Sunday, January 14, 2007


The Healing Magic At Refuge Farms

Many say that there is no such thing as serendipity...things just don't happen by chance. If that is true, then my life has been mysteriously guided to a place of grace, and I can only feel how my heart will be forever changed because of it. I pause as I offer complete gratitude for this unexpected fork in the road called Refuge Farms.

When a friend of mine was explaining "this cool place" that I needed to check out, I immediately thought of my little soon to be eight year old friend, Jordan, who has been in love with horses since she was born. You only have to step foot into her bedroom, which is completely filled with horses, to appreciate the passion she has for them. Jordan had a birthday approaching and I emailed Sandy to ask if Refuge Farms would ever let me "sponsor" one of her horses for Jordan? My heart really wanted Jordan to "have" a horse that she could think of and feel was being cared for as "her own".

Sandy was very gracious in her accommodation of my request…even to the point of describing three or four of the horses that seemed like they might be a good match for Jordan. The day arrived when our van full of city folk arrived at Refuge Farms to see what this day would bring for Jordan.

Sandy embraced Jordan as if she had known her forever. She took the time to introduce Jordan to all of the horses; to share their life stories...and yet, it didn't seem as if there were any special connections being made. That is until Jordan met Unit. That was the one! Unit was clearly the one that was to be Jordan's special friend. The "one" that inexplicably spoke to her heart and soul in a way that none of the others had. I will always remember Jordan looking up at me, taking hold of my hand and saying, "Catpooh [her nickname for me], I like this horse...I like Unit. Can I have Unit?"

The rest is history as they say. Jordan then leapt into my arms and began squeezing the stuffing out of me as her lips pressed firmly into my cheek. She held me tightly within that place in her soul that had found a friend that appeared to know and understand her in a way that was obviously unique and necessary to her young and vibrant life. As Jordan squeezed me, I held back tears of joy for this little girl. In that moment, all that I could whisper in her ear was, "Good for you sweetheart...I'm so happy for you."

I left that day with a full heart and also with an awareness that "this cool place" somehow also had a place for me as well. That surprised me. I mean, I was quite taken with the mission of THE FARM, the gifts that had been offered to Jordan on that day, and by the spirit, soul, and utter passion that Sandy has for her "herd". Surprisingly though, I could feel something else that had to do with me as well here at Refuge Farms. I left wondering what it would all mean.

Sandy let me know of the Parelli™ Horsemanship sessions they have at THE FARM and I became eager to participate. By that time, I had developed a strong desire to better understand the heart and souls of these horses. Hence, the Parelli™ trainings were designed to help someone like me...even being the newbie that I am…learn how to think more like a horse and to begin to understand their needs based on their body language and movements. Perfect.

Kathy and Sandy taught me so many things during that first training session. I tend to be an over achiever, so I was quite intent on wanting to learn all that I could that day. At this juncture at Refuge Farms, I was very clear that I just wanted to help these horses offer them safety and love in whatever ways that worked for them. Even if that would only ever mean that I would get really good at shoveling their poop, then by golly that's what I would do to for them!

Honestly, being of the same "human" breed that had hurt them so deeply, there was nothing in me that felt like I wanted a thing from them except an opportunity to extend an eternal apology for what they had endured. So, at that point, I was feeling appreciative that the Parelli™ training would allow me a respectful pathway to fulfill my intention with the horses.

I believe it was that following week that I read in the Refuge Farms Bulletin Board how one of the horses, Big Guy, had come up lame one day and was only really able to walk on three legs. My heart sank. Even though I knew him really just by name, he was part of a family of hearts and souls that had quickly come to matter to me and I could not stand that he was hurting.

If Big Guy was hurting, then I knew Sandy was also hurting and I quickly found the combination of those realities intolerable. So, I found myself sending her an email. A huge part of who I am is an energy healer. Most people are a little more familiar with the language of healing touch. Energy healing is similar to that. The intention is to connect energetically with someone, and then offering oneself up as a channel for whatever is in that person's highest and deepest good for their healing, energetically helping their body release any blockages, pain, etc., and then filling them with the energy that would facilitate their return to balance.

Of course, I certainly had no equine energy healing experience but fully believe in the scientific theory that everything is energy (E=mc2). So, I felt that if energy healing can be so helpful to humans, then maybe it could somehow also help Big Guy. I offered the option to Sandy for her to consider as an "experiment" as I truly did not know if it could help him or not, but my heart was clear in wanting to try if given the opportunity.

Sandy welcomed the opportunity to try energy healing on his leg…hoof…ankle or whatever was the problem because she was worried about what could happen to him if he kept putting his 2,400 lbs. only on his good front leg and the vet was not to arrive for another day. So, I arrived later that night and Sandy let Big Guy's other horse mates out into the pasture and closed the big barn door. It was now just Sandy, Big Guy and myself who had come together in this experiment of love through energy healing.

Of course, being a newbie and a city girl, I naively asked Sandy if she had a bucket for me to sit on. However, the most basic healing tenet is that you meet the client where they are at. So, it became immediately clear to me that to meet Big Guy where he was at meant that I would be following him around as he moved about. It proved to be a different way of utilizing what I had learned in my Parelli™ class. So, that's what we did...I knelt down on his right side with my knees resting in the sawdust and untold "other gifts" doing energy healing with him as he would allow, and then move with him as he continued to search for his place of safety and comfort during this experience.

He found some solace for quite awhile over in the area of the barn where he is used to eating. It was there that the most effective energy releasing was allowed to occur. However, after awhile he became pretty restless. I remember Sandy saying to me that based on his movements, he seemed anxious to her. I shared with her that there had been a significant energy release in his ankle, and I wondered if his anxiousness was about him feeling better somehow? She responded that, "Yes, that could be true because he was now able to put pressure on his leg and was walking. And, she said that when I was over there working on him his left back leg was bent. That meant he was now able to put full weight on both of his front legs."

We decided that the best thing for Big Guy was to let him out into the pasture. As he was leaving, I said to Sandy that from an energy perspective his ankle was not yet in balance and that I wished I could have more time to work with him. Even though he was now able to walk on that leg, I knew that it was within that place of balance that I knew he would have the greatest opportunity to innately heal himself in a more sustainable way.

Big Guy indeed left for the pasture, only to quickly return… on his own. He walked back into the barn and stood by the side of the door with his big head looking out towards the pasture while the rest of his body remained in the barn. Sandy agreed that I could resume the energy work with him. He just stood there very calmly for the next 5-10 minutes while his ankle was able to come gently back into balance.

Once balance had been achieved, Sandy removed his halter and he was free to again leave the barn. But...he didn't. He just stood there in a very loving, patient and steadfast way. I was so intrigued that he wasn't leaving that I just leaned my body against the opposite door frame and just stood with looking at him...him looking at me...

Sandy was off to let the blind horses into the pasture and to do countless other chores. I remained with Big Guy in some sort of unspoken solidarity and gratitude for the opportunity he had given me to work with him. It wasn't too long before I became aware of this thought running through my head, "Really...You will let me hold you?" With some admitted trepidation, I walked over to this Big Guy and slowly leaned my body fully into him, laid my head on that huge barrel chest, and stretched both arms up as far and wide as I could reach on his back and just held him for several minutes. I remember patting him on his back with my left hand. I think I was trying to assure myself, as well as him, that all was well in these moments of what felt like sacred shared space with one another. Honestly, as I stood in this place of grace with him I wondered who was actually hugging whom? I could feel the love and gratitude he was extending to me and was completely humbled by the generosity of his heart...and his willingness to forgive a human...

Several minutes passed and I began to feel that it was time to part. I withdrew my arms from him. I once again thanked him, told him I loved him, kissed him on his neck and asked that his body hang onto the balance for as long as was possible. I then said to him, "Okay, you go eat now." And, he left…but, not without taking my heart with him.

That weekend I was able to offer him some additional energy healing after the Halloween Event. Energy healing isn't a common thing for most people, and there were a number of people observing us in the barn. Sandy was with them standing behind the railing. In the first energy healing session with Big Guy, he was very comfortable with me kneeling beside his sore right ankle to work on him. This day, however, he was very clear that that wasn't where he wanted me to be. He wanted me kneeling right in front of those huge legs and hunched underneath that big towering head of his.

I admitted to Sandy later on that I knew how potentially vulnerable I was in that position with him. But, energetically, I really felt like that was exactly where he was asking me to be with him. And, despite the uncertainty I felt, I also had the comfort of knowing Sandy was close by and would intervene at her first sense of any danger. But, I felt awkwardly safe because I was feeling such strong energy from him that that was exactly where he was asking me to be. I let myself just trust that energy...trusted his body language, and dismissed any other competing thoughts.

I later asked Sandy if horses ever test humans to trust them. She shared with me that, "Horses are simply too honest to play games. They either trust us or not. Every time we approach them. Any of them can be very dangerous and life threatening. As they feel we can be to them. It's a mutual respect thing," she said to me.

I am slowly learning how true her words are. Unbeknown to Sandy, however, there was a personal reason why I had asked that trust question of her. I was keenly aware that I was feeling something else about this experience with Big Guy. On the Refuge Farms website, Sandy has a Message link where she has written a poem called, At the End of the Day. The words of one of the paragraphs seem particularly profound to me now because of Big Guy:

So, while my sole intention was to just offer energy healing and love to this amazing horse called Big Guy, I feel as if I was the one who also received a gift of healing from him on that day. I do believe that he was testing me…challenging me...asking if he could teach me something. He patiently, but very intentionally, challenged me to step into a particularly deep storyline of my own life that makes trusting others so difficult. I felt like he was asking me to TRUST being that vulnerable with him…this huge giant…. and to TRUST in the unspoken lesson he was sharing with me energetically…Trusting that in those quiet moments together that he was somehow teaching me something anew about this old wound... Could it really be that in spite of his own deep wounds, both physically and emotionally...and in spite of the fact that my intention was to be of service to him, that his heart was simultaneously extending to me a pathway towards healing a part of my own heart as well?

How will I ever know for sure? I guess time will be the true test. I am keenly aware of how his energy felt and that he was trying to communicate something to me. I need more time to process and integrate the symbolism of that shared time with this Big Healer. Time to challenge myself, as he had challenged me, to take more risks and to trust the truths within the energy he shared with me...Time to sit in complete awe of the capacities that still exist within the heart and soul of this particular wounded healer named Big Guy…Time to appreciate the unintentional mission of Refuge Farms which creates opportunities for hearts to connect...even for a small girl from another member of the "herd".

Through my tears of gratitude, I offer my heartfelt respect and thanks to Sandy for offering me this unforeseen gift and for the fortitude it takes for her to daily live out her soul help others. And, I offer my unspeakable gratitude to Big Guy for his patience, determination of spirit, and for his heart. Gratitude for his willingness to let me be of service to him...his willingness to forgive...his ability to teach even this newbie, that forgiveness at deep levels is still possible. Gratitude for all the gifts of healing that had been mutually experienced...

Thanks to Sandy the horses come to Refuge Farms to heal, be cared for and to be loved for the rest of their lives. But, magically...mysteriously...and with complete grace...they also come with the understanding and wisdom of how to love and to heal even those wounds that lie within the human soul. How serendipitous...


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