have been blessed, I grew up in rural Wisconsin and was able to live and
develop a love of nature. Rivers, lakes and the green woods called to me.
During college years I moved to California, where under a different landscape,
I continued to explore the outdoors, in the Mountains and ocean.
I loved animals, but horses especially resonated with me. As a kid, visits to my uncle’s farm gave me the opportunity to be among them. When blowing out the yearly birthday candles, every wish reflected my longing to have my own horse. Somewhere around the age of 12, the wish came true. Toby and Mashane, a palomino and her Buckskin son came to be ours.
I felt “complete”, and in their presence I experienced a new kind of peace within myself.
Like every family, we had our challenges to master. My mother’s mental illness was our biggest hurdle. The horses gave me an outlet and escape at times. They “soothed my soul”, and “won my heart”.
As I grew and left home, I continued to take any opportunity to ride, or just “be” with horses. Mental health became my profession, and I had a family of my own. When my kids were small, I took every opportunity at festival pony rides to prop them on a horse. We had birthday party trail rides, regular visits to the nearby agricultural college’s grazing fields. Picnic & blankets next to the mare and her colt in the field, every spring stirred the same “connection“ that I had, in my young daughter.
Wasn’t long before she was in riding lessons, joining the “Walnut Valley Riders”, and leasing a pony to fulfill her dreams. At age 13, she developed significant health challenges that caused her to have to discontinue regular school. The isolation was difficult and a horse of her own, seemed to be the “medicine” she needed. “Bob” became her best friend and confidante. He was a blessing in all our lives, as we helped with his exercise and care, when she wasn’t able. It was through Bob, that I came upon my own horse “Indy”, and we were able to share trail rides and emotional support.
Eventually my daughter took Bob to college, but I now had Indy to renew and continue my own passion for horses. I had put that aside for myself, but he came in my life right when I needed.
My daughter’s illness had resulted in an interdependence that made it easy to focus as a caretaker and neglect my self-care. But although it appeared that I had even more caretaking responsibilities with Bob and Indy, they were my release. My time with them was my peace. It provided a quiet space to meditate and be in the “here and now”.
safe on a horse, requires mindfulness, there’s no place for anxiety or fear.
To be in “control” on the horse, you have to release control of all the other distractions in life and be “present”. How ironic that my daughter’s “therapy” became mine as well.
It’s like so many other gifts we get, when we are of service to others.
My daughter continues to be independent and moved a bit away after college. Her location necessitated Bob returning to our care. Not long after, Indy passed on. Bob and I grieved Indy’s loss together. Bob needed me as much as I needed him.
My daughter comes home to ride him when she can, and my husband helps in his care. Bob uniquely gives each of us what we need. But the real gift is the peace and ”connection” with this amazing animal!