In among the horror and dysfunction I grew up in there were two good things in my childhood; my beloved dog Jet, and Polly.
Polly was wild when we met. Left in a field untamed and unkempt, she wandered alone in knee high grass. She refused to be ridden and her owner had long given up on her. She was stubborn, and her spirit strong. It took a while and she transformed, but there was always a part of her that would never betray her own wild and free heart.
And I loved her for that.
We were meant, Polly and I. She brought meaning and joy to my life when I was living through some pretty tough stuff. It's true, horses really are healing.
There were hundreds of photos of us together. And boxes filled with prized rosettes and trophies, all treasured reminders of our hard earned wins and how far we’d both travelled. Unfortunately it’s collateral damage when cutting your family that you lose aspects of your childhood in their entirely.
Now this is the only picture I have of Polly. It was in my Grandad's belongings and when both he and my step-grandmother had passed, it miraculously found it's way to me on the other side of the world, only last year.
It’s said until you’ve loved an animal a part of your soul remains un-awakened. My soul awakened early, there wasn't scrap of love in our family, but there was my beloved Jet, and there was Polly. And I loved them both with all my heart.
Polly was my best friend, she was also my teacher. Here's 7 things she taught me:
1. To Never Give Up
It took dedication and hard work to win Polly round, and I could barely ride when I first found her. But I never gave up on her, nor on myself. She could be wildly unpredictable and incredibly strong, and there were times I literally couldn't hold her. She'd break free, take off, stopping only when she'd gotten to where she wanted to go. It took time and patience and digging deep, and I could've thrown in the towel many times.
But I knew what it was like to want to run when you're scared, so I chose to believe in her, and to believe in myself, and I never gave up.
2. A Strong Heart Can Still Be Gentle
Polly could be wild alright, but she could also be incredibly gentle. There were times she'd be curled up in the stable and I'd lie with her, tucked up in her warmth. She'd nuzzle me gently, her mouth soft and she'd look at me with her deep, dark eyes. It was as if I could see right into her soul, and she could see into mine.
She was strong and tough, but her heart was as sweet as a birds song.
3. You Have to Learn How to Trust
Horses can be flighty and you never quite know what might spook them. You have to learn to trust a horse though because she can sense your fear and if you don't trust her, she doesn't trust you. It takes time to build trust and you have to earn it. But once you have it, its yours for life. The adults in my life couldn't be trusted but I learned to trust Polly, and she learned to trust me right back.
She taught me that a lack of trust in one area of your life, doesn't mean a lack of trust everywhere.
4. There is Happiness in Presence
When I was with Polly nothing else mattered. The whole world could be falling apart, I was oblivious, because I was always in the moment with her. Whether we were jumping, trekking, galloping across the field or just sharing a quiet moment, she was fully in it. And I learned to be in it too.
And in those moments of presence I wasn't the sad girl with the broken childhood. I was me, free, alive and happy.
5. Responsibility and Commitment Count
Having a horse is a lot of work; it's not just a weekend ride, or when the fancy takes you. It's a full time commitment, rain, hail or shine. The harsh winter mornings, up before school at 5am in the pitch dark to feed her. Every afternoon spent until the sun went down, and every weekend, from morning till night.
Polly taught me responsiblity, even when I didn't feel like it because I knew she needed me, and I could never let her down.
6. Be Brave Even When You're Scared
There were times especially in the early days I felt way out of my depth. She'd rear on me and could drag me as far as she wanted to go, I was no match for her power. You need to have courage to work with horses and keep showing up, even when you feel defeated. I had to dig deep and be brave. And besides, Polly was a courageous girl, she'd been so neglected in the past, I know it took great courage for her to believe in me, and to let me lead her where I wanted her to go.
I realised it was ok to be scared, its fear that births courage, I learned to be brave.
7. Love Unconditionally and Stay True to Yourself
Polly wasn't perfect, and that's what I loved about her. She was wild and rebellious and she wasn't as pretty or as trim as all the other manicured ponies we used to come up against. But she was mine, and I accepted her exactly as she was. And I truly admired that she'd never betray herself just to please me. She worked hard for me though, and I appreciated her for it.
I loved and accepted her unconditionally, and in return this unloved girl, felt loved and accepted right back.
Animals truly are life's treasure, they can connect with our souls in ways that human beings often miserably fail at. And whilst the rest of my world may have been upside down, everything was always right way up with Polly.
She was a healing force in my otherwise tragic childhood and I'll be forever grateful that whilst I incarnated through parents who weren't able to give me love, nor a safe environment to grow up in, the Universe gave me Polly.
My dear sweet, wild, beautiful Polly you taught me so much and I loved you so fiercely. And you'll forever be in my own wild and free heart, until the stars fade. Thank you for being my teacher.
Dawn Lee is an emotional & spiritual evolution coach™, writer and teacher with a passion for melding science, psychology, coaching and spirituality with her own unique intuitive wisdom and lived experience. Dawn's expertise is helping others become an agent of change in any situation and discover how to use their most challenging circumstances as an opportunity to emotionally and spiritually evolve. Her mission, to raise consciousness, help end the cycle of repeating fear and trauma and shine a bright light of awareness in the world. Find out more about working with Dawn here.