This is my summertime Cinderella story.
In May, just before summer officially began, a friend of my mom’s called out of the blue to say, ‘if you are looking for a horse, I’ve got one for sale.’ She and I decided to check it out in case it was a match for this young gal we both knew, because I wasn’t looking yet.
Mom and I drove the 7 miles over to where the horse was located, practically in our backyard. We pulled up a short caliche driveway to park near a large cabin style house nestled in a copse of hackberry trees.
I spotted a dark bay horse in the distance and began to head his way. The horse lifted his head from grazing, locked his gaze right into me and began walking straight to me, like a laser beam, as if greeting me after a long absence. Whoa. I wasn’t expecting this.
I proceeded to greet him politely with an outstretched hand yet he bypassed my formal invitation, instead choosing to put his head into my chest, as if to say, you finally got here. I really wasn’t expecting this.
During the next hour I inspected him all over, rode him bareback all around with a bit-less bridle and tried to convince myself that this horse wasn’t for me. Later my mom would tell me that even though I tried to hide it, I simply lit up ‘like a Christmas tree.’ Dead give away. The heart knows before the mind has a clue of what’s really going on.
That evening after much hemming and hawing, sweating, hand wringing and wondering if this was really ‘it’ and was I ‘really ready’ to take on another horse; I called the woman to say yes, I wanted to buy. Silence. “Oh. Well. We just decided that maybe we didn’t give him enough of a chance. He’s not for sale anymore.” Just like that.
It became clear to me that I had been observed that day and changed their minds because they thought that perhaps they too, could engage with the horse like I had; thinking he just needed ‘a little more time.’ To say I was crushed would be the understatement of the year.
Even in that short hour, I had already re-named him. They had said his name was Big Charlie. What the heck kind of name was Big Charlie for an off the track Thoroughbred racehorse? I guess it wouldn’t matter as he wasn’t for me. I had to move on.
Five days later, two things happened on the same day. My sister and her wife competed in and completed an Iron Man race and as I celebrated my birthday from the sidelines cheering them on to their 15 hour and 11 minute finish, I knew that my wish for ‘a horse for my birthday’ wasn’t coming true. Although an unrelated seed would come to sprout this summer from this day…(see my blog 10 Months til Race Day)
One week into my sabbatical on my self imposed skeleton work schedule, stewing over ‘what am I really supposed to be doing with all this space and time I just created’, I was re-reading one of my favorite books, “I Will Not Die an Unlived Life” by Dawna Markova. As always I was enthralled and inspired with her idea of purpose. She wrote about how many of us are on the hunt for our purpose in life and how to find it. She went further to say that ‘we don’t discover our purpose. We simply create the space in our life and it finds us.’
The next day, I found myself announcing out loud to the Universe with several persons in my company, “Universe, I am ready NOW. Place whatever horse or purpose you would like me to have and receive into my lap NOW. Thank You.”
Three hours later the woman with the horse called. ‘Please come as soon as possible to pick up Big Charlie. We don’t know what to do with him. He’s yours.’
And just like that I was gifted a stunning 16 hand bay Thoroughbred gelding with long black mane and tail, black legs with two white socks and a small white mark the shape of a fingernail moon on the side of his forehead.
One more time, back up the caliche driveway, this time with the horse trailer and a blue halter in hand; the stunning creature greeted me the same as before as if to say, thank god you finally came back. (I gleaned he had actually been misbehaving since I had seen him last.)
I answered him by calling him by the name that came into my heart the moment I first saw him; ‘Mission, I am taking you home.’ Loving also, that a ‘mission’ is not only a purpose but also a place of refuge and safe haven. So he is the Mission of my heart come home.
Cinderella Epilogue ~ for true
All racehorses are tattooed under the upper lip and Mission’s was recorded on some paperwork that came with him. Upon investigation I soon discovered that this tattoo was incomplete and therefore incorrect, making him untraceable. Apparently no one had ever cared enough to look deeper into his history before me. So several weeks after Mission came home, when we had the vet out for the farm call for the horses yearly inoculations and check ups, I asked him if he could check under Mission’s lip and read me the tattoo. He did.
Not that I am a fan of horse racing; I am not, (in fact I believe it ought to be abolished immediately due to the damage inflicted on these horses at such a tender age) however, what I discovered blew me away.
For those of you who don’t know, the Triple Crown is the most elusive prize a Thoroughbred racehorse can achieve. It is a grueling series of three races that has only been attained and won by 12 horses in the entire history of horse racing. Turns out my horse is a grandson of not one, not two but three Triple Crown winners: Secretariat, Seattle Slew and War Admiral. Its right there in paper.
So, my gift of a backyard unknown rescue horse with no history, who is covered on both sides with old scars from who knows what, has got a bloodline of the very finest of fine thoroughbreds of all time. Wow. You never know what will literally fall into your lap; all we must do, is ask.
Mission will never have to step onto another track in his lifetime and though he found himself discarded time after time; his incredible Thoroughbred heart led him all the way to a safe haven, straight to my heart, where his worth exceeds the value of any old Triple Crown.