By: Claire-Maree Charters

Animals are wonderful teachers; they are the mirrors to our soul. I once met a horse who did just that and changed my life.

About seven years ago, I followed my dream and love for horses and went out to work on a thoroughbred horse farm—raising foals to be the next racing legend. I excitedly arrived at this farm and was instantly disappointed. I was greeted by a gruff cowboy who made it very clear that I was not welcome. Instead of listening to my intuition, which told me to get back in my car and drive home to Sydney, I decided to ignore my feeling of angst, and I unpacked my car and moved into my new home.

My alarm went off at five the next morning. I excitedly jumped out of bed, ready to meet my new horse friends that worked on the farm. As I walked up to the stables, my heart sank because instead of being met by fellow horse enthusiasts, I had five tough men waiting for me. They greeted me with a gruff, no hello, no eye contact, and not even a slight smile. Instead, they just ordered me into the truck. My first day was awful—it was full of intimidation, yelling, and aggression. By the end of the week, I could see it was not going to get any better; it was very clear that no one wanted me here.

I found enough strength to come back for another week. Little did I know that this week was going to change my life.

As I started on my daily duties of feeding and watering the horses, I heard a lot of screaming and cursing in the paddock across from me. I looked up to see one of the male workers on the bike trying to catch one of the mares, but she would not have it. She was well known on the farm to be virtually impossible to catch. The paddock was twenty acres and had twenty horses in it—you needed a motorbike to be able to round up the horses to catch them.

As I was minding my own business, doing my duties for the day, I heard my name screamed across the paddock. “Claire, get over here now and catch this horse or else.” I was nervous at the thought of what “or else” meant. I made my way over to the paddock, feeling completely sick and vulnerable as to how was I supposed to catch this horse when I hadn’t been given a motorbike yet.

It was twenty acres, twenty horses, a screaming cowboy, and me. Seriously, how was I to catch the one mare who was the hardest to catch when I didn’t even have the right tools? 

I cautiously walked into the paddock and was greeted by the twenty horses, all staring at me, wondering what I was going to do next. Then I saw the mare I had to get. She was at the back of the herd with her foal; she was eyeing me off; she knew that I needed her. As I slowly approached her, I expected her to bolt, but she stood there gazing at me. I kept thinking that at any minute she’ll run, but she didn’t. I was about one meter away from her, and I gently put my hand out to stroke her nose and then grab her halter. I was expecting her to run, but she didn’t. In fact, she did the most amazing thing: she took a deep breath and stepped toward me—she gave herself to me. This was the hardest mare on the farm to catch, and in that moment, she just knew that I needed her. Once I had her halter, I gave her a warm stroke of appreciation. She took a deep sigh; her energy relaxed me and melted my heart. This was a moment, one of those selfless moments on behalf of the mare—she truly was a beautiful soul. I thanked her, and we walked together to the awaiting cowboy.

I said goodbye to her and the farm. I left that farm feeling empowered, knowing I was able to catch the one horse by hand that those tough cowboys had trouble catching on their motorbikes. That mare gave me a gift that day—she gave me strength, and she has never left my heart since.

The Life Lessons

1. Intent is more powerful than words. You may say or do all the right things, but if it doesn’t come from the heart, it means nothing. You may not know the right things to say, but if your intent is genuine, then it means the world.

2. Energy is everything. We may not speak the same language; however, I understand you through the energy you send. Give me time to understand. Take it slow, and give me the time and space to understand what it is that you want from me.

3. Trust in me. Trust that I will give you what you need; you just have to take the time to understand me. You may have a preconceived idea about what I may do, but it doesn’t mean I will do it. So, please, don’t judge me.

4. The next time you are mean to me, remember I am bigger than you. I could kick or strike you, but I choose not to because I understand that you are just trying to do your best with what you know.

5. The next time you scold me for being uncooperative or lazy, get curious about why I am like that. I am sure it is just because we have a misunderstanding. Let’s get clear about each other and peel back the layers slowly, ensuring that no misunderstandings happen.

6. When someone is having a bad day, help him/her.

7. I see you. I feel you. I hear you.

Has a pet or another animal taught you a life lesson? Please share.

Claire-Maree Charters is the founder of A Modern Zen Girl and Serene Surf and Yoga Retreats in Australia. Claire works to create a wholesome path to wellness through her writing and unique tours and retreats. Follow Claire on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter to receive holistic wellness tips.

*Photo by Heather Moreton-Abounader Photography.