By Anna Twinney
(Animal Communication Levels 1 & 2 RMSAAM instructor; next Animal Communication class is on October 2-3!)
The wind had picked up. Another typical, summer storm was brewing in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains… or so we thought. From the flat, high desert terrain of the horse rescue we could see the storm; its dark clouds swirling above with a small glimpse of sunlight shining down upon us as the students and I were in the pastures conversing with the horses. More often than not, the weather would pass by the rescue uneventfully, as though the rain, the thunder and the lightning were divinely directed along the base of the hills, leaving us with only the strong wind and taste of the precipitation cascading down upon the mountains only a few miles away. But this day was not typical. And this storm was not going to pass without leaving its mark; a tragic mark that none of us would ever forget.
It was the first week of an intensive Holistic Horse Certification Course, and for several hours I had been sharing lessons in Equine etiquette. More than 50 horses called this rescue home, and this was a chance for us to give back to them by learning their language of Equus. We were only a few days into the course, but I could already see my students communicating with the horses; recognizing thought patterns, body language, and energy interaction. Watching them approach the horses in their own habitat, sharing quiet moments, recognized and accepted by their equine companions, always left me feeling fulfilled and touched by the joy reflected in their faces.
I was about to begin a demonstration on interaction with wild mustangs, to emphasize the intricacies of the language of the horse, when we realized that the volunteers had begun the horses’ feeding routine 30 minutes earlier than expected. Not wanting to disturb the horses during this daily ritual I decided to come up with a plan B. So we returned to the classroom for my “learning definitions” lecture. At the time I was simply trying to be as efficient with our time as I could. I was not aware that this innocent decision would later be seen as part of a number of synchronized events leading to an extraordinary life-changing event.
Once in the classroom I stood with my back to the only window in the classroom, as I began covering the subject matter. Within moments, and with no notice, we heard thunder so loud it shook the entire room.
“Horse down,” one student yelled!
I turned to see Ledger, a two-year-old, chestnut colored colt, lying on his side in the pasture. Before my mind could make sense of what was happening my feet were already carrying me out the door, running faster than I ever imagined I could, my fellow instructors by my side. Within seconds we were barging through the pasture gate, as a volunteer, unaware of what had happened, was attempting to secure it.
Approaching the horse, I immediately fell to my knees, cradling his head in my arms. I realized he had been struck by lightning. In a fluke moment, somehow, without any rain or any other warning, one single bolt of lightning had come down upon Ledger.
As I sat there comforting this poor creature, others gathered around us. We began looking for signs of life. His eye was open but his lifeless body remained still, mouth open, nostrils flared. We saw no sign of scorching on his body and yet we could smell the unmistakable scent of burnt flesh.
The moment seemed unusually serene and very surreal. While the entire class surrounded Ledger, doing what they could, the other horses continued to eat their hay, seemingly content, standing in a line, removed from the electric fence that appeared to have drawn the lightning.
Many of us placed our hands on Ledger’s still body providing comfort and healing. Most of us, coincidentally, were Reiki practitioners in the group, and naturally gravitated towards different areas of his body. As the “Reiki Angels” laid their hands on Ledger, others gathered around the group and began “beaming” energy towards his direction. Everyone created an amazing space enveloping this colt in a bubble of love and hope. The energy from each person blended together as we united our intention through prayer and positive thoughts. We had no idea if Ledger would suddenly stand up and return to us or if this was to be his time.
With tears pouring down my face I knew I had to stay with him, and resist an overriding urge to run away. It was evident we were all going through our own personal journeys, as if we had been intentionally called together to learn our individual lessons this day. I watched one of my instructors taking over the situation methodically feeling for vital signs, while another called the vet and authorities, and a third stood cursing the lightening over and over again. Many students sobbed their hearts out, while others stayed back….each dealing with the trauma in their own unique way.
Suddenly, I felt an energy shift in Ledger’s young body and instinctively knew that he was no longer with us. We were being urged by staff to return to the safety of the classroom and yet none of us wanted to leave. Our lives were suddenly insignificant, and all we could think of was to stay by Ledger’s side. We wept, we cradled his body in our hands, we said prayers and spent silent moments together.
Later Ledger’s body would be covered in a protective tarp where he stayed overnight so his herd could say their good-byes. We watched as Charlotte, his closest friend, suddenly realized that Ledger would not be getting up again. With her head thrown high, she began running back and forth in frenzy. Arching her way around Ledger, snorting ferociously, she gathered some of the troops to explore his listless body. As with us, each member of the herd dealt with the situation in their own way, some were courageous and curious while others watched from a distance.
It wasn’t long until life returned back to “normal” and only Charlotte was left to stand over her friend and ensure his safety…which she did for hours and hours to come.
Once the excitement calmed down, the unanswered questions began to make their way to our minds. Why this colt? Although one life is not worth more or less than another, he was one of the youngest prospects at the Rescue. He had his entire life ahead of him. It was just about to begin, and, in one instance, it had all been taken away, just like that.
In my experience, I have observed that it takes the spirit several days to leave the body and settle into its new “formless” existence. And so, about a week later, I was asked to communicate with Ledger on the other side.
As I tuned into him, the young colt began to identify himself by confirming many facts about his life. He shared the story of his arrival to the Rescue. He showed me his initial appearance and rugged look. In a light-hearted way he described the locations in which he had spent significant time at the Rescue and the friends he knew well. He shared insights about those who had taken care of him and personal messages along the way.
But what interested many of the students who had gathered were the last moments of his life. Ledger described the whole incident. He was completely taken by surprise. He did not know that it was his time and wasn’t prepared. In fact, he was preparing for an upcoming adoption! He stated that the thunder came at the exact time of the lightening; something I had not realized but the students confirmed immediately. He showed how he had been thrown up in the air and then fell side-ways hitting the ground firmly. There had been no time to react, let alone run. It all happened so fast.
Since we couldn’t be sure at the time of the incident, many of us wanted to know if he had already crossed over before we had arrived, or if he indeed was there with us for that short time we had gathered. What Ledger stated next was very profound. Through short movie like thoughts I was able to translate and act as Ledger’s messenger.
He asked me, “Had I not seen his tail move upon my approach? “ I had not, but when I voiced this, others piped up immediately that they had seen it.
“Had I not seen his front leg move?” Again I had not, but others had.
Furthermore, he shared with me that you could see the hair line in the middle of his front legs, running from his hoof to his chest. This hairline, although not blackened, was singed from the lightning strike. I wondered why I had missed these important signs at the time and had to remind myself how quickly everything happened that day.
From an aerial view, Ledger showed me how everyone had positioned themselves around him, placing their hands all over his body, a row of people gathered behind, along the fence-line, to send energy healing. Ledger continued to share that he left his body moments before Rob, an instructor student, walked off. He had an exact time for us to look back on. Rob later shared that he had realized Ledger had departed and went to cancel the emergency services. It all became clear to us now. Ledger felt all of our presence and confirmed he knew we were there. He did not die alone.
Throughout the whole session a deep sense of heartfelt gratitude emanated from Ledger, and amazingly, instead of sorrow, I felt joy. Instead of fear, I felt calm. Instead of weakness, I felt strength. It was a humbling experience to know that we still had so much more to learn, and that this young colt had so quickly come to terms with his own death, teaching us all a profound lesson that none of us would ever forget.
Ledger, 2007-2009, CO