• vslachman

The Sixth Sense

German Mendoza, who takes care of the horses, told me a sweet story about John and Dorian. John is an older guy, about 26, and when German calls them in from the pasture at night, Dorian and John are always the last ones because John is slow and Dorian won't leave him.

They're inseparable, though neither of them fusses when one is gone from the pasture. They both never get herd sour that way, which is nice for everyone. But I've seen their "Sixth sense" kick in when, after one has been gone, the other knows when he returns.

For example, the other day, I had Dorian out riding and when I turned him back to the pasture, I went in through the pasture gate rather than up at the gate by the barn. There's a run-in shed by that gate, and John was in there. He couldn't see us all the way out in the pasture.

But as soon as I turned Dorian out, I saw John coming plodding out to the pasture--he knew Dorian was there somehow.

German, who never sits down and never stops smiling!

And a week or so ago, I was riding Dorian along the trail that runs by their pasture. John and the rest of the herd were out there, munching away. Nobody moved as we went by, but on our way back, John's head came up and as we headed along the fence line, he headed up towards the lean-to and the gate.

Heading out on the trails . . . .

He ignored us on the way out, but knew when we were heading back. And that wasn't predictable--there's a second creek crossing the way we were headed so we might not have been ready to pack it in.

As we turned for the road, I saw John standing on the path up to the barn, head craned around to see us. When he did, he went on his way and met us at the gate.

Sweet John. Always interested to see me. Carrots? he's thinking, hopefully.

I love it how the two of them are so connected and also so generous. I remember recently John had an abscess, and his owner, Kendra, would fetch him from the pasture, treat him, and put him in his stall for the rest of the day. It's been so wet lately, being out in that wasn't helping John heal.


Dorian was fine with that--he didn't pout, or stand by the gate pining away. I have a feeling he knew John was being cared for.

That "knowing" I saw a lot when I worked at the Thoroughbred rescue. I remember one snowy, cold day, I was making the pasture rounds, and Mindy was standing by the gate, still as stone. As I approached her, I saw she had a big wound on her shoulder. She knew someone would be by to help her, so she waited patiently in the snow until I came, haltered her, and into the barn she went to await the vet.

Another time, I found Sophie in the back pasture, her leg opened up in the most awful looking way. She was lying down, and when she didn't rise at dogs barking, I knew she was in trouble.

Pretty bad looking wound.

Sophie had been abandoned in a field before she came to the rescue. She was clearly neglected and possibly abused, no one knew for sure. She had a hard time controlling herself and if she got scared, she could run you over--not because she wanted to, she wasn't mean--but the panic just took over.

So it was amazing that when I went up to Sophie with a halter, she put her head in it, rose, and walked all the way to the barn on a lead rope. Not usual for her at all. I know she realized I would help her.

Little Sophie after a few meds, about to get stitched up.

Sophie healed up just fine and went back to the pasture where, I think, she still lives.

Then there was Dreamer. I called him our "therapy horse" because he always knew when a horse was anxious or needed comfort. He had the run of the place and would go stand beside a grieving, scared, or new horse until the horse calmed down. When Sophie got injured, as we waited for the vet, she frantically paced around and around in the stall. Pretty soon, up came Dreamer. He went into the stall next to her and pressed his nose against the bars until Sophie relaxed a little, just as he's doing below.

Dreamer (looks like after a roll in the mud!) and Gotebo, the stallion.

We used to have little tiny kids from daycare or camp visit during the summer. They'd always have on flip flops (not the best idea around horses), and some only came up to my waist. Little ones. They'd always want to lead a horse and would stand in line quietly as, one by one, each got to take the lead rope, with me or someone else at hand, and walk a great big horse!

Dreamer was SO careful to avoid the little ones' feet. He never once stepped on anyone. They don't come much better than Dreamer. He's gone now, but I wrote a very long note to his previous owner when he passed away, outlining all the wonderful deeds he did for so many at the rescue. She told me she cried buckets when she read it. No wonder.

Dreamer and Dewars romping around the rescue.

Horses have so much to teach us--about love, trust, letting go, patience. I swear the list is endless . . . I think we all have the same "Sixth sense" horses do. We just need to let ourselves use it.

How many more people we could reach, how much more good in the world we could do, using the virtues of horses.

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