Under the stars, I sang him to peace- asked the land to take care of him. Told him tales of hisgreatness- how he saw everything there was to see and knew more than any human would ever know- he wasn’t just part of nature he was nature- he had relationship with the seasons, the black yellow-tailed cockatoo, the kangaroos, the wombats, he felt and knew the rain and the wind intimately. The Sun had his back- both Suns…. he was and is my best friend, an honest being who stood in his truth. The great white horse came to me in a dream before I moved to Australia. Maybe that’s why I’m here. To help guide him through although he’s wise and I’m sure already knows the way. That’s ok. I’m here for him anyway. The old Zen master of a horse raised Trooper. Trooper learned how to be a gentleman from Charlie.
Mickey attached himself to Charlie when he arrived too- he stays in the back of the herd near Charlie. Lately, I’ve had to wait a while for Charlie to arrive for brekky. Moving slowly, I’d see him finally come around the corner of the big willow tree and then I’d protect him so he could pass through the gate to a special place where his bucket was waiting. His eyes are a bit brighter today although his body has had enough. He suffered years at a trail riding operation and had people kicking him all day to take them on rides, pulling at his mouth- for years. He came here and found himself. Down in the paddock 3 years ago now, I stayed with him through thick and thin. Rugs on and off, meds daily ever since. He knows more than me so I guess he knows it’s his time.
Charlie was the kind of horse who wants to make up his own mind. He walked his own path after having been forced to walk others when he was a trail riding horse. The vet came over ready to euthanize and felt he saw a spark in the old fella’s eye, even though tired and had a hang dog face. His ears perked up at the blowing of the wind, the sight of the other horses nearby and kept picking at the grass. Bruce and I looked in Charlie’s eye and asked him if he was ready to go. He looked back at us and we immediately felt ‘Not today’. So we made the call to give him what he wanted, knowing the time was limited and all too soon.
Our vet David Clemence of Animal Doctors is well versed in geriatric equine palliative care. He informed us of how hard it is with horses because there is too much going on to know what and how to treat -especially a 29 year old horse who isn’t going to get younger. We monitored him and administered cortisone to see if would address the inflammation in his gut. Watching him closely to see if he put on weight and show interest in food and his surroundings, we knew we would have to ask him again- is it time for you? Go back to the heart and engage the mind as well as ask the vet and the horse. Day to day as we know with human palliative patients, some are good others horrific. His time is limited however he is here now and as I said, he’s the kind of horse who is honest and straight forward. This morning at 5 am when I fed everyone, Charlie rubbed his head all over me as he called out little nickers. The other guys were next to him at the fence so he must have had something he needed to tell them and the land.
The old boy was waking up the next morning, moving slow, eating a bit. The Rivendell mob is still held him in the space. They knew what to do. Animals know what to do. Each moment they breathe, nicker, rub noses on each other’s backs -they remind Charlie that he taught them all that they need to know and that he’ll forever be and not to worry, we’ll be alright and each horse will take its proper place in the order of things. Charlie is the closest horse to a unicorn that I’ve ever seen. Unicorns embody pure spirit, elegance, power and royalty and unicorns are always white in colour. Charlie for sure- and a friend and companion to a maiden. I dreamt of him before even moving to Australia.
Listening to the sounds of the forest, Charlie raised his head in acknowledgment the afternoon the day before his death. He found refuge on Wurrundjeri country where the Kookaburras Herald both dawn and dusk, sitting watchfully on paddock fence posts for a wriggle in the shadows of wet winter’s end. Take care of the land and it will take care of you is a saying of Traditional Owners. Thank you for looking after Charlie. Please guide him til the end. We exchanged breath then whispers. ‘There isn’t enough time on this earth to spend with you’ Charlie was the only thought.
At 12 noon on August 21, 2017, old Charlie was put to sleep. He took a turn for the worst over night, barely able to hold himself up. I told him to be a big brave horse and thanked him for all he did, who he was and will forever be. Forgive human kind for the hard life you had at the start. As he chose his paddock, his spot his time and before the vet arrived, I walked the Five Directions and offered incense and mantras. He had tears in both eyes, clearly tears, a sadness and acceptance, liberation and goodbyes. Rest gently in peace Charlie. Run free in the big paddock forever more. I placed golden wattle on your grave.
A few days later on August 26, a flock of 10 yellow-tailed black cockatoos flew over the farm.
“The Aboriginal people of Melville Island believe a flock of screaming black cockatoos accompany the newly deceased to the ‘other world’, thus heralding their journey.” (from nativesymbols.info). As mentioned, when a great being dies or is born, there are many auspicious happenings. I continue to experience this and may well for the next 90 days.