An Equestrian's Prayer Answered

An Equestrian's Prayer Answered

A horse lover sees her faith rewarded when her beloved filly is rescued.

Erika Bentsen tells an inspiring story of answered prayer and a friend rescued.

The morning sun streamed through the window, glinting off my dresser mirror, and I knew exactly how I was going to spend the last day of summer vacation. Freedom would end tomorrow with the start of my sophomore year of high school.

So today I would do what I loved most: be in the great outdoors with my best friend, my horse, Lady. I’d ride her without a bridle and saddle—that’s how much we trusted each other—and we’d gallop across the pasture.

If she stopped to graze, I’d stretch out on her broad back and watch the clouds drift overhead. It didn’t really matter what we did as long as we were together.

I’d often said it was Lady who raised me. She was part Morgan, part anyone’s guess, all black with a big head and big feet and a mane that curled when it got wet.

Dad originally bought her for Mom, but soon it was obvious she was meant to be mine. Even before I could walk I would do whatever it took to be with her.

Once when I wasn’t quite a year old, I crawled out of the house and disappeared. Mom searched our little farm frantically and finally found me sitting between the front legs of my 1,100-pound horse, gurgling contentedly.

Other times when I had a meltdown and nothing else would comfort me, Mom would pick me up and stand close to Lady. I’d stroke her and smell her and suddenly all would be well.

The bond between us hadn’t wavered as I got older. If anything, it grew stronger. Our farm was fairly isolated on the forested coast of Oregon above the muddy, tidal Yaquina River, five miles from the tiny town of Toledo. None of my friends from the private Christian elementary and middle schools I’d gone to lived close by.

Lady was always there for me, my favorite playmate, my steadfast companion. She understood me better than anyone, especially since I switched over to the public high school last year.

There, the look was everything, and if you didn’t have it, you were out. Big curly hair. The right brand of clothes. Logos on everything. I’d never given much thought to appearances, and it was like I’d been dropped into a foreign country without a guidebook.

I did well academically but otherwise, ninth grade was a disaster. This year I was prepared. I’d saved up and bought my first-ever designer sweater. And I’d gotten a perm that totally transformed my long straight hair.

I looked in the mirror at my trendy new curls. This year is going to be different , I lectured my reflection, but I couldn’t quite suppress a flicker of trepidation as I turned away.

I headed out to the river pasture where Lady grazed. Then I reached the gate and my world seemed to go dark though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The field was empty. Lady was gone.

Out of habit I picked up the lead rope. I checked the fences. The gates were closed and there were no holes in the wire. No tracks outside the fence either.

Sometimes she would lie down in the tall grass and you couldn’t see her until she sat up, but it was too early in the day for her afternoon nap. She was an old horse now, nearly 30. If she was down, that could only mean... No, I wouldn’t think it.

"Lady! C’mon , Ladymare!” I hollered for her so loudly Dad heard me from the barn and rushed down. Together we searched the pasture. Along the side of the field closest to the river, Dad stopped.

“Over here,” he said. I ran over. Then I heard it too, Lady’s low whicker.

She was close but I couldn’t see her. That part of the pasture wasn’t fenced. It didn’t need to be. There was nothing to interest a horse, only thorny blackberry bushes that made a natural barrier and a steep, 15-foot drop to the murky river. Why would she have come this way?

Then Dad pointed at something. A hornets’ nest on the ground, a few insects still buzzing angrily. Next to it was a swath ripped through the bushes. Instantly I knew what happened.