Friday, September 21, 2012

Horses, Buck and My Animal Connections

I was watching the documentary once again about the horse whisperer.  The title of this film is "Buck" and is about the life of Buck Brannaman as he teaches horse clinics and people about the greater truths in life.  I've hardly ever ridden a horse, but I can tell just how much Buck understands the finer parts of life.

Growing up most of my life I have been around animals from dogs, cats to chickens, sheep, and pigs.  My college undergraduate degree is in Animal Science and at one time I wanted to be a veterinarian.  Due to grades not being quite high enough in my undergraduate and financial limitations, I did not pursue this area.  However, I spent considerable time working on and managing big farms.

To this day I still love the animals, although I don't live in a situation where I can be close to them.  There is nothing more rewarding and joyful than to have hundreds of animals that can't wait to come up and greet you.  There has never been an animal that I was afraid of or could not be around.  Somehow I always found a way to make friends with them and do things that most people could not do.

I still remember the one mama pig we had (a sow), that was so violent and mean when she had her babies as she was over protective of them.  Yet, I could walk up with a tomato in my hand and she would eat it right from my fingers, with a slobbering tongue.  If I was out in the pig lot walking around she would come up and lean up against me, wanting me to scratch and rub her side forever.

When I had my sheep, I loved them as if they were my only friends and in many ways, they were.  In those days, my life was filled with all kinds of abuse (see Hope And Possibility Through Trauma for more details).  There weren't safe places in my world and there was not peace in my life.  I didn't feel like I could trust anyone but my animals.  In return, my animals trusted me.

There was one time when I was trying to get my sheep to go inside the barn because a storm was approaching.  I don't recall what the reason was, but my father was outside attempting to help me get the sheep into the barn.  No matter what, with my father outside, the sheep would run as if they were completely afraid.  Sheep are very intelligent and they know without a doubt who they can trust and who they need to run from.  It is instinctive with them.  Finally I told my Dad to just go to the house (which was an action that was taking my life in a dangerous direction).  You did not tell my Dad what to do or tick him off.  However, once he went to the house, it was as if all I had to do was be patient and watch the sheep walk single file into the barn.

When we came home from school, I would turn my sheep out in a corn field in the evening to eat some grain during the late fall and winter months.  It was 160 acres and so with daylight being limited, I learned to just stand at the gate and call my sheep in, rather than going out and walking that many acres.  Without a doubt, they would come in to the sound of my voice.

I've had moments where I've been working on farms (and even growing up with my dad) that I saw animals being abused.  In fact, as I have written previously, that my father killed some of our pets,  Those pains are still fresh wounds in my life to this day.  Whenever I saw this happen on a farm, I about landed myself in jail a few times because I would stand up for the animals without a moment of fear or hesitation.  I never backed down from anyone that was mistreating an animal and I became their protector.

As I watch Buck work with the horses, I can see that similar connection to what my experience with animals has been.  You can try and fool people in life as to what you are inside, but an animal provides the mirror to what is truly going on and what type of person you are.  If they run from you, if they act up around you, there is a good chance that they are picking up on something inside or your life that you don't want to own up to.  You can't fool an animal.  They rely too much on instinct and intuition to experience people and the world they exist in.

Sure, I've had my difficult moments with animals,but to be honest, I'll take an animal any day over any human.  You may think that sounds a little too harsh, but I know in my heart and my mind and my body that animals treat you with unconditional love and acceptance.  There is no agenda with them and there is no ego that guides them.  They just see you for what you are.

I'm so thankful this documentary was done with Buck Brannaman because he speaks a language I understand.  I feel like if he can make it through all he experienced, than I can make it through what I had to deal with.  He is right, that while it is sometimes hard to forget some of the pains of the past, you have to go on and live in this one moment you have.  I'm sure Buck will most likely never see this, but I just want to say "thank you" for sharing your life in such a real and personal way.  You have impacted my life in a very big way.

I could write for days about my animal connections, but without these experiences in my life, I don't know if I would have made it through everything.  They were my constant and only companions growing up.  They helped me to feel like I belonged and they helped give me the opportunity to cry my eyes out through the pains I endured.  I cherished their unconditional love and I can only wish and hope that more people will learn from animals about how to live a truly authentic life viewing others through the eyes of unconditional love.

Blog Post And Images (c) 8/9/12 by Don Shetterly

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