This morning I went to the office of the Associazione Italiana Allevatori, the Italian Breeding Association, to register the change of ownership of Pepita. We have Pepita, a small horse with haflinger blood, since a couple of months and we are sure that she is an answer to our prayers. Nine years ago, we arrived with two horses in Umbria: Forsane, a chestnut mare, and Darius, our dun fjord pony. Both of them almost twenty years old, we didn’t want to leave them in France, although we had no intention to ride either of them.
Two years ago, after Darius showed us the way, we found Forsane lying helplessly on an incline, with her back against a huge rock and her legs upwards the slope. There was no way she could get up and we had no idea how long she had been lying there. A morning, a whole night, or 24 hours? The vet, who we called right away, told us later that she had fallen because she was dying and not the other way around. We could only hope that he told us the truth and hadn’t said it just to make us feel less bad. Anyway, from the moment the vet put the poor horse out of her misery, Darius was alone. Now, horses aren’t created to live on their own, they are herd animals. On the one hand, we didn’t want to insert new animals into our small menagerie, because we think that at some time we will need to travel in our work for God. Animals are wonderful company, but they also tie you down. On the other hand, though, it hurt to see Darius trudging in the meadow or standing staring in the stable, obviously suffering from solitude. Therefore, we started praying. “God, if it is in Your will that we’ll have another horse, please let it cross our path.” We specified that we wanted an older mare, preferably a pony so that it wouldn’t eat that much hay, although Jan worried a bit that a too small pony could easily escape through our rickety fences. It wouldn’t be the first time that we’d hear the sound of horses’ hoofs outside our bedroom window in the middle of the night. We prayed for more than a year, almost every day.
Then, one day, I got a phone call: would we be interested in a small, retired, twenty-year old mare? We made an appointment. When we saw Pepita, it struck me how much she looked like Forsane: chestnut with a white blaze on her head. She was a lot smaller though, but still higher than Darius. The stableman explained that she was a very calm and sociable horse. She had just one vice; she was a master escaper. Oops. When I looked at Jan, I almost could visualize his worries about getting up at night for horse rescue missions. Then I felt a Nudge. Before I knew it, I heard myself say confidently, “We have prayed so long. If we really believe this is God’s will, we must trust Him also for keeping Pepita safe within our fences. I believe she won’t run off.” A couple of days later, I went to fetch Pepita. I walked into the valley to the riding school on my own, and up the hill again with Pepita behind me. She reacted very well to the “Pat Parelli” instructions I had learned in France and we arrived at home without any problems. I think it was love at first sight. After the initial ritual of nuzzling, chasing, and running to establish the hierarchy, Darius and Pepita were inseparable.
On the third evening after Pepita’s arrival, Jan heard a horse neighing very loudly. “Milly, come quickly, I think Pepita has escaped!” Jan panicked, and we ran outside with a flashlight in search of a run-away horse. Nothing. Jan was about to start the car to hunt her down. “Maybe we should control the meadow first,” I said. Jan hesitatingly agreed, and we walked into the field, moving the beam of light nervously around in search of our equines. Suddenly, we saw them: caught in the circle of light, they stood with their heads over each other’s necks, hugging–no, caressing–each other, visibly exhilarating. Probably, they had lost sight of each other, but now were reunited. And happy. Pepita never tried to escape, not once. She was peaceful and safe in God’s will.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isa. 26:3).