When I think of a hero, I envision someone who is strong and brave, graceful and spirited, bold and compassionate. I see someone who makes their own path, who doesn’t bow to a challenge, and who needed to work hard to build such unshakable faith. I imagine someone who is complex and an inspiration–and of course the embodiment of valour.
And when I envision a hero in such a way, I can’t help but also envision a horse.
I’ve loved horses for the better part of my life and am fortunate enough to have been riding for eight years now. I have had so many experiences that have changed my life and built me up as a person, just from interacting with or observing these beautiful creatures.
Horses are incredibly strong. You can see in their broad shoulders the power they possess, the ability to carry heavy loads, to travel great distances. It is a fearsome strength, but what makes it so incredible is that horses are such gentle animals. They spook at shadows, reflections, and plastic bags. They can feel your heartbeat when you’re riding and respond to it as if it was their own. And they have a special spot on their noses that’s softer than anywhere else. I am drawn to the sensitivity of horses and the powerful connection that can be made in a gentle touch or a quiet word. Though strong, they are soft, sympathetic to the world around them.
Horses are full of inspiring spirit. The grace and energy of a horse running in play is breathtaking. The ground trembles under the hooves of even one horse, and it goes right up your soles and into your heart. They’re an unstoppable force of pure soulful expression as they become one with the wind and become rulers of the earth.
Because I work on a farm and have been riding for eight years, I’m fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time with horses. We’ve become a team as I sit in the saddle and we both build confidence and trust. We’ve become friends as I spend a quiet moment stroking their noses. We’ve become fellow chasers of the wind as I watch them run from the other side of a fence.
I’ll never forget the day I went into work and the fields were shrouded in mist. The image of a horse standing silhouetted in the gloom, looking ghostly and beautiful, is one that seemed to have come from a dream. It makes me hope that when I die, my soul will become a horse just as ghostly and beautiful as that.
I’ve learned a lot about myself, just from being with horses. I’ve learned to trust my own capabilities in situations that scare me. Horses are unpredictable–I have to be observant and ready for anything. But because they spook so easily, I can’t be nervous. Riding has taught me to ground myself and find calmness, even in the face of fear.
And to be gentle. It’s only when you’re quiet and still that horses will speak to you, through their deep brown eyes with such thick lashes. I’ve learned how much can be said in silence, in compassion, in gentleness. I try to carry the peace with me wherever I go.
Horses have touched me deeply and I know that each one of them has within its soul the spirit of a hero. I am so thankful to have been able to meet so many of these souls. I hope that I can learn their strength and their sensitivity, and perhaps make my own soul into a heroic one some day.
What animal(s) do you think has the soul of a hero?
May you be of strength and sensitivity, and never forget the value of gentleness.