By Sue Cressy
Teddy came to me by default in a way. He belonged to a woman who had to leave him at the stable where I kept my horse Rocky, because of a divorce and other circumstances and so I took over his care. Teddy and Rocky were constant companions and when we bought our farm I could not separate them so Teddy came with us. By this time Teddy was reaching his senior years and his arthritis, balance and muscle tone were such that we retired him from riding and he was enjoying his pasture time with his buddy Rocky. Then Rocky, who I had for 22 years, died of a sudden colic, and Teddy was lost. He would go down to the far gate at the end of the field and gaze over the cedar rails as if he was looking for Rocky. He did not follow the herd when they wandered to different areas of the pasture and stayed on his own. He seemed to shut down and become detached and unresponsive. I almost thought that he had had a stroke. It was at this time that I started to practice Equine Facilitated Wellness at our farm and the wise, white faced Teddy was often chosen for his quiet nature. In one such session he seemed to have a break through with one young mother.
She chose Teddy from a herd of 4, out in a large field and he was facing directly away from her about 60 yards away. After she chose him and we were still standing a long ways away from him, I explained that he had lost a lot of his hearing and vision and that sometimes I could approach him calling his name and motioning with my arms and still, when I would get right up to him to reach out and touch him he would startle, so we would need to approach with caution. I didn't get half of this explanation out when Teddy turned his head right around and locked eyes on us from this long distance! I was amazed!
"Teddy turned his head right around and locked eyes on us from this long distance! I was amazed!"
Teddy was completely present and a perfect example of a kind and generous soul who provided a safe container for this person to recount and reflect on some of the important aspects of her life and what brought meaning and connection for her. When Teddy is doing this work he makes this deep chortling noise with his breathing, which I have never heard before or since. At one point when the participant was able to connect her thoughts and story with her emotions and some tears came, Teddy let out a big sigh as if to absorb or acknowledge even more of the experience. She stated that she that she chose Teddy because she thought that he would be able to hold space for her. It was a brief session and she said that she felt complete after it so we ended it by allowing her to sense into the emotion of what she was encountering, to have Teddy be there for her and how important that sense of being heard and acknowledged was to her.
"This special time with Teddy opened my heart in a way that I had not allowed myself to experience before."
After that session Teddy seemed to find a new and important purpose and meaning. His symptoms of vision and hearing loss disappeared and he would be alert and watching when I entered the field and approached him. Before he would wander aimlessly after he had finished eating with his feed bag on, and I would have to approach him with caution so as not to startle him. After beginning his career as a co-therapist in Equine Facilitated Wellness, he would find me and seemingly ask to have his feed bag taken off and I would spend some time with him telling him what a wise and wonderful horse he was and he would linger for hugs and pats. In the few times when I was in a rush and missed this ritual he would follow me until we had had our love fest. This special time with Teddy opened my heart in a way that I had not allowed myself to experience before. He showed me that there is always time to give and express love and affection, and when I pressed my heart to his I would sink into a warm calm and peacefulness that seemed to wrap around the two of us, what precious moments.
Teddy continued to share his love, wisdom, intuition and relationships of connected groundedness with many people until his gentle death this July at the remarkable age of 35. What a gift he was to me and so many people, a gift that I will always carry with me, remembering his huge capacity to give and receive love. Teddy left me with his legacy of open hearted compassion and understanding to strive for.