Each week we feature a reader essay about how horses keep our lives “on track.” Today’s essay is by Meagan Nichole.
I have been completely and irreversibly obsessed with horses for as long as I can remember. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to ride/feed/pet/be around them. I don’t remember the first time I met one, I don’t remember ever feeling scared or nervous around them, I just remember wanting, more than anything, to have a horse. Hell, I’m sure at some point in my very young years, I probably even wanted to BE a horse. I lived and breathed everything equine.
The same is true to this day. My horse is my true happiness. Whenever I walk into the barn, I breathe a sigh of relief. They say that home is where your heart is? Well, my heart is with my horse, so the barn must be my home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my real home. I have an amazing, loving, supportive family, but nothing will ever give me the same joy as my horse.
I live a fairly busy life, and I happily give a lot of myself to others. I work two jobs, I take care of my disabled mother and run errands for her, I help around my parents’ house, and I take the dogs for walks… But when I go to the barn, it’s just me. I even leave my cell phone in the car. I love the smell of the barn when I walk in; the sweet grain, the fresh shavings. I love the sound of content horses eating hay in their stalls. Nothing in the world makes me feel more relaxed.
When approach my horse’s stall, he greets me with a nicker. I open his door and he patiently waits for me to clip the lead to his halter. He knowingly follows me to the crossties and stands quietly while I groom him and unload my day in and endless stream of words that make no sense to him. After I tack him up, we go for a long ride in the arena, practicing the things we learn in our lessons. Then we cool down, I untack him, and give him a good brushing and a carrot or two. When I put him back in his stall, he frisks me for the secret peppermint I always have hidden in my pocket for him. I give him kisses and say goodnight, then I’m off to rejoin the real world.
If I did not have my horse, I don’t know what kind of person I would be. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was in high school, and it still plagues me to this day. There are times when I feel so overwhelmed, I can’t even speak, but when I am at the barn, it all goes away. In the past four years that I have owned my horse, he has taught me some valuable life lessons. He has taught me to be patient; nobody (and no horse) is perfect. He has taught me to forgive and forget, and let to go of the little mistakes we make every day. He has helped me to be more confident in myself, and in everything I do. He has taught me to trust myself and others, and most of all, to have faith in things that are beyond my control. Riley and I have had some amazing rides, and we have had rides that make me want to give it all up, but I am still grateful for each and every one. He is the perfect horse for me. He gives me just enough of a challenge to help me learn and grow, but he is calm and gentle enough to make me feel safe.
My boy is getting a little older now, he has some creeks and groans here and there from his many years of training and competing, but his spirit is still young and ready for anything. He works very hard for me, and has proven himself to be a great athlete and a wonderful partner. If I could gather up all the love I have ever had for horses throughout my life, it wouldn’t even compare to how much I love Riley. The little child in me is ecstatic every time I see him. He is my dream come true. He is my soul in a living, breathing form. I look forward to many more years with him by my side.
Here at Horse Nation, we believe that the best therapists are our own horses. We love sharing the stories of special equines and the lessons horses have taught us — email yours to [email protected] to be featured in an upcoming edition of Back on Track “Horse Therapy.” Go Back on Track, and Go Riding!