When someone faces an end-of-life diagnosis, he or she may have all hope of a continued existence and enjoyable quality of life taken away by people employed in this country’s traditional medical profession. Discover how you can find hope where none is offered and restore your peace of mind. In part one of Unspoken Messages: Spiritual Lessons I Learned from Horses and Other Earthbound Souls, read about spiritual experiences that are far beyond coincidental.
You will leave part one convinced that animals are old souls with deep and ancient abilities to communicate with us if only we will open our hearts, minds, and eyes to their means of communication.
Part two of Unspoken Messages is a guide to be used not only by those experiencing the possibility of an end to their physical existence, but by their loved ones too. It leads you through the life of a person that has lived the fear of death firsthand, traveled the path before you, and ultimately reached a place that is peaceful and filled with promise of an eventual continuation.
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Spiritual Lessons I Learned from Horses and Other Earthbound Souls
By RICHARD D. ROWLAND
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Richard D. Rowland
All rights reserved.
And They All Said Good-bye
For every good-bye, God also provides a hello.
—Donna Gable Hatch
This is a story about the tragic death of one of the best horses I have ever had the honor to share ground with. Sadly, I also shared her last hour. It was one of the worst days I have had with horses, but it was also one of the most amazing spiritual experiences I have ever had.
Her registered name was "Buff and Fancy," but we called her Buffy. She was a big-boned girl; she had a pretty sorrel coat and an intelligent, soft eye. I often described her as so light to pressure that you didn't have to do much more than think what you wanted her to do and she would already be doing it. When handling or riding horses, you communicate through cue and release signals. The cue comes from pressure of some kind, and the release is the end of the pressure. If you want to lead a horse, you put slight pressure on the lead rope until the horse gives to the pressure and starts to move forward. As soon as the horse moves in the direction you want, you release the pressure or stop pulling and let the horse walk.
Saying Buffy was light to pressure is actually an understatement. It took very little to get her to comply with what I wanted her to do. It didn't matter what deed we had to accomplish, she would do it willingly. She also had the uncanny ability to sense just how knowledgeable you were when working with her. If she sensed you didn't have much experience, she would take advantage of the situation—not in a way that would hurt someone, but she would develop an uncooperative attitude. I witnessed this in her interaction with others but never with me. I have never experienced such good ground manners in any horse before or since. To top it off, she was a super mom. The little filly foal by her side on this hot late-July day had been born on May 12, 2009, at 1:20 a.m. I know because I shared that hour with her as well.
Almost all of the foals born in my presence were born in the middle of the night, generally between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. I don't know why this is the rule, but it certainly seems to be. I can only remember one foal that was born during daylight hours. When Buffy gave birth to her little filly, I was spending the night in the barn foaling horses. I wanted to be present for many reasons. The potential of a medical problem was at the top of the list, but imprinting was a close second. My goal has been to imprint a foal when it is born and to be with it from the start if at all possible. I want the foal to smell my presence as soon as the birth sack opens. Then I leave it to bond with his or her mother.
That night, I had a couple of mares that were really close to foaling and, as always, I made it my practice to be there when it happened. Too many things can go wrong during a birth, and you do not want to lose either the mare or the foal. I have lost count of the number of nights I slept fitfully in the barn awaiting nature's magic, but I never tired of doing my part.
Some mares will not have a foal in your presence. They will cross their legs, so to speak, and refuse to start the process. They spend their time looking serenely about in the foaling stall as if it were just another day on the farm. Those horses wait until you go to the house for a cup of coffee and have the foal while you are gone, even if you are absent for only ten minutes. Then there are those like Annie, another of our horses. She would actually wake me up if I had managed to fall asleep. She would stick her head over the stall wall, gently grab my shoulder with her lips, and give me a wake-up shake when it was time. Annie knew she always needed a little help, and she wanted me there.
I had never foaled Buffy before, so I didn't know how she would behave. As it turned out, she was one of those mares that actually wanted me to be present. She didn't have to wake me up because I started seeing the signs around midnight that foaling was imminent. She started pacing, sweat patches started appearing on her chest, and she was shaking her head and backing up against the stall wall. All of these are signs that the show is about to begin. At 1:20 a.m., with a little help from me pulling during contractions, her big but healthy filly was born. After I opened the birth sack and blew a little air toward the foal's face, I left Buffy to do her part. I went back to being an observer of nature at its best.
Sam Owsley of Massachusetts was Buffy's owner. Over the years, we have kept several of Sam's horses, mostly brood mares sent to Double R Stables to have babies. Little did we know that this little filly foaled by Buffy and affectionately called Peanut, would be her last offspring. I have often thanked Sam for sending Buffy here to share time with us. I have also apologized for having to call him with such bad news and for the heavy decision that he had to make without being here. Bad situations often create a bond between those who experience them. This one did just that.
Buffy's foal was the last one to be born at the stables. In addition, the health challenges I had been facing for the year prior to that night made it too taxing for me to keep up with the demands this type of endeavor required of me. My time spending nights in the barn from late January until April of each year was over. I miss the magic of being involved so deeply with nature, but I really do not miss the dusty cold barn.
It was late in the afternoon on a normally hot summer day in Kentucky. Buffy was spending time in the barn lot with her filly. The barn lot is a relatively small area. It's fenced off from the pastures, and animals housed there have access to the back of the barn and the stalls for getting out of the sun or inclement weather as needed. Even though small, the barn lot allows horses staying in it to visit with and touch noses with other horses living in pastures. Buffy never missed a chance to visit and be sociable prior to her foal being born and seemed to get along with all the other horses. The need to be in a herd setting was apparent. Things changed after Peanut was born and she became more protective.
Also located in the barn lot is a structure called a round pen. Round pens are corral-like structures. They resemble farm gates that are used to close off areas. They are fifteen feet long by five feet high and have metal fingers on the vertical ends that interlock with other panels. This interlock accepts a metal, hooked pin that holds the panels in place and allows you to build any configuration you desire. The fingers are a loop of metal about six inches long and about an inch wide. Round pens are normally sixty feet in diameter when used for training horses, but they can be used for small pens, squares, or rectangles. Buffy was enjoying being a mother and biding her time in this area until Peanut was ready to experience the fields and respect the high tensile fences that surrounded them.
I was in the house when I received a phone call from Lee Graves who was out near the pen. He told me young Peanut had started running toward the round pen which was occupied by a gelding. Buffy, being one who never much cared for her filly being around the gelding took off at a gallop and placed herself between Peanut and him. Lee said Buffy was actually rubbing herself against the round pen panels as she ran, determined to keep her body between Peanut and the other horse.
Somehow, Buffy hooked one of the round pen panel fingers with her hip. The force drove the metal into her side, struck and broke her pelvis, and pulled part of the bone out. She hit with such force that she caused the panels to accordion together; one of the panels was almost bent double. She knew immediately that she was in trouble.
According to Lee, she walked a few steps, stared at the house, and waited for me. I was always the one to come if she needed someone, which certainly wasn't often. In fact, the only other time I was ever needed was to help deliver her foal. Looking back, I believe the bond between us became unbreakable that night when new life arrived and brought magic with it.
After Lee had finished telling me what had happened, I left the house and headed to the barn lot, feeling nervous and worried. Even though he explained clearly on the phone what had occurred, I still had trouble picturing how things could possibly be as bad as he indicated. When I arrived, Buffy stood still and looked at me with her soft brown eyes as I checked her over.
I am sure that my eyes confirmed what she already knew: this was a bad situation. My wife, Jennifer, was with me, and I was unable to meet her gaze, even though I could feel it. Our son, Matt, watched as well. I put one hand on Buffy's shoulder, feeling the familiar warmth and comfort that always came when I was around this amazing horse. I was hoping she could read my heart and the love I felt, but not the fear. Although only eleven years old, if there ever was an old soul in a horse body, she was an example of it. My other hand went to my cell phone.
I called the local large animal veterinarian service as soon as I had assessed the injury. It was still bright daylight but after hours. I reached Dr. Michael Thomas at home. The good thing about the services I use is that if you call after hours, the phone rings at one of the partner's homes. They know me and know I will not call unless it is a dire emergency that I cannot address. Mike and I have been friends for years, and he had made several trips to the stables in the past. I guess he could tell from the tone of my voice that he was needed badly.
I put a rope halter on Buffy even though I didn't need it. Still fearful and in pain, she stood with me and waited. She did lie down briefly a time or two, but mostly we just stood together with my hand on her shoulder or stroking her neck. I talked to her softly and reassuringly, and she stood, apparently listening as most horses will, to the cadence and tone of my voice. Never once did she complain or try to walk away. Her breathing remained steady, and her gaze on her foal or me never wavered. She even allowed her foal to nurse as often as she needed.
While I was waiting for Mike, I made another phone call. I called Sam with the bad news and told him I would call back as soon as I had more information. It was a difficult call to make. I had to describe what had occurred and how bad I thought the injury to her pelvis was, but I tried to remain calm during the conversation. I kept my hand on the mare's shoulder for comfort and kept my eyes constantly on hers so that no one could tell I was screaming inside at the injustice I felt.
Thankfully, it didn't take Mike long to arrive. He did an in-depth examination of the wound, which included having to insert his fingers into it in order to check the pelvic area. Silently, Buffy stood with me, never once shying away or flinching from the intrusion. He confirmed what I already knew. This was a bad situation, and little could be done. Her pelvis was badly broken, and she had a lot of soft tissue damage. A drain could be inserted and the area stitched up, but with the severity of the damage, it would only prolong the inevitable. His advice was to put her out of her current and coming misery. It's funny, even though all along I knew this would probably be the outcome, part of me had held out for a miracle. I wanted what I wanted and did not want to allow the world to work the way it was meant to. What the mare and I shared now went much deeper than anything we ever envisioned when we first met.
It was now time for another phone call, the last one of the night. I called Sam once more, and we had a lengthy conversation this time. As hard as it was to report the news and give the advice, I know it was harder for him to actually make the decision he was faced with making. He conferred with Mike, listened to his assessment, and the choice was made. We had to let Buffy go.
You can say what you want to about animals, but I have spent a lifetime with them. I know they have feelings. I know they have a soul, and I know they are intuitive. I never knew their level of intuition until that night. I believe with all my being that Buffy knew and felt the energy change around us. I believe she realized what was about to happen, and when she realized it she laid down. Her eyes once again went to mine ever so briefly, as if to tell me she knew and she understood her time in this physical world was coming to an end. Then she called to Peanut, and in that soft murmuring sound mares only make to their foals, she apparently said her good-byes. I listened to the soft sounds coming from deep within her, and I watched the look of puzzlement on Peanut's face. I know I witnessed the communication between these two animals; I saw it and heard it. I came to believe later that she said much more than good-bye.
Mike asked if I could get the foal into the round pen, so I put the gelding in his stall and opened one of the panels outward. I separated Peanut from her mother, who remained lying on the ground, and put her in the round pen with surprising ease. Normally, herding foals is like herding cats; it just cannot be easily done until they have been trained a little. Peanut minded as if she knew exactly what I wanted of her. This was the first of many surprises this little filly had in store for me. Whatever passed between the two of them stuck with Peanut, and she went forward wiser than she had begun the night. By this time, darkness had closed around us and brought with it the power of the universe in order to teach us something of a world we knew little about.
Mike administered the series of shots that are used to put large animals to sleep. At that exact moment in time, in complete darkness, seemingly timed with the injection of the first shot, nineteen other horses located in various lots around the acres that encompass the stables started nickering, whinnying, and running like crazy. Most of these horses could not see what was going on, but they all knew. And one horse did not start it; they all started at exactly the same time. Horses were raring, pawing the air, kicking up a dust storm, running as fast as they could and calling out loudly over and over.
The hair stood up on my arms and neck as I witnessed all that was going on around me. After a few minutes, Buffy faded away, and the din died down. It died down just as it started—all at once. We went from the original complete quiet as we talked and decided Buffy's fate to the display as described above and then back to complete silence. It was as if someone had their hand on a control switch and could turn the volume on and off, the change was that quick. After Buffy died, the other horses went back to what horses do without a glance in our direction.
All of the five people present looked at each other in amazement and realized that we had been part of something special. We had been given a glimpse of the magic that exists every day just outside our senses. A friend later described it as a "God wink," and I found myself in agreement. It turned out to be a final gift from Buffy and a lesson in the nature of things from the other horses. All the horses knew what was transpiring and gave their send off and well wishes. How did they know? I think the circle of energy they are part of allows them to feel more than we realize, and science doesn't have an answer for that. Horses know more than we think. They are smarter than we can imagine. All animals have this gift, and I firmly believe that you do too; just search it out and you will find it. I did, and I have witnessed and experienced enough to know there is much more out there than most people believe possible.
Through this experience and a few others during the past five years or so, I have come to the realization we are all part of a single energy. Call it what you wish, but in my mind it exists. We are all part of God. We are all together on this living planet. Our energies intermingle with all the others. Let's take a lesson from this tragedy and the actions of these amazing animals. There is so much more to this existence than most of us ever thought possible. Open your eyes to the shades of gray. For much of my life, I saw things in black and white. Don't be like I was. See like I do now. Amazing possibilities exist and are waiting for you to experience them.
Excerpted from UNSPOKEN MESSAGES by RICHARD D. ROWLAND. Copyright © 2013 Richard D. Rowland. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Part One Let the Journey Begin,
Chapter One And They All Said Good-bye, 3,
Chapter Two Fixing a Broken Circle, 13,
Chapter Three Addio Nocciolina, 27,
Chapter Four The Nature of Things, 36,
Chapter Five The Circle Is Complete, 44,
Chapter Six An Unexpected Smile, 54,
Chapter Seven Wild-Eyed and Laid Up, 61,
Chapter Eight The Effects of Choice, 71,
Chapter Nine Cookie and the Coon, 99,
Chapter Ten Old Kate, 111,
Part Two Coming Clean and Facing Fear,
Chapter One Mind-Numbing News, 127,
Chapter Two An Awakening, 134,
Chapter Three The Proof Is in the Evidence, 143,
Chapter Four Bumps in the Road to Recovery, 154,
Chapter Five The Limitations of Allopathic Medicine and the Effect of Environmental Issues, 162,
Chapter Six When the Conclusion Isn't the End, 171,
Lessons I Have Learned, 189,
Suggested Reading List, 203,