Where do I begin? My life with horses has been a twisting road of love and laughter and necessity. Complex at times and rather simple for most of it. I'll tell you one thing: I really wouldn't be who I am without them.
I'm sure many of you reading this feel the same. But I only have my story. It might sound like yours, but it is mine. We each are drawn to this four-legged creature for different reasons. Some by mistake, fall in love with the horse, and can never really fall out of it. Others might say it is in their blood. The genes are to blame! For this expensive habit!
Mine is a tale of need and belonging and transformation.
A horse can be summed up by different words: teacher, friend, companion, guide. And when we look at why we are even around horses, what is the answer? Usually there is something in them we like. Maybe it's the one thing we just can't find in other humans. Perhaps it's familiar in some way.
For myself, I belong to the horse. My life has been molded in many ways to fit in horses wherever and whenever I can. From a young girl, to a college student, to competitor, to professional, I have turned to horses through every stage of life.
But what do they teach me?
In my early years it was how to fail. Later I would look back and realize how tolerant my horses really were. I learned that there is a side to me I don't like and I needed to cut that part out. The side that held all the anger and frustration. Oh but wait, I also learned that they have that too. Holding on to too much for others. Being someone's dependent or co-dependent and having to lean on ones self far too much. They taught me sympathy and even empathy in this.
As a young girl, just touching a horse would bring me back to my senses.
Rough day at school? Muck poop. Isn't it just the most meditative thing in the world? Cleaning a stall?
Stressed out at work? Ride with the lights on after dark. No one around at the barn but myself and this 18 hand Warmblood named Alnus.
No direction in College? No remedy like an off -the-track Thoroughbred mare. She will never lie. Might knock some sense into the situation. Sort out those "feeling sorry for myself blues".
Getting antsy? A 50 mile endurance ride always does the trick. Arabian speed and agility is hard to match. Getting in the groove with your horse out in the Nevada desert does something to you. Grit and Gallop and Go.
For most of us, we ride because it gives us something. The horse and human have been bonded for many Centuries. They say that the horse made the man. And I think that's pretty accurate. In fact I think it's still true. For me they can always tear down my walls and I am thankful. They made me, there is no doubt.
Now as I am older and work on horses as a profession, I find there is truly no end to what knowledge I can gain. From the technicalities of riding, to the science as well as mystery of equine bodywork- I am constantly surprised, amazing and humbled. What other creature on earth could do this to me? None other than the horse.
It isn't because they are held on a higher platform than other animals. I like to think of the horse as a way of life. You have to be a certain kind of person to really "get it".
There is a certain amount of reflection involved.
On must be curious in nature.
Most of us who love horses have something a bit broken or bruised inside.
In my case, coming from humble means, a horse was a luxury. An absolute luxury. And cleaning or caring or scrubbing to be able to ride was a privilege.
Horses have taught me that no matter what season I am in in my life- they will be there. They are constant. And that is a deep-seated need you can probably relate to. The need for fur and hooves and tails swishing at flies.
In this season of hibernation and reflection, think back to why you started riding, or mucking or loving horses so deeply.
Nostalgia can bring tidings of joy as well.
As a final nod to the horse, one of the most important things I have ever learned from them is ... timing.
There is a time for everything. Every season has its time.
Perfect timing and feel can make a good horse even greater and a troubled horse understand.
A horses timing is not always my timing.
Letting go of time and place and just being present.
Philosophers and teachers- those fuzzy creatures be! How dare they "accidentally" teach me the most valuable lessons of my life.
And so secretively- with no words spoken!