Cassie has been sick. It began with little things. Swellings on her face and body. Hives, I thought, a reaction to fly spray, except that they all burst open and scabbed over and then the hair started coming off her face. Then she started coughing. A summer cold, I thought, and I started her on a course of anti-biotic powders in her feed. It didn’t make any difference, instead she slowly got worse, and I watched her anxiously as her energy disappeared and she shuffled about like an old, old horse with dull eyes and no interest in anything. I could feel how depressed she was. Then her glands started swelling up, and I got the vet out, terrified her throat would swell shut, my own throat aching in sympathy.

The vet blamed the bad weather and for sure the relentless rain and the cold of this poor excuse of a summer we’re having would make anyone sick. Arrow started coughing too, but he had no other symptoms and, even though it took a long time for the cough to disappear, he remained his cheerful self. Whatever was wrong with Cassie, it had completely compromised her immune system, and even when she started to improve a bit physically, she still seemed depressed.

She spent long periods of time in her stable, standing in the back. In the evenings, I would go and sit with her to keep her company. Not wanting to impose myself upon her, I’d sit on the opposite side from her, leaning back against the stable wall with my eyes closed, trying to empty my mind and just focus on my breathing. In…. Out…. Slowly. It is not that easy to empty your mind and it is interesting to see what thoughts come up uninvited. Thoughts about lost time and lack of achievement. Of plans unfulfilled. I started wondering why these things came up. I am not ambitious, I don’t care about competing in any kind of discipline, so why do I feel under pressure to make some form of progress? I don’t need to do anything with my horse, but it feels like I should. Because you get asked, what do you do with your horse, do you hunt? Jump? Dressage then maybe? No. I don’t even ride. I just sit with my horse and breathe.

I sit with Cassie and I listen to her breathing. I can’t hear her breathe in, I can only hear her exhale, but if I breathe slowly enough she’ll synchronise with me. Cassie comes up to me and stands over me. I don’t touch her, I just sit quietly with my eyes closed, but with every breath I can feel Cassie’s head lowering until her head is resting on mine. We stay like that for a while. Then she lifts her head, yawns, and she rubs her face against mine. When she starts grooming my back, I scratch her chest. I wait for her to move away to doze in the back of the stable. Then I leave.


7 thoughts on “Release

  1. So sorry to hear Cassie has been so poorly; I’ve been told that chestnuts, like redheads are particularly skin sensitive. I’ve been feeling just like you, particularly about lack of achievement and direction. It takes most my time just to keep the poor horses cared for and healthy and when they’re not it makes me feel I fail at the most basic task. It’s a shame we can’t just enjoy the summer problem free. I hope you find something to help Cassie. Many thanks for your comment re Pom’s sweet itch, I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know what homeopathic treatment and herbal mix you find helpful. Shannon puts it perfectly, “Hugs to all of you”. That’s what we all need (a bit more often)!

  2. I’m sorry to hear about Cassie. Hope she’ll feel better soon and not feel so depressed. I’m sure she appreciates you coming to stay with her and comforting her right now. Tell her we’re all worried about her and are sending her good thoughts and well wishes.

    I’ve had the same feelings this miserable summer about not doing anything with the horses. I’m sure they don’t mind not being ridden in this hot humid weather but I still feel I should be doing something. I know I’ll most likely never show again but a bit of training would be nice to get them in better shape. I think we’re all waiting for the change of seasons.

  3. Poor wee Cassie. I hope she feels better soon.
    I sympathize with your doubts about achieving stuff. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit judgey about myself too. I guess horses aren’t very goal oriented, except short-term – eat, run, sleep, play, explore, socialize, breathe – so if we’re trying to live more in synch with our horses, then maybe we have to relinquish a lot of our goal-drivenness. Lack of specific ambitions doesn’t mean that there isn’t an unfolding which takes place. Also, lack of specific goals doesn’t mean that there isn’t a long-term drive in a certain direction, a direction which for me is ultimately a longing to return to Paradise.

  4. Gosh, this post brought a tear to my eye. You write so beautifully and your connection with your horses is something to aspire to. I am sending positive thoughts your way that Cassie feels better soon. I share similar unwelcome thoughts and comments from others, but the relationship you have with your horses some only dream of.

  5. TH – thanks so much for passing on your sweet itch recommendations – will get in touch with the company (and my hedgerows!). I hope Cassie’s getting better – so often happens just after you’ve gotten to feeling completely at wits end with them. Even if if all your kindly commenters’ good wishes haven’t translated into a sort of virtual remedy, (if only!) at least you know you’re not alone.
    Longing to hear more about that naughty goat!!

  6. Thank you all for your kind and heartwarming comments! Cassie is improving, albeit slowly, but we have time…and it is so good to know I am not the only one who is struggling with feelings of inadequacy

    CA, hope it will work for Pom, and I’ll do a naughty goat post soon!

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