Saltmarshe, East Yorkshire
By Contributing Author/Artist Carl Franz
By Contributing Author/Artist Carl Franz
A narrow road squeezes self-consciously through the sleepy hamlet of Saltmarshe in East Yorkshire. The picturesque English country cottages there tiptoe right up to the very edge of the quiet tarmac.
On the other side of the road a high grassy embankment walls off the river from view.
A necessary flood defence built to shoulder away the powerful tides of the Ouse.
I took the steep path leading up to the top of the embankment, which promised a good vantage point.
I wasn't disappointed. From there I had a grandstand view of the river’s sun-splintered surface. I followed its glittering curve away into the clear February horizon.
It was wonderfully meditative. Nearby a thoughtfully placed bench offered me a comfortable spot to rest.
But something was gently calling me. The tall reeds along the bank were shivering a thousand furry tails.
I allowed their mousy excitement to lead me away from the river’s love affair with the sunshine. Returning to the broad grassy path on the bank I melded into the other world. In that world I became aware of a horse quietly observing me.
He was a big, light brown beauty, as tough as he was long in the tooth.
Illustration by Emma Franz
He stepped forward a pace, planting large hooves into the well-grazed grass. His body leaned forward to continue but his head abruptly swung away; caught by something roughly tugging him back.
It was a thick rope attached to his bridle. I traced the weather-worn tether down to where it was tied to a wooden stake.
The old fellow must have spent a great deal of his life on the riverbank. Moved on by his owner from one lush grazing spot to another throughout the season.
His friendly brown eyes searched me softly, questioningly.
I understood. He was so used to being tethered that he had brought it with him. It had become part of his identity and now he was a prisoner of it.
“You are free,” I whispered, “you are a spirit horse. You can romp and run wherever you like”.
He made no response, other than to implore me with his opal gem eyes to liberate him.
“Alright,” I sighed, “if you are so convinced you need me to free you, then that is what I must try and do".
I moved towards him.
He seemed all at once a little nervous. I wondered if memories of less pleasurable encounters had been triggered.
As I came closer his head jerked upwards defensively, confirming my suspicions.
Obviously he wasn't going to make this easy. Fiddling with spirit hands on spirit knots on a spirit rope was a task difficult enough. This was all something entirely new for me. And if he wasn't willing to let me near him? Well I began to wonder if it was even possible.
I knew the consequences if I focused too long on the mechanics of this unusual challenge. My mind would automatically refer the problem to its analytical department. If that happened I would be drawn back into the denser physical world and lose contact with him.
This spirit had honoured me by asking for my assistance; losing him now was definitely not an option.
An idea came to me. This was a spirit horse; that much was clear (at least to me). Therefore, I reasoned, he was wearing a spirit bridle.
I knew then what I needed to do. But it would have to be done quickly and decisively.
With that I moved. In one smooth action I raised my arms up towards his ears and swept them downwards again over his muzzle.
It worked. Before he could shy away, the bridle - along with the tether - was off, gone and lying at my feet.
The horse stood shocked for an instant. Then panic seized him and he unexpectedly sprang forward. His great hooves hooked up and he sailed right over me. A living horse would have certainly smashed me to the ground. I would have been killed. But this was a spirit horse.
His hooves and chest passed through me without resistance. A blur of sandy brown hide was all I saw, and he was gone.
I wished him well and much peace. I prepared to leave the world of spirit for the material, but something more was happening.
Ahead of me, high up in the sky, a beautiful white horse appeared. He pounded the air under his hooves for sheer joy. The magnificent animal galloped towards me with effortless powerful strides.
He thundered right over my head and away into the distance.
I think it was his way of saying goodbye. It was also a spectacular reward to see him as free and unfettered as the open meadows of the sky herself.
About the Author:
I am a retired engineer living in the beautiful countryside of Yorkshire, England. Often to be found striding along the country paths alongside the rivers, or ambling through the local woods, lost in my thoughts and happy as a lark. I enjoy painting and writing. Through them, I try to describe the spiritual experiences encountered during my daily and nocturnal travels. These experiences have always heavily influenced my life and now I have time to explore them and perhaps share my deep interest in all peaceful spiritual practices which celebrate and respect nature.
Carl Franz can be contacted at: