He came because he heard our joyfulness and he needed an oasis he could call “home.”
After learning and working under the mentorship of Mena Canonico, FEEL Practitioner and Guide, Founder of Liberty Lane Retreats, and her equine partners the Freedom Herd for the past year and a half – I felt the strong pull to begin the next step in my journey and deepen my experience with my own equine partner.
What I knew was that I wanted to begin by part-boarding a horse, as horse ownership is a huge step, and I like to take things one stepping stone at a time, it’s a journey after all – there is no rush, just a commitment to forward movement.
I had been keeping an eye out online for horses to part-board, on social media and other websites, and trusted that when the timing was right, my horse would appear. As a full time school administrator, this was another challenging September. Faced with returning to school while simultaneously developing and implementing a series of new policies and protocols called for by our government related to COVID-19, and the aftermath of the necessity of change, and supporting change management at the school at the faculty and board level. I was also being faced with a personal health challenge that was not pandemic related. It was the last Friday in September, again facing the possibility of cancelling the Grade 8 trip – my own daughter’s graduation trip – and having to move her class online due to a potential COVID outbreak – I asked myself the question “what is it that you would want to spend your days doing, if you knew that your time was limited.” When facing loss and illness, and under a great deal of stress – this question is not unusual to ask of myself, and something I find grounding.
I had asked this question at the beginning of my journey with horses, starting in 2019 when again I was faced with the question of how I wanted to create my future, like my life depended on it. So, again, asking this question, the answer was find a horse, and spend as much time as you can with him.
My long term goal is to own a farm and provide access to horses and nature to everyone who feels called to be in their presence, regardless of who they are, and their economic means, particularly children and families. The next best step I could take right away while aiming toward that bigger goal, would be to find a horse as close as possible to my current home in town.
That evening I had the house to myself, and cozied up with some comfort food and my laptop to search for a horse to part board. I saw him right away – a quarter horse gelding, 12 years old, 15h – with a history of working with children as a therapy horse. Only a 10 minute drive from my house, and a very modest boarding fee – I knew instantly I had to reach out to his owner. His name was Winston – and I knew he was my horse.
When I reached out to Winston’s owner, it took a couple of days for her to reply, she shared that he had some issues, but that she was hoping that someone would love him and give him attention. He had been without a person since April, and she had no time for him since she lived an hour away and had her own horses boarded closer to her home. We made plans to meet the following weekend, however – 48 hours before we said we would meet, and I had not heard back with a confirmed time. I reached out again, and she replied that she was very stressed out and that while she wanted to find Winston a person, she felt that no one would actually want him because he isn’t ready to ride right off the bat, that he’d need time to warm up again. That she had been bucked off when she tried him in the neighbours western saddle (I had been hoping to ride western, and this is what the advertisement indicated) and that he really preferred bareback or english saddles even though his training is western. That she didn’t know how she would even manage to make time to come down and introduce us.
I let her know that I could feel her stress in the message, and that if it wasn’t going to work to meet that weekend, I could be patient. And, more importantly, that I can take my time getting to know Winston and work with him to find the most comfortable way to be and work together. My desire to part-board him was still strong and that I wanted to have the chance to meet him one day to see if the energy I felt through the screen was in fact a connection meant to be in real life. I knew that there was something drawing us together and needed to follow my intuition.
With that note – she shared a bit more, and was appreciative of my kindness and patience with her. She offered for us to visit on Saturday instead of Sunday. Perfect.
The photo you see was captured upon meeting Winston that day – you can see the joy and glee on my face – his energy was exactly what I needed. I could tell during that meeting that he was a sweetheart of a horse, my heart horse. There was no turning back. His owner offered to show me another horse on the property that was also available – and I turned down the opportunity. Winston was the one.
I let Winston’s owner know that I would sleep on it, and that I would let her know the following day if we would go ahead. This truly felts like the next step on the path to fulfilling my long term goals. As I stretch and learn more about horses, Equine Facilitated modalities, and riding I knew in my heart that Winston and I were brought together for this reason.
The following day, I called and admitted that I knew right away, however I believe it’s good practice to sleep on big decisions. She was so happy, and with that news, and with that – our story begins…