Ever since I was a small child, I have loved animals of all kinds, and when I was four I told my mother I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up, as many small girls do. So she smiled and nodded, but at the same time encouraged me to follow my dreams, and when I graduated as a veterinarian a good few years ago now, nobody could have been prouder of me than my mother.
Every weekend I went to the local horse barn, and lived and dreamed of horses every waking and sleeping moment. Like a lot of horse crazy, or as we say in UK, pony-mad girls all I ever wanted was a horse of my own. My parents told me if I saved up until I could afford a horse they would help me with a place to keep one. So I worked and saved, bred guinea-pigs, delivered newspapers, baby-sat, and earned whatever I could until finally at age sixteen I got my first horse. It was all I had ever dreamed of and more.
I left the nest and went to college, and lived and traveled all over the world. My horse retired and went to live in a sweet retirement home, and finally passed over the rainbow bridge a few years ago, aged well over forty. My life went in different directions. I rescued a couple of horses along the way, then got married and had a child, who came to me in a dream before she was born and asked me to be her mother.
Motherhood has been wonderful but there was still a gap in my heart, waiting to be filled with another horse. Someone I knew told me there was a horse waiting to come into my life, and I felt my childhood dreams rekindle, and started to dream of horses once more. My daughter was seven and a half, and has a great rapport with animals, especially cats, but I wanted her to experience horses too. Celeste loves all animals, and they are very drawn to her as well. She has been with me on house calls and people are amazed that their shy and nervous animals invariably come out to greet her.
So we talked about getting a horse, and were planning to get one when we came back from a trip to England and the Spring-time rolled around. One day though I thought we would go and check out some horses at a local rescue. Before I left I happened to read my morning horoscope and it said it would be a day about large animals, and ruled by the planet Venus, who is all about beauty. At the rescue we saw a couple of sweet horses, then the owner said I have to show you Bella Mia.
Bella Mia was a young Arabian, then six, and had yet to be ridden. I had not really planned on a young, untrained horse, but Bella Mia came out, took one look at my daughter and would not leave her side. I knew we had been chosen by her, and she was a sweet gentle soul, so we went home to think about it. She also had a club foot, which did not seem to be an issue but we were really not quite ready for the practicalities of a horse.
When we got home we looked up her pedigree, she is a pure-bred Arab who had ended up in a rescue situation but they did know her breeding. When I looked at her lineage I saw her mother was called Venus and of course Bella Mia means my beauty in Italian, it was just like my horoscope had said. Then I saw her grandfather was named Aza Destiny – strong Destiny. So of course she became our horse, and we took her home a month later after our trip.
She is the sweetest most gentle horse, and is doing so well with myself and my daughter, I have worked with her a lot and we are riding on trails now. One day a person with MS came to the barn and Bella Mia was so sweet and empathic, towards her, the owner of the barn was amazed to see how she acted. She has such a kind heart, and has proved to be a beautiful soul, both inside and out. The photo was taken the day we brought her to her new home, and the bond between my daughter, Celeste, and Bella Mia is as strong as ever. We are so blessed to have been chosen by a very special little mare, and what a gift from Venus she has proven to be.
Dr. Anna Maria Gardner is a holistic veterinarian, based in Washington State, and is certified in acupuncture and homeopathy. She lives in Washington with her daughter, two dogs, seven cats, sixteen chickens, two goats, a donkey, a horse, two ducks, a pair of geese and one bossy parrot.