By Christi Wales, Accountant and Mother.
For her twelfth birthday, I took my daughter Dana to Judy Oldmeadow’s Morgan Horse Farm.
I never thought it’d be an amazing, life-changing day for me.
We began by bringing all the mares and foals to the round yard to see how they interacted with toys and us. Dana sat in the yard and the foals loved her, perhaps because she’s young too.
Judy and I noticed that one mare, Folie, was overprotective of her foal, Echo. The poor thing wanted to play, but Folie wouldn’t let him. So we joined Dana and I spent some time massaging Folie all over – which she loved. Before long, she let me near Echo and encouraged him to interact with me.
I held out my hand and let Echo toddle past me, just brushing his back to get him used to my touch. I then massaged some of the other mares. With three children myself, I figured they’d like their necks, backs and rumps massaged.
After a while, Folie was so relaxed that Echo was able to break away and play. It was a fantastic sight that I was proud to be part of. I kept massaging the mares, plus any foals that approached.
Then Tanjil decided that no other mare could have me.
I’d rub her and try to move on, but she’d come next to me, right near the other horse. Though she didn’t touch the horse, it knew she was boss and walked away.
At first I thought it was funny. Why did Tanjil want me to herself? She did it again and again with every other horse I tried to rub.
My hands were getting sore and Folie was giving her foal a chance to explore. So I decided to wait to see what happened. Well, little Echo headed in my direction with his mum’s full support – a fantastic breakthrough for both of them.
A bit later, Echo was hanging around so I gave him a rub and Tanjil just stood near me. I found it strange; had I done something wrong? Then Tanjil came and stood with her head right over me.
I started rubbing her neck thinking, ‘Why me? Was I was a strong leader? Did she feel I was a strong mother?’
Being a mother is hard. Sometimes I feel I don’t have the strength. But I find it and keep going. If I don’t, no-one else will do the things I must do to keep my family safe, together and running smoothly.
I don’t get a break from being leader of my herd. At times I hate being the one who has to pull rank, keep everyone in line and be tough to be kind in the long run.
At that moment my emotions overwhelmed me. With her fantastic intuition, Judy yelled out that the last time Tanjil had stood this way with her, it’d made her feel like everything was going to be OK.
I glanced at her and nodded; a huge lump in my throat. Then my tears flowed.
I looked at Tanjil and couldn’t believe what I saw. She was crying with me! Not just watery eyes; these were full tears, rolling down her face, one after another along with mine.
Was I delusional? No. This magnificent mare was helping me with my doubts as a mother. I thought then that maybe she also felt the pressure of being the leader who kept her herd in line.
Tanjil gave me what I never got from my mother. What I needed to know when I became a mother myself: I’m a good mum. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be OK. We can only do our best. We make mistakes, but that’s OK too.
I then thought that maybe Tanjil also needed reassurance that she was a great mum and leader. Because when I saw her with her foal and the herd, it was exactly how I felt.
I’ll never know if she felt my empathy. I’d not seen a miracle before, but that’s the only word I can use.
I have a horse named Major. When Judy took Dana and me to the rest of the herd, Major stayed with me while the other horses went to the car.
He was so affectionate. I was rubbing his body when he moved – uncomfortable with the slope. I thought he was going to walk away but he simply ambled to level ground and waited for me.
I hugged his neck and said I loved him, that he was a good boy and that I wished I could see him every day. As he wrapped his head around me, a tear rolled down his face.
It was very moving. I remembered that Major had lost his mum when very young. Maybe he perceived my feelings of abandonment.
Had I not experienced my miracle with Tanjil, I wouldn’t have thought a horse could cry.
Now I know they feel pain, sadness and love.