Back on Track ‘Horse Therapy’: Carissa & Harley

Each Tuesday we bring you a reader-submitted essay about a horse that has helped them get “back on track.” This week Carissa Rougeaux shares the story of Harley, who helped her heal from incredible loss.


In May 2010 one of my very best friends, teammate and leasee at the time passed away leaving a brutal trail of grief through out the barn we rode at together.

Shortly after her passing the horse we shared, Rex, became lame with out a cause. We worked tirelessly with vets all over Southern California and Central California trying to get a diagnosis or something. Meanwhile, our barn brought in a few horses for some of the other riders to look at and I was able to help school them.

Harley was one of those horses. I absolutely adored him; however, I was still trying to get answers from vets regarding Rex and wasn’t able to get another horse. Several weeks went by and eventually we discovered the cause of Rex’s lameness was a brain tumor and we made the decision to put him to sleep. I was devastated: Not only did I lose my friend, but then also the horse we both loved so much.

After losing Rex I spent my time schooling the other sale horses and loving on Harley while he waited for his new home. My mom noticed how much Harley helped me through all the devastation and her and my grandma decided to buy him for me. Harley helped me through more than the loss of Rex and my friend. He helped me move up higher and get my confidence back as Rex was a very aggressive horse over fences and caused me to be afraid at some times which stopped me from showing.

I have had Harley for almost five years now, we’ve competed successfully, he’s helped me through even more tough times through out the years and even tolerated the 12 hour move we made to Nevada. I retired him from showing this year and now he enjoys his time being loved on by the little kids around the barn and teaching new riders how to ride, including my stepdaughter. I don’t know what  I would do with out my horse… he is truly my peace among the chaos.


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!

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