The White Horse Story
They have been portrayed as possessing exceptional properties, transcending the normal world by having wings (Pegasus from Greek mythology), or having horns (the unicorn). They are also thought to be the luckiest horses to ride into battle and often depicted as the preferred mounts of heroes and saints.
White horses are prevalent throughout mythology as symbols of power, resurrection, illumination, light, sun, peace, luck, magic, and vitality. As a rare or distinguished symbol, a white horse typically bears the hero- or god-figure in ceremonial roles or in triumph over negative forces. White horses still carry the heroes in our modern day stories from the Lone Ranger's Silver to J.R.R. Tolkien's choice of white for Gandalf's horse Shadowfax in the Lord of the Rings.
In my experience, the White Horses of my life have had a special place in my heart, beginning with a scruffy little lesson horse named Najan. My first true love, Najan carried me to my first blue ribbon and taught me how to canter. When I got scared after falling off a plain old brown horse, I regained my confidence and will to ride on my hero-horse Najan.
In high school, most of my riding was aboard a fussy, high-strung, grey mare who was born at the stable the year I began riding, and passed away on the day I was visiting my parents in Illinois from California 28 years later. “Sadie” was almost completely white on the day we got to hug goodbye. It struck me that I hadn't realized she was one of “My White Horse Heroes”, seeing as she had literally carried me through my tumultuous adolescence, until that day.
While there have many other white horses (horses of other colors, too) in my life, my greatest teacher, and the White Horse who serves as the symbol for this venture, was a white Arabian gelding named High Regard, or Reggie, to me and his riding students. A true mentor, Reggie was constantly reminding me that the lesson wasn't about learning to stop, steer or post, but to pay attention, stop taking yourself so darn seriously, and have fun! He was a partner and a friend, teaching me humility and humor every day we worked together. Although I suspect we've spent many lifetimes together, I met him in this life when I rescued him from a nearly abandoned barn at 19 years young, and he repaid his gratitude in spades with innumerable lessons and smiles.
On Reggie's last day on earth, I took him out for some grass, and got one last lesson when I put the lead rope down a minute to take a picture of my beautiful old white horse in the sunshine. I could feel him smile just before he started down the hill toward the barn, me ridiculously running after him! A teacher to the end, I thank him every day for reminding me to keep learning and laughing.