The Meeting of Minds.
Growing up in Central Oregon had its distractions. The Cascades to the west would beckon many young people during the winter months to its snowy slopes. I, however, didn’t fit the typical stereotype. I was obsessed with my horses. I had friends with similar interests in school. My 4-H club and FFA would occupy my after-school time. There was something that drew my interests away from these things that were mundane in their societal importance. I felt a calling that would take me ultimately to foreign lands to discover more about God’s creation, “The Horse”.
Why and how did I end up here under a date palm in the desert amongst the horse breeding tribes, dressing my wounds and that of my special one, Dazshtan? There are deep spiritual aspects I learned from my Grandpa, Mike Chapman. Beyond mutual trust and respect, the foundation of partnership. There is a bond that comes from somewhere else. This lesson would dominate the next two years of my life after graduating high school.
Rashad’s role in his Ruala tribe was expanding after his second apprenticeship along with me at Al Ahmann. He would return with enthusiasm with new knowledge to meet the challenges ahead of him to accede to his father’s place as head of his tribe. Our relationship was not as tense based on cultural differences as our first encounters. I saw in him maturing. We would discuss my experiences with Dazshtan and he would tell me of his visits with the tribes in the Wadu and the youth that would, as he described, would irritate him with their treatment of their horses. There were some aspects of these next two years that I would not share with Rashad because they were somewhat unusual. It was later that my understanding became quite clear.
I was twenty years old. My siblings were growing up and following their own avocations. My tasks at the Vet Clinic in Tumalo had expanded to barn manager as well as a Veterinary Technician. I achieved this certification through a combination of my apprenticeship at Al Ahmann and my education at the Community College in Bend. My attention to Dazshtan and Bint Shahwan did not suffer with these extracurricular duties. In fact, they contributed to my education. My way of being as I handled our clients’ horses had been enhanced. I had access to my Grandpa Mike and my dad who constantly reminded me of the lessons I learned as I was brought up by these two. The Six Golden Principles espoused by Mike’s mentors, Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado, rang in my ears.
It was an unusually blustery winter in Dazshtan’s fourth year. in Central Oregon on the east side of the Cascades at 3000-plus feet elevation, winter would sometimes last from Thanksgiving to May with two feet constantly on the ground. That year was no exception. Dazshtan and Bint Shahwan would receive updates on their continuing education. Because of their educational approach from the time of conception, choosing the sire and dam with their desirable temperaments, and the attention they both had with visits during their gestation within their dam, the progress was a wonderful experience. Well, including Dazshtan’s stubborn, hard-headed traits and mine, we would bump up against each other’s brick wall. I wouldn’t push for a resolution. I would walk away for another day to try again. Mike told me it was like a path that is blocked by an obstacle not allowing me and my horse to pass. I would kick it aside a little at a time when I returned to that spot in the path. I would not dwell on it but walk away and return again later. Slowly, that rock moved out of my way. With ease, we would pass with no conflict to accomplish it. And so, it is with two hard-headed individuals. Bint was not a problem. She was a sweet filly and as she matured, we would have a little problem with her heats that would interrupt her attention span.
I remember Mike telling me about an older stallion that wouldn’t allow him to trim his feet. Mike had experienced an epiphany, from an angry young man using domination and submission as his only tools with a horse, to listening to a horse that whispers to him. He looked into that old stallion’s eyes and asked him what his problem was. Well, it must have been the straw that broke that stallion’s resolve. He sent into Mike’s brain, a video that demonstrated an answer to his questions. Mike was stunned by that experience. Instinctively, Mike sent back to that old boy in pictures, that he understood how the fears and anxieties contributed to his opposition to Mike’s attempt to trim those feet. You know that stallion obliged Mike to trim all four feet without any fuss.
It was a forecast of blizzard condition one night when Dazshtan and I undertook one of our lessons. My hardheaded nature prevented me from postponing this lesson due to the harshness of the weather outside. We had a nice warm indoor arena that was insulated from the elements. I knew that the distraction of the noises outside would interrupt the concentration needed for both of us to succeed in learning. Besides, nothing stops this gal, I thought. I have underestimated the intelligence of Dazshtan. He would tell me when to stop because his nature to preserve himself, which is his primary desire as a herd animal, would kick in. That night, I persevered with our lesson, even though I knew better. I wasn’t listening! I found myself getting frustrated. Mike always told me to let a horse leave me, escape from the tension when his frustration got too much. He told me to not push the subject, like the rock he would push little by little aside and come back to it. Well, that night I didn’t listen to what Dazshtan was telling me. “Back off little sister” he was saying. I had a quick realization of what I was doing. I relaxed and relayed that to Dazshtan and turned and put my frustrations into the ground. I tried to hide it from Dazshtan as much as possible. Mike also told me to never get angry and never use force. I didn’t know it, but creeping up silently behind me was a colt I loved so much, not to come and bite me in spite of my treatment, but he gently nuzzled the top of my head as if to say, “You did that for me?” I turned around and looked into his big expressive eyes and read those words as if he was saying them to me out loud. I saw and heard those thoughts from him right there. I reached up and threw myself into his big neck and cried. That was a big change that occurred just then. We were true partners and our souls went deep together. We were indeed Soul Mates.
It was getting quite windy, and the snow blew furiously outside. Dazshtan was warm and he was steaming from his sweat. I had him on a strict working diet that would compensate for his use of essential minerals and nutrients that occur under stress during heavy workouts. A malady called Tying-Up, Azoturia, or “Monday Morning Sickness” can occur when these elements were missing during his recovery from heavy workouts. A horse that is not supplemented or an unfit horse, under stress, can experience cramps. It can be extremely painful and cause muscle damage and even possible irreversible effects on the reproductive system and muscle anatomy. Even death can occur, because symptoms include severe colic. Dazshtan was a blanket and I walked him until cool to the deep touch. He wasn’t blanketed because of his natural hormonal rhythms and the lights he was under. I put him to bed in his nice warm secure stall. Before I left him, I spent time looking into his eyes and reflecting on what had just occurred in that arena that night.
My apartment was over the barn so I could hear the horses in case a horse was cast in his stall or in an emergency. Dr. Edwards had a beautiful facility he made available to my parents in Tumalo, Oregon after his retirement. Mike was generous to provide funds for its reversion into my parents’ hands for Equine Reproduction and Equine Ophthalmic clinic with general Veterinary practice. The winds were blowing and the snow was piling up outside in the raging blizzard. I had a tendency to sleep well during those intense weather episodes. This night was different. I heard a big crash. It woke me up abruptly. I instinctively got up and ran downstairs with concerns for the safety of the horses, especially Dazshtan and Bint. To my horror, I saw the door of Dazshtan’s stall wide open with the limbs of a tree partially obstructing the doorway. Dazshtan was not present.
Without hesitation, I grabbed a halter and lead and headed out after him. He must have seen that opening and took advantage of it to go find those lovely mares. I was really unprepared. I was only in my pajamas traipsing out there in the heavy snow and blinding conditions, following what I hoped was his trail of footprints. I yelled for him through the noise and wind. I felt a presence that I had never felt before. It was like someone was guiding me. I never questioned this feeling as I have felt it before and followed it to Dazshtan who was stuck in a snowdrift. I haltered him and headed out guided by this “spirit”. As my shock wore off, my lack of warm clothing made me faint and fall into the heavy snow. Somehow, Dazshtan sensed the spirit and was guided to scoop me up and follow it to the barn where my parents were waiting, worried sick. They saw Dazshtan with me draped over his back. They looked around and saw nobody and quickly took care of my precious boy, put me to bed, and made sure Dazshtan and the other horses were safe.
I was comatose when my parents found me. In my bed, I had an extremely lucid dream, as if I was present in a sand dune observing a bit of sand in front of me starting to move. It was a boy who was under a protective covering of a cloak and covered by sand. He didn’t notice me, but I was there with him. He slowly got up and moved up to the top of a dune. In the distance, I heard the frantic calling of a mare. I saw Bedouin on their horses searching the distance for their fallen comrade who had been separated from them in a severe sand storm. The rider of the mare had fallen and took refuge under his cloak as the others in the group of Bedouin took refuge also covering their mounts and themselves to wait for the storm to abate. My young boy called out to the group and gained their glance. Horses and riders along with the riderless mare ran to his side. I was there with them, but they still didn’t notice my presence. The tents of their tribe were not far away. I was able to follow them as their people gathered them up and took care of their needs. Dusty and beaten, the riderless mare started to colic and show signs of extreme pain. She had started to throw herself when I remembered that I was the daughter of a veterinarian. She was Tying-Up. They didn’t know what to do, but somehow, I was able to communicate with the mare’s master. I was just that night working on preventing the same malady the mare was experiencing. A miracle? I don’t know. There must have been a connection that we had. Someday, I will understand just how this happened. But I was able to have him gain the necessary elements and dates and mares’ milk to provide the nutrients to save this mare’s life, to live on with his master.
Suddenly, I was awake with my parents hovering over me. “Mom, Dad, I just had this dream. Wow! I was in a sand dune with this……” “Josie, you were delirious. Dazshtan and Bint along with the other horses are alright. We put that blanket on him and made sure he was alright. He saved your life Josie and you saved his.”
<<<<<< The Beginning | Next Chapter >>>>>