Artic Storm Cat, and His Special Powers: I’m a Believer.

Marion E. Altieri, New York Writer

Artic Storm Cat 7 by Cathy DuffyToday was a hot one.  Blisteringly hot.  The heat index, because of the humidity, was 103F. I have hypokalemia, so normally I can’t tolerate such temperatures, anyway.  But today, because of the open-heart surgery that I had in April–I’m even-more susceptible to adverse affects of the heat and water in that hot air.

I found relief from the heat in the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion, as I attended the Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  I went–I had to go, regardless of the heat and the long, hot drive to Saratoga–because Rachel Alexandra was to be inducted.  And, as a member of the Voting Panel for the Hall of Fame, I’d nominated her.  (I’m sure that many others did, as well, but I have a special affection for Rachel, so I feel connected…)

After the Hall of Fame, Cathy Duffy and I went to lunch to celebrate her birthday.

Then, we went to Gary Contessa’s barn, to hang with Gary’s new two-year-old colt,  Artic Storm Cat.Artic Storm Cat 9 by Cathy Duffy

If you want to know the details of his birth–his genetics–etc.–please check him out at  Darned immpressive.  Or shoot me an email, I’ll be happy to fill you in.

Cathy had met him during the late winter/springtime at In Front Training, where he was being conditioned. For the two of them, this was a reunion.  For me, it was a first meeting.  And I was completely overwhelmed.

Artic Storm Cat 2 by Cathy DuffyMuch to my surprise–and the joy of my soul–this was a spiritual connection.  Another piece in the healing of my brokenness following my surgery.  Therapy for the spirit, such as I’ve never-before experienced.  Allow me to tell you about it:

The ever-gracious and kind Juan Gonzalez asked the (very patient) Simon Garcia to bring Artic Storm Cat out of his stall, so we could see him in all his whiteness and glory.  He’s magnificent.  He’s huge–a very large two-year-old.

One thing I noticed right away was that his legs are perfect.  Absolutely, positively perfect. Straight where they’re supposed to be straight, muscled as they’re supposed to be muscled.   I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a horse with such perfect legs–as if he was the Ideal Horse, as painted by a visionary artist like Brian Fox.

The next thing I noticed was his calm.  Absolutely peaceful, quiet, no fussing.  It was hotter than Hell, itself, outside, but the marvelous animal seemed not to notice.  He also wasn’t bothered by Cathy and me, buzzing around him.  He posed beautifully for her, and let me hug his huge, long, perfect neck.

I kissed his neck, jaw and face many, many times.  I was absolutely enamoured.

Then.  Then, I knew, as we exchanged eyeball contact–THAT close–that I’d met an Anam Cara.  (“Anam Cara” in Irish spirituality, means, “Soul Friend.”  The idea is that, it’s as if you and your Anam Cara were once part of each other’s spirits…then, through time and circumstance,  you were separated…and then, in an instant, you meet again and recognize each other as being that other part of your soul that’s been missing for so long.)Artic Storm Cat 4 by Cathy Duffy

Artic Storm Cat is Anam Cara to me.  I knew it when our eyes almost touched, but I felt it as I hugged his neck and kissed him–not only did he not mind, his spirit was encouraging me.  To some people this will sound like I’m nuts–but to those of you who understand…well, you understand.

Artic Storm Cat has a “medicine hat,” as it’s called:  some white horses, throwing back to an ancestor, have reddish ears and forelocks.  Artic Storm Cat’s ears inside still are red, as is his forelock.  To the Blackfoot Native North Americans, “medicine hat” refers to the eagle feather headdresses worn by medicine men.

A white horse who has a medicine hat is considered by Native Americans to possess special powers.

I have no doubt of that “Stormy,” as I’m going to call him, has special powers.  For so many reasons. None of those reasons make sense to the mind, only to the spirit.  But again–those of you who will Get It, Get it.

I must refer here also to the Book of Revelation in the Bible.  Many Christians (including me) believe that, when Jesus comes back to Earth, He will be riding a white horse.  This is the most beautiful and fitting picture I can conjur in my heart’s mind:  the Lord, riding a majestic and powerful white horse.

Even God, Himself, seems to be pleased with His equine creation, and praises The Horse’s power and wild-eyed passion:

Job 39: 19-24  (English Standard Version)

19 “Do you give the horse his might?
    Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20 Do you make him leap like the locust?
    His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21 He paws[a] in the valley and exults in his strength;
    he goes out to meet the weapons.
22 He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
    he does not turn back from the sword.
23 Upon him rattle the quiver,
    the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24 With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
    he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.

For thousands of years, the Bedouins of the Arabian deserts have known of the heavenly properties of horses:  my favorite description of the horse is thus:

“The wind of Heaven is that which flows through a horse’s ears.”Artic Storm Cat 5 by Cathy Duffy

My Muslim friends know that the Prophet, Muhammed (PBUH) said,
“If your neighbor owns a horse but you do not, open a window in the wall between you so that its blessings can still reach you.”

Yes, virtually every spiritual path (or, religion, if you will) has a special place in which horses are revered as being messengers from God, or a glimpse into Paradise, or a way to experience the love and power of God all at once.

In fact, Celtic, Hindu, Norse, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim,  Zoroastrian, Slavic, Christian, Korean, Filipino and too-many-other-traditions-to-mention here–specifically honor white horses as having heroic, God-bearing roles in their relationships with humans. 

In the gentlest of animals–gentle giants, really–horses bring the quietude, the peace that the Divine wants to share with we, mere humans.

In a single moment today–in heat that could fry an egg–I experienced a glimpse into Heaven’s beauty.  I didn’t see golden streets, or pearly gates, no, I felt–I knew, in the way that only a soul can know–the majesty, love, warmth and kindness of God.  All wrapped up in this one, perfect, white, strong package of gentle acceptance.

I’ve felt that similar thing many times over during the years since first I met a horse. (Sixty years now.)  But never before today–before meeting Artic Storm Cat--did I realize that yes, I’m healing…my physical heart…my spiritual heart…my life.  I don’t know how he did it, but that horse taught me many lessons in just a few minutes, for in the space that we occupied–time doesn’t exist.

I didn’t even feel the heat, other than that which was flowing with that wind, between Stormy’s ears.


Photo credits:  Many thanks to Cathleen Duffy, of Horse Whisper Photography, for her photos of Artic Storm Cat, and of Artic Storm Cat with Juan Gonzales and Simon Garcia.