During the early end of my teenage years I developed an affinity with horses. I was a lonely young girl with very few friends, and I spent most of my time reading and writing. However, at some point I was given a second hand bicycle, and I frequently cycled the mile or so to a large field on the outskirts of my village to see the horses who lived there. They seemed to recognise me, trotting over to the gate as soon as I appeared, eating grass from my outstretched palm. I was an avid reader of the magazine ‘Horse and Pony’ and had posters all over my bedroom wall.
Not long after this I asked my mum for riding lessons. She was usually happy to do whatever I wanted as long as it didn’t involve dealing with emotions. Sure enough, she agreed. She and my cousin who was around quite a lot at the time (cousin is a whole other issue) drove me to the local riding school and waited while I had my lesson. The first few were wonderful. I rode a palomino called Tilly and a grey called Cobweb. Occasionally I rode a larger chestnut called Lacey.
Only the second time I rode Lacey, disaster happened. She was temperamental and my nervous excited energy was probably too much for her. I was pulling at the bit and she took off. I only remember screaming and gripping onto the saddle as she galloped through the field at the back of the riding school. Finally, she charged through the stables where several instructors, including mine (not sure where she had even gone?!) managed to calm her down. I slid off the pony and down onto my knees. No one could believe I’d hung on. Sheer willpower I suppose.
My mum and cousin were still waiting in the car. They had seen everything. As I climbed in the back, my instructor looked through the window and said ‘I don’t know how you didn’t fall off, well done.’ My mum and cousin just looked at her. They didn’t say anything. I didn’t talk about it. But we all knew I wouldn’t be going back.
As frightening as that experience was, I saw something in those horses that I didn’t realise I had; the wildness and beauty of my own soul. I could envisage myself living in the field where I first made friends with those beautiful beings. I longed for the simplicity of such a life. To be honest, I still do.
As an adult I find it painful to talk about horses, not because of the experience at the stables but something I read about in the paper a few years ago which has stayed with me. I’m not going to write it here because it’s too painful to even do that, plus I wouldn’t want to inflict it on anyone else, but suffice to say it involves extreme suffering and cruelty, and there was a photo, which is even worse. It affected me so deeply that to this day I struggle to see a picture of a horse without thinking about what I read. I even wake up during the night sometimes thinking about it.
I am writing this post today to connect with the beauty that horses symbolised in my childhood; their innocence, purity, grace, as well as their power and majesticity, that made me feel at home in ways I didn’t with my blood family. I knew their hearts and mine were ultimately the same. Even Lacey, bless her, who was probably scared witless of me poking her about and longing to break free.
As souls, we all want to break free. We long to live in love, free of cruelty and suffering. Despite the sadness in the world, we each have the capacity to remember our true nature – beautiful, wild, and free.