The gift of “Frieda’s Gem”, a work in pastel by Kim McElroy

  • Post author:
  • Post category:HEAL

Friedas-GemWritten by Leigh Shambo

“No heaven can heaven be, if my horse isn’t there to welcome me.” ~Anonymous

I mean no disrespect to the human race, if I include certain horses among those I light candles for on Saints’ Day. Horses are long-lived, powerfully social animals with deep souls. They are widely acknowledged as God’s most forgiving creature. Beyond forgiving our trespasses, horses thrive, bloom and become smarter in relationships of kindness, clarity, fairness and empathy. In this way horses can be our teachers, sometimes even our messengers from God.

My life’s longest relationship with a horse came to an abrupt transition when my mare Frieda died this past May. We were together for 29 of her 31 years, half of all my years so far. “Frieda’s Gem”, a portrait by equine artist Kim McElroy, was commissioned as a gift to me from my friends at Raven Rock Ranch. They too know Frieda’s great heart.

Kim, a highly intuitive artist, first employs a spiritual/creative “journey” that will guide her creation of a portrait. In this way, she may meet the subject of her portrait, a process of “…defining the essence of thoughts and feelings.” Unbeknownst to me, Kim embarked on a journey – an intuitive journey – to meet my beloved friend.

I am grateful that Kim shared her notes with me and many impressions from Kim’s meeting with Frieda rang true. Frieda certainly has “earned her wings,” as Kim described seeing her. This great mare who literally loved being a mother and had two foals of her own, spoke lovingly of her work with human children, and I believe she saw herself as a mother to me as well. Frieda also expressed care about a man who was family to me; I instantly knew she meant Jack, my first husband, who cared for Frieda along with me for half of her life, and who shared many hours riding with us in the mountains of our Washington home.

GemYou might not think of purple amethyst as a traditional background for a horse portrait. Kim was “shown” this prism-like background featuring the crystal widely known to impart calm and healing. When Kim unveiled Frieda’s portrait, my friends and I saw in the amethyst Frieda’s best friend of her life’s final decade… a humble sweetheart of a horse named “Gem”.

“Frieda’s Gem” is a gift of love, through which I too “meet” my beloved companion where she is now, making hoofprints in heaven.

I send heartfelt thanks to Kim McElroy, a precious friend who knows the soul of horses. Visit Kim’s website at, and to the Raven Rock Ranch team who gave Frieda and Gem the best of care and love for the final phase of their lives, You guys are family! Visit RRR on the web at

L at unveiling comp unveiling