Guest Author ~ Charlotte Roe
“Last week we put out a plea for equine Christmas Stories and happily, we received several straight away. The invitation is still open and today we share with you an original story from Charlotte Roe. Many thanks and keep the faith my friends.” ~ R.T.
I grew up loving and riding horses, but Noah was the first steed I was able to buy and care for as my own. He was nine years old when I found him, in poor health and dejected, at a ramshackle stable in Maryland. His strength returned in good time. A naturally gaited buckskin, he had a beautiful running walk and a rolling trot-canter. He was spunky; without special bidding he’d execute his own levade, pawing the air when the fire moved him. I named him Noah for his kind eyes and iron will. Before long, my employer moved my job to Ohio. I boarded Noah at a nearby ranch, where I learned he had a maternal streak. When one of the mares foaled, my gelding stuck by her side to defend the colt and babysit on call.
The herd leader was Sailor, a statuesque, middle aged Saddlebred who bossed Noah and everyone around, despite an old accident that had damaged his rear ligaments. When I bought a farm in eastern Ohio, the ranch owners gifted Sailor to me, cautioning me that he could be ridden to walk and trot, not canter. But with new fields to peruse at a leisurely pace and no need to rule his kingdom, Sailor healed completely. He and Noah bonded like braided horsehair.
One dark eve in December, I pulled into our driveway feeling blue. Seeing no lights at home turned a fist in my stomach: another ill omen in a marriage that had become a dance of strangers. Nothing to do but light the wood stove, feed the animals and dig in to my favorite book. So I mused.
Was I wrong. I felt a signal that punctured my daze. I could barely see Noah standing at attention by the fence, his head flag-high. His message drummed straight into my body: “COME NOW. SAILOR TROUBLE!” I left everything in the car and ducked through the fence. Noah’s next thought was an arrow: “JUMP ON. RIDE TO SAILOR.” I touched his withers to say, “I’m all yours.”
Noah could sometimes be tricky to catch, but he moved right against me and stood motionless while I mounted bareback and bridle-less from a low stump. I knit my hand in his mane. He swung around and galloped flat-out into the scrub woods beyond the first meadow. Sailor was standing three-legged in a small clearing, his right hock raised behind him. The leg was caught in a wild grapevine. He was drenched with sweat, shaking all over. With one eye swollen shut from fright, he looked like the horse of doom. Sailor let out a long sigh as we drew near. I spoke his name and stroked his side, quieting both of us.
Getting the vine disentangled was rough going. Noah and I galloped back to the barn for a wire cutter. Soon Sailor was free. I let the stiff-legged chieftain find his balance, then guided him very slowly back to the barn. The full moon lit our path. Noah stayed close. Inside the barn I rubbed Sailor down. His hock and stifle were sore to the touch, but he hungrily took his feed and water. His doom-eye was opening.
Within a few years, my carefully wrought architecture crumbled. My husband and I parted ways. An electrical fire brought down the stone house, sparing the barns and farm. My ex and I kept our friendship going, mainly through our love for the horses, dogs, and a cat who thought she was canine. Sailor and Noah stayed together until old age brought them down. I began a long stint of working overseas. In moments of danger or confusion, I’d recall how Noah commanded me to ride him in the dark tosave his friend. Nothing held back, no distraction, just his mind imprinting mine.
Looking back on those years, I see only beauty and great gifts. The clarity and power of a horse’s swift action helped me clear my own path free of inner thickets. In the moonshine, Noah had not only rescued his friend. He was showing me the way to the Ark.