Two weekends ago, I found myself thinking about my horses, who I hadn’t seen in a while. As I was thinking, my thoughts seemed to focus on Thumper and I had a “feeling” he was not ok and that he needed me. I was well aware that the last time I had such a feeling was when Rani was injured. That time, I acted on the feeling, and so was able to get the vet to Rani when he needed it.
This time? Well, I was with Al, and Al was busy, and anyway has made it clear he is uninterested in my horses. I decided not to follow through on my gut feeling, and told myself I was being silly and would miss out on valuable time with Al (who works offshore and therefore time with him is precious) for nothing. But I worried all Saturday night and all day Sunday about it, then made an effort to put it from my mind.
On Wednesday, I arrived at work to an email from my mother, saying she and Dad had received a call the night before from the place where my horses are agisted (boarded) and one of the horses apparently had a foot abscess.
It was my third day in a new job and it was not a Good Thing™ to have to ask for time off for a sick horse so soon. I should add that the horses are about an hour’s drive from work so any time out visiting them means a significant amount of time. But what can you do? My manager was understandably unimpressed, but he was very nice about it.
So off I dashed, via home to get some suitable clothes and the horses’ lead ropes etc. Andy was there when I arrived and I was unsurprised to learn that the horse with the sore foot was Thumper. The poor boy could not walk at all. It was really sad to see him attempt to take a step. He was clearly in a lot of pain and it was obvious that a visit from the vet was necessary.
The vet confirmed that it was an abscess, and that it was a huge one that had been building for several days. It was so bad that there was a lot of dead sole and the vet thought the sole might have to come off altogether.
This obviously would be terribly painful for Thump, and also terribly inconvenient for me because of the intensive dressing of the hoof that would be required, because the horses are a 45 minute drive in the opposite direction of my work, which is half an hour’s drive from my home. What a mess…
Fortunately, two further vet visits later, healing has gone really well and it seems the sole does not have to be removed after all, but it has been a worrying and expensive exercise in “Follow your gut feelings — or not”. The problem is that there was no voice shouting at me, no one shaking me by the shoulders and saying “GO! Your horse needs you!” It was simply a persistent feeling that something was wrong, with a focus on one horse in particular — a feeling that wasn’t too hard to talk myself out of believing in.
Gut feelings, instincts… I know I need to listen more to what is inside me instead of being influenced by the world around me. Sadly, I believe it’s only through pain that we really take things on board and learn. Next time I won’t be in such a hurry to ignore that “inner voice”.
I believe that we are all connected in so many different ways when we love and are loved. I’m not talking about flighty romanticism or lust, these have their place, but of those threads of bonded knowing, woven over time out of shared experience and caring attention focused each on the other. For my part, knowing that the threads (gut feelings, instincts, whatever label works) exist is not the issue – nor with whom – horses, cats, dogs, people – but making space in my life for the stillness needed to attend to the thread, and the one to whom I’m threaded – now that’s a challenge!
Steve, I like what you said about threads and I agree it’s all too easy to not make space for the thread. It makes my head spin to try to figure out the answer to that one.