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A New Life in the Saddle

 

The Story of Jonathan Field

 

 Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him participate in synchronized diving.”
        ~Cuthbert Soup, Another Whole Nother Story

 

His parents introduced him to horses when he was just a year old
and he’s been around them ever since.

Growing up in the rural community of Bradner, British Columbia, Jonathan Field spent many evenings and weekends with his family and friends spending time with their horses.  In a helmet and jodhpurs riding his small buckskin quarterhorse named ’Wee Mite Buck’ he jumped everything, raced friends, and competed in the local 4H club.

At the age of 13, a trip to a cattle branding with his family changed Jonathan’s focus, spurring him toward another path with horses.  He was determined to be a cowboy.

For four seasons Jonathan worked at the historic Quilchena Cattle Company, one of the largest operating cattle ranches in Canada.  Living the cowboy life he rode the range by day and nestled in a cow camp at night, driving cows and branding calves come rain, snow or shine.  Each day was spent in the saddle.  A  teenaged-Jonathan could imagine nothing better.

In 1995 Jonathan’s family hosted a horsemanship demonstration at their ranch.  A cocky, brash young cowboy, Jonathan wasn’t prepared for what awaited him there.  The demonstrator was Pat Parelli; the legendary ’horse whisperer’ and trainer.   Witnessing the sensitive relationship between Pat and his horses turned Jonathan’s world upside down.  It opened his eyes to the unique possibility that one could have a special bond with horses.

Life so often shifts unexpectedly, and Jonathan decided to pursue a stable future with his family’s water well drilling company.  However, a well-drilling accident in the bush, 20 minutes from the nearest town, changed everything.

A 500-pound steel casing fell from 20 feet in the air after the supporting chain failed, landing on Jonathan’s arm.  Crushing and amputating all but the skin on his left wrist, he barely made it to the hospital as he witnessed the enormous loss of blood along the way.  Nearly succumbing to blood loss and shock during the ten hours of travel by plane and ambulance, Jonathan knew his horse career days were all but over.

Four doctors at Vancouver General Hospital decided to attempt the reattachment and rebuilding of Jonathan’s hand and wrist.  After a remarkable surgery, Jonathan awoke in a haze at the hospital’s Plastics and Burns Unit, uncertain of his future.

The doctors performed a miracle reattaching tendons, aligning bones and transplanting nerves in a surgery that wasn’t possible four years earlier.  The doctors phenomenally performed the technical work.  The real test, however, was that the future mobility of Jonathan’s hand would be entirely up to his own determination and attitude toward healing.

During the months of physical therapy and pain management that followed, Jonathan’s resilience and recovery were continually tested.  It played out on a day by day basis, continually marked by frustrating setbacks and delays.  At times it seemed as if it all were going nowhere.

His healing was arduously slow and painful.  He experienced phantom pains.  At times his hand and fingers would go numb, feeling no sensation or movement at all.  He struggled with post traumatic stress, recurring nightmares, and terrifying flashbacks.  He remembered the blood gushing out of his arm for hours on end on the long trip to the hospital.  It was a trauma that played endlessly in his head, over and over.

Struggling with the realities of his future and feeling sorry for what he had lost, Jonathan was about to encounter the one thing he needed most moving his life forward:  he listened to a good friend.

Late one night while working on his stretching exercises and martial arts conditioning with friend and Judo expert, Osamu Kasahara, their talk turned to Jonathan’s accident.

Osamu sensed Jonathan’s struggle and presented him with one of the most powerful thoughts he had ever heard.  

He said to Jonathan proddingly, “You have two choices: to suffer …or to heal.”

The reality of those simple words hit Jonathan like a rock.  Osamu had gently forced him to consider that the future was literally in his hands;  Jonathan would be the ultimate master of his own destiny.  It was an epiphany. 

Jonathan thought long and carefully and came to his decision.  He would turn a horrible situation around and heal; he would be a better and stronger person because of  the accident– instead of worse.

Jonathan will be the first to admit that prior to the accident he was neither a patient nor sympathetic man.  Had he been faced with a another friend in a similar situation, Jonathan’s reaction would have been different.  It would have been more along the lines of “Get over it,” “Cowboy up” or “It’s all in your head.”   That’s the cowboy way.

It’s often a different story when you’re the one who’s living in the saddle.  If not for Jonathan’s decision to heal, he would neither be as sympathetic as he is today nor the compassionate teacher for others.

The path of personal growth was a long journey for Jonathan.  It was one marked by difficult turning points and significant milestone markers along the way. 

A huge contributor towards his sensitivity and empathy, Jonathan now works and mentors both fearful horses and worried people in his new career.

It took a terrible accident and painful months of recovery to begin a journey that would change Jonathan forever, leading him to a new life with horses and a different perspective on life overall.

 

~Via Jonathan Field.net, Vimeo, Salazar

For Shannon Miranda, the Don Sampson & Mont Ellett families, 
and Navajo Trails Ranch

 

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