Mystic Ranch Healing
When I first got in touch with Jackie, I thought I was going to be learning how to ride. I thought I was going to be taking my sporadic horseback experiences over a lifetime — a year here, a year there, decades apart, and what riding skills I’d gathered over those years, willy nilly — and put a foundation under them that I could use going forward.
Mostly, I was just longing for horse time after a ten-year hiatus. I was new to Southern Oregon, having moved here not even a year prior after thirty years in the San Francisco Bay Area. I felt lost. I needed to ground myself somehow. I missed horses. So in the fall of 2014 I did a google search. And I found Mystic Ranch. What attracted me from the outset was that name, and the fact that it was identified as a Paso Fino ranch. I had loved a Paso Fino and was drawn to the breed. And I am a mystic.
Jackie and I exchanged a couple of emails and I was going to get started, but uterine cancer interrupted my plans. A year later, past surgery and radiation and heading into “survivorship,” I found myself deeply depressed. My trust in life had been shaken to the core. My trust in my body, too. Life was looking very bleak. One night, I remembered her. I searched and found our email exchange. I emailed her and let her know that I had meant to follow through, but cancer had intervened. I got a warm, loving response. I booked a lesson.
I realize now, looking back, that I was deathly afraid of that first lesson. I was afraid to go. I was afraid to meet Jackie. I was afraid to be with horses again. My confidence in life, in my instincts, in my body, had been shaken to the core. And I had not been on horseback in ten years. And the last time I had, my beloved Paso Fino had thrown me and I had been badly injured.
All of this surfaced in me as I made the 45-minute drive from my home to Mystic Ranch. But the minute I arrived, my feelings began to change. Two big happy dogs greeted me with wagging tails and kisses. Jackie was warm and positive and nurturing and exuded the gentle, grounded authority of a gifted teacher. She asked me what I wanted to learn. I told her my history with horses and said I wanted her to teach me as if I were a rank beginner with no experience whatsoever. She talked with me about her approach, and showed me right there, using our bodies, what is involved in communicating with a horse via body language. And how that establishes harmony.
Then I met Mystic, and experienced for the first time what it is to collaborate with a horse, to gain connection, to be given permission to mount and ride, and the unsurpassed beauty of being on horseback with a bareback pad and no bit or reins, and to be able to communicate, even the first time, enough for us to get in sync and want to do the same things. To find my balance. To feel the willing body of this beautiful horse beneath me, and to know we could be One.
This brought me to tears. Because I have been horse crazy since the day I was born. And Jackie and Mystic brought me the experience and the model for being a horse person that I had always dreamed of without knowing it existed. They began to teach me “horseness”… which is far deeper than “horsemanship.”
When I first came to Mystic Ranch, my joy was gone. Jackie helped me find it. When I first came to Mystic ranch, my trust was gone. Jackie helped me find it. When I first came to Mystic Ranch, my gift for leadership was gone. Jackie helped me find it. When I first came to Mystic Ranch, my sense of playfulness was gone. Jackie helped me find it. When I first came to Mystic Ranch, my life balance was gone. Jackie helped me find it.
Yes. A year into working and playing with Jackie and her Pasos, I am a far better rider than I ever imagined I could be.
But here’s the thing. I am healed. In a way I never imagined, after cancer, I could or would be. I am healed and whole. I am confident and expressive and joyful and excited about what is around the next corner. I know I can ride my life, whatever comes.
Jackie Decker and her magical, mystical Pasos gave that to me. Lesson by lesson. Ride by ride. Week by week. They are my teachers. My healers. And my treasured friends.