Many years ago I had the opportunity to go on a trail ride through the mountains on a wonderful horse named Dolly. In my life, I had built up an unbelievable fear of horses, and I was very apprehensive about going across very narrow mountain passes on a horse. My fear of horses stemmed from visiting farms and riding stables where I was placed on the back of horses that I did not know. The horses reciprocated by being as freaked out as I was that someone would actually place me, a city raised greenhorn with no knowledge of horses on their back. I went on many hair raising rides, with the horse taking total control and desperately wanting this unknowing greenhorn off of them right now. I was dragged through bushes, run through fields, and totally unaccepted by these animals in their need to get back to a place where they were comfortable and happy. Back to their stables! So, actually, apprehensive is a mild word for what I was feeling at the moment I was to mount a horse and take an 18 mile ride across the mountain trail to spend four wondrous days in a remote bush camp in the mountains. I was totally paralyzed with fear!
The owner was a very experienced cowboy. We he realized the dilemma he had on his hands, he said, “I have one horse who is really gentle, her name is Dolly and she will get you there and back with no trouble at all”! ”She understands your fear and won’t let anything happen to you on the way”! He left, headed for the stable and brought back a huge horse which really left me quaking in my newly acquired boots. My 5’2” body could not see over the back of this horse, and he expected me to get on her and ride on steep mountain trails. Another fear quickly arose when I saw her. The fear of heights, how on earth would I get on her, sit way up there while I was on a narrow mountain path? At that time my whole physical body became paralyzed. My legs locked, my arms stiffened and I realized that there was absolutely no way that I was going to attempt such a ridiculous challenge. The trail boss knew what he was doing! Everyone else had mounted their horses, and I could feel the anticipation and excitement in the air. How could I possibly back out of this? I was in he middle of nowhere, everyone else was ready to go, I had no means to get back to town, and my only choice seemed to be to get on the horse and take the trip. I became very creative and decided the way around this fear would be to just walk and I would lead the horse. Dolly and I would be fine, I would load my few personal items onto the saddle, and she and I would enjoy our leisurely walk through the mountains. The trail boss, realized what as going on, and I attempted to manipulate him by saying, “don’t worry, we’ll be just fine”! At that time he reminded me of the bears, cougars and other wild animals that also lived on the mountain, and said that it was a long 18 mile walk, and if I chose to do this he would see me in two days. Well, he was another fear to add to my fear of horses and heights. Now it was bears and cougars! It was amazing how quickly I actually mounted Dolly, and began the trek through the mountains.
Once I got onto Dolly there was no way that I was going to get off. The mountain pass was really narrow and there was shale falling down the mountain as we progressed along the pass. Dolly was sure footed, and she seemed to know that my life and future depended on her every moment, every step along the path. Other riders had dismounted and were leading their horses across the ledges, not me! I was now totally frozen on the back of Dolly, my fear of horses, heights, bears and cougars totally intact and radiating from every pore in my body. Two or three hours later, we stopped by a mountain stream to have lunch. I attempted to get off of Dolly’s back and found that my legs were locked and two able bodied men offered me some assistance to get me down to the ground. The whole time, Dolly was patient, kind, and understanding. She looked at me and her eyes told me that she understood how I was feeling and wanted to reassure me that she knew what she was doing and would continue to take care of me until we reached our destination and that’s exactly what she did. Without my animal friend Dolly I never would have got into the camp.
Two days later, I went on a day ride with Dolly. I was feeling a lot more comfortable with her, and I decided it might be fun to head out into the woods with my kind and compassionate equine friend. We were hiking along a mountain stream, the air was fresh and alive, the scenery was totally awesome, and I was leading Dolly. We had to cross through a patch of entangled trees, and Dolly got stuck in a tangle of tree roots that resembled an X and O Game. She panicked, jumped out of them to free herself and her hoof landed on my left heel. I hollered, cried, removed my boot to make sure nothing was broken an then I looked over at Dolly. She was looking at me and the look and sense of compassion radiating from her was immense. In that instant I knew what compassion was all about. Dolly had taught me. She and I were joined through spirit! She put her head down, nudged me as if to say, I’m so sorry, get up on my back and I will take care of you again. I did, and she did not falter for the remainder of the trip with the compassion she radiated to me. We made it through the remainder of the trip, she walked me back down the mountain and she and I were totally connected spiritually through compassion and experience.
I realize today that Dolly was a great teacher, only because she was different from me. I could sense what she sensed, feel what she felt, and take direction from her because her realness, clarity and compassion were not clouded with my negative thoughts. She was genuine, unique and wonderful!
It amazes me today how experiences come into our lives to guide us. It is no accident we end up in situations to prepare us to move forward. Since my experience with Dolly I have been able to assist two very dear friends (horse whisperers) to set up programs to teach Life Skills through horses and help many to learn and grow with these four legged friends. We are all one!
In memory of my dear friend and mentor Dave! Blessings and Thank you!