Life doesn’t always unfold the way we expect.
One door opens, another one closes, and over time we look back and usually we understand why things unfolded in the way they did, and the gifts they brought.
But have you ever been absolutely certain your life is meant to take you along one path, and you see your future clearly outlined before you….and suddenly, the whole world pivots on its axis and you end up in a completely different Universe to the one you expected?
It’s a very disconcerting experience, like moving against gravity, and it leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
I had this happen in 2012. But to tell you the story, I need to go back much further than this…
I was born in the Chinese Year of the Horse and have always had deep connection with horses.
As I watch their wild, free spirits, their power and their grace, I’m reminded of the untamed Giants that live within us all.
At age 16, all of my pocket money went into horse-riding adventures. I was fearless and would tackle any horse that was offered. And that’s how I met “Anaconda”.
Anaconda was as wild as the Wild West, and staying on his back took a fair measure of skill. But one day, he reached a tipping point from too many careless humans yanking on his bit and trying to dominate him, and he soured and became the first horse to knock me off his back.
He quite literally ran me up against a tree at full gallop. I came off at such speed that my poor father spent hours with me at the doctor’s clinic, as every piece of gravel was carefully picked from my back.
This experience dinted my confidence but not my passion for horses. I continued riding, and I earned every medal that existed for the most creative ways of coming off a horse.
I mastered the art of going straight over the handlebars - a horse would stop dead just before a jump, and I’d transform into a Cirque du Soleil performer, leaping through the air like a spectacular flying jellyfish.
I learned how to inelegantly bounce off a horse’s back while riding bareback. I even had a horse lose its mind while I was cattle mustering, and I narrowly missed impaling myself on a tree stump as I hit the ground, landing myself in hospital for a few days.
Eventually, fear (or perhaps practicality) got the better of me, and I decided to love horses from the ground rather than from their back.
I switched from rider to equine therapist, and began exploring the wonderful impact that essential oils have on the physical wellbeing and the emotions of horses. I particularly loved Sacred Frankincense and Geranium oil. I used this combination on horses that were traumatised and needed calming, and I used it just for fun as a way to say “Hi!” to a horse.
The mixture of Sacred Frankincense and Geranium oil is manna to a horse’s senses. Offering these two oils to a horse is like offering the most exquisite white rose to a beautiful Goddess.
I still remember visiting an Arabian stud just outside Dubai in 2013. I walked into the stables and put a drop of each oil on my palm and offered my palm to the first horse to smell. Well, it didn’t just smell it, it licked my hands like a lollypop! And then I went to the next horse, and it did the same, and the next….and I repeated this with at least 15 or 16 different horses, each with the same result.
But that same year, something changed in me. I felt a spark ignite inside of me, and I yearned to get onto horseback again. I shared my dream with a new-found friend. She had many beautiful horses on her property, and I still remember how her eyes lit up as we spoke.
“I know what horse will suit you!” she declared. “It’s Manny!”
Manny was a stunning black ex-Emirates racehorse who was destined to become dog food when he’d underperformed on the racetrack. He was a magnificent horse, in both body and Spirit, and some caring Souls couldn’t bear to see him meet that fate, so he’d come to my friend’s property as a rescue horse.
My friend had dreamed of him ever since she was a small child. She’d had this dream over and over again – this exact horse, these exact markings. Her Soul and his were intertwined like night and day, and they were destined to meet in this lifetime.
Yet once he actually appeared in her life, she found herself unable to “be” with him. Whether it was the power of their connection or his intense need for her affection, I’m not sure. But she found every reason not to work with him, and instead found a newer, younger horse to bond with and ride.
Manny was a King’s horse with a Warrior’s Spirit, and being left in a paddock was a slow death to him. The light went out of his eyes, and when I met him in 2013, he was a very sad horse.
I did one small thing that was so easy for me to give, and so powerful for him to receive. I saw him. I saw his beauty, his power, his Spirit, and I loved him and bonded with him. And he felt it, and it gave him life again.
To watch this sad horse lift his head when I called, to watch his pride at being noticed, to see him strut his stuff as we wandered to the stables so I could brush his coat – it was like he was a race horse all over again.
It didn’t matter that it was just the two of us and the birds who were watching. He might as well have had a thousand adoring eyes on him in that moment, he was so proud to be seen and loved.
And isn’t that what we all yearn for - to have someone see behind our many masks, and to love us for who we are?
From the moment I met him, it was love at first sight. I knew we had an amazing path ahead, and the opportunity to heal each other’s wounds.
We were three months into our journey together when my friend dropped the bomb shell. She and her husband had decided to move interstate, and Manny was to be sold.
After a night of deep soul searching, I made the decision to buy Manny. That might have seemed like the only possible choice, however Manny was a handful. He needed attention and human contact. Bringing him to live with me would mean leaving my beautiful home that I cherished and moving onto a property where he could be close to me. It would mean scaling back on my travels, and mastering a horse that held the power of Apollo and was far beyond my present riding capabilities.
All of this I was willing to do. My life was about to change, and Manny was the catalyst.
But this was one of those times when the earth suddenly shifted beneath my feet, and I found myself in an alternate Universe.
It was a week after I had said yes to buying Manny. The phone rang, and it was my friend. Manny was sick with a bad case of diarrhoea. Would I mind coming over?
When I arrived, Manny was standing in his stall, having bouts of watery diarrhoea. I did what I do best - I brushed him and loved on him. I whispered into his ears about how beautiful he was, and how much I loved and appreciated him.
I anointed him with oils to help raise his spirits, and when I was tired from standing, I crouched in the corner of his stall and he came over and started kissing my fringe with his lips.
It was a beautiful, heart-warming moment. But I was curious why he was sick, and asked my friend what had happened.
“Yesterday I came up to him in the paddock,” she said, “And his Spirit spoke to me, and asked me why I couldn’t love him. And I told him that I just couldn’t. And then today the diarrhoea started.”
I went home that night knowing he’d be ok, because we were meant to be together on this journey of life. But the next morning at 7am, I received one of the saddest phone calls of my life. Manny was dead.
After my friend had spoken to his Spirit and told him she just couldn’t be with him, Manny had chosen to commit suicide.
He’d walked back into the paddock, and for the first time in the year or more he’d been in that paddock, he chewed on a treated pine post. These posts are treated with arsenic, and so he’d chosen death by poisoning.
His body was dying, and there was no chance of recovery. The Vet was called, and as his body weakened from the poison, he was euthanised.
Beautiful Manny had grown his wings and flown to the other side.
I was left with a hole in my heart that held the shape of a beautiful black horse. And ever since, I’ve harboured this sense that something was wrong about this ending.
I was so certain that our path lay together, and that we were here to heal each other. Why had my love not been enough for him? Why had he chosen to die rather than journey on with me?
It was a month ago that I finally saw the truth of what had happened, and the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle fell into place.
Catch me next week for Part 2 of this story……