The first time you meet Bravo you can’t help but be in awe of his majestic physical presence. A handsome paint that towers above you. As you get to know him you quickly recognize the power, wisdom and depth of his soul. Bravo was the alpha horse in the Luv Shack herd, and the best four-legged friend of Luv Shack’s founder Joey Ogburn.
I met Bravo the first time I volunteered Reiki at Luv Shack. He was accustomed to new volunteers coming into his herd pretty regularly. However, each was checked out either from a distance or an up close inspection. I received the later. A full sniffing from head to toe, particularly my hands. It wasn’t long before I felt the weight of his majestic head resting in my hands. The connection was deep and the energy exchange was wonderful.
Over the coming months Bravo and I shared everything from complete respect for each other’s space to full hands on Reiki. With the wisdom of a leader there were times he knew when others in his herd needed attention, and there were times when he did. Regardless, I was often greeted by the gate or he would stop by for a few moments while I was roaming amongst the herd.
One of the most memorable experiences I had with Bravo occurred somewhere around four weeks ago. I think he watched me from the moment I stepped out of my car until I entered the paddock where the herd was. He watched from a distance as I worked with several of the other horses. Then he decided it was his turn and approached me. The herd stepped back to create a path for him and I couldn’t help but picture the scene of royal subjects making way for the king. It just made me grin. When he reached me I gently talked to him as his head found its way to my hands and I rubbed his face, neck and body. It was common for most of our Reiki time to be spent around his eyes and head and today wasn’t any different. We spent a while in the energetic healing space of Reiki before the energy flow subsided.
I moved on and worked with several others in the herd. Bravo followed me as I moved from horse to horse, but was keeping enough distance between us so that the horse I was working with was not threatened by his presence. Then he began to follow me much closer and everyone else backed away. It turned into a game. I would turn my back and walk around the paddock and he followed close behind within a foot or so. There were times I could feel his breath on my neck. He matched me step for step. When I sped up, so did he. When I slowed he did too. If I made a quick turn to the right or left, he never lost a step and fell in right behind. I lost count of how many times we circled the paddock. All the while I was laughing and seeing if I could shake him. I never did. I’m not sure which one of us was enjoying it more.
The last time I stopped he came right up behind me and put his nose on my back. I could feel the warmth and moisture of his breath through my shirt. It was clear he wanted more Reiki. And so we entered into the rhythm and flow of another Reiki treatment. This time when we finished he released a big “Reiki” sigh and I knew we had accomplished what he needed. Rather than following me out he simply stood with his head lowered adrift in the afterglow of the treatment. It was a peaceful sight.
Last Friday morning, in a freak accident, Bravo severed his Achilles tendon. I was just heading to my morning shower when the thought crossed my mind that I should check my phone. When I did there was a missed call from Joey and a text that read “Please come ASAP”. I quickly dialed her up and was greeted by tears and a struggle to find words. I simply told her I was on my way. Not knowing which horse it was my heart sank as I approached the turnout at a neighbors and saw people gathered around Bravo and blood on his right hind leg. I could see that Joey was in no position to talk about what had happened so I simply began Reiki flowing to not only Bravo, but all those gathered that morning. When the vet had him prepared for the trip to the hospital he was loaded on the trailer. I walked up to the window of the trailer and continued Reiki as they finished closing the trailer and gathered those who were going to the hospital. Bravo and I shared some incredible final moments, and I had the feeling that this was his last ride. However, I held out hope because you just never know. Later that afternoon I learned that the damage was beyond repair and Joey made one of the hardest decisions of her life – to let him go.
Bravo taught me many things. One of those being to step back and see the larger picture. How each individual affects the whole, as we are all actually One. Something very evident in a herd of horses if you stand back and observe. He also showed by example that there is a big difference between being a leader and being a martyr. There were times when others needed attention and times when he did. And he honored that. Bravo also knew when it was time to have fun and when it was time to be serious and stand your ground. He was compassionate, wise, and someone everyone looked up to – equine or human.
Godspeed Bravo as you begin your new journey!