It was a normal Tuesday afternoon in Singapore when she arrived at the Polo Club. The sun was high in the sky and the trees were desperately praying for an afternoon monsoon to cool them down, while they held the city in their arms. The streets were buzzing with cars, crowds of people and many blue taxis, all forming part of the clockwork of a bustling city. The air smelled of fried fish and everybody was on a mission, trying to accomplish something.

She was introduced to the polo trainers, all of whom came from Pakistan. Then she walked up and greeted all the animals. She was short with medium-length brown hair, well dressed and immaculately groomed − like all the Club members were. Her husband followed slightly behind.

She paused for a moment as she walked past my stable.

“What is her name?” she asked the groom.

“Erika,” he replied.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” she said, admiring my powerful, well-defined, muscular body.

She looked deeply into my soft, brown eyes and I smelled her perfume. For a split second our souls connected, and I knew in that instant that I had been waiting many years for this moment.

I could sense the fatigue in her physical body, from the stress of keeping it all together − settling into a new job in a new country, with a different language and culture, with no support. I allowed her to rest against my chest while I sniffed the fragrance of her shampoo. I was thinking what an extraordinary journey it must have been for a farm girl from Africa, married to a Chinese man and ending up in Singapore.

She and her husband came back to the Club every weekend to ride. She always arrived with so much joy and excitement, and I could sense that this was her sanctuary. Here with me and all the other horses, she could be herself. Here she felt loved, accepted and ultimately free from the stress and responsibility of her daily life. Here she could breathe again, and here a very special bond started to develop, which was clearly not of this world.

As she spent more and more time with me, I got to know her better and the rest of her story unfolded.