Healing our Karmas with the Aid of Animals in Spirit

October 11, 2012 Christine McDonald Animal ConnectionsEmotions and AnimalsHorses

Introduction: this story is part of my own healing journey and transformation with the help of animal friends. I share it with the hope it will help others see a bigger picture that may unfold as we care and love for our animal companions. In their love and dedication they can help us through difficult times. They can be our guides and teachers and their shorter lives allow them to come back to us to heal those places we could not meet at an earlier time.

I was on retreat in Mt Shasta. Three weeks of silence in the beautiful Mt Shasta community. It was my first real exposure to the power and beauty of the mountain. It was October and the days were warm and sunny. The nights cool and clear, and the mountain was tinged with the first signs of fall foliage. My friend Lily and I drove up to Panther Meadows for an afternoon of processing. I was feeling something but having a hard time naming it. I knew it was there lingering in the background of my subconscious, like a haunting dream I could not remember.

At the base of the rocky slopes of Mt Shasta, we sat on a large flat rock and talked. We were doing a processing technique called SRT. Lily asked me a number of questions and then used her pendulum and SRT sheets to help unravel the underlying issues we were working on. One of her questions was “what happened to me when I was 16 years old?”

It had been a long time since I had accessed those painful memories of growing up in Montana with five siblings on a cattle ranch. I told her of an incident when my horse was caught in the wire and cut her hind leg. My older sister Bev and I were on our way to the Red Lodge rodeo. We had free passes to the rodeo if we helped out in some way. I never made it. I was riding my three year old mare, Lady who I loved and had trained since she was a yearling. She was a quarter horse thoroughbred cross and had a dip in her nose which gave her a refined and feminine look. Her coat was a dark dun or buckskin with a dark line down the middle of her back. She was the lady in my life and represented some aspect of myself which I did not know very well, the feminine.

Bev and I rode our horses the four miles into the rodeo grounds. We were both comfortable on the back of a horse but I was nervous. This was my first ride with Lady of this kind. The rodeo was the most popular event of the year for the town of Red Lodge. There would be thousands of people there and lots of activity. I really did not know is she was ready for “an event”. She was developing into a good cow horse but she was very young. For some reason I cannot remember, I went.

We were about a quarter mile from the fairgrounds riding along the road when the accident happened. The barb wire from some old fencing project had been discarded and was hidden in the lush summer grass. Lady picked up the wire along her left hind leg and then bolted as the wire cut into her leg. I slide off her back when I realized what was happening. It was a horrible accident. The wire cut through muscle and tendons exposing her raw flesh. She managed to get away from the wire, shaken and wounded. It all happened so fast I don’t remember all the details.

I was in shock and horrified at what had happened. A man in a car stopped to ask if he could help. There was a concerned wife and two children in the back seat with wide eyes. I felt shame in my misfortune and waved them on. My sister Bev had other things on her mind and went on the rodeo. I took the saddle off and hide it in the ditch alongside the road and walked my horse about a half mile to the closet neighbor I knew. I cried most of the way as we made our way stopping frequently to allow Lady to rest. I knew this was a serious accident that may have consequences for her future and well-being.

As I remembered and felt the details of the day I saw how frozen in time I was from that incident. I felt shame and remorse, anguish, helplessness. The incident completely shattered me and I was not in a family who could support me. I hide my feelings behind the shame and for years avoided any connection with the memory.  The vet examined Lady, later that afternoon. It was a serious accident but she was young. Dr. Beug said there was a good chance she could still be a cow and pleasure horse. He also said as she got older she may have problems with that leg. It would be another three weeks before she was well enough to move back to the ranch and another four months before I could ride her. The cut left a large scare that never went away.

I loved that horse and took good care of her. When I started to ride her again I was conscious of her leg and overuse and lameness. I had a special way with animals and could tune into them intuitively and just know what was needed. She had a foal a few years later. She was a good mom and I enjoyed them both thoroughly. The horses allowed me to get away from the many misfortunes of growing up in a dysfunctional family. The animals became more of the family I desired and the Montana hills and mountains the supportive home.

I left for college a few years later and there was pressure from my family to take her with me or sell her. I did not have the money to board her at a stable. I sold her at the public auction yards in Billings in 1978. I don’t know who bought her or what happened to her. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. I did it from an angry hurt place. After the sale, I cried for weeks and became very depressed. It was a difficult time and I remember making vows to get as far away from my family as I could. It was the incident that really allowed me to break free from my family, get out on my own and find my way in the world. I loved the ranch life and the land I grew up on, I did not want to leave. It took something big and painful like this to uproot me.

In the slowing down process that a long retreat allows I started to allow myself to feel into the memories of those teen years. Along with the uncomfortable feelings there were pleasant memories like the beautiful rides in the Montana hills and mountains. I realized how much of me was still stuck or frozen in those teen years.

Things had changed since those early teen years. I was in a supportive environment surrounded by people who loved and cared for me. I started to feel and let go of the many pent up emotions from that earlier time in my life. Behind the shame I felt shattered and alone. Under the aloneness was grief and loss. I had disconnected from the memories and in doing so had cut some part of me off, the feminine and the wild free beautiful nature that Lady mirrored in me. I started to see all of the characters who were there on the day she was injured as me. I was the shattered teenager, the sister who abandoned the scene, the concerned family and the wounded. As I took in the totality of the moment, it all started to soften and melt together. The fragmented feeling started to take on a feeling of wholeness. It was all me and there was a hint of forgiveness. The tears rolled and the mother who could not be there for me at 16 was now lovingly present.

It was a bitter and sweet and sad and happy reunion. It all made sense as I saw how these pent up emotions would be buried in my unconscious. As I laid in bed that evening taking it all in with a new perspective, I knew I had to connect with Lady in spirit.

She must have transitioned on to horse heaven years ago. It had been 33 years since I last saw her. What had become of her? Who bought her? How did she live out her life? It felt important to make the connection with her in spirit. As an animal intuitive I had the skills to do this. It was becoming clearer and clearer to me how buried this memory was in the pain and anguish of horse companionship.

I opened the connection through my heart and found Lady quite easily. It was almost as if Lady had been waiting for me. I allowed myself to simply be with her and allow the painful memories to pass through me.  She was just there for me.  Horses are very grounding in body and spirit. I recalled the last few days with her. The pain of being in my family and the decision leading up to selling her had left my heart heavy with grief. I remembered going to the mall afterward and thinking what I could do with the money. I felt my own self betrayal in trading love for money. I felt a collective grief in the buying and selling of horses as some kind of commodity, traded and sold without regard for the spirit, the service and hardship horses endure. There was a burning shame that spiraled around her injury and my disheartened state the day she was auctioned off.

As I connected with Lady, her spirit felt strong. I asked all of the haunting questions buried in the past.  What had become of her? Where had she gone? How did the injury impact her as she grew older? The information came through in words and images. She was sold to a family with two younger boys four and six years old. She was a good teacher in schooling them about horsemanship but they were boys and became more reckless in their riding as they grew up. I sensed she lived in or near Hardin Montana. The boys pushed her to limits she could not meet. She became lame and was sold after a few years to a processing plant.

As the information came through I felt so much love coming from her. I also started to see, I had not forgiven myself. I went through another period of being with and burning off the old emotional charges fully supported by Lady in Spirit until I felt like a shift had occurred. As I brought her into my awareness this time her presence felt different. The awareness came as images. I would see the image of Lady’s head transposed with another image, another horse, Bunny. I disregarded it at first but then it happened again. I could not distinguish one from the other. I asked Lady if she was connected with Bunny. She said they were from the same lineage. In all of the years of horse ownership it had not occurred to me there was a connection. I asked if this was the same horse in spirit and the answer yes came in loud and clear.

It was another shattering moment as I took in the truth of this new information. It was the same horse! The karmas I had incurred as a teenager were able to be cleared with Bunny. The lesson did not end when I sold Lady they continued with Bunny in her old age. It had come full circle.

BunnyWe bought Bunny in Tillamook Oregon in 2002. Bunny was my daughter’s 4-H horse. She was a 17 year old Arab/Thoroughbred mare who loved carrots and was expressive with her lower lip, like a bunny rabbit. The previous owners told us about an injury to her right hind leg which occurred four years earlier when Bunny kicked the side of the wooden stall in the barn she was boarded at. The wood splintered and drove a wooden spike through her hoof. The accident left a cracked and scarred hoof that required special shoeing and care. I connected with Bunny immediately and while I did not like the fact she had an existing injury that could be problematic we bought her anyway. I liked her disposition and there was something about her. She was a good teacher for my daughter as she learned more about horse care and riding. I grew to love her.

Bunny did become lame a few years later. Some people might have put her down but we retired her and allowed her to just be an old horse in a pasture until lameness progressed and she struggled to move about. When she was 27, we had her put down by our local veterinarian. For the last four years of her life I was able to care for Bunny in the way I could not with Lady. Unconsciously, I had completed something started when I was a teenager growing up in Montana. In making it conscious I was able to see the beauty of this reconnection and allow the deeper healing to come forth.

Spirit must have a sense of humor as much of this seeing occurred on the day I drove up Mt Shasta, parked at Bunny Flats and hiked into Horse Camp. It is with deep gratitude I share this story of my beloved horse friends and teachers.

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