Young Green Grass and Horses

About 10 days ago, I let my two horses out onto the brand new lush grass the summer rains have brought us here in Guanajuato, Mexico. They have been living on a diet of hay since last year’s dry season took hold of the landscape, after they depleted the natural grasses of their pastures. I left them on it overnight as a treat. Big mistake. My horse keeping friends know why.

My Friend Can Barely Walk

A miniature horse founders from too much green grass

My friend ate too much of that green stuff

My mini came up almost three legged lame the next day. Horses unused to such rich grass have a tendency to overeat and as their system digests the riches, blood is drawn up from their extremities to help process the bounty. If it’s working upstairs too long, the inside of their hooves can be compromised. That’s what happened to my mini. He really couldn’t walk.

Scene change. You may not have known this, but in addition to making art, on and off for the past 15 years I have done online marketing for clients. I have been approaching my office with less and less joy for a while, but soldiered on because:

  • I thought I needed the money
  • people were counting on me
  • I used to enjoy the challenges this work brought to the table.

But right around the time my little guy was struggling to move forward in any way, clients started acting strangely:

  • The author of a book I had been working for months with completely lost interest in his own project
  • the owner of a business I was helping did an about face on a plan to rebrand and stopped paying me for work already completed
  • a new client hated everything I was doing for her
  • several old clients continued not sending me information I needed to finish their projects.

All of a sudden I wasn’t able to move ahead at all! Same as my mini horse. It was weird!

Time to Cut Loose

I took all of this as a sign that I had come to the end of this part of my career path. It felt right to quit. So I did. I contacted all my clients and gave them the news. My marketing services were closed for business. I was so grateful for the responses I received that demonstrated understanding and compassion. The ones who reacted less than optimally just helped seal the deal in my heart. This is a big step on my journey as an artist as it is time to reclaim this title and get back to this work with all my heart and soul! I started to recover from the mental buzz of these activities and began making forward progress towards highlighting next steps.

A Wonderful Diversion

The expanse of the ranch of Cañada de la Virgen in Guanajuato

A magical place indeed

24 hours after the fall-out from my announcement started to ebb, I was invited, spur of the moment, to join a select group of locally celebrated foodies and chefs to a special lunch at a ranch deep in the countryside that surrounds San Miguel. I attended gleefully seeing my chance to meet the owners of the place and plant some seeds for ideas to run equine assisted learning opportunities at their hacienda. (My QuantumJoys work creates situations for people to interact with horses as personal metaphors. It’s powerful stuff.)

Horses, Cows, and Abundant Nature

We traversed thousands of acres of beautiful plateau hillside overlooking an ancient pyramid and then following the rocky path we were generously referring to as the road, bumped down into a river valley. Before us was a lovingly restored, genteel hacienda. They were all set to celebrate the ranching they champion at Cañada,de la Virgen, organically raised, grass fed and humanely treated beef cows.They also breed horses with a mind towards tempting Central American polo players, which explains the 400 horses they keep.

organic, grass fed beef dishes of Cañada de la Virgen in Guanajuato Mexico

Locally raised everything. Local, as in within a mile or less.

Lunch was an exquisite spread due largely to the reverence given the ingredients of the various dishes, from the beef prepared in a variety of ways out of the pastures we had driven through to the produce pulled that morning from a garden just over the river we had crossed to get to this oasis of old growth trees, grassy yards and welcoming colorfully set tables.. We did group introductions and I identified myself as an artist and an equine assisted learning workshop facilitator. No mention of marketing. Felt good. Felt right.

Time to Go

With some rain clouds  threatening and our meal and mingling over, we boarded the various all wheel drive vehicles for the bumpy expedition back out. Rain sprinkled our path and tires began slipping and juicy sprays of mud fanned out behind each truck. We spread out. I was in the first vehicle so when we topped a hill near a corral with high rock walls we decided to stop and wait for the others. There were horses inside. Someone suggested we take a look and I have never been one to turn down an opportunity to see a horse. I’m game, anywhere, any time. Except this time my delight turned to concern and then dread.

Not Normal

In the muddy pen two horses were laying flat on their sides. Not alarming on a sunny day, or under other pleasant circumstances, but the afternoon had turned blustery, for Mexico, and it seemed odd. Weirder still, one of the horse’s legs were sticking out in a very stiff manner. Rigor Mortis. I asked to no one in particular “May I go in there?” I repeated my query as I climbed the gate. But I wasn’t going to take no for an answer regardless if anyone had said so. I assessed what I saw. Two horses motionless in the mud. Two half grown foals dogging an uncle gelding all nervously pacing. One mare was dead. The other was still alive. Barely.

Action Required – NOW

I looked around and did not see anything they could have gotten into. All I saw was some green hay littering one area, not completely consumed. My instincts told me they were colicking. I had to get the live one up as soon as I could. That’s the only solution to a downed colicky horse when the nearest vet is several hours away, if available at all. You get her up and moving. I removed the ring holding the ends of the oversized cowgirl scarf I was wearing and started waving it at her like a rope. She was in tremendous pain. I could see her sides heaving. She was holding her mouth in a teeth bearing grimace. The foals and the uncle horse were milling about, but they seemed willing to let me near and wave my scarf energetically at her.

A colicky mare survives at Cañada de la Virgen - horses

She was struggling while the foals panicked. Photo: Meagen Burns

I pressured her with my movements. I talked to her. I apologized to her. I explained it was the only way she was going to survive. With a great effort she arose up onto her trembling legs positioned askew for maximum leverage. It may seem heartless, it felt so at the time, but I walked closer and waving that scarf I asked her to walk. She lurched forward. It’s a small miracle she didn’t fall, her legs were so weak. I could see strange movements below the viscera of her flanks. Then she released a cloudy stream of urine and a several thunderclaps of her own gas. I pressed her forward with my pleas, my energy, my scarf. She continued stumbling along. Her sides continued their strange dance. More gas.

By this time the rest of the convoy had caught up. In one of the vehicles was the owner. It was time to resume our exit. I was told “Such was ranch life.” Death is an equal player to life.

I wondered if I had been in time for the mare. I ached for the orphaned foal whose mother I could not save.

A drawing inspired by the mare who left…..


The following day, while in town,  I received a text from the ranch marketing director (cattle spokesperson is what she prefers) informing me the mare had made it through the night! She was on the mend! Then, in one of those crazy twists, the owner drove alongside me at a speed bump, rolled down his window and told me she was going to be fine! Then he thanked me for my quick thinking. But it had just been luck that had put me there at that time. I was able to save one mare, but not both.


I look for and act on signs I receive in my life. I firmly believe my little horse, and the overeating situation I helped create that lead to his lameness, was showing me that the path I was on was causing me to not be able to move ahead. He could almost not stand it at all. Neither could I. I was stuck, crippled even, consuming the money the marketing was generating but it was crippling me, and my creativity. As soon as I went through the motions of correcting my focus, he started losing the limp. Oh, sure, he would have lost that limp anyway under the care I was giving. But I notice and marvel at the timing.

Same too with those mares. If one represents one career, in this case my art and the other another, then it was a forgone conclusion that I would not be able to save both. So I saved the one I could. The one still alive.

Then, to make certain I understood that mare had well and truly been saved, the Universe had that ranch owner, whom I never met before the weekend, drive along side my car at just the right, thoroughly unplanned moment, and personally deliver the message.

Life can be strange and unpredictable despite our best efforts. I couldn’t stand what I was doing any more, so I got some specially delivered messages to help me comprehend that I was moving on in the right direction.

Below, photos from the Cañada de la Virgen hacienda:


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The Beautiful Ranch of Cañada de la Virgen