This I Believe

Stephanie - San Diego, California
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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The Power of The Imagination Lies Within Me

By Stephanie Castagnet

I believe that there is something innate in human beings that inspires us to overcome adversity and hardship. It is something that is unique to every individual. It is shaped by the surrounding world. It has a power that is charged by the mind and released by the senses. It is the power of the imagination, and it has been valuable to me throughout my life.

When I was sixteen years old, a horse riding accident forever changed my outlook on life. I have had a passion for horses since I was a little girl. I would sit for hours and watch them run in the green fields and white sandy shores of Panama. It would transport me to a world of freedom and peace. In times of hardship, I would close my eyes and imagine the horses running freely with the warm salty air lightly blowing across my brow, and everything was perfect.

After many years trying to convince my parents that riding a horse was not just a childhood fantasy, but something I really wanted to pursue, they finally budged and enrolled me in lessons. My dream came true. I started competing in less than a year. After five years of riding and competing, they bought me a horse. But this was not just any horse; this was a white Arabian horse with a long mane and tail; the horse that I had always imagined. I fell in love. He was a dream come true.

In 2001 I made the finals for the national title. Despite the heavy rainfall that day, the contest was to proceed. We were but a mere three jumps away from the finish line, when it happened. My horse stepped in a hole and tripped, throwing me forward over his head. As I hit the mud, he rolled over on top of me, his enormous weight pushing me into the mud with such force that the excruciating pain quickly turned into darkness. When I came to, I could feel the rain pouring over me. I could hear distant sirens and the voice of my mom approaching. Screaming pain set in.

But something happened there that made my pain fade away. I watched my horse approached, stand next to me and nudge me with his nose to make sure I was alright. He didn’t leave my side. I just closed my eyes with my hands on his muzzle, and imagined us running together in those mystical green fields.

Though my horse has been gone for many years, I am still inspired by his memory. Moving here from Panama to study, I have faced many challenges. Leaving family and friends and adapting to a new culture has at times put pressure on me that seemed unbearable. But whenever life has seemed it’s bleakest, I remember that competition long ago. I feel my horse standing over me, nudging me with his soft muzzle, just like he did that night. I know then that I can accomplish anything.