Since Thursday morning, when we found Deacon limping, his health, bodily reality, and care has absorbed a huge amount of our time, especially Jo Marie’s. She is the main practitioner here of Equine Dhamma, as well as a skilful equine nurse. I, too, as a nurse’s assistant, have been spending a lot of time with this very gentle, sweet horse. At first, we didn’t know if he would make it. So reflections on death circled round. Fortunately the grim appearances of Friday evening and Saturday morning diminished with a quick re-diagnosis and injections of inter-venous antibiotics. Thanks to an excellent vet and Jo’s keen eye.
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My role has taken up and become meditation time. I’ve been able to do a few practices with him. One is to feed dandelion greens and roots. Our horse buddy Susan, practitioner of various healing arts, recommended the dandelions for clearing the infection and draining the fluids. Deacon snarfed them down. For me, I had the pleasant task off wondering the property looking for the dandelions and distinguishing them from look-a-likes, primarily chicory. That was a quick learn. I also got to know where they like to grow: moist soils but not wet, some shade (chicory does better in drier, sunnier spots). Noticing the great variety of wild-flowers was a bonus. After washing off soil, sand, bits of gravel, and debris, next was to hand feed Deacon. Didn’t know if he’d go for them, so wanted to make it easy. Plus, he was still pretty much three-legged at first. Well, wasn’t long till he was gobbling them out of the bucket. Nevertheless, was a pleasant bonding experience and contemplation of the first and fourth requisites (food & medicine).
A second role was simply to keep him company. Isolation from his herd was distressing but we couldn’t let the others bang into him, kick, or boss him about. Not in his seriously ill condition. So I was partial stand in for the herd. Fortunately, he trusts me and even seems to like me. We believe that one of us being around was comforting for him. Jo & I took turns. I considered sleeping in the barn the first couple nights but Jo Marie didn’t think it necessary.
Another role was massage and energy work. We were worried that standing on three legs might cause trouble in other parts of the body, especially the other front leg. (The injury and infection was in the right front leg.) Deacon had come to us with some back issues, so Jo Marie has had me do massage — Southern Thai style — then and from time to time. This gradually helped him relax. We can only guess why he was holding a lot of tension then, but we were able to help him let some of it go, just like with two-leggeds. Over time, he stopped flinching beneath my hands and came to enjoy the body work. Good thing, as he was familiar with and comfortable under my hands this time, too. Now that he’s putting weight on the bad leg, we’re fiarly confident no problems developed in his back and hind legs. Pretty sure the left front leg got through without harm, too.
Jo Marie and I do different styles of energy work. The style I do is derived from qigong and tong-len, as well as ‘pranic healing’ that I learned about in the Philippines. I used my amalgamation of these on myself when going through chemotherapy. They’re basically meditative: breath, visualization, metta-karuna (kindness-compassion). Now I adapted them to Deacon. Encouraging the bad energy to drain out with exhalations and drawing healthy energy from the universe with inhalations. Shining golden light through his shoulder and leg with inhalations. Exhaling as release, settling, calming. Don’t know how much it helped. Didn’t seem to hurt him, perhaps relaxed him, and pleasant meditation for me.
Even now that he’s much better, and walking on all fours, the blatant reminders of uncertainty are many! There’s much we don’t know about the injury, continuing treatment, and the course of healing. Well, same goes with climate change, our own health, and everything else. So breathing, care giving, and sharing the responsibilities with Jo Marie.
After losing three ducks this Spring, it’s a relief for one to survive!
Lastly, to paraphrase the Heart Sutra, “Woundedness is wholeness, wholeness is woundedness. Health is illness, ilness is health. Life is death, death is life.”
Postscript: I was away this past weekend (July 18-21) teaching in Carson City, NV area. Jo Marie was left looking after Deacon herself. He continued to improve. Below is a Sunday picture of him out on grass.