When I walked out to the pasture on Friday night, I could see Scamp hiding, in the treeline. She quietly observed me. Something within us clicked.
Who’s that? I asked.
Oh, that’s Scamp, Amy Jo said.
Sometimes horses have a deep, timeless wisdom about them. I sensed that in Scamp.
Scamp is covered in sores, all along her belly, Amy Jo said. We think she’s severely allergic to flies.
The next morning, I wanted to help. After my encounter with the therapy asses, I met up with my human friends and we talked about the horses in the field.
It sounded like Scamp wasn’t really fitting in. She was on the edge of the herd. She didn’t fit her name. She wasn’t a Scamp. She was awkward, quiet and shy.
I met Scamp in the middle of the field, and slipped a rope halter on her. Sometimes that rope can be a quiet energetic connection between a horse and me.
I said, You just walk where you want, and we’ll talk, okay?
I felt my heart hurt. I felt a deep sadness well up within me. And I felt itchy. Scamp bit at her sides.
I ran my hand along her belly and felt the scabs underneath. They were hot and scratchy.
I asked, What’s happening here? and I saw, in my mind, each cell burst in anger. It was the feeling of unexpressed anger bursting through her skin.
I’m not a vet, but I could tell that this horse’s skin affliction was energetic and emotional in nature.
Are you angry? I asked.
It’s not useful. She said. My anger is not useful. It doesn’t change a thing and I don’t know what to do with it.
I thought of all the times I had said the same thing.
Scamp’s Mother and Father
Scamp is a mustang. She’d been brought in from a herd in Eastern Oregon. She was captured when she was just 2-3 months old.
She showed me her mother and her father. Her father had been the lead stallion, and he had been angry that his herd was attacked and separated.
Her mother, Stormy, was captured too, and Scamp and Stormy were separated. This happened 8 years ago. She had never got over it. She kept showing me pictures of her father so angry and helpless to stop this terrible situation.
It wasn’t useful, she said. Why have this terrible feeling if we can’t change things?
I scratched her belly softly. I stood there without answers.
I don’t know what happened to my mother, she said.
I bet we could find out. I said. I asked Amy Jo and she said that although the paperwork didn’t say anything, she’d check it out.
Her name was Stormy, she said. She showed me a picture of a big horse, warm and friendly. She was mostly white, with a little grey on her flanks.
We had a long conversation about the purpose of life. About suffering. About existential angst. Scamp was tired of everything. The alpha horse, Cornelius, had called her ugly. She didn’t feel ugly, but she didn’t want to talk to anybody except a young mustang named Moon Ray.
Amy Jo said, Could you please thank her for being kind to Moon Ray? He only came out of his shell when she was kind to him.
I thanked her for her kindness, and she said, It’s nothing. It’s a drop in a bucket. Don’t put pressure on me. I am not anybody’s savior.
She showed me her former owner, whom she really loved, but who was mentally ill. She felt overwhelmed by her owner’s emotions. She never felt like enough. She felt angry that she couldn’t resolve the problem. She felt conflicted that she felt angry. She didn’t want to be a useless, angry horse.
The God of Horses
We talked for a long time about the never-ending nature of suffering on this planet. There is always a need. It feels like we’re pushing a rock up a big hill. It’s hard to see the people and animals we love suffer.
It was a deep, lovely, difficult conversation. I didn’t have many answers, so I just honored her by listening.
I decided that we should do some functional energy work to help Scamp transcend these deep, sad thoughts.
She felt disconnected, ungrounded. So I showed her how to connect with the ground beneath her. I asked about her relationship to the divine. I asked her about God.
The God of Horses? She asked.
I was surprised that she said it like that. I thought about how I, personally, imagine God in a way that feels knowable to me.
Yes. I said. Have you connected with the God of Horses?
She showed me a picture of a big beautiful horse.
She got quiet for a moment, hard to reach. She was in communion. I put my hand on her belly and asked God to heal her.
She felt better. I could feel her sadness lighten.
I said, You don’t have to do anything. But when you are feeling better, you’ll notice that even the little things you do have meaning. You don’t have to help a soul, if that’s too much pressure. But, at some point, I think you’ll find that you’re ready to help again. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by need. There will always be some need, but your little efforts do make a difference.
She sighed. Some of her sadness had turned to peace. It felt like hope was seeping in around the edges.
I said, Can I ask a question? Can I ask about your name? You don’t seem like a Scamp.
It’s Starry. She said. My name is Starry Night.
She turned and showed me her coat, and sure enough, she’s covered in stars. I found out later that she had told our friend Laura that her name was Starry Night. It was nice to confirm it.
Later, the horses started chasing each other around the pasture. And Starry joined in. She turned and ran and played for a moment.
Amy Jo said, We haven’t seen her do that.
Starry ran around the pasture just as Piggy Jim was playing with his hula hoop. I thought, What kind of world is this where there are deep feelers like Starry as well as pigs with hula hoops?
Who gets to choose the experiences we have?
I have hope in my heart for Starry and for all of us.