Social networking is a modern wonder. Who knew flesh and blood friends would become outdated? With virtual pals through Facebook, chat rooms, and forums of every sort one can have thousands of “friends” worldwide with no more then a password and an identity. Before you get too excited about the possibilities remember that the concept of “identity” is fluid and infinitely creative in cyber space. Here's a song that gives you a clue. But anyway.
I think forums are a great source of networking and information. And every sort of forum exists. Elvis lover? Marble collector? There’s a forum for that where you can while away the hours discussing The King’s famous hips and the ideal width for white bell bottoms with your “friend” in Norway. Or how about comparing an awesome Tiger Eye with a pal in Chile? Totally amazing. And freakish. But that's another blog posting.
After purchasing Eli I joined a forum for stallion owners. This is meant to be a place where stud owners from all over the world share training tips and stories from a life managing the masculine wonder that is a breeding stallion. This forum has been incredibly helpful, not to mention interesting, and has deepened my knowledge of horse handling. I knew one day it would be time to breed Eli and find out what sort of horse he is jumped up on testosterone. The forum gave me much food for thought prior to breeding and now that I am in the midst of this brand new experience the forum has been there, albeit virtually, as encouraging friends.
Horses have no concept of future change. I reflected on this bit of information shared once via the forum when I went to see Eli this last week, a day or two after breeding his first mare. Because I am a novice stallion handler, and not set up safely to breed him at home, I took Eli to a nearby facility where an experienced acquaintance agreed to help me in this new adventure. All went well until the second day of live cover when Eli got kicked pretty good. Hormonally charged 1,000 pound animals can inflict a lot of damage to each other and some risk is involved, no matter how well you think you know the horses and try to be safe. When I saw my boy the day after the mare had been taken home (hopefully pregnant) he was in his stall a swollen hematoma hanging between his front legs.
I looked at my horse through the bars of his stall and felt…horrible. The injury looked worse than it was but I felt responsible. Don’t get me wrong, Eli didn’t complain about the new job. He performed it quite well minus an embarrassing bit of falling off the mare, but we won’t discuss that publicly (I promised him). Still, this was hardly his idea. I’d loaded him up, driven him to a brand new barn, and facilitated a breeding that got him injured (and also hopelessly “in love”). Now he wilted in a dark stall, pining for his mare, well cared for but alone. In a few short days he’d ventured a lifetime away from the peaceful place that is my house—no visible neighbors, no stall, no mares and their drama, just a bachelor herd of two geldings and an enormous cedar tree under which he naps each day after breakfast. I thought of his horsey lack of concept. He thought I’d left him no doubt; perhaps sold to a new owner. He didn’t know he’d be back with me, and his friends, and his peaceful home in two short weeks. We’d go back to trail rides and, I hope, a lifetime of friendship. I love this horse. I have plans for his life. With me.
Eli looked back at me, a deep well of unique equine emotion visible behind his calm exterior. That may sound dramatic but if you ever meet him you'll know what I mean. I've never seen such eyes on a horse. I entered and began to brush him. He had dried sweat everywhere from pacing and calling and worrying about his mare and, it seemed, the new insecurity that comes with a radical change of scenery. He does not understand. He knows no concept of a future change. I brushed him and brushed him. And also sang the song stuck in my head: Better Then A Hallelujah, by Amy Grant. Soon Eli’s head is hanging by my knee as I brush and stroke his big crested neck (sore, no doubt, from over-arching and showing off). I tell him not to worry. He’s still with me, Baby, and nothings going to change that. I tell him Cowboy misses him and he will be coming home soon. Eli gives me several of his sweet horse hugs, his neck bent around my shoulder. It was all I could do not to go home, jump in the truck, and take my horse home.
Human beings have a concept of future change, but we aren’t all that much more aware then a horse I think. I have such limited vision, such a focus on trivia that frustrates, disappoints and exhausts me. Life is hard. My body is wearing out and dying a bit more each day. My time on earth is short but it demands my focus and attention. I think God longs to reach through the haze between earth and eternity and reassure me that there is a future coming, a much better future. I can rest in knowing the time here is short and inconsequential next to eternity. He will jump on His great white horse someday (That's a tip for you non-horsy types: Brush up on your riding skills) and take me home where I belong. Like Carrie Underwood says in her beautiful new song, This is our temporary home.
PS. Make sure you have a tissue for that last song.