I apologise if my last post sounded as if I’d awoken from a long slumber and got out of bed on the wrong side. In the period since my post about Pom recovering from his temper tantrum (Welcome Back Dr. Jekyll), we’ve been through a strange period which has changed many things….
Perhaps I ought to explain.
Sometime in the Spring – well the calendar said Spring, but the weather said Monsoon – I had to admit to myself that I’d slumped into a deep depression. I know almost everyone goes through depression at some time; most often as a result of life mustering all its rotten possibilities and dumping them on your head without warning. If you’re hit by life’s big dramas – separation, divorce, ill-health, bereavement, redundancy, financial worries …. ( I humbly can’t even begin to talk about war, famine, drought, flood, pestilence…..) feeling utterly at sea sort of goes with the territory.
It’s more understandable for people to sympathise with anyone going through depression as a reaction to monstrous changes in their life. So I found it very difficult to talk about just sliding into depression without any major reasons I wanted to talk about.
The tendency is in my genes, and, over a lifetime, I’ve often been there before. I watched it happen to my mother from when I was a tiddler, so I kind of knew what to expect.
Maybe losing my darling old horse (though I was expecting it sometime) and a build-up of other footling worries contributed. But most people, looking at my life, would think I was damned lucky with my particular lot (I am) and demonstrating weakness of character to complain. So when I’m down and dispirited I’d rather not harp on about how low I’m feeling.
Finally acknowledging I was back in an old pattern and going to seek help set me on a better course. And when I was back to feeling more positive, I came to realise I’d been avoiding everyone. I dropped off-line as much as I cut back with all my friends. I’m so very sorry guys, but I know no-one likes a kill-joy.
But maybe that’s what I needed. To get back to looking after the basics in my life, then looking upwards and outwards and letting complications pass me by. A bit of psychological feng shui …. clearing the mental clutter so to speak.
And this is where having animals anchors you in the real world. We don’t have any cats or dogs at the moment, but getting up every day to keep up the horses’ routine, hearing that whicker when they see you, seeing their enjoyment of their food and their everyday care drags you up into the pleasure of the moment and reminds you that your duty to them transcends whatever you feel.
Winston Churchill famously called his bouts of depression his ”black dog”, maybe mine should be my ”dark horse”. Or not. Because this summer, my number-one horse, who restores my joy in life has been transformed into a …. Zebra.
Picking up on a great promo from equestrian retailer, Derby House, late in the day, I found plain-coloured, reflective, fly sheets were sold out and so I ordered one zebra print and one graffiti print and now – given that I’m very happy with the fit and cover – both styles on Pom make me smile. With his black fly mask he looks like a horse super-hero!
Managing a horse with sweet itch is a mixed blessing. Once you’ve come to terms with the condition being a permanent challenge and you’ve researched the best way to manage your particular horse’s itchiness, you may find buying the products, flysheets perhaps, and having the time to be nurse and carer is both expensive and time-consuming.
I’ve seen horses suffering from sweet itch without relief and all I can say is that my opinion of the horse’s owner is reduced to a level of, on a scale of ten, say, …. minus sumpty-something. Cruelty, in my book. You just need to imagine how bad you would feel; desperately itchy all over and no succour.
But what a great chance it proved to be for me in forging a relationship of trust and mutual need with my ultra-itchy yet aggressive, touch-me-not Pom.
If you have to come to terms with a horse that is miserable, uncomfortable, peevish, sulky, default aggressive and taking it out on you; what an opportunity to prove a friend and refuge in being able to relieve pain, discomfort and alienation. It’s an opening you grasp with gratitude.
My horse has finally understood that, however alien and annoying he thought I was at the outset, I can solve the itches, scratches and hurts that irritate and enervate and – hey, what do you know – I can provide fun outings and adventures too! So maybe in being his friend, his Mum, his playmate, his nurse and partner in crime…. just someone he likes hanging out with … I’m bridging that yawning gap.
This is how we’re progressing at the moment. It’s fun. We’re playing with clicker training. We’re hoping the damn flies leave us alone sometime soon.
I look forward, every day, to the moment I get out to see the horses.
And they restore me to my best self again.
Thank you Pom and Pie. Best therapists ever.
If you’ve suffered from depression and are are a rider/horse-owner/horse lover, (or none of these!) I would love to know how you cope – please give me the benefit of your experience…!