Too many things in my life are on hold at the moment. Ever feel that way? Seems like I’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting for a couple of major things to fall into place but they’re still in limbo. Work is busy and that’s a good thing but the evenings are draggin’ and stretch longer than the entire day. Time stalls, refusing to move.
Unexpectedly, the tension broke when I received a phone call yesterday.
The story goes back nearly a year. While on contract in the desert, I was told of a woman who offered her horses to military folks on the weekends. I was connected to the military via my job so I joined the Marines who went to see her. This fluke connection ended up lasting nearly a year. Every Saturday a group of us would show up at the ranch before the sun rose. We would spend an hour feeding and cleaning stalls. Maybe a dozen folks showed up. It didn’t take long for all of us to single out a horse we liked to ride. After the morning duties, we’d saddle up, and ride on the open desert.
For me, it was an unforeseen opportunity to reawaken a childhood passion. What! Two dozen horses to choose from? All I had to do was show up, relocate horseshit from the ground to a wheelbarrow, and then ride a horse for the remainder of the morning? Sign me up. In no time whatsoever, I was a regular.
Talk about passion. This woman had it for her animals. Odd thing though: she never rode them. Guess that’s where the offer for others to ride them came from. These horses weren’t your average stable nags. They were up to snuff on shots, shoes, worming—all of those things that horses need for optimal horse-health. Their hay was delivered from Idaho because the hay on the desert wasn’t the quality the woman wanted. Each one of those horses had it’s own stall—no turning out to pasture for these guys unless it was supervised. Mares were always separated from the geldings to prevent any harm from occurring. The ranch manager and two assistants rode the horses daily. Their exercise and professional training added to the excellent health of the horses.
Midway through the year, the woman announced to the Saturday group that she was getting a divorce. She was hurting and obviously distressed about her situation. She didn’t know how long her soon-to-be-ex-husband was going to fund the upkeep of her horse and animal collection. With the number of animals she had to care for, she had three full time ranch hands. It’s tough to feel empathy and disappointment at the same time. We could see she was hurting. Even though all of us valued what had been offered, all of us knew the offer was soon coming to an end.
Before the situation came to an end, however, the woman began to give some of the animals away. Thirty goats went back to her husband. Seven Mustangs went to friends of the ranch manager. A dozen cattle were sold off. Several of the horses were promised to those coming out on Saturday mornings, including me. I was promised two Mustangs. I was ecstatic! Immediately, I began to make plans to take them home, as did others.
Here’s when the waiting began. I wasn’t in a position to provide shelter for the Mustangs immediately and the local boarding wasn’t up to the ranch owner’s standards. (“Don’t think you’re gonna take those horses and board them there. Have you seen how she keeps those stalls?”) I would have to wait until I got my own place.
Fast-forward six months. Not one of those horses actually made it into the hands of anyone promised them. The woman reneged on every single person that she’d offered a horse.
I was the last person to be told, “Don’t come back to the ranch; I wish you well.” It was the same message she’d said to half a dozen “ranch regulars”. My mind had seen it coming but my heart was too connected to those two horses to pull out when I first saw the signs of impulsivity and aggressiveness in the ranch owner.
My disappointment was heavy, as it was for others. I’d been waiting for six months, (which had included a three-month work interlude in Germany), to take my horses. Finally, when the divorce settlement wasn’t resolved at the appointed time, the woman, in one fell swoop, had all of the animals transported three hours away to an animal consignment ranch.
It was time to look elsewhere for horses. Last Saturday, I drove out to a horse rescue ranch. I walked up to a group just arriving back from a trail ride: several children and a young woman on horses with an older women walking along in tow. I greeted the woman. Yep, she looked just like she did on her website.
“How can I help you?” Her voice was warm and grandmotherly.
“I’m here to adopt two horses,” I replied enthusiastically.
She grabbed me in a bear hug. “Oh, bless you! I think we can find something for you.” She spent a gracious two hours of her time introducing me to every one of her 45 horses, all the while telling me each one of their stories. I shared with her what I wanted: “Two horses, so that one horse doesn’t get lonely. And I’m looking for one horse with spirit and one family horse. Is that possible?”
Leaving that afternoon, I had a greater understanding of what “rescue” meant: sponsorship of a horse for several months while it stayed on the ranch and everyone involved could determine if the match was a good one. Meanwhile, I could come and ride my sponsored horse anytime.
I agreed to the conditions, but it meant waiting, again. Within a month’s time I would have my own place, which included space and shelter for horses, but my heart was still tender from having waited and lost so much recently.
Waiting is hard at times. It sucks, to put it bluntly. I can tell myself all of those good things that might come of waiting, but when I’m in the midst of waiting, those things don’t feel good to hear.
Back to the phone call yesterday. It was the rescue owner.
“Remember I told you about two horses that were coming in? Well, they came in today and I think they’re for you.”
“What?” I stammered.
“Well, you told me what you wanted and these two fit the bill. I mentioned them to you on Saturday, but I had yet to see them. Now that they’re here, they fit what you want. One’s a Tennessee Walker, name is Spirit. When you come on Saturday, I’ll get a chance to see your riding ability. If it’s not up to speed, we’ll get you up to speed. The other horse is a huge Appaloosa; name is Mo. I’d put a child on him any day. I think you’ll be pleased. And these two have been treated well. Been with the same owner for 12 years. She’s lost them of her own poor choices, but they’re sound and they’ll go quickly. What do you think?”
What did I think? My heart fluttered and tears sprang to my eyes. I think in a vast Universe, abundance trumps waiting every time, even when the timing isn’t always known to me, and maybe, just maybe, I can wait three more days until I meet Mo and Spirit.
They may be the horses I’ve been waiting for.