Meet the Herd Monday | In Memoriam | Beau

Barn name: Beau
Registered Name: Wonder Wind Light
Breed: American Quarter Horse
April 8, 1988 – November 23, 2017

One October day in 1992, my life was indelibly changed by a young, sorrel Quarter Horse gelding with big ears and a quirky personality. Beau has been a constant, central presence in my life ever since. On Thanksgiving, our paths diverged for the first time in 25 years. The truth is that words cannot sufficiently express my sadness, the impact my sweet boy had on my life, or how much I will miss him. He was a steadfast partner and one of my greatest teachers. My heart is grateful for his full, well-lived life and all that we have shared.

As herd animals, horses depend on the company of their herdmates for safety, survival, and companionship. When Beau, a scrawny, four-year-old sorrel gelding, came home as my first horse, I became his herd.  Literally.  It would be several years before another horse would come, and even then, their stay would be temporary.  For years, it was just the two of us, and I credit this for the strength of our bond, even when he did join a herd eventually.

As I’ve prepared to write this post as a eulogy of sorts, I’ve struggled with what to say.  How will it ever be enough to capture his essence?

And then, in a recent session with my program coach, she asked, “What’s your favorite memory of Beau?”

I couldn’t help but smile, and in that moment, I remembered that THAT is what it is all about – the things that instantly bring a smile to our faces.

On Thanksgiving, we were getting ready to sit down for dinner around my parents’ table when I got the call that Beau was down and unable to get back up.  As we waited for the next call saying that the vet had come and he was gone, there were plenty of tears, anger, and a just enough shared memories to take the edge off. My dad told a story about how early on, when he was working on Beau’s shelter in the paddock, he was looking for the hammer, only to turn around and find that Beau had it in his mouth.  Beau always had the best sense of humor I’ve ever seen in a horse and, despite the sadness, we all smiled.

Grief is sneaky and shifty.  The raw moments tend to slam me out of nowhere while others are soft, bittersweet, and nostalgic.  With a few weeks behind me, the raw moments are fewer and farther between. I’m able to view his long life and our time together with an abundance of gratitude.  In hindsight, it was clearly his time. The things that make me smile are a touchstone, a way through the rest of my path without him by my side.  I’m so fortunate that I have so many to choose from.

That is how I have chosen to honor him: with smiles.  Over time, I will add to the list and, maybe in the end, I’ll capture his essence after all.

Do you have a favorite memory of Beau? Leave a comment, and I’ll add it to the list.

I love you, my sweet boy.  Until next time,

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As a herd of two, Beau and I spent a lot of time playing horsey games, and one of our favorites was ‘tag.’ As I would go one way, he would follow, much like a cutting horse following a cow.  We spent hours goofing around this way.

My mom and I were hauling Beau down the highway on our way to on of our first horse shows, when the two-horse trailer started rocking, which shook the vehicle too.  We had just gone past an exit, so we pulled over to see what was causing the problem.  When we checked in the trailer, Beau had gotten his front legs into the manger, and one of his back legs over the trailer divider.  There we were, pretty far from home with no idea how we were going to help him out in order to assess for injuries.  As there were no cell phones then, I really do not remember how we contacted people, but the vet ended up meeting us on the highway, sedating him, and helping us free him from the tough situation he’d gotten himself in.  In the end, he ended up cutting his poll in a perfect triangle shaped flap from ear to ear and spent the better part of that summer with a shaved buzzcut for a forelock. I wasn’t smiling at the time, but it is so indicative of the growth and challenges we overcame in our early years.

Fast forward a little bit, and hit the repeat button.  On our way home from the county fair, we felt the familiar rocking of the trailer and vehicle and got out to find him half in the manger again with a hoof caught in his hay net.  We cut the hay net and safely got him out of the trailer.  Since we were only a mile or so from home, in a fit of frustration (and probably a bit of logic), I walked him home.  He had split his old injury open again, and the vet that came out said not to call if it happened again on account of the scar tissue and difficulty stitching him up.  We found him a little cushioned cap that attached to his halter and protected his poll while he was trailered.  My dad called him Beaner from then on, and it became lifelong nickname.

Meet the Herd Monday |Part Six | Frodo

Name: Frodo
Breed: Pony (grade)
Age: 14ish

He may be the smallest equine on our farm, but this boy has the biggest heart. Frodo earned his forever-at-home-on-our-farm status within six months of being with us, which is better shared through a bit of farm lore. The story goes like this:

My mare suffered from colic one February afternoon, was not a candidate for surgery, and sadly, was euthanized. An excavator was not able to come to the farm to dig a grave until the following day, so she remained in the paddock.  When I came out to do chores the following morning, her body was covered with hay, and Frodo was standing guard, holding space.  In that moment, I knew I’d never let him go.  He’d fiercely won my heart.

In the seven years since, he has continued to bless us with his unique blend of stout-heartedness and pony sass. Most days, you can find him hanging out with his bestie, Thunder. Each of our daughters has learned to ride upon his back, more through trial-and-error than anything, even though he’s a well-trained pony.  If being a sassy pony is a fault (I’d argue not), he makes up for it in the amount of love, kindness, and genuine interest he shows to everyone who walks through the gate.  His gifts are many, and I cannot wait to see him shine in EGCM sessions.



Meet the Herd Monday | Part Five |Thunder

Barn name: Thunder
Registered Name: Creation’s Rolling Thunder
Breed: American Saddlebred
Age: 17

Thunder is one of the lucky ones who will be born, raised, and pass on with the same people in his life. He was born on the farm to my husband’s one-of-a-kind mare, Roz, and everyone was so excited to see how he would grow and develop. Early on, it was easy to see that he was just as kind, solid, and willing as she was. Sadly, whatever genetics passed her awesome temperament onto him also had a glitch for bad hooves, and we’ve battled laminitis with Thunder for many years.  During good years, he’s a blast to ride and is a gentleman though he did not receive any formal training. In between, we keep him comfortable, manage his weight, and do what we can to ensure he lives a good life in spite of it all.  Much like Soozee, there have been a few times we weren’t sure if he was going to pull through.  Yet, here he is, always strong, always willing to do what is asked, always kind, always gentle.

These days, our priority is to keep Thunder, healthy, happy, and sound.  If he is well enough to go for a ride, we do and relish every moment; otherwise, he hangs out with his main sidekick, Frodo the pony.  They are quite a pair. I know that when he has an opportunity to participate in EGCM sessions, Thunder will show the world what a powerhouse of a healing horse he is.  We are excited to share him with all of you.  He is ready, and so am I.

Meet the Herd Monday| Part Four |Soozee

Barn name: Soozee | Sooz
Registered Name: Wild Irish Soozee
Breed: American Saddlebred
Age: 18

While Soozee was born on the farm and is by all rights my mother-in-law’s horse, she won my heart a long time ago.  She did receive some training to become a riding horse, but for various reasons, she never filled that role.IMG_1580.JPG Over the past 5 years or more, Sooz has had increasing health challenges that require additional care, so she hangs out with two of our geldings, Thunder and Frodo. Between tick-borne diseases, laminitis, and other unknown factors, she has fought hard for her mobility some days.  While there was a time we were not sure if she would pull through, she’s made a good recovery, and we are so happy to have her here in our herd.

Despite her bouts of physical pain, she’s also one of the most sensitive, discerning horses I know. She is slow to trust but bonds deeply once she does. She struggles with change in her routine and environments and greatly dislikes shots. She is sweet and kind and strong and fierce. She is a quiet force and will facilitate awareness and healing.

Meet the Herd Monday |Part Three| Sadie

Barn name: Sadie | Sadie Lou | Lulu
Breed: Grade/Quarter Horse type
Age: 14ish

Like many of the horses in our herd, Sadie joined us through a little bit of luck and a whole lot of grace.  About the time Fleet and Clyde joined us, my mother-in-law was searching for her next riding partner and soon brought Sadie home to the farm.  The story was that she was purchased for a teenage girl from a sale where she had been with horses that had come from a trail riding business in Wisconsin Dells. As this girl went off to college, Sadie was looking for a new home and came to us. Over time, it became apparent that Sadie was not the steady, ‘bomb-proof’ horse that my mother-in-law needed.  She was temperamental, ‘mare-ish,’ and quite grumpy about having a rider.  Given the marks on her withers from past ill-fitting saddles, we started with chiropractic IMG_4208 2treatments to deal with any underlying pain.  While this helped her attitude greatly, she was still unhappy about riding.  As she was not a good fit for my mother-in-law, Sadie came into my care and into our hearts.

While Sadie still has her temperamental moments, we have been working on slow and steady progress riding bareback in the arena, and she knows that she is home, no matter what. The truth is that she is a very sensitive, gentle horse who also stands very deeply in her strength.  She is a force to be reckoned with. She forms incredibly strong bonds, and her herd (both equine and human) is essential to her. With her big, round stature, she is also the most huggable horse in our herd and is known to snuggle while she eats her dinner.  She is sweet, strong, and wise, and I have no doubt she has a lot share with us in our EGCM® sessions.