The black stallion beneath me tossed his head and gazed over the rocky outcropping. Forty feet below a shallow pool of water glittered with pink and orange diamonds reflecting from the fading sunset. At least from my vantage the water appeared to be shallow. My daughter and son, only three and seven respectively, watched from a safe distance with little concern. They knew I had ridden horses from the time I was a young girl. Surely the agitated stallion was within my means of control.
He was not.
The horse was part of a trail ride herd, and not known to me. The kids and I had separated from the rest of the trail riders during a severe and unexpected storm. Now in the slowly fading daylight each sound echoed a warning I chose to ignore. The tooled saddle leather creaked as the stallion danced in tiny steps on the slippery rock. He wanted to lunge forward badly and pawed the granite in frustration. “Easy boy, easy.” I patted his shoulder and tried to rein him in, but he fought the bit. If only I could turn him around, maybe we’d be alright. His nose was almost touching my knee when I felt his center of balance shift to his muscled hind quarters. With a powerful motion we launched into nothingness. My stomach lifted as we made our free fall to the water below. “The kids,” I thought. “What will happen to my kids?”
I woke before the landing—and presumably my death. Only heaviness and heart pounding greeted me as I reviewed the dream in the darkness of night. What the heck? I love horses. Why the doom and gloom of the dream?
Lately I’ve been having many similar dreams involving animals and death. Sometimes the death is mine, sometimes it is theirs, and sometimes I am the cause of another human’s death as I watch helplessly. Last night I dreamt I was watching a pregnant woman ride a spirited Paso Fino mare. Just as I was wondering if she should be riding at her late stage of pregnancy the horse saw me standing near the fence and spooked. The woman lost control and her balance. She was thrown belly first against a large oak tree. I screamed, “Nooo!” as she crumpled to the ground. In my dream I sobbed uncontrollably. How could I ever make it right?
I’m no psychologist, but the Universe is trying to tell me something.
What mystifies me even more is that I have always felt a bond with animals. I look at them as companion spirits and revel in their personalities and lessons. Last summer when I was in Tibet our group was warned about the wild dogs living around towns. It was suggested we carry a few stones in our pockets in case we had to fend off one or two as we explored the area.
One day five of us “discovered” a remote small town with a trail leading up into the hills. We decided to see where the trail took us but as individual interests took hold we separated rather quickly. I was enjoying the myriad of photography opportunities when I noted a medium sized dog watching me. He was scruffy and appeared wildly aloof. When I moved he moved also, but maintained his distance. Should I find some rocks? Something in me said, “No,” he meant no harm. As I continued on the path the dog stayed within sight.
Later as I descended the trail back towards the small town two large and aggressive dogs ran at me. Their growls and snapping jaws meant harm. Looking about I could see no easily obtainable rocks or ways to fend them off.
As if on cue the dog who had been watching me all afternoon appeared. To my amazement, and despite his much smaller size, he blocked the two attacking dogs. Bristling and snarling he refused to let them get close to me, and I was able to make my way to safety. When I turned back to see if he was okay the other two dogs were ambling off looking for new targets. My mystery dog was gone. Vanished. As I sighed my gratitude I kept thinking he had to have been some sort of angel dog. It was all too perfect, too clear, that he meant to protect me from the start. I felt loved, and loved him back.
Some people think dreams are nonsensical mishmashes of daily events infused with subconscious remnants, and some people–like me–feel they are worth review. I believe we are able to learn from our dreams, but interpretation becomes tricky. Are my dream animals trying to protect me, or to warn me away, from some upcoming event like the actual dog in Tibet? I don’t know. But for now I will trust that I am loved. Come what may, my gratitude endures.