Sasha stood at the fence line along the deserted road without expectation. A chill wind drifted through the fresh spring air like a memorandum acknowledging the unease that lingered in her mind.
“Which way out?” she thought as she looked down at her chapped hands. She should have worn gloves. But she’d left in a hurry, a dash for air, a grasp at freedom. Her heart longed for peace, a cherished ideal that could afford her room to nourish her talents.
“You are trapped by your own thinking.” The therapist had thrown such concepts like darts. Some of them landed on fertile soil and some were too sharp to catch. Sasha repeated the cycle of digesting the information, then, without wings to fly off, fell back into the familiar routine. Each failure to stand up for herself, each concession to the allure of wishing things would get better sent her tumbling back down the steps to perceived helplessness.
Thirty-three horses stood still on the other side of the fence. In an attempt to focus, she’d counted them. They ranked in size from pony to draft. They all faced the same direction, toward the gate that opened to the catch pen, then the loading chute. The pasture belonged to the local livestock dealer known for buying privately and at auctions as a front man for processing plants, slaughterhouses, abattoirs.
The horses were waiting. They didn’t know what they were waiting for. They were just waiting. That was all there was to do. The hay they’d been given was all used up. The jostling for position in the pecking order was all done. They stood fathoms deep in dependence on human contrivance for their fate. The gate was the only way out.
The wind gusts settled and the earth exhaled a warming dampness. In the quiet Sasha felt a new yet somehow familiar peace. Her curtain of anxiety opened to reveal the presence of many streams of consciousness. Each horse had a history. Each had lived through countless moments of sensation, emotions, situations, expectation and disappointment. Each had been from somewhere else. Each had to adjust to a new place, new conditions and lack of care or attention, some of which might have come in the form of neglect, violence and abuse.
A wave of emptiness swept over Sasha. Beyond the turmoil in her mind lay a vastness waiting to be filled like a desert ready to receive rain. In that nothingness, floating like a leaf in the air searching for the ground, Sasha heard voices that made no sound. They were a cacophony of recounting, each one blending into the other, each one reliving and telling their story as if telling the story caused it to matter. They spoke with the soft innocence of children, the purity of love and hope for validation. Together they were the voice of knowing yet they were all asking, “Why?” The voices had no beginning and there was no end. Just like a stream that carries itself through an endless cycle of flow and change, there exist many more horses just like these all over the world sharing a consciousness, telling a story whether or not anyone listens. The collective babble was an affirmation to Sasha that they had lived in silence but had felt with all their hearts. They were real, imagined into life by some creative and divine force.
Overcome by emotion that was also real, Sasha turned away from the fence bursting with the duality of sorrow and joy. Nothing mattered now as much as hearing the voices for herself again and again wherever she could find them. The desert in her mind was now in bloom. It soaked up water from the well of inspiration. She had a purpose and her mission was to share the knowing with the world, perhaps to help others find it for themselves. The turmoil dissipated. She was free. She found herself within herself when she entered the void. Her courage rose to the surface. Her gate was open.
Those of us who have experienced this connection know precisely how hard it is to describe. Though we fill our lives with a constant stream of information and interactions, conversing with ourselves endlessly, reacting to every discourse and situation until we fall asleep at the end of the day, there are those shining moments of distilled energy that travel between us and a horse in our presence. Though they are fleeting, they are profound. Though they are informative, we cannot always act on the information. Though they must mean something to the horse, we are not always proficient in understanding the significance of what the horse is trying to tell us. I would like to believe that the horse chooses wisely when it feels the moment or person is right. But then again, horses may always be sending out signals whether anyone open to them is nearby or not.
In my case, these moments have been elusive and unplanned. Some were so mystifying that I actually looked around to see if someone else had spoken. In some cases, I’ve seen pictures of places I’ve never been and felt I was standing in the place myself. All of them happened in the presence of one or several horses. Sometimes the message is very to the point, very clear, as if it was important for the horse that I know some particular piece of information. Others seem random as if offering a scenario of where the horse may have come from, how it felt while running alongside of its mother. If I’m lucky enough, some are later verified pieces of the greater puzzle of the horse’s life.
So I have to ask myself, “Why me?” Or, “Is it just me?” Could this “window” to knowing be the key to why mankind has this unique fascination and ageless connection to horses so different from our relationship with other animals? Do we all see the window through our curtains but fail to open it? What is it that lies beneath that surface of longing? Why is it so fragile? Why is it here in an instant and gone in the next? Is it some wave length of energy yet to be identified? Horses are not preoccupied and motivated by ego, separation. Their needs are constant, ours are in flux. Do they sense when we are we closer to enlightenment, therefore more apt to become receivers? Are they on their own mission sent to help us set ego aside?
‘Sasha’ by Jennifer Canfield