Mares of the Night

As I slept under the full moon, the ‘night mares’ came,

Galloping, whirling, in and out of shadow.

A rare and welcome visit; I must awaken enough to listen!

They are generous with their insights and wisdom.

They guide my thoughts deeply into the questions of past days, weeks, even years.

Ah, yes.  Now I see.

Not all are answers; some are more questions.

The sky lightens with dawn and I arise to scribble down what I can remember,

Before it all fades in the distance, like the mares.

‘I am touched and humbled by your visit. Thank you!’

Galloping, whirling, away, into the shadows…

Corrective lenses

When I was 16 years old, I started wearing glasses to correct my near-sightedness.

Only recently, in my 50’s, have I recognized another kind of near-sightedness in myself.  I was unaware of how little I viewed of the world beyond my own life.  How little I thought about, let alone understood, the impact of my daily living choices on those around me and the world at large.

I had occasionally stopped at ‘panoramic view points’ along the way.  Many years ago I started using recycled paper and buying organic food.  I support local businesses and growers as much as possible now, too.   I recycled whatever could go in the curbside bins.  I started using earth-friendly cleaning products.  I participated in wildlife rehabilitation efforts and made the connection between burgeoning human populations, and habitat and wildlife loss.  But other than choosing to have only one child, I felt fairly powerless to implement a solution there.

My life floated along the stream-turned-raging-torrent of consumerism.  Little to no thought about where each ‘wadget and gidget’ that I surely needed came from.  How was it made; with what natural resources; how far had it traveled; were its makers paid fairly; what was its total impact on the environment, including when I thoughtlessly tossed it in the trash?

What?!  Those things matter?!  Do I need to ask the questions about everything I eat, drink, wear, drive, play with, read, sit on, live in, climb, jump over, listen to, or touch?

Actually, yes.

I have decided that I do need to ask.  As I practice, I find my range of ‘vision’ extending.  I am beginning to see the visible and invisible threads that connect things and people and the planet.  I am beginning to see the downstream effect of my upstream choice.  I am beginning to care about the people who give their energy to the items and services that support my life.  I think daily about how my every move ultimately affects this precious planet.

Is ‘perfect vision’ an achievable goal?  Who knows.  But it’s the goal I have in my sights.

Love in action

Most of us equine owners (caretakers) would say we love nature.  We love being out in nature.  Some of us trail ride across prairies or deserts or through forests or across mountains.  Some of us herd cattle from one place to next.  Some of us participate in cross-country jumping.  The very fact that we interact with horses may be partly because they link us to something natural, to an essence of wildness, to all the flora and fauna, to a realm that is still quite a mystery to us.

In any close relationship, it is great to hear “I love you”.  An important thing to share!  Yet I’m sure you will agree that the words are not enough.  If our interactions with another are rather non-loving, the relationship will no doubt eventually fall apart.

I feel this is every bit as true in our relationship with nature, our wonderful environment that gives so much to us.  What do we give in return?  What actions demonstrate our love for nature?   And which don’t?

Let’s love nature through word and deed!

Expanding on the Sustainable Equine Enterprise…

The term ‘consideration’ is used in business as one element of a legal contract.  It stands for ‘an exchange of value’.  It can be money, or an item, or a promise given in return for something from the other party.  I chose the term for its multiple meanings.  When we are considerate toward one another, we are polite, kind, thoughtful and loving.  We can treat the earth the same way, of course, and many people do by adopting earth-friendly ways of living.  But have we ever thought about what we can actually give the earth in exchange for all the value we receive from it?   In what ways do I effectively contribute to the earth?

The Natural Step Network Canada, in their Sustainability Primer, address the concept of ‘basic human needs’.  They share Manfred Max-Neef’s summary of nine universally fundamental needs: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity and freedom.  I feel that most, if not all, of these apply to our equine partners, also.  How do I fulfill those needs, for myself and my equine friend?

A steward is a person (or business) who has been entrusted with managing something of value.  The person is knowledgeable, wise and honest.  Generous implies an attitude of abundance; the understanding that money, like other forms of energy, is most effective when there is flow.  When resources are shared, all benefit and synergy is created.

Welcome to The Opal Horse!


I am a commitment to raising awareness of sustainability principles and practices in the equine world.  I envision the possibility of all equine (horse, donkey, mule) facilities and businesses being sustainable.

What do I mean by sustainable?

The Sustainable Equine Enterprise…

… treats the earth with the utmost care and consideration;

… is a place where people and animals lead healthy, fulfilling lives;

… is a generous steward of all economic resources.

“Sustainable” is defined as:  “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”                            (1987 United Nations, World Commission on Environment and Development)

Sustainability is based on three interdependent, nested spheres, and the order of the above parameters represents the hierarchy of importance.  The largest sphere, which contains the others, is the earth and its environment.   This is also known as natural capital, the natural resources and ecosystems that support our lives and businesses.  The middle sphere represents human capital (society) and, for our purposes, includes our equine partners.  The small center sphere is the economy, which has no meaning without the other spheres.  All are necessary for sustainability.

Adapted from The Natural Step Network US

Primary principles of sustainability:

1)   Resources taken from the earth’s crust (minerals, fossil fuels) are used efficiently and effectively, and extracted only at a rate that equals their formation.

2)   Decrease or stop production, use and disposal of synthetic substances which are toxic or accumulate in nature.  Allow only substances that biodegrade or are kept in closed-loop systems.

3)   Resources are only taken from land and water that have been carefully managed according to nature’s cycles, and with respect for true capacity and for biodiversity.

4)   Allow and support all beings, human and animal, to meet their basic needs.

Adapted from The Natural Step Network US, System Conditions