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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Thompson

The importance of rest

"Hi Taylor, I have a horse here and I'm wondering if you would be willing to give him a safe home. He's had a rough go of things and needs somewhere to go where I know he will be OK." Thats when a tall, lanky and misshapen horse named "Skat" came into my life. It was early fall 2019 and I wasn't really looking for another horse. I mean I'm never really looking for another horse but being completely honest - as long as I have the financial means to help I'll never turn down a horse in need like this guy was.

I drove out to the barn he was living at and met my friend at the gate of a small muddy paddock. She went in and led out a tall lanky brown horse. It was instantly obvious what the problem was. Instead of the gentle slope of a healthy horse's back, his stuck up like the back of a dinosaur. He also had a limp on one leg, a very sore shoulder joint.

I agreed to take him on to my farm and he arrived a few days later. The story came out that a man had owned this horse and through a series of bad decisions this beautiful former show horse was forced into his current state of pain and deformity. Wether those decisions were made out of a lack of knowledge or malice I'll never know. I have been privileged to care for another horse for a few years now that came into my care after abuse so terrible her body literally locked up and she could barely move. So I do have a little experience with rehabilitating horses but I still depend on our amazing veterinarian to help guide us towards healing. I called him right away and he came out to see the new arrival soon after. "Its like he has horsey scoliosis. See how his spine twists to one side then the other as it travels from neck to tail." Our veterinarian is also a chiropractor and his adjustments helped my other horse survive "I don't want to adjust him though, not until we have a better idea of whats happening here." We were pretty much told to do nothing. Skat and I. No riding, light handling, and pretty much just leave him alone. Skat seemed fine with that. He never really sought out attention. He allowed himself to be caught in the field and led to where he needed to go. He allowed grooming, hoof care and being tied with the other horses while we did our equine assisted learning classes, but that distant disconnected look was still in his eyes. I like to bond with my horses. I had no intention of rehoming this horse so I wanted to spend time with him and get to know him. Around this time is when the world started shutting down due to Covid-19 so suddenly we had more time together. As the months passed I started to see more of his personality come out. Curiosity, humor, spunk. This horse made me laugh so often even though he was still keeping me at a distance. He knew his name, Skat. So even though I typically change horses names when they come to my care I didn't change it right away. Every time I was with him though the Hebrew word "Ezekiel" kept coming to mind. Ezekiel. Zeke. I wasn't a huge fan of the name Skat... I mean let's be real - its a brown horse being called by a synonym for excrement. So Ezekiel it was. Zeke or Z for short. A new name. I'm not a Hebrew speaker, but I do love the meanings behind names. Ezekiel means "God will strengthen." More months passed, we made it through 2020 and I started to notice something as winter began to wrap up. Z was bored. When he was tied with the other horses he would pull at his lead and paw at the ground. He began to nicker when he saw me and meet me at the gate. I was sitting on a fence post one day watching the horses and Zeke walked past, right under me as if to show me something. His coloring includes a dark almost black line of hair that runs down his spine. It made the twist very obvious, but that day as I sat on the fence post the twist wasn't as obvious. My goodness it almost looks straight! I excitedly made a vet appointment. It was time for spring vaccinations anyway and a couple horses needed some other routine veterinary attention. It was a long 7 days wait till the vet finally arrived. "Please tell me I'm not just wishful thinking or imagining things. Is his back better?" I pulled Zeke out of the field first for the vet to check. "Honestly I thought this twist would continue to get worse. This is amazing! It's almost perfectly straight again!' I was ecstatic. We even did x-rays to see the bones and it showed no arthritis, no touching (commonly called kissing spine) no huge chronic issues. We're not 100% yet but Zeke has been cleared for some light conditioning to build up muscle to support his ever strengthening back and we might be able to do some trail rides late this year or early next as things continue to improve. This horse is healing. His back is healed. And all we did...was rest. Rest and trust in healing.

This world of high speed internet, instant meals and climbing the corporate ladder rarely talks about rest. Rarely gives credit to the power of being still. But there is incredible power in slowing down, lifting our heads out of our screens and taking a deep breath of fresh air. Please please never discredit the power of rest.

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