I refuse to give sway
to the notion that I am living in a fantasy land. I may be many things, but naive isn't one of them.
It's the night before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the event that shook Americans to the core, and in many ways brought the world together as people from all four corners of the globe extended sympathy, empathy and assistance.
While I am not suggesting that we sweep the events of that day under the rug, or forget that many lives of many good people were lost on that day--I am coming out and saying that I believe that the equine world has something to offer, even tonight.
During the last few years, I've come to know many people who love horses. The fact that someone is obsessively in love with the equine species is qualification enough for me. My world view is very simple, really: I love people who love horses.
(Yes, of course, I love some other people, those who either don't get it [the horse-loving thing], or who've just not-yet met a horse.) But the majority of those whom I consider to be a friend are those who, at some point in their lives, looked a horse in the eye, saw the soul of that being--and shivered in recognition of something that they'd been missing before the encounter.
Eyes are the windows of the soul, and horses (as we know) are the most soulful beings on the planet. My personal belief is that God created horses with the intention that they serve as metaphor, a symbol of God's own power, glory, beauty, strength and ability to love unconditionally.
The love of The Horse transcends human cultural constructs: horses speak one language, and they try very hard to help people to understand. The whinney sounds the same--and means the same--whether the human in the exchange speaks English, Urdu, German, Arabic, French, Swedish, Spanish, Italian or Japanese.. The nicker, meaning, "Come here...I'm content, and want to share this with you"--sounds like "Huh-huh-huh" everywhere it is heard.
Horses know no religion. They have no religious right, left or center. They have no lunatic fringe, no rebels (with or without a cause). They don't vote, and wouldn't even if they had thumbs. Such human concerns as politics are but silliness to a being that is so far above it all.
They hold jobs, but only those assigned to them by the people in their spheres. They don't shop, or care about the antics of "celebrities." Fame doesn't impress them, even when there is genuine greatness among their own ranks. They don't watch reality TV shows, and wouldn't believe that Snooki has a book on the New York Times' Best Seller List, even if they did watch TV.
Horses are The Great Equalizers. They judge people not by what we wear, or do for a job, or where we worship. They meet a human, give 'em a sniff, and decide from there whether that person is predator or friend. Simple, to-the-point and efficient.
When a horse loves you, s/he loves you all the way. 'Til death do us part. A horse will give and give--how many people do we know who offer this same fidelity?
Horses are also The Great Unifiers: precisely because they are unconcerned with human activities, they are open to loving--and being loved-by--people of every color, creed and economic status.
A man in Finland loves a horse. A woman in Japan--she loves a horse. Men, women, children all over the world, speaking virtually every language known--love horses.
Sure, not all people love horses. If they did, horse slaughter wouldn't exist, and the word, "cruelty" would vanish from all languages.
But those of us who do love horses--well, we know the lingua franca. We may not nicker when we're contented, but we know the lingo of the mighty equine. And we recognize therefore that, like music--Horse knows no boundaries.
Because of my affection for horses, I have friends in many countries. Many adhere to religions other than mine, or live in economic situations to which I can't relate.
But we come together via email, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn and in person because we all know how to smile, and talk excitedly about our shared passion for The Horse. It started with the horse, and becomes a great, roundtable discussion for everything else that concerns us.
Because of The Horse, I have friends in Iraq, Dubai, Qatar, Jordan, Australia, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Russia, Argentina, Spain, Germany, England, Scotland, Poland, France and yes, the United States. My friends are Muslim, Christian, Hindi, agnostic, Sikh, Buddhist and Jewish.
As we extend our hands to pat a horse, our digits touch and we feel the warmth of that moment. Just like the whinney and music, smiles transcend differences--we share that knowing smile--the insider's wink, the secret handshake--of those who know and love horses--we are opening ourselves to new experiences, new loves, new experiences.
And, one person, one horse at a time--quietly we are working toward peace.
There will always be those for whom peace is not possible, or desirable. For whatever reasons--fear, usually, or greed--the path to peace is just not on their radar.
But for those of us who know, from the purest of places, how to love a horse--peace is always possible. One of my dearest friends is a man from Iraq, whom I'd never have met had it not been for the Arabian horse. A brilliant, intellectually astute, spiritual, kind gentleman, his friendship is a gift from God. And from The Horse, the love for which fills both our hearts. It is at that place--the heart of The Horse--that we met, and became colleagues first, then friends.
There are many who will never understand how a Christian woman who's serious about her faith and a devout Muslim man could ever be colleagues--never mind, become friends.
I can regale you with tales of other relationships with which I am blessed: sparkling souls with whom I had but one thing in common, at first: The Horse. From there, we gave each other a chance, and now see the fruits of those chances, growing.
* There's the beautiful young woman in Dubai, who's as close to being my daughter as I've ever had. She's a brilliant horseman and a videographer, and I love watching her grow and morph into a fine woman.
* Or my other friend in Iraq, an equine veterinarian for whom I pray also every day. His kindness is felt half-way around the world.
* The beautiful, kind horsewoman/royal, who serves as an example of intercultural understanding for everyone whose lives she touches--her love for humans and all animals is almost heartbreaking.
* The young men and women from Jordan, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Tunisia--who sweetly wear their hearts on their sleeves, and share poetry and thoughts about the Meaning of Life.
* My brilliant horseman/ publisher/writer/PR genius friend from Sweden, who hooked me up with the most exciting project of my Life.
* Bill from New York, who's now in Hong Kong and blessing their horse racing scene with his insight and savvy.
* Susan and scores of others in the UK.
* Carmel, the author whose literary stars are Arabian horses--and the other great women in Oz.
The list goes on and on, and not because I'm anything special. The list is large because of the lure, the allure, of The Horse. Every day I thank God for these friends and allies--and I know that, if I can befriend such fascinating, good people--then anyone can make similar connections via the Internet and shared affection for the equine species.
People who don't understand our connections with those so different from ourselves also don't understand the power, the draw of The Horse.
Those who do know and love The Horse--well, you get it. You, too, have loved ones of every walk of life, from all over the world. A blue ribbon, or a win/place/show--is the same in every language. The gentle nuzzle of a horse's velvety nose feels the same in Iceland as it does in South Africa. You get it. I get it. Perhaps, one person, one horse at a time--we can help the rest of the world--to get it.
I'm not naive, I'm not a dreamer. I'm a realist, and like all horsepeople, I know that horses are the most-real of living creatures. We who speak The Language of Horse can help those whose spirits are broken, for whom fear outweighs the lure of peace. (We know how a horse can mend a human soul, heal a broken heart: imagine if everyone, everywhere experienced the therapy that's available to them in exchange for a pat on the nose.)
We have in The Horse the perfect example: a being who treads the space between this physical world and the heavenly realms, whose seemingly-quiet demeanor belies the strength and power given him by the Almighty, Himself. The Horse is no mere animal--our beloveds are a reminder that purity of intention, and genuine goodness do exist--can exist. All that we mere mortal, fallible humans need do is tune in to that great equine example, and do likewise.
The Horse is a herd animal--and we humans who populate its Earth can be members of the herd--if, as individuals, we can go within, become quiet, and follow the leader.
World peace is only one equicentric conversation away, if one-by-one we join in the silent conversation, our eyes on the heavenly prize that awaits.
I wish you all a peaceful September 11th. And 12th. And every day thereafter.
"The wind of Heaven is that which blows through a horse's ears."
-- Bedouin proverb