For all those who have
ever dreamed of having a horse as a friend.
By Amanda Stagnetto
Amy had been a very good girl, so her grandmother Joanna kept on telling
her and because of that she was going to get a great surprise, although
she was getting no clues and she wasn’t told when she was going to get it
either. So she went about her
chores of looking after the chickens in the yard and looking over her
shoulder every other second to see whether the surprise had already
arrived or not. She had been orphaned two
years ago at the age of 8 and had gone to live with her grandparents in
the horse country state of Wyoming which she loved much better than the
city where she had lived before.
Her grandfather Charlie,
had already made sure that he taught her how to ride and she had turned
out to be a natural, and when she wasn’t helping her grandmother around
the farmhouse she would love to go for a ride with Charlie on the two
mustangs that they had. One was called ‘Pepin’, a golden Palomino and the
other was called ‘Gata’, a dappled grey. Her grandfather lived for horses,
just like Amy, and had been taught how to ride by an American Indian when
he was about the same age as Amy. The Indian had been very strict with him
and for the first few months Charlie wasn’t even allowed to get up on a
horse. The Indian wanted him to learn how to be around horses. How to care
for them. How to understand them and know what they were thinking and
‘When you can feel that
you are at one with the animal is when you will be able to move with his
every movement and then riding will be no problem’. Said the Indian to
Charlie. And that was how it was and this was also the way that Charlie
had taught Amy. They both believed that it was far better to understand a
horse and become friends with him slowly than break him and his spirit in.
The horse then does what you want as he wants to please you rather than
doing it out of submission or fear. Later on in the day her grandfather
called her. ‘Amy, saddle up the horses
because I’m going to take you to show you something’. Amy had the horses
ready in a flash and once both mounted they set off for the woods that
were about a 10 minute ride away.
The woods were magical to
Amy. They were full of tall pine trees, streams flowing through and the
sunlight that shone down in between the trees would appear as rainbows due
to all the dew around. They were looking particularly enchanting this day
and Amy sensed that something special was going to happen. Suddenly
Charlie stopped ‘Amy, I want you to be perfectly still and very quiet
because what you are about to see is easily frightened’. Amy was so
nervous. What was she going to see and more importantly was she going to
be frightened herself! Charlie began to hum an
Indian chant in a voice that was almost a whisper and while he did so
Pepin and Gata twitched their ears backwards and forwards listening. There
was a rustle of the bushes in front of them.
‘Here he comes’ said
Charlie, and slowly out emerged the most beautiful creature that Amy had
ever seen. He was unlike any horse that she had ever seen. His coat was
the colour of bronze and his mane and tail silver. He was big and strong
with a delicate concave face that had hazel eyes and large nostrils. She
couldn’t take her eyes off him. She wasn’t frightened at all and she was
so quiet because there were no words in her mouth to express what she was
seeing. Charlie got off his horse
and walked towards the creature who stayed still watching him approach.
Charlie stroked his neck and the animal nudged him with his nose.
come and touch Sakima’. Amy got off her horse
slowly without making any sudden movements that might scare him
(just as Charlie had always taught her). He felt like velvet to
touch and seemed to be so gentle despite his size. ‘Amy, this horse
is very special and he can become your friend just as he has become
mine. I have called him Sakima which means ‘KING’ in the dialect
of the Indians and he is truly a king of all horses. I found him
two years ago just before you came to live with us after he had
been beaten and starved and left abandoned at the edge of the woods.
He was in a terrible state and at first didn’t want to trust anyone
but with lots of patience and kindness I got to be able to get close
enough to treat his injuries, and he now has a very strong bonding
with me’ Amy carried on stroking his neck while her grandfather
spoke to her about Sakima.
‘I come to visit him
nearly every day. He lives here in the woods and when he hears the Indian
chant he comes to me. Sometimes I ride him but even if I don’t ride him
just being with him gives me such peace’. With that Charlie got hold of
Amy by the waist and raised her up onto Sakima’s back. ‘How does that feel?’ Come
on Sakima, take Amy for a short ride’. Amy grabbed hold of his long silver
mane and Sakima began to walk on. After a little while, when the horse was
confident that Amy felt comfortable and safe on his back, he broke into a
gentle canter that was like floating on a cloud. His hooves hardly touched
the ground and his mane and tail flowed like ribbons through the air. Amy
felt like she was in a dream. When Sakima took her back to Charlie, Amy
leant forward and hugged his huge neck and then leapt off him. She then
ran to her grandfather,who she adored, and gave him a big hug too.
‘You see Amy, in life
there are bad things that happen like when you lost your parents in that
horrible car crash and like the limp that you have in your leg and I know
that it is very hard to accept but unfortunately it is a part of life –
things don’t always work out as you plan or hope they will. But then,
there are also beautiful things that happen like Sakima which is the
surprise that your grandmother and I had for you. He will help you when
you are sad, just hug his neck and his tranquility and peace will enter
into you. And when you are really in trouble he has a secret that you will
find out for yourself’.
‘What is his secret?’
asked Amy eagerly.
‘No, Amy I can’t tell you because it’s up to him to decide when to show it
to you and not me. When he does show it to you it will be because he knows
that you really need his help’.
Charlie and Amy patted Sakima goodbye and rode back to the farmhouse while
Sakima watched them leave. When Amy got home she couldn’t wait to tell her
grandmother what happiness she was feeling. Joanna laughed.
‘We knew that this would
make you very happy but your grandfather didn’t want to show him to you
until he was sure that you were ready to appreciate him and had truly
learnt how to feel for animals’.
That night Amy dreamt that she was galloping through the woods with Sakima,
jumping over streams, soaring up hills and racing against the birds. She
slept like an angel.
Amy had to go to school every other day and Charlie would take her in his
truck as the nearest town was about 50 kilometres away. She didn’t like
school as there were some other children in her class that were always
trying to be nasty to her and making fun of her leg which had been damaged
in the car accident. Although Amy was a pretty girl with long blonde hair
and blue eyes and she was always kind to everyone, it seems that children
don’t always see those good points and just pick on any weakness – her
leg. She didn’t tell her grandparents about this as she didn’t want to
worry them but this was the reason why she didn’t like going to school.
Today was going to be
especially tough as they had organized a sports day and Amy had been
picked by Miss Martinez to run in a relay team with 3 of her class mates
Clare, Jane and Sammantha, who in reality were her 3 worst enemies. Amy couldn’t understand
the thinking behind Miss Martinez! Everyone knew already that she was not
going to be able to run as fast as the others and that if that meant that
the bullies didn’t win the event, they would all take it out on her. Miss Martinez was calling
them all to begin the race and Amy wished that she was anywhere else in
the world but here. She then thought of Sakima and a smile came to her
face – whatever happened at least she had him. She got up and stood in
line waiting for her turn.
Dark haired Sammantha was
standing behind her and nudged her in her back.
‘You’d better not let us down or else …’ Amy swallowed the frog in her
throat and got ready as Clare came charging towards her to throw the baton
into her waiting hands. Amy set off and tried to concentrate all her power
in her weak leg but it was only worse and after a few yards she tripped
and fell. Most of the crowd let out a sigh of ‘Ohhhh ..’ out of pity, but
her three class mates let out the biggest ‘Booooo …’ that they could. Amy
got up and carried on until the end, knowing that the race was already
lost. When she got back to where they were all standing, Miss Martinez
gave her a pat on the back saying ‘Well tried’ but her three class mates
just glared at her and stormed off.
Amy felt quite beaten and
very low and slowly went back to her locker to get changed but when she
opened the door she found that all her things had been messed up. Shampoo
had been poured all over her clothes, her school shirt had had biro
scribbled all over it and her favourite photo of Pepin had been cut up
into little pieces. Amy could no longer hold back the tears and went to
lock herself up in the bathroom where she sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
She not only cried for what had happened now, she also cried for the loss
of her parents, for the loss of a good leg and for not understanding how
some humans can be so cruel just for the sake of it. It often happens that
when one thing upsets you, you end up remembering all the other things
that have upset you in the past as well and you cry for everything in one
When she had got all her
tears out of her she went to wait at the school gates for Charlie to come
and pick her up. She was very quiet when she got in the car and just
stared at the passing countryside. ‘What’s happened to you my lovely, you
don’t look very happy at all?’ asked Charlie. ‘Grandpa, can we go and see
Sakima when we get home, I need to have some of his peace?.’ Charlie
stroked her cheek knowing that she had had a hard day. ‘We’ll go and see
him straight away’.
When they arrived at the woods, Charlie hummed his Indian chant and sure
enough within minutes Sakima was there. This time he was more confident of
Amy and went straight up to her nudging her neck with his nose. It was as
if he knew that she was the one who needed more attention today. ‘Isn’t he lovely
‘He sure is’ said Charlie with the knowing smile that adults have. Amy put
both her arms around his neck and just kept them there, while Sakima kept
perfectly still letting her get comfort from him.
‘I know it’s late, but can I ride him again?’. Charlie understood that
this would help her.
‘Okay, up you go’ he said,
while lifting her up. Sakima immediately began to canter off, knowing
already that Amy was comfortable on him, and soon he began to gallop so
fast that Amy’s eyes were watering with so much wind against them. They
went further into the woods than Amy had ever been, in fact she had never
realized how large an area the woods covered. Sakima began to slow down
when up ahead they saw a large clearing with a lake and a cascading
waterfall. Sakima stopped, turned his head round and nudged her leg with
his nose. Amy saw that he wanted her to get down and look at something.
She got off and walked beside him towards the edge of the lake. He looked
into the water and so did Amy. At first she could see nothing, but then
images began to appear and they were not the reflections of themselves.
Amy saw her 3 school mates
messing up her locker and then running off in fits of laughter. Sakima
looked at her and then looked back at the images in the water. They then
saw Sammantha, Clare and Jane in the shower rooms covered in (permanent)
blue ink that they were having great difficulty in getting off. They were
having to use the scrubbing brush that the cleaning lady used to clean the
floors and they were making a big fuss as the brush was scratching their
skin a whole lot. Amy couldn’t help but feel a bit of a smile come onto
her face. She wasn’t happy that they were in trouble but she couldn’t help
but feel a little better. She looked at Sakima and said ‘Thank you’ and
then Sakima stretched his front legs out as far forward as he could in
order to make himself lower so that Amy could climb back onto him.
This time the journey back
to Charlie was much more relaxed and as Amy gently rocked with the
movement of Sakima’s graceful walk, she was able to look around the woods
in more depth. They seemed to be as magical as Sakima. There were flowers
of all colours all around seeming to be closed but as soon as they were
approached they would open up and let out their perfumes. They passed a
wild cat that was lying down and grooming himself while a rabbit nibbled
at grass beside him. Amy saw that all the wild
life in these woods were in peace and harmony with each other and nobody
needed to eat anybody here, they had plenty of grass and nuts all around.
If only the rest of the world could be the same. Looking back on the day
it hadn’t been that bad after all.!
The months went by and her school ordeals continued with her three class
mates continually trying to make Amy’s life difficult for her but then at
the end of the day she always had Sakima who would make it all seem
better. Then at the end of the summer term she was told that she had to go
to a summer camp for the month of August. Amy didn’t want to go as she
would miss Sakima but Charlie and Joanna decided that it would be good for
her to go as she had to learn to try and become a bit tougher if only for
her own sake.
On her last evening at
home she ran to the woods to find Sakima. Charlie had already taught her
the Indian chant and so now she was able to call her friend on her own.
Sakima came trotting towards her having picked up the urgency in her
‘Sakima, I’m not going to
be able to see you for a whole month and I’m going to miss you so much’
whispered Amy into his ear as Sakima held his head low in front of her.
Sakima stretched out his front legs, as he always did for, and she climbed
on. They galloped towards the lake of images and Amy could see that Sakima
wanted her to see something. As they peered into the water the images
began to appear. She saw the day when she had been locked up in one of the
cupboards of the classroom by the three bullies, well it was always them
that did these sort of things to her, and as she suffered from
claustrophobia she got into such a panic attack that she couldn’t even get
out a scream. Well all of a sudden she had felt that the wall behind her
had been shifted and because of this the frame of the door also shifted
allowing the door to become unlocked so that she could get out. And then
she saw in the images that it had been Sakima who had been by the outside
wall and had kicked it in. So she realized that he
had a telepathy with her, as she had never screamed out! and that he would
always be there to try and help her out of difficulties and no distance
was going to change that.
That night while she packed her suitcase Charlie came to sit by her bed
and speak to her.
‘Don’t worry my sweet,
I’ll keep an eye on Sakima while you are away, and besides you already
know that he will be keeping an eye on you as well’. Amy gave Charlie a
big hug and one little tear escaped from her eye. She really wasn’t
looking forward to this trip at all and her heart was breaking at leaving
them all behind. As she slept she dreamt
again of flying through the clouds on Sakima and while she dreamt there
was a gentle smile on her face.
The idea of a summer camp was for all the children to learn and experience
new things out in the country and also hopefully for them to all make good
friends. Amy had already become friendly with a girl in her class called
Mary and so at least she had a bit of moral support against the three
bullies, Sammantha, Clare and Jane. All the children and
teachers mounted the coach that would take them to the camp which was
about a three hour drive away high up in the hills and forests, and
everyone sang songs, played cards or just watched the passing scenery and
finally fell asleep. They arrived late in the
afternoon to the camp which consisted of various log cabins scattered
along the edge of a lake and all around were mountains filled with pine
trees. It looked and smelt quite lovely. There was a pier with canoes,
rowing boats and small sailing boats tied up to it. There was also as a
shed which contained fishing rods, fishing nets, kites to fly, footballs,
a badminton table and lots of board games. They were obviously not going
to get bored.
Each cabin slept six and
Amy was to share with Mary and four other girls who seemed to be quite
friendly. They were all told to settle themselves down in the cabins and
then after they would be having a supper consisting of sausages and baked
potatoes round a camp fire and they would be told the plans for the
following day. The three bullies had managed to get a cabin just for
themselves which was beside Amy’s and all she could hear were fits of
laughter from inside. She shuddered to think what they might be planning
next. After the camp fire dinner it was announced that the next day they
were going to do a trek through the mountains and Amy and Mary had been
drawn to go with Sammantha, Clare and Jane. She just couldn’t believe her
bad luck, it seemed that she was always being thrown with them. They were
given a map of the area and had to try and get to the other side of the
mountains by the evening where there was another camp set up for them.
They all had knapsacks with necessary provisions such as sandwiches,
water, penknives, ropes and first aid kits.
Amy’s group decided that
they would take the route through the highest point of the mountain and
set off with the three bullies racing ahead knowing full well that Amy
would not be able to keep up with them, and most probably get lost, but at
least Mary stayed by her side. ‘Don’t worry Amy. I know
how to get to the other side of the mountain without them, we’ll be
alright as I’ve got quite a good sense of direction’. Mary was really
quite sweet and her only problem was that she was very shy and so
sometimes when you are like that people think that you are not friendly.
So the two girls struggled on with Mary helping Amy every time she seemed
to be about to trip up and sure enough after a very short time Amy and
Mary could no longer see the three other girls who had disappeared into
the thick trees and bushes that were all around them.
Each group had decided to
take a different route so they didn’t see or hear anyone else, all they
could hear were the sounds of birds or the occasional rustle of a rabbit
diving in to the bushes to hide himself away. It was quite a difficult
hike as well as most of it was uphill and there were some parts where Mary
would go on ahead to tie a rope to a strong tree and then throw it down to
Amy so that she could use it to haul herself up.
The two girls continued their hike chatting away as they walked and
becoming very good friends, laughing at funny things that had happened to
them in the past and comparing their likes and dislikes. It was turning
out to be a really nice expedition and Amy was feeling really happy when
suddenly they heard some screams in the distance up ahead of them.
Mary ran on ahead to find
that the three bullies had decided to be clever and had found a cave to
hide in where they had probably planned to ambush Amy and Mary when they
went past, but unfortunately the rocks around the entrance had broken off
and there was a huge one that was blocking their exit with only a tiny
little hole at the side which was barely big enough to poke a finger
through. ‘Don’t just stand there’
shouted Sammantha, ‘Go and find some help to get us out of here, this
place is tiny and we’ve hardly any air left !!!.’ Mary and Amy didn’t know
what to do. It could take hours to try and find the others as it would
need masses of people to shift those rocks so they couldn’t even begin to
try themselves and what was more was the danger that there were a whole
lot more rocks above that were threatening to fall down and if that
happened nobody would be able to get them out ever.
Amy suddenly began to hum
the Indian chant.
‘What on earth are you doing’ shouted Clare ‘This is no time for singing,
hurry up and get us out!!. Mary looked at Amy and also wondered what on
earth was she doing at a time like this, but Amy carried on humming with
her eyes closed. Suddenly there was a
rustle and everyone looked towards some bushes. They began to move and
part and there in front of them was Sakima.
‘Wow’ exclaimed Mary ‘Where did he come from.? Amy ran up to Sakima and
gave him a big hug and knew that he would know what to do. Mary was still
staring with her mouth wide open. ‘Don’t worry’ said Amy
‘I’ll explain everything to you later, but now we need to hurry’. Amy
rushed to get the rope from her knapsack and tied one end round the
biggest rock that had fallen and then tied the other end round Sakima’s
neck. ‘Come on Sakima, pull the rock away’. Sakima rounded his proud neck
and began to walk in the opposite direction using all his weight to pull.
The rock was easing bit by bit while Amy stayed by Sakima’s side giving
him encouragement and guiding him.
Samantha Clare and Jane
were taking it, in turns, to watch everything through the little hole and
couldn’t believe their eyes. Where on earth had Amy found such a beautiful
creature and who on top of it seemed to understand her. Eventually the
rock came away with all the other smaller rocks falling away as well
leaving the three girls free to scramble out. As they made their way out
they were very silent and the three of them looked at each other in shame.
Jane was the first one to speak.
‘Thank you Amy. If it hadn’t been for you and your horse I think we would
never have got out’. ‘Yes’ said Clare ‘and we
realize that you helped us in spite of us being so nasty to you’.
‘We’re really sorry Amy for everything that we’ve done to you and we want
you to be our friend’ said Sammantha as she put out her hand for Amy to
take. Amy shook her hand and smiled. She was so happy that they had at
last accepted her but she also smiled knowing that Sakima had helped to
make all this possible.
As the now happy group made their way towards the other side of the
mountain, Sakima walked alongside them as if he was going to make sure
that they didn’t get into any more trouble while Amy, filled with pride,
told them all about Sakima. The girls were amazed that there was actually
telepathy in the world and even more so that it could exist between a
human and such a magnificent animal.
The sun was beginning to
go down and they knew that they were at last nearing the other side of the
mountain because they could hear the laughter and chatter of the rest of
the group who had already arrived and were beginning to light a camp fire.
Sakima nudged Amy in the waist and she looked at him and knew that he was
telling her that he was going to leave them now as he was sure they were
at last our of danger. All the girls gave him a last pat and he
disappeared as silently as he had appeared. Amy had asked the girls to
keep everything a secret, but somehow she sensed that that was not going
to be possible and sure enough, as soon as they arrived Clare just
couldn’t wait to go running to tell the whole story to one of the
teachers. Well Amy was getting wise also and half knew what the reaction
of the teachers would be ‘O’h come on Clare, you’ve got to try and stop
making up stories or else no one will believe you when something really
does happen’. Clare looked aghast.
‘But Miss Martinez, it really did happen’.
‘Okay, Clare, if you say
so’ said the teacher in a bored tone as she patted Clare on the shoulder
and walked off. ‘They don’t believe us and
we have nothing to prove that it happened’, said Sammantha in a, not like
her, defeated voice. Amy looked at Sammantha and the others. ‘We can’t do anything to
prove it, but what does it matter, you and all of us know that it happened
and it will always stay our secret. Sakima is something special and if we
ever let other people who haven’t got good hearts know about him they
might take him away to do awful tests on him and that would ruin his life,
and we don’t want that ever’. The three girls looked in horror.
‘Don’t worry Amy, we will
never tell anyone else again about him, but do you think he would help us
if we needed him?’ Amy stayed silent for a while thinking …………………….’I think that if your hearts grow softer and kinder then he might well
help you one day when you need him’.
The girls all enjoyed the rest of their time in the summer camp and all
got to be good friends having lots of fun rowing on boats in the lake,
going on paper chases and all sorts of other events. Jane was the first
that was really making a change in her attitude towards Amy. She would
always save a place for her round the lunch table and would think of
little details like helping Amy climb over the bench with her stiff leg.
Soon after Samantha and Clare were also seen to do things that could only
be called ‘very kind’ and life was much better for Amy and everyone all
round and Amy smiled to herself – she was really happy. And there were
still many more things that were to happen that would surprise her!!
In memory of my father ‘charles stagnetto’ who taught me the love of
horses and something very special which is unconditional love
Amanda Stagnetto, is an English living in Spain. She has
been writing since I was 18 years old (I am now 55)