When I am on a se­cluded trail at the back of the woods, I feel as if my beloved mare has not en­tirely left this world.

EQUUS - - Equus - By Ofelia Ravelo Lim

A touch of magic

In the woods at the back of my land is a sec­tion of trail I call Tran­quil­ity. The path here fol­lows an old roadbed lined with wild flow­ers and teem­ing with moss. Em­bank­ments on ei­ther side rise high above shoul­der level and are drip­ping with a va­ri­ety of ferns. An un­der­ground spring nearby keeps the air damp and misty. The place al­ways gives you the feel­ing that you are not alone, but it is not eerie.

Cas­sara, my black Ara­bian mare, was a fiery sort, but she was calm and con­fi­dent un­der sad­dle. This sec­tion of trail, how­ever, awak­ened her fires, and she would al­ways stop and raise her head upon en­ter­ing. She opened her nos­trils to blow and look up at the trees. She danced on her toes and jigged and stopped again as if to lis­ten.

What was she think­ing? What did she see? Why did her ears dart back and forth, as if hear­ing a dif­fer­ent wave­length re­served only for fairies? I nei­ther saw nor heard any­thing un­usual. All I could do was sit and wait un­til she’d re­laxed enough to walk for­ward. She al­ways passed through the spot with her neck arched, but not in a spooky way, and I was not afraid. I think she en­joyed the cool­ness and breeze in her mane.

Cas­sara was a great-grand­daugh­ter of Cass Ole, the Ara­bian who starred in the movie The Black Stal­lion. She car­ried her an­ces­tor’s spirit, in­tel­li­gence and kind­ness. When I bought her, she had not been trained to sad­dle and I was only able to lead her. I was an in­ex­pe­ri­enced rider, and to­gether we taught each other the sub­tlety of horse­man­ship and learned to un­der­stand one an­other. It was not al­ways easy, and I had the bumps to prove it.

Over time our bond grew tight and true, and she had only to whinny at the gate for me to let her out of the pas­ture. I of­ten let her graze with­out a hal­ter or other re­straint be­cause she never wan­dered off or showed any in­ter­est in be­ing with the other horses. She re­sponded to my voice, and while I was do­ing barn chores, she kept her at­ten­tion on me. Cas­sara taught the other horses how to come to the barn when called and she was the sen­try who warned them of an in­truder in the pas­ture.

I re­mem­ber one par­tic­u­lar trail ride where she came to a stop and would not budge. The other horses had not no­ticed the coyote dig­ging into a rab­bit hole a few hun­dred feet away. I heeded her warn­ing and turned around---prob­a­bly sav­ing my dogs from a se­ri­ous con­fronta­tion!

There are so many things that made her spe­cial, but to me just the priv­i­lege of spend­ing 16 years with such a mag­nif­i­cent crea­ture was re­ward enough. I did not own her; it was more like she owned me. I was at­ten­tive to her needs, and I was hon­ored to be of ser­vice. Her in­tel­li­gence was end­lessly fas­ci­nat­ing, and it seemed she al­ways had some­thing new to teach me.

When she was gone, she left a huge, gap­ing hole in my heart. I have loved other horses, but none in­habit the far re­cesses of my mind like she does. I pre­fer to re­mem­ber her life and not dwell on her ab­sence.

Still, I feel Cas­sara has not van­ished en­tirely from this world. I like to be­lieve that she has joined the mys­ti­cal crea­tures who in­habit Tran­quil­ity trail. I sense her pres­ence and beauty there ev­ery time I pass through.

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