In the ordinary days of tender care and meaningful companionship, Arianna, my chestnut, Morgan mare, grew old. People ask me, “How long does a horse live?” My response is, “Until they die.” There are variables connected with each horse and the longevity and quality of their lives.
This extraordinary horse graced my life with her presence for twenty-three years! Oh, how she taught me to get involved with life, even when life gets unbalanced.
She had been named Arianna before coming into my life. Unknown to the human, she gave this beautiful filly the name that means, “full of grace.” This mare lived up to her name. In the years we were together not one person came off of her back. She was so sensitive to each mount. If the person was unbalanced, she worked with them in a way they could learn and be safe; offering a dance card to a graceful, centered ride.
Morning chores were complete and all was well. On the agenda for the day was washing the white vinyl fence. That afternoon, Arianna walked up to the east fence and got my husband’s attention. She had access to a paddock, her stall in the barn with a fan, and pasture time. She got to choose. This was the geriatric care we offered her. My husband got my attention and I joined Arianna in the pasture at the fence. Her eyes were soft. She was peaceful. She also was dying. I asked her if she would walk with me. My intention was to go together to the barn. Slowly we walked. She carefully planted each hoof when crossing the one ditch that was before us. After crossing, she stopped. Face to face, eyes to eyes, breath to breath, I looked at her and said, “This is it, isn’t it? You’re dying.” You can see it coming, you can know some day in the back of your mind, yet, when it is right smack dab in the moment, it just seems surreal.
In that moment there was a silent equine language that flowed between us. I knew she had purposefully honored me with the deliberate choice to connect one more time. She blessed me with an intimate, tender “good bye.” I spoke some words to her and began praying. A memory surfaced in my mind. When she was in labor with her first foal she returned to me time and time again until I understood ‘that look.’ She was asking for prayer! When I said “Amen,” she walked gently from my presence and nibbled at some hay. She welcomed prayer!
Her hind right leg began to tremble and I sensed all her life force culminating together. She dropped to the ground and I dropped with her. She took her last breath.
I cried grateful, thankful, cleansing tears. Not one tear was of regret but gratitude, for this horse’s acceptance remains one of my earliest memories of belonging.
Arianna, full of grace, brought to me an understanding of acceptance and a freedom to love myself. Not once did she judge me or compare me to anyone or anything. She let me honestly know how I was at any given moment on my leadership and I welcomed her honesty!
Each horse had some time to come and say goodbye before her burial. She honored us, we honored them. Goodbyes make sense in the sorrow. Disappearing doesn’t.
Some people do not believe there are animals in heaven. I don’t see it that way. The book of Revelation speaks of “…heaven standing open and before me was a white horse, whose rider is faithful and true.”
When I cross over into heaven, I will hug my dear friend one more time. I will swing upon her back if that’s okay with her.
Thank you for leaving your hoof prints on my soul, Arianna. Thank you, Abba Father, for bringing her into my life. She has helped me to see You more clearly. She has brought an awareness of Christ in me, the hope of glory.