Back on Track ‘Horse Therapy’: Rachael & Bert
Rachael Mikelson shares the story of a horse with whom she shares a bond so deep, neither life nor distance can tear them apart.
Bert has always been the love of my life, and will always have that extra special place in my heart. I met him at the insecure and awkward age of 12, and he instantly became my best friend. Bert heard all about my day at school while I got us both ready for our lesson, and I told him over and over how I would try to save money to buy him — that’s been the only promise I’ve ever broken to him. His mane was there to absorb my tears as I would confide in him how I’d been bullied that day, while we quietly plodded along the trail. He’s taught me patience, a good work ethic, and that there are few better feelings in the world than having the wind blow in your face while cantering across a field.
For two years, we built an incredibly comforting and trusting relationship, all the while developing our dressage skills. Then, four months after I turned 14, my mother passed away after fighting lung cancer, and Bert was there. He nuzzled me when I couldn’t express my heartbreak, he swished his thick Morgan tail in my face to make me laugh, and he was there to take my focus, and relieve me from the pain I felt. Two months to the day after my mother passed away, Bert and I had our first show, and once again, he was there to carry me through to Reserve Champion.
Fifteen years later, through high school, college, Bert’s diagnosis of Cushing’s, his retirement, and my move 2,000 miles away from him, he still neighs at me when I come home to visit, and he still assaults me as soon as I get near him, and he still makes those funny “oh so good” faces when I scratch all of his favorite spots. I know he remembers me — I can feel it in my heart, and in the hairs on the back of my neck that stand up when I hear his soft nicker. Bert has been with me for more than half of my life, and every time I leave him it gets harder to say goodbye, but I know deep down inside that he’s always with me. Bert has gotten me through more than I could even begin to mention, and every day I’m thankful for having him in my life.
Go Back on Track, and Go Riding!
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