As I walk through the barn door and my pony nickers when she sees me, as if I am her mother in the herd, that’s love. When we’re flying over a jump and all my trust lies in her and all hers in me, that’s love. It’s a special kind of love, a speechless love, a love that comes from caring, protecting, trusting and feeling, no words; it’s a connecting love. That’s what I believe in: the connecting love between humans and animals.
This connection, like a plant, takes time to grow and needs to be nurtured and taken care of; once it has grown, it blooms. It gives you someone to turn to when you need a friend and lets you spill your emotions on them. It teaches you an important lesson, how to love unconditionally. How to love when your horse steps on your big toe, when your dog ruins your favorite shoes, or when your cat tears up your antique furniture.
Vee, my pony, is the light of my life. I love her with all my heart and all my soul. Her nicker is the pinky-swear of a kindergartener promising to be best friends forever. Our connection is so strong we know each other, inside out and backwards. Vee recognizes, as I encourage her to gallop across the field, that I am confident with myself. I know that when her ears shoot up, and her breathing gets unsteady, she is scared. She needs me to reassure her by sitting tall in my saddle, looking straight ahead, urging her on with my voice and legs. The few times I sit on the riding ring ground dusty from falling off she turns back and puts her nuzzle on me, saying sorry. We share a secret, a secret that will never be spoken in words; it’s the secret of our connection. The secret of how she puts her soft face on my chest for me to hug it afterwards. The secret of her joyously trotting over to see me as I enter her paddock, to bring her into the barn. Everyone’s secret is different because people are different and so are animals. For instance, my connection is different with my dog than it is with my pony because they are different animals and have different personalities. One thing stays the same though, that strong feeling that you get inside because you know you have someone who knows and loves you any day, anytime.
This bond of love is something that everyone should experience, because it is an exceptionally beautiful thing that can be carried with a person for the rest of his or her life. A bond of such beauty should never fade, it should live forever. I believe in the unconditional love of a human and animal, I believe in the secret they share. I believe in the connecting love between humans and animals. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.