She stood there in the October sunlight, a portrait of strength and vulnerability, and very simply, she commanded my attention. A background hum of introductions buzzed in my ears, but I didn't take in the words. My eyes were locked on Pamela Rickenbach, as she waited her turn to speak.
And, then she began, and she captured my heart completely. She took me back into time, speaking so eloquently of horses - their place along side us, how they built our country with their physical strength and endurance. Back even more, to the story of Alexander and his horse.
I read a question somewhere else earlier..."How do you stay brave?" The answer a very bright and sweet young girl gave, "With the help of my friends." Not so long ago, Pamela lost her partner, and it's clear that she's very much still grieving, and indeed, Pamela's friends gathered around her with love and support. They continue to do so.
But, I think, in Pamela's case, it's more. Pamela gathers her strength and her courage for her horses, and to honor Paul, her partner. Pamela speaks for her horses, who can not speak for themselves, at least with words. (But, if you're still enough, you can hear their heart words.) She draws you into their world; she makes you want to stay there, to help as well.
I need to tell you that I am not the little girl who spent her life on horses, no riding lessons, no close proximity to them. A bit later in life, I fell in love with the Chincoteague ponies for a few days each summer. And, for most of my life, I've watched the Amish horses trot by on the back roads of home.
But, I didn't "know" horses, not the way so many young girls and women do. The horses lived very much on the edges of my life.
Pamela brought them into my life; she's opened up my heart to their lives - past, present, and future. She's brought them front and center for me to learn and care about, to find a way to help them, and to honor them. To realize how they and their ancestors built our country, and that they will continue to partner with humans in any way they can, if we give them the chance.
I nearly cropped this photo; its lower part's a bit faded and blown out. But, then I saw it, the rainbow in the lower left section. That beautiful gorgeous rainbow. I think know that Paul stood beside her that afternoon, giving her the strength and love to speak for her horses.
Pamela co-founded Blue Star Equiculture a non profit working horse rescue and sanctuary.