As I drive through the front gates of the horse ranch, I take a breath of the outside air as it blows in through the open window of my truck. The familiar fresh air smell, mixed with hay, horse and earth begins to work its magic as if I were being hypnotized by Celebrity Hypnotist, Kevin Stone himself. I look out my front window and just beyond the old brown wooden fence in the open green pasture way out in the distance I catch sight of several horses. The two brown Andalusia horses are running alongside the fence near the tree line as if playing a game of tag, while the others, regardless whether black, brown, tan, or of mixed colors are grazing on the deep green grass as if they were at an endless buffet. Across from the pasture on the other side of the main drive I see several horse and riders running, cantering, jumping and enjoying their time in the outside arenas all while soaking up the warm sun.
I pull into a parking spot nearest the stall where my beautiful black and white colored horse “Fancy” is waiting for me. As I exit my car I can already feel the heavy weight of the day’s stress leaving my body, my muscles begin to loosen, my jaw is not clinched and the thoughts just moments ago that were running through my head like a stampede of wild Stallions become quiet.
As I walk towards Fancy’s stall I greet the other horses with the usual rub to the face while their heads are sticking out the open stall windows watching me as I walk by. They are sensitive to their environment and it’s as if they can sometimes understand my feelings. We speak a language all our own that is so subtle and delicate that no other human has the ability to understand it.
It has only been a few short years since I first walked into this half-darkened barn. In that time Fancy has taught me courage, when I first choose to grab her mane in one hand and the saddle in the other as I hung on for dear life as she raced out of the barn like a rocket headed to the moon. I conquered the fear of falling off, having my toes crushed, and being publicly humiliated at a horse show all compliments of her. She has taught me responsibility. Unlike my bedroom or bathroom a horse needs regular care and most of it requires that I get dirty, smelly and up off the couch.
Even as a little girl horses captured my heart and imagination because of their beauty, power, and grace, or maybe it was their soft velvety noses. To those outside the horse world, it must seem strange. To see me in muddy boots and dirty clothes but who would guess such loves fills my heart because of it. If you weren't raised with horses, you can't know that they have unique personalities and loyalty. You'd expect this from dogs, but horses? Indeed, there are clever horses, grumpy horses, and even horses with a sense of humor. Those prone to humor will test you by finding new ways to escape from their stall when you least expect it.
If it is in your blood to love horses, you share your life with them. I braided my feelings into her mane and whispered my hopes and dreams into her ears on more than one occasion. This old barn is my sanctuary, a sheltered place where my life's true priorities are clear. Though I have to squeeze riding into my over hectic schedule I find those hours are stolen pleasures. It's not just about horses it’s about love, life, and learning.
As I prepare to leave, I look into her big black expressive eyes while her nostrils sniff around my hands looking for her goodbye peppermint treat, my hope is that she has many more years where I get to care for and love her. Every single day I look forward to coming back and giving my faithful friend more love than she has given me. As I embrace her warm neck, I kiss her soft nose goodbye and say “Thank you for loving me.”
The time I spend in their world fills my heart with a happiness, equal to that of children waking up on Christmas morning and seeing all their presents under the tree. So while I do not look forward to leaving her at the end of the day, I know that when I pull through the front gates tomorrow, it will be Christmas morning again and I can’t wait to see my gift.