In between riding and ranch chores there was a lot of our normal Cowboy Philosophy and conversation. SFC Victor Birdseye did a good job recording this journey texting his friends and family and he has allowed me to import his journey here, so with my pictures and in his words, here we go! Thank you Victor. Just before we start though, I'd like to give a quick shout out of thanks to his wife Sabrina, for it takes a strong woman with an open heart to stick by a man who comes back from warzone. You have taken the time to understand and give your support during what can be a difficult transition for many. May God continue to bless you both. Both Rick and I look forward to meeting you.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 ~ 6:11 am
"Day Two, Horsesforheroes.org, New Mexico, its like the landscape begs you to leave your problems, and release them to be swept into the sage and cacti, for you soul to be uplifted on the wings of hawks and carried away. In the morning before the sun rises crazy dog and fat dog meet you all smiles and wagging tails wanting a pat on the head and a good belly scratch. We know that soldiers and cowboys followed only by fishermen are famous for tall tales, but when veterans come together over horses their souls are bared and they share the horrors that haunt their sleep, and the desert swallows them up. Its now apparent why Native Americans and Christ would wander into the desert in search of guidance, a man becomes lost in the serenity and finds himself cleansed and pure on the way out. Four soldiers said the same thing yesterday, over horses so you know its true, we need to change the therapeutic environment, get out of the clinics and back to the basics of living, strip away the bullshit and quit trying to be Joneses."
"Ride until lunch, progressed a long ways."
"More riding, more stall mucking, I even have blisters hand got soft, like my body and mind, the amount of concentration involved with cowboy therapy sharpens the mind, physical labor hardens the body a combination of the two cleanses the spirit, causing the veteran to become a whole person. He has no time to dwell on the PTSD and the brain is doing so many things at once it is forced to rewire and the disconnects to reattach."
Thursday, October 13 at 7:08 am
"Day three, woke up tired and had to fight the "z" monster to get out of bed. Have the soreness that people pay to get at the gym, that good soul healing pain that comes from getting up early working all day and going to be early. Coffee and sunrises for breakfast, and of course crazy dog are a great way to spend the morning. Crisp and cool the drought drags on. However where there is water things grow. Cowboying and farm / ranch work are the water that grows the spirit. Bite your lip and Cowboy up, pain is temporary and pride is forever. The army tries hard and is successful at taking the knowhow out of young men and teaching them the ways of war, but those that want to set it aside and return to their roots, there's a way, horsesforheros.org. in the words of a well known comedian "git r done" your family and friends need it, your life
depends on it."
"Out west..... long on conversation and the coffee is always on."
Friday, October 14 at 6:46 am
"Day four and I didn't do anything yesterday, well thats not true, Steve and I fed (cattle) over several hundred acres, barley from the local brewing company. We went and found bully, my first New Mexico cowboy job, Steve, Joe and I it was a beautiful ride across the desert with lots of clean air, and time for reflection and releasing all the bad crap out into the desert. Its like stepping back in time about a thousand years, stresses where different then. By the time all that was done it was dinner time, load the broken truck, and pick up feed. Now day four starts cool clear and promising, and the first thing we are going to do is pick up feed."
"The military in all its wisdom developed a routine for soldiers as a technique of dealing with hardship, the ranch lifestyle provides the same kind of routine that goes one step further for it makes the soldier take care of something bigger then himself, by taking care of animals that are completely reliant on him."
"Every issue can be solved in a pick up truck, if not there on the back of a horse just ask Rusty."
"This is exactly what horsesforheroes.org is about, veterans helping veterans using equestrian, ranch style structure and changing the therapeutic environment."
"Still day four, fed this morning and did some cowboy philosophying in a truck, then went and rode and there is nothing more therapeutic then the ahha moment on the back of a horse, when everything comes together."
"Something about being on a horse in the great outdoors just opens you up. By changing the therapeutic environment we have the ability to put soldiers in an environment that they are most comfortable with. A soldier at ease within himself has the ability to comprehend just how small a speck he is in the universe. Providing him with a comfortable, structured environment that he or she is at ease with gives him the ability to release the stuff he is holding inside. Twice now I have been working in the arena and tears were streaming down my face as I get it and learn horsemanship and through the concentration required to handle the animal with just my body let go of a little more bull crap. Its similar to getting in a hot tub and letting the stress go something veterans have a hard time with. The Cowboy Up! program gives motivated and dedicated veterans the tools they need to accomplish this seemingly impossible mission."
Saturday, October 15 8:41 am
"Day five, went and saw the aspens last night beautiful gold colors in the sun set. Then went to a Santa Fe Western gallery and listened to some artists and very knowledgeable folks talk on Wyat Earp a true American Hero the aniversery of the OK corral is on the 26 of Oct. Hauled feed last night so getting up was hard, its sure not from lack of sleep. Being out doors working all day wears a body out, and this is what our veterans need a positive outlet that exhausts them."
"Round up prep, puts some butterfly's in your stomach, similar to combat mission prep. You know the men to your left and right are going to rely on your actions and know how. Your calmness and presence of mind will effect the whole outcome of the mission. Its a different mission with a different outcome, with its own dangers and pitfalls, with its own satisfaction and a peacefulness and accomplishment when the day is over. Its something veterans can wrap their mind around and leave the crap among the cacti, with a sense of purpose and accomplishment."
"Round up prep, with the pre combat inspections and equipment prep invokes the same feelings a veteran experiences prepping for a combat operation. However by experiencing those feelings and then going into a non hostile environment the veteran is building tools to help him reintegrate into civilian life."
"Nervous with sweaty palms, everyone has a job."
"Coming off the range relaxed with a sense of accomplishment, cowboying is very similar to working in a squad everyman has a duty and position. Its these similarities that make the adjustment so versatile and simple for veterans suffering from PTSD. Once the adjustment is realized its easy to take the tools gleaned and apply them to transition."
Still Saturday the 15th, After the gather... Weighing and prep for shipping:
Sunday, October 16 at 7:56am
"Day six, early wake up, sleeping like a hot rock, every night. Loaded calves this morning to go to sale. There is so much to learn if you keep your mouth shut, some of the top cowboys and top cattlemen in the nation. Anyone interested in the ag business should come and spend a week or two. Its good for the mind and soul. I was even able to run a little this morning. Calves bawled all night and I never heard them, the only thing that would make it perfect is Sabrina Ridgeway, my beautiful wife and my flea bitten dogs."
"www.horsesforheroes.org and the Cowboy Up! Program goes far beyond equestrian therapy, its about horsemanship and working cattle and raising grass, and carving out a living out of the desert. If Christ spent forty days in the desert, it would seem to me that this is the best possible rehabilitation for our soldiers suffering from PTSD. The program offers the opportunity for soldiers to be outside, working and putting their lives back together. Nothing like seeing the sun set and rise each day and working the hours in between, so that a body rests at night. Sleep is when the body heals."
"Its an opportunity to realign you body and soul with natural surroundings and live like The Master Architect intended, one with your surroundings."
"Spent the morning sorting calves for the sale, rode this afternoon, lazy Sunday. Animals know when your having an anxiety issue, this is a reason veterans should work with animals as much as possible. Its possible for the veteran to cue their pending anxiety off of their animal and start putting safe guards in place before it becomes a full blown issue. This gives veterans a better quality of life. After all they have done for our country, don't they deserve it?"
"TBI therapy: take control of one of your senses, for instance in the airport or grocery store I wear my ipod it helps prevent sensory overload. Finding a natural rythym for grounding, such as that provided by horses, and the continual adjustment of the body and the horse helps the brain find new paths around the injured sections of the brain. Similar to driving a manual shift car, there is so much going on the brain does not have time to zone out and return to the injured nuropaths, its forced to work at all times, creating new path ways to function along."
October 17, 2011 1:31 pm
"The time goes by so fast, fed this morning and rode in the early afternoon going out to see the river. This place welcomes veterans in so they realize there are more then just them selves suffering from issues. It also makes them aware that there are people who really care and want to see them improve."
Tuesday at 9:05am October 18, 2011
"This morning met Steves father, who lived through the dust days of the thirty's he was barefoot and just a wee boy, there is nothing better then hearing the stories of an old man to humble you and make you thankful for all the conviences of today. Makes for a very relaxing day and I am thankful to be able to meet these people and hear all they have to say. What an opportunity for our troops to get in touch with them selves and get their feet grounded so they can get back in touch with life. This helps veterans reintegrate into a life that does not entail the military, I would like to see our troops have this great opportunity. I think that www.horsesforhereos.org is right on track giving our troops a therapeutic environment that involves the entire community outside the clinical environment."
Friday, October 21, 2011
This is Victor's last day and he will be working up to the last minute before flyin' outta here. Steve's busy loading calves to take to the sale in Belen (South of Albuquerque). Victor will get to help haul calves and see the sale all before boarding his plane this afternoon for Ft. Benning.
A Big Western thanks to Steve and Jacinda! You're wonderful neighbors and the best friends anyone could ever have!
Load her up!
Until next time... Via con Dios Ranger!