In my haste to retreat from my startled filly’s wildly kicking back
legs, I tripped over the bucket holding the grooming supplies and fell,
ending up on my back on the ground. My head spun, and I cursed when I
felt the fabric of my jeans tear as I hit the hard, rocky soil. My first
thought was to get up and away from Nightmare’s stomping feet. I
realized, too late, that a hoof was above my face, and I was unable to
escape quickly enough. The bucket containing the grooming supplies
barred me from rolling away. I brought my arm up in an attempt to shield
my head. Curiously, I looked up at the frog of her back foot, noticing a
rock wedged between the wall and the soft inner part. In a split second,
as I contemplated that rock, I saw everything turn red, and then black.
I never felt the fateful kick. I did feel a scrape against my shoulder,
and heard my horse snort. I heard the sound of her hooves scraping the
rocks in the dirt.
Amazingly I felt no pain. In fact, considering my posture and the
placement of her hoof above my head, I was surprisingly unscathed. I
felt enormous relief.
I expected to be hurt, cruelly; In fact, I felt wonderfully alive.
I tried, then, to sit up, but nothing seemed to work. I felt neither the
ground nor the air, nor did I hear any sounds. I felt warm and at ease,
quite peaceful actually.
When I tried to roll away from Nightmare’s stomping hooves, I felt a
strange heaviness. Then, with a soft pop, I felt myself rising.
In amazement I realized I was not in pain – in fact, I felt none of
the usual creaking of my joints or the stiffness I was accustomed to. I
simply felt a wonderful feeling of freedom, release and relief.
I felt exhilarated as I looked up at the clear blue sky above the
treelined hills. Everything was bright, and breathtakingly beautiful. I
was astonished that I wasn’t even hurt.
I slowly turned my attention to Nightmare, who was excitedly stomping
and snorting about ten feet from me. Her eyes had a wild look in them.
She stood, nostrils and eyes wide, trembling and tossing her head.
Suddenly snorting, she took off running and bucking across the paddock
with the broken rope trailing backward from her halter, flapping against
her head and neck.
My attention is drawn to her legs, which are smeared with red.
How did Nightmare get hurt? Her back legs are covered in bright scarlet,
as she returns and finally stands, nervously stamping, beside the gate.
Her white socks are red, and some kind of tissue and strands
of white hair adhere to her hoofs – I moved closer to her, my vision
of her head blurred, and I find myself standing so close to her I can
feel her heart pounding in her chest; I notice her loud breathing, her
nostrils flaring, her ears twitching.
After a while I find myself looking down at her broad, black back –
glistening smoothly in the morning sun. I admire her muscled withers,
her bowed neck. Unalarmed, I seem to be floating above my horse,
observing her. She is much calmer, now, and bends her head, ears pointed
straight ahead, attentive – to sniff at something on the ground.
I follow her gaze. It’s some kind of animal, perhaps, or a bundle of
rags… covered in blood, which is soaking into the ground. In the
bundle there is no movement at all… only a pair of startled eyes, wide
open, and a mouth, similarly agape.
I attempt to focus on the object in the dirt, but a sudden fog swirls in
front of my eyes… I reach up a hand to wipe my eyes, but feel and see
nothing – neither hand nor arm.
I look down again, and think about going closer for another look; I am
suddenly on the ground again. I recognize myself, then – or at least
my body – one arm flung across my shattered skull, the other curled
protectively across my breasts. Looking across at Nightmare, I see her
calmly nibbling on some weeds growing next to the fence in the paddock.
I gaze up at the sun, now almost directly overhead.
Suddenly I feel, rather than hear, the sound of an engine approaching
and I look over to see my husband, Jake, driving his truck through the
Good – he can help me, I think. “Help me. Help me. Dear God… help
I feel a little bit of alarm as Jake approaches the gate of the paddock
at a run. He has simply dropped the bag of groceries onto the ground and
I can see the panic on his face. “Oh my God!” I hear him yell,
panicked, and watch him struggle with the gate slider…
“Oh No!” I hear him scream, and I watch as he throws himself down in
the dirt next to my body. “Jeannie, Jeannie!” he calls out to me in
pain and anguish, shakily touching my shoulder. He can see I am gone…
he must see that I am gone… that vacant stare, all the blood… .
Jake is beside himself with grief. I feel love for him welling up inside
my being – a moment of satisfaction at the depth of his love.
Suddenly I feel myself moving up and away. Jake, Nightmare, Zebediah and
the barn seem to shrink away, noiselessly, to a tiny point – and then,
amazingly, they are gone.
Excerpted from "Dark Horse Spirit: Beyond Redemption" by Margaret E. Johnson. Copyright © 2014 by Margaret E. Johnson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.