There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse. ~Robert Smith Surtees
…I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne
In person, I was always a bit intimidated by horses. I didn’t have that passion for them that so many young girls had. The wondering kind that made them think of nothing else, like young Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet. So enthralled that she often kept herself awake at night, picturing herself riding, putting herself inside the horse’s mind and heart, of a sort, feeling what she imagined them feeling, soaring as she felt they must.
Still, through authors like Lenora Mattingly Weber who painted such words of wonder in characters who lived and breathed and sacrificed even other more homey dreams for the love of a horse, I think I glimpsed a majestic beauty, fell in love from afar. I liked the idea behind their passion…for it was all giving, open-hearted love – on both sides.
“Mary Fred Malone had just bought a horse. He was black and his name was Mr. Chips and Mary Fred was riding him home. The January wind had the moist breath of snow as it rippled the bridle reins, flapped the green scarf over Mary Fred’s unruly dark hair, tugged at the end knotted under her tanned squarish chin. She thought, “I’ve bought a horse.” The thought could still startle her. For certainly she had not had the slightest intention of buying a horse with the money that had been sent for her to buy a formal…
Mary Fred rode down the sandy road that led from the Hilltop Stables toward the outskirts of Denver, and the very rhythm of Mr. Chips’ trot, the very flapping of her scarf in the wind kept time to an excited singsong inside her, “Mr. Chips is mine–all mine. He’s nobody else’s but mine!” And Mr. Chips’ ear kept twitching back, as though he didn’t want to miss a word of it. She reached over and patted his warm, black, sinewy shoulder…
Opening to Meet the Malones, Lenora Mattingly Weber
Throughout my life, in other stories and in movies that spotlighted the friendship between horse and owner, I’ve been drawn to the idea of that “no secret so close” feeling Surtees references in the above quote. To what it must be like to know that joy as Hawthorne describes.
Certainly, in the beautifully filmed Secretariat, in the stirring reading of the words from Job 39:19-24 at the opening and closing, in the majesty and splendor of that grace-filled horse and the woman who gave her all to take him as far as she knew he could go — I brush away tears at the GLORY and very Heaven I see in this animal.
For surely, God put so much of Himself in this creature, a picture…as in the stars and in beauty that surrounds us… to reveal Himself.
I felt that anew this week as I finally put pencil and pen to an image that has long been in my mind to draw – having found a lovely photo of a beautiful little girl with her arms encircling her horse, just like the picture in my mind. I posted my drawing in From Vintage and Family Photos , where I invite you to click over to see 🙂 though, it really is a more recent than vintage photo. I wasn’t really sure I could execute it, but I wanted to try. I’d been thinking of it since last year when a woman contacted me excitedly with the idea of doing a portrait of her three daughters when they were young, with their horses. For reasons unknown to me, she didn’t follow through with the photos, so the project ended before it began.
Possibly, I put her off unknowingly by admitting I’d never drawn a horse before. These last few years of working from photos rather than imagination, I’ve suddenly been able to do so much more than I ever could before, so sometimes it is hard to believe I can with a photo before me. The difference between what I used to draw and now is stunning to me and only proves to me the wonder of God blessing the work of our hands anew…
In many ways, though this may sound strange, it feels as though He has suddenly increased the little seeds of what I could do... as long as I have a photo as my clear model. It’s like that prayer I’ve prayed… and I think you probably have too…from Jabez. Lord, enlarge my territory…
Only… I often stand back and simply marvel, because it just feels like it is more Him than me… There is just something of Glory that tugs at me when I look at the open joy on the face of this little girl in this drawing. The horse… well, I like the way it looks like it is lowering it’s head to nuzzle into this child who loves him. My drawing’s more of an impression of the horse than a true rendering by someone more skilled at animal anatomy than I am… but there’s something that is making me unable to take my eyes off this piece. Not because I drew it – but because I see Him in it. And just evokes much to me that I can’t express with words.
It’s that old feeling coming back about the wonder of loving and being loved by such a magnificent creature as a horse. It’s the sweet innocence of the little girl… the absolute light of delight in her eyes and smile!
It makes me ponder how God is so clearly seen in the character and radiance of a horse – power, majesty, glory, selfless love that will spend its all and even burst it’s heart for the love of fulfilling it’s race, giving endlessly…
It makes me want to encourage YOU to know God wants to increase you…and you…and you… in whatever gift(s) He will blossom in you as you lean into Him… Because – as with the horse – He shines through… and enables us to do so much more than we ever imagine…
“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ up to the time of His return, developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to completion in you. [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is…[energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His Good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”
~ Philippians 1:6, 2:13
I quickly had this drawing printed, put it into a frame so I could include it in a bookstore showing of my work locally that only lasts one more month. Lord, make it shine You to all who see it…and if it could be purchased by someone who somehow sees that light, added to a young girl’s bedroom or placed where it will lift and inspire!
Debating what to title it, musing horse names I’ve heard of before, I suddenly thought of this… because it’s what He makes me see in this image, and what I hope others see…
“For the love of ‘Glory'”
Sitting at a small table in the bookshop, inconspicuously writing out my new site address on some of my business cards, I overheard an older woman talking with a teenager. “I think that horse picture is my favorite…she draws them from photos,” she remarked.
I haven’t heard from any buyers yet…and I’m still envisioning this one for some young girl [or woman who once was that girl] who has that passion for horses! But her words were like His singing over waters to me… a thought that maybe He is using it to tug at a sweet memory in her that reflects His heart… If so, I ask Him to keep the image inside her. A story that keeps unfolding… 🙂
I wonder...Do you see the Lord in the beauty of a horse?
Was there ever a special horse in your life?
I’d love to hear in what ways!
To see my drawing, click here at my “Picture it in Pen and Ink” site (if it evokes any thoughts or memories in you, I’d love your comments… ) :
And one more lovely quote:
Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
Friendship without envy,
Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is served with muscle
And strength by gentleness confined
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent.
There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
~Ronald Duncan, “The Horse,” 1954
© Pam Depoyan
- Pen & Ink Bookstore Portrait shown above: mine, under my copyright (please do not copy without permission. See my copyright info button on the sidebar. ) View more of my artwork here: https://pamdepoyanblog.wordpress.com/
- horse images from stock photos
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