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Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Way Forward.

It was a big decision making day for me today.

I have had my first totally anxiety free day since David died so I made the most of it. I've come to realise that my biggest problem has been this dream-like feeling of unreality that I've had for a year now, as though I'd wake up soon and none of it would have happened.

Charlotte mentioned acceptance and I have now internally accepted that it has all happened and I am where I am now, so it's time to take charge and move forward.

I have never been a drifter.

At the first flutterings of anxiety I decided to veiw it positively and thought to myself "Well, I can feel something and that's good because it shows that I am alive", and it went away again.

I am going to sell the cattle apart from my two elderly (17 and 19yo) hand reared and very tame Charolais cows who may be in calf and start breeding Alpacas instead, on a small scale.

The reason for this is that cattle mostly require two people to do anything safely with and sending animals off for slaughter has never really been something I have felt comfortable with. David was no different but we did it because it was part of the job.

I don't want it to be a part of my job any more.

Also Alpacas don't eat people out of house and home, or make the mess that cattle do!!!

Alpacas are classified as agricultural and have other advantages over sheep and goats as they breed all year around, like cattle, which may be useful. They will also fit in very well with my other plans for the farm. I was also unhappy about having a bull out in the fields when I have so many people around and hope to draw in more people still.

I am thinking of getting a breeding pair of Kunhe Kunhe pigs as well.

I also entered for my first ever race tonight - a 10km Race For Life on the 27th June. I can only manage 2.6 miles at the moment so need to train with purpose as I intend to run every step and not get left behind.

My first volunteer helper arrives two weeks on Monday, from Romania, and I can't wait to meet him and get started on moving forward with whole hearted enthusiasm.

It's taken me a while to work out who I am now and how to be true to myself but I think I'm there now, at last.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Plans Starting to Form.

Today I went to help with the local Riding for the Disabled for the first time and it was wonderful.

Being a witness to and a part of the joy and difference that horses can bring to people's lives was so inspiring and the generousity of those horses and of the people was humbling to see. The horses do this 6 days a week and stay willing and compliant even though so much of it is repetative and quite challenging for them in terms of discomfort from unbalanced and sometimes rough riders due to not being able to control their bodies.

These horses just seemed to understand and make allowances. I was told that one of them, a very bossy Highland mare, kicks and bites the able bodied if they aren't scrupulously polite but is endlessly kind, tolerant and steadfast with the disabled. She just knows who needs looking after and who is big and ugly enough to look after themselves!!!

I have found my own horses to be far more gentle and determined to look after me in recent times too, especially my lovely, fiesty Bella who protects me against all comers, whether I want her to or not!!!!!

Confident horses can be so perceptive and generous of spirit.

It also made me think some more about what I'd like to do here. The trouble with Equine Assisted Psycotherapy or Equine Assisted Learning and Developement is that I don't like jargon, complicated titles, making simple things seem much more complicated and clever than they are, making people feel inferior by using mumbo jumbo, and making them feel inadequate or in need.

For me the very best therapy has been having plenty of friends to talk to and animals to spend interactive time with. Friends, animals and getting back to nature in a safe, friendly and peaceful environment. Nothing more complicated than that.

I would like to have some sort of simple and easily understood title to what we will do here. Something like "People and animals helping each other". Something that focusses on the joy, laughter and inspiration that people can share around animals.

Something warm and comforting and companionable.

I am learning that not much in life is actually as complicated or frightening as it first appears.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

On The Way Back Up.

I have been really struggling for the last week or so but it all came to a very quiet head tonight and I now feel better than I have in months.

I don't usually have difficulty describing feelings but the feelings I've been fighting for nearly a year now take some putting into words.

Since I watched David die I've had this sense of everything being monumental, supernatural, momentous, portentous and extra-ordinary when all I wanted was to establish some sort of normality and feelings of stability again.

So much change has nearly un-hinged me at times and the anxiety I've experienced for the last few days has been something else again but just at the moment, for now anyway, everything feels normal and manageable and achievable.

It came to a climax in the middle of a very difficult phone conversation with some one who has been stuck in a similar mental place as I have but she reacts with fury and hostility. After the first hour or so I thought that I was going to drown in despair and only wanted to run away when suddenly peace and comfort descended from nowhere and I could handle both her anger and my own reactions of panic and despair, which is how I react to anger now that I no longer have my figure of calm reassurance to turn to.

I now have a very sensitive situation to try to sort out on her behalf, plus all of my own challenges, but I know that I can manage. I have replaced the outer figure of calm that I used to rely on with my own genuine inner calm at last. I have been faking it until now but tonight it's real and genuine. I even managed to smile to myself in the middle of the worst of her rantings.

Now I think I can go back to enjoying my horses, reading books, listening to the radio, watching films and instructional DVDs - all of the things that I used to love and have been unable to do since David died.

If the demons return I now have my good friend Hilary's voice ringing in my ear "Where were you 6 months ago and where are you now? You have to keep sight of how far you've come".

I also have the words of another good friend to make me smile through this awful weather "These British winters are enough to make you commit suicide". I don't know why that makes me laugh out loud but it always does, each time I hear him saying it in my head.

Tonight I feel as though I've suddenly come home.

I had an email tonight from a Romanian who said he had only seen horses like mine on films before. What a wonderful comment.

I am so lucky and have so much to be grateful for.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Honesty.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Ever since David died I've suffered from varying amounts of the 'knots in the stomach' type feelings that make it quite hard to breath and function at times.

I've given it all sorts of titles and causes - anxiety, depression, insanity - everything under the sun rather than admit to the truth.

I miss him. Each and every day I miss him and there is no cure except time and nothing wrong with me except grief and loss.

I have said and written some mad and strange things, and driven myself hard and relentlessly, to try and fill the hole that he has left in my life. I have often believed that I was going a little insane but I am really one of the most well balanced people I know.

Admitting the truth at last has actually made me feel a lot better. It's insolvable but it's also normal and human and reasonable.

Horse of Course once told me that when bad things happen she shuts them away in a mental drawer until she can face opening that drawer.

I've opened it now and it's not so scary after all.

Nothing lasts forever and I was very lucky and still am.

I just miss him. An awful lot. But that's life.

And happiness, joy and friendship still exist too.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Loch Creran Clydesdales.

These horses are used for commercial logging and do logging displays. Claymore also does dressage competitions.

One horse can pull one and a half tons of timber on an articulated timber arch which reduces drag to an absolute minimum.

The aim is for one horse to move 20 tons of timber in a day. They work mostly free and answer voice commands to turn, stop, back, etc.

They are kept tied in stalls at night so that they train themselves to stand quietly and patiently. Their owner feeds them according to pecking order and provides them with a herd leader. There is very little squabbling amongst them.

Their owner, Mike Grayson, is very keen to keep the skills of working horses alive and will train anyone for nothing. He gave us several hours of his time and knowledge and let us play with Silent in long reins, as you can see with one of my friends having a try.

Silent was patience and steadfastness personified.

We have been invited back again to learn how to drive them and I have invited Mike Grayson to come and meet my ponies, which he has very generously agreed to.

We had a lovely time with these beautiful, calm, kind, generous horses and people and can't wait to return.

I had net the horses before a few months ago when I helped muck them out for a few days while Mike was in hospital but that was at 5am, so it was lovely to see them in daylight at last!


Starlight


Claymore



Mystic

Silent














A Few More Photos of the Big Man.

Here are a few more photos of Ben with his new friends, taken today.













Saturday, 13 February 2010

Ben Is In Residence.

I collected Ben on Friday and it already seems like he has lived here for years. He is very clever, easy going and calm. He's only interested in people and dogs and has ignored everything else, so far anyway.

It's really strange but I have felt much better ever since I first met him, and Meg, who has been very unsettled lately, has quietened down too.

It's as though we all feel better for having a big, calm, affectionate, wise, gentle man always around again.

It has been nearly a year now after all.

Thank you Ben. You've made our family complete again.









We went too visit some Clydesdale logging horses at home today. They are owned by a Home Office psychological profiler who is passionate about keeping the skills alive and gives lessons for nothing.

The horses are just beautiful - Silent, Mystic, Starlight and Claymore.

I will write about that, plus photos, tomorrow.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Ben.

I think I have found my new dog.

I went to a small rescue centre this afternoon, after talking last night on the phone to a friend who mentioned a Deerhound near him that was up for rehoming. I had previously told him that I wanted to get a Bernese Mountain Dog like his Henry, who I fell in love with in Ettrick, and said I would call him Ben after my old pony.

They only have a few dogs at this centre but one was a year old Scottish Deerhound male. The card said his name was Longshot.

When I asked about his history they told me that he was a stray who had been picked up and taken home by an 86 year old man. He proved too energetic for him so he had reluctantly handed him over but kept phoning to check on him.

They had scanned him and he is microchipped but his old owners are no longer at that address and cannot be traced. His registered name for his microchip is Ben!!!

I took him for a run and it just felt completely right. He is a sweetheart and loves everyone and everything. I'm taking Megs and Flora to meet him tomorrow.

The girl in charge said she had rung her boss while I was out with Ben to say that she thought she had found him the perfect home. I think that I have found the perfect dog and have felt peaceful and happy ever since I met him.

I just hope that Megs and Flora agree!!!!

I have also joined a local running club and did my first ever run last week. I managed 2.6 miles. Ben will be the perfect running companion.





Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Something Positve and Worthwhile.

I have finally found the way forward that I've been searching for. I love the atmosphere at my farm, with everyone so kind and supportive of each other. It's everything I ever dreamed of and more. I even have a waiting list to come here now.

But I want to do something really worthwhile and special now - to use my animals and the farm to bring happiness and change people's lives in the way that horses have always changed my life for the better.

A good friend told me about Amanda Saville and the Chariots of Fire display team. He didn't know the full scope of what she is achieving there.
http://www.chariots.org.uk/index.html

I would like to set up a centre for Equine Assisted Learning and Development here. I think my ponies would be brilliant for it and most of the other animals could play a part too. I could also teach clicker training as tool for training more effective and compassionate management skills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ymVDqxMStQ&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u715h4VhJfk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qCBMNA33yk&feature=related

I would also like to have a camp fire that people can chill out in front of on summer evenings "drinking beer and talking rubbish" as the husband of one of my liveries said longingly.

This is something that would give meaning to the rest of my life - something positive and really worthwhile out of all the tragedy. I have already discovered just how much the happiness on people's faces means to me when they start to make profound changes to the relationship they have with their horses using the enhanced communication that clicker training can provide.

Knowing that I can make a difference would mean everything to me.

I have contacted Amanda Saville and asked to learn more, plus asked for her help for my sponsored ride between Ettrick and Moffat next May.

It's Macmillan Cancer Support's centennial year next year and they want it to be really special. My King Arthur themed sponsored ride really excited them.

The Border Festival of the Horse have their 10th anniversary festival in May next year and they are now talking not only of supporting my ride as part of the festival but perhaps giving the whole festival a King Arthur theme.

They put me in touch with Peter Neilson who used to conduct guided King Arthur rides around the Eilden Hills where King Arthur and his knights are said to stand buried under the hills, still mounted on their horses and in full armour waiting for the call to ride again. He is a sweet, kind and lovely man and has helped me to feel better already. This is his website:

http://www.whisperinghorses.co.uk/

People who know me well will know what a huge leap of faith it is for me to include his website here but I all I really know is that he is a thoroughly good person.

So lots of plans and positive things to work for. That's what life is all about really, isn't it?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Not A Good Time For Me.

I am struggling a bit at the moment.

Sophie, my Golden Retriever that I took beating with me last weekend, was hit by a car yesterday and died at the side of the road.

It's taking a while to sink in. She was only 4 years old.

She was David's dog and it all feels a bit too much to be honest, at the moment anyway, but I will pick myself up again.

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!