New Moon, New Mare
Shasta arrived in The Valley Of Miracles on New Moon in Virgo, September 6, 2021. Due to her previous, likely unpleasant, experiences with being moved to new locations, Shasta had previously refused to load into the trailer on two different days we tried. After a few weeks of planning, we decided to walk her instead to her new home across Cedar in a three horse convoy. Zadia and Tia, fairly unacquainted to Shasta at that point, formed a protective shield around her giving her a sense of security and energetically entraining her into the herd during the two-hour hike.
Before the Procession
Although the roads were quiet in the early morning of Labour Day I had my hands full with Shasta for whom the 10 km trip across Cedar was a big trust exercise. Unknown horses, relatively unfamiliar humans, a brand new landscape. A lot to handle for this slightly nervous but very brave mare.
Shasta spent her first moments (days, in fact) at her new home separated from Tia and Zadia.
A Bucket of Treats
Marian feeds Shasta a bucket of treats and an anti-inflamatory supplement while Zadia figures out how to establish her dominance over the newcomer.
A Successful Mission
The walk, a gentler alternative to trailering in Shasta's case, and way easier than expected, was an absolute win-win for everyone involved. We learned to trust that her way was the best way.
First Forest Walk With Shasta.
Shasta is still integrating into the herd and processing her experience. Basically, she's busy being a horse, which makes her somewhat oblivious to her human handlers. Her rushing forward, walking into my space, and pushing or pulling me around is a clear indicator that she literally cannot see me and is instead fixated on the other two mares. Walking in the front of the group certainly helped her center and stop pushing in order to keep up. I also had to up my energy and make myself bigger so she could finally notice me. In the end, it was a decent first walk.
Re-configuring the herd dynamic when a new horse joins tends to involve a little bit of drama and lots of running, posturing, squealing, nipping, and constantly negotiating the distance Shasta has to keep from the higher ranking Tia and Zadia.
The Integration Process
Image 1: Synchronized grazing is a good sign that the herd is coming together and accepting the new member., although Tia and Zadia still won't let Shasta too close to them.
Image 2: The second photo shows the two mares grounding while Shasta casually observes and continues to integrate.
The full moon, two wweks after Shasta's arrival, saw three mares eating together peacefully as a herd. Integration is complete.
Shasta and I are working on getting out of our comfort zones. She's very herd bound, and becomes anxious when she's asked to leave the property and walk alone. We are taking it slow. First day, make it around the corner. Second day, a little further, to the neighbor's driveway. Next day, to another neighbor's egg stand. The day I took this photo, we walked all the way to the end of our road. It sure doesn't look like that here. But I think she surprised herself with how brave she was.
"Are You Medicine Horsing Us?"
Shasta often positions herself in the middle of activities that don't involve her, for example tacking up the other two mares to go for a ride, or mucking the paddock. It's becoming obvious that she has a bigger ambition than being a quirky companion horse that gets in the way. She's a master of harmonizing, grounding and clearing our energies, keeping us all in balance.
To honor Shasta's wish to engage with humans through medicine work, I started bringing volunteer clients who will learn the basics of horse handling and equine communication, while I learn how to facilitate the learning. She is a kind horse, who gives generously and forgives quickly. Our clients, mostly children, are gentle and attentive to her. This photo captures the beginning of a new journey for everyone involved.
The Way Of the Horse
Inspired by The Tao of Equus author Linda Kohanov who took her black mare Rasa on full day hikes through the Arizona desert, I take long backyard walks with li'l Shasta. I pack water or beer, and snacks for the afternoon, and we head out to be quiet together.
"Shasta Deserves To Feel Good"
This sweet mare caries a lot of physical baggage. A rather unfortunate conformation, twisted hind leg, and past injuries have made her unable to carry a rider without compromising her health. She is now retired from riding and is a Medicine Horse full time, but still requires bodywork to keep her comfortable and pain free. In her summer session, Caitlin of Topline Equine Inc. treated her with massage and cranial sacral therapy.