Back on Track ‘Horse Therapy’: We’re a Special Kind of Crazy

And there’s only one known cure. Katie Paez takes a good hard look at her own sanity in this week’s edition of “Horse Therapy.”

Photo courtesy of Katie Paez.

Three of the horses Katie rides: Turtle, Harrison and Alfy. Photo by Katie Paez.

I fell off one of the horses I ride the other day. It wasn’t one of those fall-and-get-back-on kind of things, either. It was a breath-knocked-out, silent-sobbing kind of fall. A few days later, and I’m still in pain. It won’t go away.

At work, one of my fellow employees made a remark. She said, “you should find another hobby,” implying both that I am bad at horseback riding and that horseback riding is just a hobby. She’s wrong, on both accounts, but it got me thinking. Why do we pursue such a dangerous activity? In the wise words of Sherlock Holmes, horses are “dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle.” It’s a true statement. So, obviously, I did research.

I’ve come to the relatively honest conclusion that horse-­people are crazy. But we’re not the run-­of-the-­mill sort of crazy; we’re a special kind of crazy. We practically live in barn clothes. We no longer notice the pungent smell of manure. Frankly, I’m sure most of us could go a few days without showering and not notice a thing at this point.

We relish waking up early to feed the horses and ponies and muck out stalls and give lessons and groom and clean the stable and haul bales of hay. We love walking into our houses in the late afternoon or evening knowing that we have accomplished everything we had to for the day. But you know what? We have to get up and do it all again. And we love it. We live for it.

We are a special kind of crazy, the kind that doesn’t notice the stench of the barn anymore, the kind that pulls hay out from weird places and shrugs like its the norm, the kind doesn’t mind doing the same thing over again every day because of sheer love for the task.

So we may be a special kind of crazy, but we’re the best kind of crazy. We’re the girls you want to take home to your parents, because we won’t shirk from helping with the dishes after dinner, because we cleaned things that looked (and smelled!) much worse earlier that same day.

So the next time my coworker looks at me like I’m crazy for loving what I do and doing what I love, I’m going to look at her and agree. I am crazy. I’m crazy enough to rise with the sun and go muck the stalls of cranky ponies. I’m crazy enough to walk around in the blazing hot sun of summer watering the riding ring with a hose because the sprinkler broke. And you know what?

I love it.

My name is Katie Paez. I am 20 years old. I live in New York and have been riding for 17 years, since before I could even walk. I’m and Equine Management major at a local college out on Long Island. I teach riding lessons at Quogue Pony Farm and live for the days when I can spend all morning mucking stalls surrounded by the gentle company of my equine friends. 

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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