I became a certified equine massage therapist in 1998 and the following year discovered that animals could communicate with humans. I found this out when the horses I was massaging started communicating with me. No one could have been more surprised than I was, believe me! It was a miracle to me then and, so many years later, it still is!
A few months after I started communicating with animals, the owner of a barn where I was massaging horses, asked me to do an evaluation of an elderly grey pony mare named Smudge to see if massage might help her feel more comfortable. Although Smudge’s person rarely visited, she had placed Smudge at this barn because she knew that the barn owner would give Smudge the love and care she deserved.
Smudge was not just elderly — she also had severe arthritis. The arthritis in her neck was so severe, that she had to be fed in a low sided pan placed on the floor because she could hardly lift her nose off the ground. The rest of her body was also arthritic, but her neck was the most significant issue.
I did my evaluation . . . the muscles in Smudge’s neck were incredibly tight and sore from trying to support her painful neck — but her shoulders, back and hind quarters were tight as well, from trying to support the rest of her body. She had many very hard knots in her muscles too that had obviously been there a long time as she tried to compensate for her pain and do as much as she could to keep going in life. As I did my evaluation, gently probing Smudge’s muscles for tightness and knots, Smudge made it clear that although her body was not young or flexible, there was nothing wrong with her heart and mind. She let me know very clearly every time I hit a sore spot!
Smudge was a cranky, crabby girl and no one was getting away with doing anything to her she didn’t like because, despite everything, she was still very actively participating in life. Smudge was a fighter and definitely not ready to give up on her life, despite all her difficulties. I respected Smudge and liked her for her spicy attitude. I told the barn owner that I obviously couldn’t cure the arthritis, but I felt that I could help Smudge’s muscles to function better which would help her compensate better and feel better over all, despite her physical issues.
The barn owner got permission from Smudge’s person for me to do massage, so I started immediately. We agreed on weekly massages for at least a month.
Although Smudge was her usual cranky self at the start of her first massage, she very quickly realized that, as I loosened her muscles and released the knots, she was feeling better and better. She started to relax – licking and chewing, having a “soft eye”, even closing her eyes — all signs of relaxation in horses. Of course, every time I hit a sore spot, she let me know — but she also realized that she could trust me to make the soreness go way — and her cranky reactions became less and less intense.
When I massage a horse, I connect with them and we have two way communication. Although it’s not a “conversation,” we still connect in a deep way. They understand and listen to me, I understand and listen to them — and we work together to help get the best results possible. This was definitely the case with Smudge — but the connection with her was different. I was still new to communicating with animals, so it was astonishing to me to connect with her in such a deep way. I felt like I’d known her forever and it felt like we were connected at the heart level.
Each time I massaged Smudge, she was able to lift her head a bit more. The barn owner was as happy as Smudge and I were that this was the case. After Smudge’s second massage, the barn owner told me that Smudge was able to lift her head above her withers briefly for the first time in years. I was so happy for Smudge it brought tears to my eyes and I was so grateful that I could help her to feel better.
Sadly, after Smudge’s third massage, the barn owner told me that while Smudge’s neck was better, the rest of her body was starting to fail and she was having more difficulty walking. The barn owner felt it was time to help Smudge cross to Spirit, but asked me to talk to Smudge to see is she was ready to cross over.
This was the first time I’d had to talk to an animal about crossing to Spirit. I had no idea what to expect and no preconceived idea of how things might go. My intention was to allowed the conversation to unfold in whatever way it would. That is still what I do every time I discuss crossing over — or anything else — with an animal.
I talked to Smudge. She told/showed me that the arthritis had been bad for a very long time but she couldn’t give in to it. She wasn’t going to give in to the pain — she was far too stubborn for that! But she said she was ready to cross now. I asked her what had changed for her and why she was ready to cross over now that she felt better. Smudge said that now that she felt better, she could finally let go. When she said this, the image that came to me was someone gripping something in a clenched fist so tight and for so long, that the hand forgets how to let go. Now that Smudge felt better, she could finally start to release her grip on life. Smudge was not sad talking about crossing over. She looked at crossing over the way she looked at everything — that she would do it on her own terms with a clear mind and heart. She knew her spirit was going to something better and that she would be pain free when she left her hurting body.
I massaged Smudge that last time and she enjoyed it completely. It was bittersweet for me — I knew I’d probably never see her again. I told her I would hold her in my heart and would never forget her. I walked away from the barn that day with tears running down my cheeks because I felt I was losing a friend.
I told the barn owner that Smudge was ready to cross over. She said she would talk to Smudge’s person, who she was sure would agree, then talk to the vet. The barn owner told me a few days later that the vet would be out sometime in the next week to help Smudge cross to Spirit and she would let me know how Smudge’s crossing went. She promised to be with Smudge until her last breath.
A few days later, on Saturday, I woke up suddenly out of a sound sleep. My eyes flew open and I was completely alert — there had been no noise and nothing in the house to wake me. I knew that it was Smudge who woke me, to tell me she was in Spirit. I closed my eyes and the picture that came to me was Smudge, looking young and fit, cantering up a green, grassy hill into a sunrise. All I felt from Smudge was peace and happiness. I checked the clock — it was 8 AM. I’d never experienced anything like that before . . . but I had no doubt about what I experienced.
On Monday, the barn owner called me to tell me that Smudge had been helped to Spirit on Saturday. She said it was a very peaceful crossing. I asked what time the vet did the procedure. She told me it was 8 AM. It was the confirmation I needed that Smudge had come to me in Spirit to tell me she was free at last.
Later that day, I connected to Smudge in Spirit. Of course Smudge was no longer physical, but she showed me herself as 3-4 years old, beautiful and fit, trotting, cantering and walking with her head and tail up, bright-eyed and sassy — a very happy pony! She said she was grateful that I was able to help her feel better, so she could cross to Spirit in peace.
To be honest, I was stunned by the connection I had with Smudge and I didn’t want it to end.
I told Smudge how grateful I was to have been able to help her. I asked if I could talk to her again in the future. She assured me I could talk to her anytime.
For the next 18 months, I talked to Smudge nearly every day. I was driving all over central NJ seeing clients and their horses, so I spent a lot of time in the car talking to Smudge. I told her about the horses I was working on and things the horses told me or things I felt from them. When I did communication sessions, I talked to Smudge about that. She gave me advice and guidance and taught me more about communicating with animals and, most important, listening to animals.
After 18 months, I started noticing a difference in my connection to Smudge. It was still there, but I felt she was withdrawing a bit and I understood that I should connect with her less often.
I felt our time was coming to an end. I wasn’t ready for that to happen, but listened to my intuition and connected with Smudge less and less often.
Almost two years to the day after Smudge crossed to Spirit, I talked to her again. I felt strong enough to ask her directly if our time together was over. I felt a rush of love in my heart — like a hug from Smudge from Spirit — and she said that it was time for me to continue on my own. She said she’d taught me everything she could and I was ready to go on without her help. Smudge said she needed to move on too, but she would always have a connection with me.
It made me sad to think of loosing Smudge’s support, but I felt the truth of what she said. I knew I was ready. I felt like I was graduating . . . but couldn’t help the tears that came when I finished talking to Smudge that last time.
In time, I realized that Smudge was my first Spirit Guide. It was an honor to know her, both in life and in Spirit, and I will never forget her and all she did for me.