This weeks edition of GotW features a rather tall and strange looking goat. OK, so it is day 24 of my self isolation, but I have not yet lost my mind. So she isn't a goat, but if you ask her, Cheyenne will tell you she is the GOAT (greatest of all time)! I look forward to sharing the story of this beautiful, young mare who joined my herd accidentally at the end of 2018, and is now determined to stay with my goat herd full time.
Back in 2018, I started a course of study called FEEL - Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning, through Horse Spirit Connections in Tottenham, ON. This program, and the FEEL Approach forever changed my life for the better. Not only did this program offer me validation for many of the experiences I had with animals in my life prior to adopting this practice, but it has actually allowed me to find myself through the amazing support of four legged friends such as Cheyenne here. The FEEL Approach is essentially learning to reconnect with the parts of ourselves that our society has taught us to ignore or lose touch with - our heart energy, and our gut instincts, but also vital knowledge about the emotions we all feel. If I was to break that down even further, I would say to follow ones heart or to listen to ones gut, but in a literal way as opposed to figuratively. Horses have an ability as prey animals to be fully in touch with their surroundings at all times. A horses ability to be able to read the emotional energy of any potential threat has ensured the survival of their species for millions of years virtually unchanged. FEEL facilitators such as myself work to partner horses with humans to work through specific activities in order to learn and grow together. These activities are designed to explore specific areas of personal growth and development. I explain all of this as a way to give some better understanding into the fact that Cheyenne here is not just any horse - she is a FEEL horse, and that is both a blessing and a challenge to me at the moment in our daily routine of self isolation. The FEEL Approach teaches us to live every day of our lives connected through our hearts with all living things. When we connect through our hearts we have the ability to communicate on a different level, that can even transcend species. Horses are particularly adept at this ability, and Cheyenne here is no exception. So how did she end up here and part of my therapy herd? Part misfortune, perhaps part fate and most certainly meant to be, here is her story.
Cheyenne a registered Rocky Mountain Horse and she was born in Kentucky on November 9, 2013. She was purchased by a FEEL sister of mine and imported into Canada in 2018. Upon getting this mare home, it was apparent that she had some serious physical issues that would impede her ability to live a normal, healthy life for a horse. The other issue was that Cheyenne was also pregnant. Decisions needed to be made to ensure the safety and long term welfare of this mare, and her unborn foal, and this is where I come into her story. I was asked if I would be able to offer a home to Cheyenne as part of my therapeutic program and went about trying to figure out how to get her here, as she was now in Thunder Bay, ON. Fortunately I found a transport company willing to bring her down and in November of 2018 Cheyenne came home to Sky River Meadows. Coming from one FEEL home to another, the transition was actually quite easy for her and the rest of my other horses here at the time. My biggest concern was getting her settled in and comfortable to go through her pregnancy and delivery safely. She was due to foal anytime after mid April so I had several months of tending to her physical needs as her advancing baby bump created more hardship on her already strained joints. With a lot of love, attention and patience (sleeping two weeks in the barn waiting for her to foal) she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on May 23, 2019. I was absolutely overjoyed to be there to witness the beautiful miracle as I had delivered nothing but baby goats for many years now. It was a wonderful reminder of just how incredible the female body really is to be able to go through this, but also just that beautiful miracle of BIRTH and new life beginning. I never get tired of it :)
Cheyenne had a textbook perfect delivery of her foal, but for the first 24 hours she really wasn't too sure what to do with him. She would lick him, then try to bite him, then alternate neighing REALLY loudly in his face or whinnying at me for answers. I think she was quite confused at first and she needed a lot of assistance from me to get her to understand that she needed to nurse him, BUT also in order to do that she would need to learn to stand still. Each time he got close she would want to lick his face again and she would move. It took about two days but she eventually got the hang of being a mom and then there was no stopping her. About two months prior to giving birth, Cheyenne developed a growth on her side, that rapidly grew into a tumour that needed to be removed. This had to wait until after she gave birth in order to protect her baby from the drugs she would receive during the operation. The procedure went very well however, testing determined to be a mass cell tumour that was malignant. The good news is that my vet managed to remove it in it's entirety so fingers crossed it never grows back or returns elsewhere. Poor Cheyenne really did get a short stick when it comes to health issues, but fortunately for her, she now lives here where I will look after her needs. I am grateful that she has joined us she has some interesting gifts that I feel blessed to offer to those who visit us here at SRM. At the moment, Cheyenne is the only horse I have here that is working in my program, and this is at her own insistence. My other two horses currently here are William, her baby who is leaving very soon for his new home and training facility in southern Ontario, and my old mare Pride who currently is not interested in doing FEEL work, so is essentially retired. My gelding Buddy is currently away on a lease to a lovely family for the next year and half while I continue to develop my programs at the farm. I had intended on moving or rehoming all of my horses for the time being, but Cheyenne had other plans, and after months of her being a royal pain in my butt, she has gotten her wish and joined the herd at the goat barn.
I think Cheyenne started being very present, and perhaps even invading my thoughts regularly in January after I attended my communities New Year's Day sweat lodge ceremony and set my intentions for 2020. That first week of January seems so oddly far away now. So much has happened in such a short period of time with the coronavirus outbreak, that it is crazy to look back and see how little time has actually passed. Now that things in the world are very real for all of us, I am starting to understand why Cheyenne has been insisting she stay on here while the other horses move away. She knows there will be important work to do in our community to help heal the minds and hearts that become broken from this pandemic. This mare of mine is determined that not only is she not going anywhere, but she is content to live the life of a goat until such a time comes that she can live with my other horses again. She started pestering me to bring her to the goat barn in January and finally got her wish in mid February when a behaviour issue from Amelia the cow required me to bring Cheyenne in to keep her in line. This move of course just seemed to encourage Cheyenne in her pursuit of working with the therapy herd NOW instead of in a few years. As you can see from the photo above, she fits right in and hardly stands out at all right? Don't be surprised if you see her on a future Goat Walk here during the summer lol.
I know that when I talk about my animals I talk about them as if they are people, and this might seem very strange to some. It is probably more accurate if you say that I speak of them as if they are individuals though. I speak that way because I believe they ARE individuals, complete with their own personalities, likes, dislikes as well as opinions and wisdom to share. When I found the FEEL program, I found an entire community of like minded individuals who also believed in the sentience of animals, just as many indigenous cultures still do to this day. I now feel pride where once I felt shame for the things I believed about my animal friends abilities to help us. Now I can share my own journey, as well as help others through facilitating exercises with the animals. My herd continues to evolve in interesting ways and I do not pretend to understand the why behind any of it. I am just a FEEL practitioner and facilitator. Why does my horse want to live with my goats? I don't know, but I trust her and trust that she knows more about things spiritual and beyond than I'll likely ever understand in this lifetime. I continually challenge myself daily to ALLOW and ACCEPT the messages I receive and when I surrender, I see the amazing evidence before me time and again. I pray daily that this pandemic ends soon so that my herd and I can get back to our work. After 24 days in isolation my entire herd is starting to become depressed. They miss the socializing, the connections, the laughter and smiles from visitors as well as all the extra hands for grooming, petting, scratching and loving on them. The herd likes me and all, but seriously after this many days of just me and my son tending to them they don't think we're so great anymore lol. When all this is over though, I assure you all that the entire Sky River goat gang, and Cheyenne included, will be here to help you through whatever you need. We know the days ahead are uncertain and scary, but together we will all get through it. So for now stay strong and stay home <3
With love, Angee