By Kim Chappell
I have been in the horse business for a good 26 years. You don’t do horses for this length of time unless it’s in your blood … your soul. The daily-ness of tending to horses whether it is one horse or a herd of horses, like I have, is hard work – plain and simple. Looking from the outside in, it looks like an idyllic lifestyle, the dream come true. And in many respects this is accurate. But the flip side is, it’s expensive, demanding, and at times a daily grind of blood, sweat, and tears. There is the front end of the day with daily morning chores, and the back end of the day with evening daily chores. Not to be missed, forgotten, or ignored. While the social aspects of your life may have to take a back seat due to your horse-schedule; while retail-therapy may have to wait until you pay for that load of hay; or repairing fences is the highlight of the day because the horses decided to take off at a full-tilt-boogie due to some unforeseen monster who was surely chasing them; we, the true
horse person, continue to participate in this lifestyle while others would call us crazy.
I recently met with a woman who came to the ranch to ride. She has been involved with horses on and off all of her life and would like to get back into it on a more regular basis. As we were talking she shared with me the very telling remarks where one realizes that they are with another member of the tribe. As a child, her days were spent at the barn, the place where the world made sense and where cleaning stalls in exchange for riding lessons was how she made her dream come true. She told me that it is not only the riding that brings her unquestionable joy but too, just being around them, cleaning stalls, fixing things, feeding, grooming, the smell of manure (yes, this is our preferred perfume), and the peace and serenity she feels when she is with them. I could see her want for more; her desire to touch those memories where horses were a normal part of a given day.
“Why is this placed so heavy on my heart, if I can’t have it,” she said. “You can, and you will, because it is a part of your soul … your essence,” I replied. Tears stung her eyes as she realized the merit in this simple truth. As we continued to talk, I said to her, “I have always had this impression that if horses were to unzip themselves angels would step forth.” She nodded her head as if the
image this presented made perfect sense. “I just get the sense that horses are like angels in the mist. They are here for us more than we are here for them. We get so much more than anyone really realizes when we are simply in their presence. They offer us an abundance of gifts that feed our physical, mental and spiritual selves. There is a oneness in their presence that fills us to the brim even when we are entirely alone.” “Long after we leave them for the day, their presence still lingers. Our clothes are ripe with smells of the barn, which we inhale like the richest of perfumes.
The creases in our hands and fingers are dirt-filled with no rush to wash off evidence of a day well spent. And as we haphazardly toss our boots on the floor, leaving them where they lay, there is a beauty in the worn out leather, the tattered laces.” Again she nodded. The knowing nod of one who understands that which is hard to capsulize – after all how do you explain the soul to someone so it is given its full due. We continued to talk and although our tales are different, the essence of our journey to being with horses is the same. She gave me a gift that morning by sharing her story which was both inspiring and a reminder of why we do what we do. We are the fortunate ones to have them – the horses – in our lives. We are the ones that gain so much more than we could possibly give to them. This mystical inner world of horse and human, although hard to describe to an outsider, needs little explanation to those that know. Somewhere across the pasture they stand in unison. The early morning sun peaks over the mountain tops, not yet warming the earth with its heat.
Out of the mist we see them step through the veil. The distinct sound of hooves on the hard ground fills the air as they make their way towards us. A toss of the head followed by a whinny announces their arrival. A new day has begun. Hooves or wings, it’s all the same, for they are angels in the mist carrying our souls in their ethereal world. Kim Chappell, M.Ed., Instructor and Equine-Facilitated Life Coach. For further information on riding programs and equinefacilitated life coaching, you can contact Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.chappellranchllc.com