By Sigrid Settle
Special to the Crier
I have spent a lot of time with my dogs and learned a language that goes beyond words. Spirit’s tail thumping ceaselessly on the sliding glass door with intermittent barks means there is a coyote in the backyard that she and Bonnie can’t chase away without my help; Spirit swatting at my leg while I sit and work at my computer means it’s close to 4 o’clock in the afternoon and time to feed my horse Banner and donkey Binky; Bonnie barking randomly outside later in the evening means she is ready to come into the house for the night; and Spirit and Bonnie barking furiously in the middle of the night while lunging at the back door means there are a pack of coyotes outside that need to be chased away. I could understand how we had arrived at this common language considering the time we had spent together over the years, being, as it were, constant companions; but I was to learn my horse Banner could speak a language to me that came from urgency rather than close proximity.
When we had to trim Binky’s hooves, Banner’s removal from the corral was a necessity as he is high spirited and runs around the corral as if he’s trying to win a race with some unseen opponent. He’d run out of the corral when the gate was opened as if he’d been shot out of a cannon, which was just as well as his hyperactivity did not produce the best behavior for hoof trimming. And so year after year this scene was reenacted over and over – that is until the other week. When the horse farrier had arrived for his last visit he noticed Banner had what appeared to be an abscess the size of a soccer ball in the front of his chest and commented he’d have to look at it after Binky’s hooves had been trimmed. I was just thinking we’d have to lasso him in order to take a look, when I felt Banner come up and stand beside me mere inches from the farrier. There he stood not moving one inch in either direction until the farrier was finished with Binky. And there he stood until we got a halter and lead rope on him. It was as if he knew he needed help and we were the ones that could supply it to him. No common language was spoken between us that day, just a horse waiting to receive help he so desperately needed from people he’d never needed to ask help from before.
I’ve thought often of those moments since then and wondered how Banner knew we’d help him in some way to heal that wound, how he knew to stand calmly beside me in a position he’d never stood before and waited patiently until our attention turned to him. It was almost perfect the way the entire scene unfolded but then I realized there are times in life when we need help of some kind from someone and it all seems to unfold magically. There is no need for a common language at those times other than the knowledge we are all truly one.
And so it goes at the Ranch…