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Horse Hooray Henry Prancing Free in a Meadow

Today, I’d like to discuss the concept of animal reincarnation which has fascinated me since my twenties.

The Basis for Belief:

Jill Hughes Holding a Copy of Spirit of Prophecy Today, more people are coming to believe in reincarnation, which is a central premise of major Asian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, yet it is still another “leap of faith” to accept that animals can also be reincarnated. Notwithstanding that in some religions and cultures, animals and all sentient beings are placed on earth as divine entities and/or Gods. We can think of many of the Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism (cows and elephants, for example), or if we go back to early civilization, we can see the Egyptians worshipping and revering, not just animals, but often hybrid animal/human forms. The Incas also considered some animals, such as monkeys and dogs, to be holy. Other religions, however, tend to view animals as mere soulless beings placed on earth for the servitude and dominion of man. It is clear from most major religions, though, that there is an inextricable and deep connection between us human beings, animals, and the spiritual universe.

So, whatever your outlook on the place of animals in our society, the question remains – can animals, especially pets, reincarnate?

Personal Experience:  

If there’s one thing that convinces us our pets or other animals have reincarnated its personal experience. Many of us experience an incredibly close, loving relationship with our pets. They are “family members,” to us, and when one dies, the grieving and the sense of complete loss/desolation is like losing a close family member. Deeper than that, though, is the linkage through which we are connected with all the animals on this earth that we share, and the entire universe, in general.

My experience of animal reincarnation relates to my horses, whom I loved with a deep passion. My second pony Red a 14.2 HH, fire- cracker chestnut showjumper, returned around 7 years later as Hooray Henry, a 16.2 HH palomino. Whilst Red and Henry were very different physically, their behavior was so similar that I just knew, on a profound, intuitive level that in essence, they were the same being. The story of why Red reincarnated as Henry and the lessons to be learned, feature in my No.1 Best-Selling International Metaphysical Crime Novel: ‘Spirit of Prophecy’, available on Amazon here: http://getbook.at/SpiritofP

Horse "Red" in action Show-Jumping

Red

Red was an amazing competition pony, but he was really difficult to handle – he would kick and bite and he was very tricky to ride anywhere, except in the show ring. If I tried to take him out for a hack, I wouldn’t get far before he started reining-back – like a crab in reverse. Next, he’d rear up on his hind legs or go into bucking-bronco mode: objective being to get the rider off. With hindsight, of course, this was probably because he was ill. Often when horses misbehave, they aren’t simply being naughty, they’re in pain and trying to tell us something. Frequently, we tell them off or simply don’t listen closely enough, because we’re too busy, distracted, not living in the moment and aren’t paying attention.

One weekend, at University, UEA in Norwich, I had this really strong feeling (call), to return home immediately. I trusted the strong intuition and made the two-hundred odd mile trip back, although really, I had no idea why. I just knew that I needed to get back and trusted that it was something important. On the Sunday, my father let me have a lie-in in bed and he went to give the ponies their breakfast. However, before too long he rushed back home, banged on my bedroom door shouting: “Get up now. Red has gone down – he’s in a really bad way.”

The vet came out and I stayed with Red for hours out in the orchard, walking around in circles. Red was kicking, pawing, trying to lie down and roll. We had to try and keep him moving so he didn’t roll and twist the gut. It was heart-wrenching to see him like that, beside himself in agony. Eventually the vet came out again and advised, this time, that there was nothing more that he could do. He gave Red a sedative and told my father to call the knacker-man. I was too heartbroken to stay – something I really came to regret. I really shouldn’t have let the knacker-man [that’s what they were called in those days – now the humane slaughter consultant or something?] take him away; he should have been put to sleep, quietly, at home, in familiar surroundings, with people who loved him and cared about him. Decisions surrounding death are often highly emotionally charged, and I’d definitely made a mistake.

The similarities seven years later between Red and Hooray Henry, my next horse, became obvious to me in week one, on our very first hack, shortly after he arrived. Henry was bucking, rearing, and snorting and generally being highly unpredictable and downright dangerous. It is moments like these when a Velcro-bum comes in mighty handy! I was supposed to canter back along the bridle path where my dad had camera-on-tripod set up. No such luck, Henry exploded into a fit of extreme toddler-style tantrum. He became positively kamikaze. In the end I jumped off and did the unthinkable for an experienced rider – I let him loose and with that Henry galloped away in a cloud of dust.

‘What the heck, love?’ My Dad gasped, looking stunned.

My heart sank. ‘’It’s Red, he’s back and he’s back with a vengeance.”

He nodded. ‘’Righty, right then. We’d best go after them.’’

Hooray Henry Running Free in the Paddock

Hooray Henry

My dad was always pretty progressive I guess, he was totally organic-you-are-what you eat, talked to his plants and on his allotment, led the campaign to stop his friend Sweet Pea getting evicted for being a white witch.

I didn’t realize at the time what a long road would lie ahead, back to the original ending with Red – what happened with Henry was profoundly connected. By now I’d learned that such extreme behaviour could only point to some underlying physical problem and pain, so over the years I called out many vets and alternative practitioners trying to get to the bottom of Henry’s problems. Henry was finally diagnosed with kissing spine and arthritic degeneration in all feet, hocks, and knees. The vet said it would be kinder not to put him through another winter but to let-him-go, peacefully. At that moment Henry breathed a deep sigh of relief and rested his head on the vet’s shoulder, as if to say – at last, thank you.

What Does this all Mean for Us and our Animal Relationships:

Animals are here to assist humanity and they’ve undergone many silent sacrifices. Ultimately, any society must be judged on how it treats the most vulnerable – the old, the infirm and of course animals and all sentient beings – things are improving but there is still a way to go to express real compassion for other beings. I get that death is part of the endless regeneration cycle of life. If a person is suffering greatly it may be a blessed relief for them. That we should all live our lives asking ourselves this: “when the day comes and I’m on my death bed, did I share my gifts, did I share and be of service to others? Did I experience joy, purpose, passion, and self- love, whilst accomplishing my mission here? Can I move forward with few regrets?”

Horse Red Flying High Over the Shoew-Jumping Rails

Red

I learnt a lot from Red and Henry. With Red I felt guilty, just as Juliet, [one of the heroines in my novel] has haunting dreams about her horse’s fate. I regret I wasn’t there with Red at the end, so he came back as Henry to give me the opportunity to create a different [improved] ending. Red taught me patience and perseverance. Where many previous owners had given up on him, I remained loyal and this was rewarded. Our bond was strong, so strong that he came back as Henry to rewrite the ending for me. What is ironic, I guess, is that at this stage of my life I’m an author and ‘Spirit of Prophecy’ is based on the story of a reincarnating Apache horse called Espiritus. In this way too, Red and Henry carry on into eternity, as the main theme of the book is based on what happened with them, except as my understanding of reincarnation has evolved, it’s deeper and more nuanced.

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Till Next Time I’m Sending: Love, Phire, and the Violet Flame of Peace

My debut novel, Spirit of Prophecy features a mixture of the paranormal, wicca, science fiction wrapped up in a good old-fashioned murder/mystery, Spirit of Prophecy is centred around the rarefied world of three-day-eventing. I want to take some time today to explain a little about how the Three-Day-Event works and why it is so popular within the equine community and with the general public, at large.

In the equestrian world, the three-day event is seen, by many, to be the pinnacle of equine supremacy. Why would be this be so? Simply put, the three-day event tests all of the innate skills of the horse and of horsemanship by combining three equine events into a challenging series of obstacles that tests not only speed, endurance and courage, but also accuracy and temperament. It perfectly encapsulates all that makes horses and horse competitions so enthralling to both the equine community and the general public.

Three-day eventing and the horses and riders that participate in it forms the central platform of my debut novel, Spirit of Prophecy, with one of the principal characters Juliet Jermaine being the current Olympic champion in the Three-Day Event and her horses the focus of much of the action that takes place in the story. For this reason, I’d just like to explain how the three-day event works and give readers some insight into why it is such an esteemed event within the equine community.

Although eventing is extremely popular all over the world these days, it is and always was a quintessentially British sport. Like so many other sports Britain has introduced to the world, the students have, to a large extent, become the masters. The sport still has plenty of British champions, but the powerhouses of three-day eventing are now to be found in the colonies; New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada, and parts of South America. It is truly a world-wide phenomenon and incredibly popular, as both a televised and live spectator sport.
As hinted in the title of this piece, the three-day event is comparable to the human pentathlon or decathlon, in that it tests all aspects of a horse and rider’s skills, ultimately looking for, if you like, “the best equine athlete in the world.” Although some events are held over one or two days, in general terms, the event is performed over a three day time frame. It consists of three very different and challenging disciplines; dressage, cross-country, and show-jumping.

The dressage could perhaps best be put in terms of human endeavour. In many ways it is similar to a ballet performance, but one that requires the horses to undertake a series of predetermined moves, within a specified, enclosed arena. This is the only subjective part of the three-day event and a judge or team of judges awards demerit points for horses and riders that do not perform exactly to the laid-out requirements. Judges will be looking for balance, rhythm, suppleness and most importantly perhaps, cooperation and affinity between horse and rider. The basic idea of dressage is to show that a horse is not only capable of strength, power and endurance, but also can perform in a graceful, relaxed and precise manner. Demerit points awarded in this discipline are then carried over to the cross-country and show-jumping phases of the three-day event. The key to winning, for horse and rider is to score the lowest number of points.

The cross-country is the most physical of the three events and truly tests horse’s and rider’s, speed, stamina, courage and endurance. Cross-country courses vary all over the world and are unique to the designers, but they all have one thing in common; they aim to offer the rider an opportunity to take risks or to play it safe. There is often more than one way of completing an obstacle in the various challenges set. Many cross-country courses are set in exceptionally beautiful countryside, which encourages spectators to flock to the event for a “family day out”. Two of the most prestigious and beautiful such sites in Britain are the annual events held at Badminton and Burleigh, both of which are considered “must wins” for a three-day eventer to say they are at the pinnacle of their sport. As with the dressage, cross-country is about trying to score zero points (that is, make no mistakes to incur demerits). The usual demerit points in the cross-country phase are, 20 points for a horse refusing a jump or running out of the obstacle area, without jumping the obstacle. In addition to this, the cross-country is a timed event and demerit points are added to the horse’s total if they fail to complete the course, in under the specified time, commonly, this is 0.4 of a penalty point per second over the optimum time.

The show-jumping phase of the event is usually held the following day from the cross-country and before any horse is allowed to compete in this phase, they must pass a thorough veterinary inspection to ensure they have not been damaged in any way by the gruelling cross-country phase. Like all show-jumping events, faults are awarded for fences knocked down (4 faults), 1st refusal/disobedience (4 faults), 2nd refusal/disobedience or fall of horse/rider (Elimination), and time performance (1 penalty for every second over the optimum time).
Finally, after completion of the three stamina-sucking events a horse and rider, with the least number of demerit points over the course of the event, can be declared the winner and proud owner of the title; “the best equine athlete of the event”. One reason why this event is so popular as a sporting contest is that it is still one of the few sports where women and men compete alongside each other as equals. Many of the top eventers in the world are female.

Do, please, take a look at my exciting novel, Spirit of Prophecy, set in the exciting world of three-day-eventing. You can find out much more about it, here, on my website. http://bit.ly/2LeRJ84

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