Life’s lessons come from many sources and in many guises. For the main part, my life lessons are hairy, have four legs and come in the form of a horse. My horses have presented me with many challenges over the years, the most serious of which have produced the deepest and most lasting shifts in both consciousness and gratitude for what I have. I have learnt to value their innate wisdom, I have learnt to listen and I have learnt to trust myself in my interaction with them. I have learnt to suspend my disbelief in miracles and have been happy to let go of any human arrogance that I am dealing with a lesser creature. In fact, the opposite often seems entirely appropriate.
One of the most profound and frightening of my lessons happened on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon last year when I was home alone. Earlier in the day we had transferred our horses into the paddock around the house. The fact that one side under the veranda of our modern Queenslander remained open did not give me undue concern. There was a water tank to go under the veranda, the tank stand was built but the tank not yet installed. While I know horses are curious, the space was dark, the ceiling low and the step up, I would have thought, off putting.
Unfortunately I was wrong.
When I first heard the commotion I thought one of the horses had been ‘forced’ against the timber slats under the veranda. By the time I got out the door I could hear the noise was coming from UNDER our guest pavilion. Despite a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach I resisted the obvious conclusion. Only when I finally rounded the corner and looked in under the house was my hopeful denial shattered. My heart sank as I saw that my Arabian mare, Summer, was trapped inside. Doubtless, curiosity had led her under the house in the first place, but on realizing this was not where she wanted to be, Summer had only turned 90 degrees, saw the light through the slats at the back of the pavilion and thought this was the way out. She had ignored the ceiling getting lower as the slope of the ground took more and more height away from her and, finally, forced to her knees, had continued to shimmy up the slope. She pushed past the air conditioning unit and waste pipes and was wedged at the back of the pavilion in a 3 foot space, lying down, legs folded under her, with her ears touching the ‘ceiling’. Under different circumstances the sight of her sitting like a giant dog under the house may have struck me as humorous, but not today.
My immediate thought was “You’re dead”, I will never get you out alive. I checked she wasn’t badly injured and as she looked at me calmly and helplessly my heart made the decision my mind hadn’t allowed for. I reassured her I would get her out of there and from that instant failure was not an option.
I left her and phoned the vet and my partner, then returned to sit with her and wait. Imagine how challenging this predicament was for her. If she had succumbed to panic she could easily have killed herself, but she remained unbelievably calm. I stroked her and told her how beautiful she was and how much I loved her and how very glad I was that she had come into my life.
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