From the time that I was born, literally, I loved and needed animals in my life. My neighbourhood friends were great, but I was happiest playing with my dogs and cats.
What I really loved though, was horses. Where most little kids were imagining they were superheros or princesses, I was imagining that I was a horse, or that I was riding one. I’ve spent my life finding peace with horses.
The first time I rode a horse, it was with my Dad. He put me up in the saddle, it felt like hundreds of feet of the ground. I was afraid, but exhilarated. I knew I was safe, Dad was there, but those first couple of steps – wow, to feel that movement under me, scary. AMAZING.
When Dad died, I went to the horses, I needed them like I needed air.
I would like to share a little about each of the horses in my life. They deserve my public declaration of love, gratitude and tribute.
Blaze is 20. Dad found her, called me and told me she was the best friend I’d been looking for. She was two. So was Callen. They’ve grown up together, fallen deeply in love, and I trust that little horse with my life. Literally. She rules the herd, and when Phoenix, the brat princess misbehaves, Blaze steps between us, protecting me, and telling the brat to behave. Blaze and I have a communication, I understand her whinnies, the loud, drawn out sound which one means “Hello, hey, I see you there, come visit” or the soft gentle whisper “I’m excited, you’re about to give me some sweet feed”. She walks up to me, looks me in the eye, and drops her forehead to mine, blowing gently on my face. I love her smell, I love everything about her.
Chicka, we have a complicated relationship. She came to be as a 12 year old. She’s shy and reserved, wants to love and be loved, but is so afraid. She’s been mine for 6 years now. I did my first ever clinic (can you believe that???) with her recently, and cried like a baby. This horse, she’s trained to within an inch of her life, can run like the wind, is breathtakingly beautiful. She’s also sad and scared. Throughout the clinic, we just couldn’t communicate. The blame is mine and mine alone. When finally, we had the breakthrough, when I was able to communicate to her properly what I wanted, we just settled in, and the trust came through. I love her, she understands that now, she knows she is safe with me and I feel that we are building that bridge to communication. I’ll never give up on her, and I know that when I’m on her back, she’ll give her all for me.
Phoenix, well, that’s a story. Luna gets her own story, she deserves that, but what I’ll say is that Luna was the love of my life, my soulmate in a horse. She left me too soon. Phoenix is her full sibling. They are nothing alike, for which I’m thankful. I love and appreciate her for exactly who she is. She is 3, as Dad would say, full of piss and vinegar. She is black with a bold white blaze, beautiful and knows it. Where she is like Luna is her brain and smarts. This girl is smart, solid and curious, she likes to learn and experiment, and this is going to make her a perfect partner for me and for Callen. She’s loving and affectionate, while also being just a wee big naughty. Again, that makes her a good match for me and my daughter. She’s likely my retirement horse, with me being 49. I like to think that when I’m 79, she’ll be 30, and we’ll be in the pasture, her head on my shoulder, my arm on her neck watching the sun set together.
Last night, for the first time in two years, I went riding. It was exhilarating and the most fun I’ve had in a very very long time. In 2018 I had major surgery and couldn’t ride for months, then last year, when Dad passed, everything passed in a blur. While the horses were my outlet for my grief, gratitude and joy, I just couldn’t find the energy to ride. Yesterday, I felt like there were jumbled pieces of a puzzle that came together.
Find your grace, find your joy, find your gratitude. Do that thing, over and over. Fill your soul, and your boots Saddle up friend, and get riding.
If you’re a fellow horse lover, you will be interested in my new photo project, Horses and Their Humans. To take part, be sure to contact me here to sign up.
BE PRESENT, BE IN THE MOMENT, BE IN THE PICTURE.