had a notebook and pen ready to write down her answers so I could look back on them later.

At the time, ever since Max and I moved into an older, less expensive apartment, Max had been constantly vomiting up his dry food (which he bolted down as if it were going to disappear) as well as his canned food. I worked at a feed store and so I had been experimenting with better quality, higher-priced foods and scrutinizing ingredients. I had done a lot of research and even started him on a freeze-dried raw diet which was costing a pretty penny, but I was concerned about him. I had had him checked at the vet and run expensive bloodwork to rule out any diseases. He was perfectly healthy, in good weight despite the vomiting, and he was always his energetic, playful self. I was at a loss.

The animal communicator, Suzan Vaughn, suggested that there may be some food-related allergies and listed some ingredients to avoid. As for his past life, she stated that he had been born in a house; someone had taken in his pregnant mother and took care of her. After that, she mentioned that he had been in a place with a lot of cats in one room. I had adopted him from a shelter where all of the cats were kept in kennels in the same room, but I have been to a lot of animal shelters, and that’s pretty typical of one.

I had more questions about Raven, though. Where did she come from? How did she end up where I found her? What happened to her in quarantine before I could pick her up? Did she hear me when I spoke to her before I met her, telling her to pull through? What could I do to help her? What did she need from me? Did she have a registered/other name? How do we become our best together?

Suzan said Raven had no other name, or at least no registered name; this was something I was curious about because at some point I was hoping to have her DNA tested at the Arabian Horse Association, which has kept DNA on file for all registered Arabians and half-Arabians since the early 2000s. If she was a DNA match, I could find out where she was bred and maybe discover some details of her history.

She also said that Raven showed her what life was like before the feedlot–standing in a field, eating grass or whatever she could find, no person feeding her. She was not wild, just neglected. Someone enticed her with hay and grain to get in a trailer and took her to what must have been an auction or the feedlot. During her quarantine, she said it was hard for her to be confined–she was claustrophobic, used to wide open spaces; she had been separated from the herd at the lot, not bonded with others, and she felt very alone, isolated, and was climbing the walls (that sounded familiar!). Confinement made her crazy. She said that people were not mean, but when she saw someone coming, it was about getting a shot or medication, and it was not pleasant when people showed up.

As for training, the lady said there had not been much of it. She said Raven was a “product”–she had been ridden, but there was minimal interaction with people and certainly no “heart connection.” She said it was always the same guy getting on her, though not often, and the signals he gave her were very unclear. She didn’t know what he wanted, he would get angry, and she was confused. I thought that was pretty interesting, and it fit into what I was seeing with Raven so far. At first I may have interpreted her refusal to go forward as not wanting to do what I asked, but it looked more and more as if she was just very green and not quite sure what I was asking from her.

Photo © 2022 Sasha Hoffman ~ Edited with Prisma app

Suzan told me that Raven was learning with me that a horse can have a heart connection and be more than a tool or performer. She said she told Raven to be calm and slow, that she can hurt people by bucking them off, that we’re smaller and more fragile (“though that hasn’t been her experience,” she noted). She said Raven was still recovering from something with her sinus/nose dripping but she was at about 80%, and the place where she was now boarded was 100% better than the feedlot; she felt much calmer and no angst. She said she’d like time together with no expectations, and that she’s “not in her legs and needs to be grounded”–Suzan suggested the TTouch (a bodywork method created by Linda Tellington-Jones) to help ground her. She said Raven was overwhelmed with energy and needed to express it before rides with turnout. As far as past injuries, she stated that there was a strained hip, her left hind ligaments had been stretched/torn. It had affected her walk at the time, and she had to work through it without being able to rest the whole time, but that it was good now. She told me that Raven said, “Please tell her I’m grateful, she saved my life,” and she would try to slow down and do the ride thing right. Apparently she also requested some “cool foods” like watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. After all, it wouldn’t be realistic for a horse to sit through a bunch of impertinent human questions without inquiring about more food!

Though I found the reading of my animals intriguing, I took things with a grain of salt. Of course there wasn’t much I could verify, not knowing anything about Raven’s background, but it did give me some real perspective. The part about her being left alone in a field and ridden a few times, which were confusing and unclear experiences for her, had a ring of truth to it. If anything, it made me mindful of being patient with her and not assuming that she knew certain things just because she had been ridden for a video at the feedlot. I suppose it was another avenue of communication, another way for me to listen to my mare and adjust how I worked with her. Even if none of it was true, it still gave me some insight into our interactions and her responses to what I asked her to do. It didn’t hurt to remind me to slow down and give her more time to figure things out. At this point, I would take all the help I could get.

Eventually, I found the right food for Max and elevated his food bowl, which nixed the vomiting. As for Miss Raven, in the next month our journey would take us back to the ranch nestled in the Cascades for some much-needed guidance.

And it turns out Raven likes all kinds of melons (watching her chow through a halved watermelon during a heat wave last summer was pretty entertaining). She can’t say I didn’t listen to her!

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