The idea behind this painting is perseverance. It was done as a project in college where we had to try to depict an idea that meant something to us personally.
Since it was a personal painting, I chose to base the horse from a calendar picture that I had always been intrigued by that hung on my wall for many years as I was growing up (it was a Robert Vavra photograph). But to further personalize it, the color of the horse in the painting is that of my own horse. Also, I gave the woman long hair because my own has always been fairly long.
To be perseverant in something, you typically have a goal, so I placed a ready sword in the woman's hand. I chose a weapon to symbolize that she is fighting for something.
She is riding a running horse without saddle or bridle, which to me can be absolutely glorious. I chose this to show that something can be worth the effort it takes to "stay on." I can only imagine how difficult it would be to do that AND hold a sword in your hand.
They are running uphill, near the edge of a cliff, in the dark (and with a sharp object!), which symbolizes that what she is doing is potentially dangerous, and takes concentration.