Sugar; Holding Sacred Space with Love & Boundaries
In late November 2006, a few weeks or so after settling in to my new life in rural Saskatchewan, that I lovingly refer to as the “middle of now-here”, I was doing dishes and saw a police car (RCMP) pull up into my driveway. My first thought was “oh, he is here to check out if the new neighbour from Calgary is harbouring certain illegal substances in that big old barn”! I mean, at the time, who moved to Saskatchewan!
I went out to meet a tall, handsome, and very charming new neighbour. He lived as he said, “just over the way”, as he pointed across the fields to a farm in the distance. He said “welcome to the neighbourhood and did I need anything? And, I see you have a horse. We have horses too!” I said yes, I do need something. Raven, my horse who has just arrived from Calgary needs a friend. He responded with, “we have just the horse for you! Come on over for tea tomorrow afternoon and meet her.”
“Sugar is one of the most loving, caring horses I have ever met, with such a beautiful energy around her. She is inquisitive in a healthy way, she will come up and check out what is going on (usually after Flicka has done some reconnaissance work!take this out) and will gently nudge you or even, when she knows you, rub her head on your back or front. She has a big, strong, heavy head so you have to always be present and aware and focus when she is around you (and not only with her, with all the horses) because she means well, she likes people and she is always there for you to give her a hug, especially if you are having a down day – she will give you as much healing energy of hers as you need. If she moves away during that time, again, don’t take it personally. It is very easy to feel a special bond with Sugar.”
When I arrived he walked us out to a big pasture. He whistled and this lovely young buckskin filly came out of the herd. He said her name was Frosted Brown Sugar and she was just a year and a half old. She came right to me and put her nose to my chest. I knew immediately she was coming home with me. Over a cup of tea in their kitchen, we made the plans to trailer her over on the weekend.
He arrived with Sugar along with his wife and young son on Saturday afternoon. Sugar backed carefully and calmly out of the trailer. We introduced her to Raven over the fence. After a little more time visiting over the fence, we took a chance and put Sugar in the paddock with Raven. It was simply love at first site. They played and danced and galloped around in what looked like pure glee. Watching from the kitchen window at their antics, the family exclaimed “she doesn’t even miss us!” After a few hours of visiting and learning all about Sugar, they got ready to leave and went to the fence to say goodbye. Sugar didn’t seem to notice, so enamoured she was with Raven. Yet, as they started the truck and drove down the long drive, Sugar left Raven and came to the fence. She watched the truck and trailer until she could no longer see it. I called them when they got home to let them know that she did know they had left and had intently watched until they were out of site.
A story they shared about Sugar was that when she was a baby, just four days old, she was kicked by a horse in her family herd and suffered a severe crushing of her face bones on the right side, just below her eye. This meant an emergency trip to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, which was an hour or so away, and another trip for a check-up. Her face was reconstructed and healed well, but left her with a torn tear duct and a bit of a lop-sided profile.
All of the early handling, care, and attention that she received may be why she is as sweet and loving as her name suggests. This was only the second horse I had ever owned and I really knew nothing of training a young horse, although she had been handled and trained in a gentle manner by the family that raised her. The smallest of children can lead her around safely. She knows when people need a little extra love and a hug. She is always the first at the gate when guests arrive. She is curious, playful, and as steady as rock, and on the other hand, can teach us about having good boundaries. She loves to pull our coat zippers up and down, take hats off your head, nuzzle your pockets for treats, pull the hay bale off the sleigh, knock tools over when fencing, and generally get her nose in to everything you are doing.
Wwoofer/Volunteer Norman McIntyre from Scotland captures Sugar’s essence below;
“Sugar – Last but by no means least, Sugar. One of the most loving, caring horses I have ever met, with such a beautiful energy around her. She is inquisitive in a healthy way, she will come up and check out what is going on (usually after Flicka has done some reconnaissance work!) and will gently nudge you or even, when she knows you, rub her head on your back or front. She has a big, strong, heavy head so you have to always be present and aware and focus when she is around you (and not only with her, with all the horses) because she means well, she likes people and she is always there for you to give her a hug, especially if you are having a down day – she will give you as much healing energy of hers as you need. If she moves away during that time, again, don’t take it personally. It is very easy to feel a special bond with Sugar.
One important lesson which I have learned from the horses is that they express their feelings as they come up. No sulking in the corner for hours, then coming out with the wrath of a twister to vent their feelings. If they are annoyed at another horse, they will show it. I have seen Sarah put Sugar down and nip her, only to be walking harmoniously along the field with her ten minutes later. No more aggression. They “say” what is on their minds, show it, then get over it. No sulking, no cunningly planning the next act of sabotage like us humans often do. They vent their feelings, don’t take it personally, they know there is always room to be buddies again.” – Norman McIntyre
Sugar has also experienced a lot of loss in her time with our herd, starting with her beloved Raven in late 2011. She bonded tightly to Sarah after Raven passed away, to lose this good friend to colic a few years later, along with pony pals Willow and Lacey over the years. We are grateful that she has formed a strong and beautiful bond with our boy Jasper, who arrived in 2016. She is the matriarch of our small herd, and reminds us to always “come with an open heart”.