Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Legacy

What Led?

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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.

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Legacy

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Written by johnwhays

January 19, 2018 at 8:43 am

More Memories

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I hope you will understand if I continue our memorial another consecutive day, but I only made it through half of the pictures I had collected when I composed yesterday’s post, and Legacy’s life was just too big to fit into one photo montage.

Actually, the steps of composing these posts is therapeutic for Cyndie and me in processing our grief, so indulge us another day of honoring Legacy’s recent passing.

Despite holding the important position of herd-leader, he sure seemed to have plenty of time for play and/or mischief.

He never missed an opportunity to nibble and disassemble fencing, gate chains, our electric fence charger, wheelbarrow handles, or any other random item left within his reach. Whenever I took on a project that was in or near the paddocks, he was quick to come over to perform an inspection.

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I repeatedly found myself mentioning to Cyndie that I had a supervisor watching over my every move.

If you look back at the first two pictures in yesterday’s post, there is a striking difference between the sleek look of his summer coat and his bushy growth for winter. When it came time to shed that long hair, we struggled to cope with the immensity of the event.

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Of course, no sooner would we get him cleaned up than he would go off to find the messiest possible spot to roll around.

In his role as herd leader, Legacy made a point of being the first to approach whenever I wandered up to the fence to take pictures of the horses together. Most of those pictures ended up being of Legacy with three horses behind him, but not always.

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One of the most precious things Legacy demonstrated was his keen sensitivity for visitors who may not have any horse experience, might be feeling anxious, or were too young to understand safety protocols. Legacy was often the first of our horses to volunteer for exercises with clients.

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He always took steps to assure every person received attention, not just when there happened to be treats being handed out.

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That being said, he was a major treat-hound when it came to that. The presence of treats may have been one situation where the herd’s best interests were dropped down a notch below his own. The day we brought out the bright red frozen treats, shown in yesterday’s montage, he commanded full, exclusive control until he had his fill. The resulting red lips were a real hoot.

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Legacy rarely demonstrated a need to demand respect, basically, because it wasn’t necessary. He was granted full authority by the herd. Delilah naively tested Legs a couple of times, but it was never a fair exchange. Equine smarts held the advantage in all of their interactions that I witnessed.

There were countless occasions when I watched the three chestnuts scrambling with each other to challenge a pecking order, but Legacy was above such shenanigans.

He left them alone as often as possible to work it out themselves, and they were always careful to avoid brushing into him while they skirmished.

There is an uncanny void in our midst which will be incredibly difficult to fill. Legacy can’t be replaced.

With all that he has done for us in our time with him here, Legacy’s wisdom and spirit will remain a permanent fixture, that’s for sure. We are incredibly blessed and so very lucky to have had the honor of him becoming an integral part of our Wintervale Ranch adventures.

For now, though, it’s goodbye physical Legacy, goodbye.

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2018 at 7:00 am

Photo Memories

with 2 comments

Legacy …  7/18/1996-1/14/2018

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Written by johnwhays

January 16, 2018 at 7:00 am

Remembering Legacy

with 48 comments

He was a consummate leader, our Legacy. He arrived to our care in September of 2013, master of this group of 3 chestnuts with which he had been matched. We quickly came to recognize his gracious control of the herd as their benevolent dictator.

In the last couple of months we noticed signs something might be up, hints that maybe he was aware the end was near.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie found him in very bad shape out in the pasture. He had been so uncomfortable he had wrangled out of his blanket, and thus ended up matted with balls of iced-up snow.

Whatever was causing him pain, it was now exacerbated by his nearly freezing in the overnight sub-zero cold. Cyndie was able to get him up and walking back into the paddock before coming to get me and contact our vet. Legacy was heroic about letting us attempt to get him warmed up and responding to some meds, but his age, and condition, and the cold all conspired to keep the interventions short of being able to extend his time.

After a couple of hours waiting to see if he would feel better, his behavior was very clear. The vet returned and gently guided us through the process of helping Legacy through this transition.

Before the vet arrived, we had walked Legacy out of the paddock to open space in front of the barn. He was pawing the ground in response to pain and so Cyndie walked him to pass the time. He did really well for a brief span, but then picked a perfect spot to stop and calmly lay down.

He curled his legs underneath him and sat quietly, no longer needing to paw in pain. He accepted our hugs and condolences and patiently awaited what was to come.

When the truck pulled up, Legacy laid his head down, as if fully aware of what came next.

His amazing spirit is threaded indelibly throughout every single aspect of Wintervale Ranch, right down to the outline of his face in our logo. There are so many amazing, beautiful memories we have and hold of his time with us. He is irreplaceable and we will be challenged to figure out how to manage the days ahead, guiding Dezirea, Cayenne, and Hunter through their grief, while struggling to cope with our own.

Thank you to all of you who are supporting us with your love and kind condolences. Send our horses love. They are visibly disturbed by his departure, yet they mustered strength to provide some loving equine understanding to Cyndie as the vet drove away.

Legacy, (7/18/1996-1/14/2018), we send you off with all the love you fostered here, and more. May your spirit soar!

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

Stand By

with 6 comments

Today’s post writing was interrupted by a horse emergency. Legacy is in distress, but has been seen by the vet. We are in stand-by mode at this time.

I will report the full story tomorrow, when we should know what the outcome of this will be.

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Written by johnwhays

January 14, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with ,

Different Behavior

with 4 comments

Yesterday was the second time in two weeks that I noticed something uncharacteristic about Legacy’s behavior. I’m not a guy with any history of horse experience, but after living with our herd for the last 4 years, I am able to perceive when their behavior changes.

Not knowing enough to make an educated guess, all I have to rely on is my intuition.

Last week, I came upon the three chestnuts grazing and lounging out in the hay-field, without their herd leader. Where was he?

Standing up under the barn overhang.

It was odd. I got the impression that he just didn’t want to walk all that way. Or, he’d rather stay out of the sun. I got the sense maybe he was feeling old.

It might be a reflection of my own issues, I’ll admit, but he is getting on in years. Not crazy old, but old enough that his arthritis might be sapping his interest in staying connected with the rest of the herd non-stop when they choose to venture so far away.

Yesterday, the oddity was more profound.

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I came out with a wheelbarrow full of hay to fill the box where Legacy always stands. I usually have to shoosh him away while I work, and he always starts eating before I can finish latching the chain over the grate. This time, I was surprised to find him down by the waterer, just standing, as if lost in thought.

My presence, with a fresh load of hay, didn’t engage his attention whatsoever.

Desirea almost didn’t know what to do with first access. She usually has to wait until he lets her in.

Legacy’s aloof behavior was so uncharacteristic, it startled me into taking pictures of the occasion.

I’m hoping Cyndie will be able to spend some quality time with the herd this week to see what she senses. Maybe she will be able to learn what is on Legacy’s mind.

It would be great if he would just tell her.

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Written by johnwhays

December 11, 2017 at 7:00 am