Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

What Led?

with 14 comments

The weeks that have followed the unexpected death of Legacy, our Arabian gray who was the herd leader of three chestnuts, have been made even more difficult by some extreme winter weather, the death of a colleague and friend whom Cyndie worked with during her years as Principal of Eden Prairie High School, and now signs of some laminitis lameness in Hunter.

Among the many contributing factors listed for laminitis, we found that hormonal imbalance caused by stress of moving a horse or the loss of a field companion spoke directly to the situation effecting our remaining three. Sadly, this recent heavy snow accumulation, followed by the dramatic thaw, has added another risk by making the uneven frozen footing in the paddocks hazardous for bruising or mechanical damage to the cellular bond between sensitive laminae and the hoof wall.

On top of these issues, this weekend Cyndie and I were smacked with the reality that her car is in need of cost prohibitive repairs. Logic indicates it is time to shop for a different vehicle for her.

Roll all these issues together and our grieving minds both came to a similar thought: has our dream of making Wintervale Ranch into a functioning business met with defeat?

Life was a heck of a lot less complicated for me when I lived in the suburbs and only had to deal with maintaining the house and our tiny lot. I hate to admit there are aspects of that which look desirable in comparison to our current situation.

Our unpredictable and decidedly inadequate combined incomes do not make shopping for a replacement vehicle as simple as it once was for us. Right now, shopping for a different car seems to be a tipping point for our analysis of this whole crazy move to the country to build a self-sustaining retreat and learning center.

What led us here in the first place?

We found ourselves revisiting the series of inspirational events that sequentially fueled our passion and groomed our decisions. From the magical trip to spend two weeks with Ian Rowcliffe in Portugal, to Cyndie’s apprenticeship in Linda Kohanov’s Eponaquest workshops, to our discovery of this gorgeous property and log home in west-central Wisconsin, the mid-life transition we embarked on seemed supernaturally ordained.

Where is that inspiration now?

Instead of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have blessed us in response to all the incredible challenges that arose throughout the early years of this adventure, we are increasingly noticing a lack of income-generating response to our offerings and an increase in stressful difficulties with our animal partners.

Obviously, the most dramatic stressor being Legacy’s sudden death.

Just like all that has come before, we know there is a lesson for us in this. Even though he is gone, Legacy still has something to teach us.

At the center of it all is, love.

We grieve because we love and experienced a loss, but loving is how we got where we are today.

We believe it is possible to rediscover the love and inspiration that guided us here and we are seeking to re-attune ourselves to more of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have graced our journey thus far.

What led us here is exactly the same as what will lead us to what happens next.

Please keep your seat belts fastened and your arms and hands inside at all times for the remainder of this wild ride.



14 Responses

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  1. Talked to Machado today about your loss and he echoed with an outpouring and sadness that has been overwhelming for him in relation to the passing of his own mare. He has a few rabbits, and now the birth of some kids that is animating him, slowly and gently. Really, he FEELS for you, for despite appearances and conventional ideas, he loves horses and all that they represent. That said, he told me that he hasn’t been able to have another horse because of the sacred space his mare still occupies in his heart and surroundings. Well, just to say how much he sympathises with you. But, to my thinking, one horse calls another… I remember Claudia saying that horses also call like-minded people and community to them. It is no wonder Linda’s book,The Tao of Equus, referred to The Way of the Horse. Cyndie is someone very special who can tap into your version of the story and express it wonderfully, I bet – in truth we hear so little from her. Sit her down at some point every day and get her to write the story. I’d love to read her telling of it. And what a great way of promoting your adventure and furthering it. A warm embrace from your soul mates here.

    Ian Rowcliffe

    February 2, 2018 at 9:18 am

    • We are so happy that you shared our story with Machado. Horses really do end up holding significant sacred space in our hearts and lives.
      It is intriguing to think about documenting Cyndie’s version of our experience. That has possibilities.
      Thank you, Ian!


      February 2, 2018 at 4:58 pm

  2. Hi John … I was thinking about your situation but didn’t want to suggest this too soon. Loss is loss and some sort of grieving and outpouring fitting. There is no escaping the vacuum, especially that left by a horse. That amazing energy. Well, you asked where your inspiration is to come from, given your starting point. So I remembered back to the time when we first had our two mares. Things didn’t feel completely right; something unsettling remained. The horses were restless. When Frida was born, that changed. The first being to be born on the property in our time! It was a long wait with amazing results. I remember how she danced though the forest in quite a new way and her connection seemed to bridge the gap for the other horses, too, including the ones to follow. You see where I am leading you… So what if one of your mares was to have a foal? Think about it ( Maybe, this is the element that will take your adventure to the next level and bring everything together like never before. The foal will soon become your star attraction and steal everyone’s heart away. Fill the vacuum with new life.

    Ian Rowcliffe

    January 30, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    • Wow, that is something to ponder. I hadn’t considered this idea, but Cyndie says it crossed her mind. She is leaning more toward checking if any young rescue horses might be in need of a new home.
      Such responsibility to care for these amazing animals. I’m in no hurry to make this decision, especially while we are now needing to tend to Hunter’s subsequent lameness.
      Thank you for sharing this possibility! It opens my mind to consider more than I had up to now.


      January 30, 2018 at 6:29 pm

      • Yes, there must be rescue horses needing a home, so that would be the ecological way to go. It may also be simpler. Who knows, you may also find a rescue horse that is expecting a foal:-)

        Ian Rowcliffe

        January 30, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      • I love the way you think. 🙂


        January 30, 2018 at 7:56 pm

  3. This is a mere “stone in your pathway,” do not let it block your view, build a path around, a bridge over it, or if need be, pick up a hammer and chisel your way through it. I have farmed my entire life and the sting of losing an animal, weather companion or livestock, never gets “easier,” it must strengthen you, or it will destroy you. Your goals and gifts are noble, great, and needed in this world. Peace to you my Friend, Peace. I LOVE YOU.

    George Walker

    January 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    • Powerful message of support, George. We thank you for this. We are in “chipping away” mode and making progress, I think.
      We were just talking about how much we miss having you guys right around the corner. You are very precious to us. Thank you for your loving support.


      January 29, 2018 at 1:47 pm

  4. I certainly enjoy the ride with you. I only wish you and I were closer so we could share visits. We have talked of making our property here in NC a retreat center but those plans are only dreams at this point.

    Jim Parker (@drjparker)

    January 29, 2018 at 10:41 am

    • I share your wish that we were in closer proximity. People make grand exclamations over what a sanctuary we have, but monetizing it appears to be evading our grasp thus far. It does make for a nice dream, though. It’s brought us this far to date. Keep dreaming!


      January 29, 2018 at 11:13 am

  5. Uff da. Sending love and the hope that your path forward becomes clear sooner rather than later. ❤️


    January 29, 2018 at 10:09 am

  6. You took me through the gamut of emotions reading this and prepared me to worry about you…until the end and I felt the return of hope and positivity. I’m sure you don’t want to hear my usual quote of “Change is good” at this time, but I always go back to hearing Linds’s “5 years, then time for change” in my head when these kinds of feelings abound. Stay positive and work together to see what is next on the horizon. Love you guys!


    January 29, 2018 at 9:42 am

    • Welcome along on our ride. Seriously, we discussed the possibility of considering the end of efforts to forge a business out of this adventure. With our grief comes a whole lot of “tired.”
      Critical decisions will be postponed until we regain our normal vim and vigor…
      Thank you for your support!!


      January 29, 2018 at 10:11 am

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