Each week we feature reader-submitted stories about horses that have gotten them “back on track” after a rough patch. Today, Danielle tells the story about how one gray mare helped her heart heal from the loss of another.
The call was quick and to the point, and took me by surprise – my princess, my partner in crime, my mare Bella had sold, and was being picked up within two hours. I’d outgrown her; smart, sweet and achingly beautiful, Bella was having trouble making it over bigger jumps, and it was time to let her teach a new person. As the trailer drove away, my heart broke. She had been my life for four years – everything had been about my Gray Girl, and I had no clue how I would be happy with any horse but her.
A week or so later, my phone rang again with another twist. I’d been looking sporadically for inexpensive horses, riding school horses, and generally being a mope. My trainer called me with a proposition: our friend Michelle had a horse she’d be willing to lease me, so I didn’t rush into buying the wrong horse. A few days later, a little gray mare, fat from being in the field for six months, arrived at our barn. Doubts lingered in my mind: would I be good enough? Would she trust me? Would I trust her? What was I getting myself into?
With my heart still hurting, we began our relationship arduously; her steering was limited, and her jump, which showed great potential, popped me out of my tack and into the dirt more times in that first week than I’d been in the last year. “She looks so much like Bella!” was a common statement made by friends, which was more frustrating than comforting. Georgita was not Bella, but she was a special mare in her own right, and I set off with grit in my teeth to prove that she was different.
I’ve never jumped bigger than 3’6”, but here I was, after years of riding, back to struggling over crossrails. However, each ride, each lesson, offered something new to learn, and a sense of accomplishment began to grow within me. Slowly, we started to learn each other; more bad rides were replaced with good rides, and the more fit she became, the better we performed. Slowly, the ache in my heart from missing Bella became smaller, replaced by appreciation for what we had. And suddenly, my heart opened up to loving another talented, sweet gray mare.
The healing power of horses is a mystery I will never understand. It’s also difficult to put so much emotion into a relationship with an animal, knowing the risks. Georgita has made me brave both as a rider and a person – I’m not afraid to hurt, physically or emotionally, because the reward of loving her, and Bella, and every horse after them is worth it. Each fence, each carrot, each slobbery horse-breath kiss – they’re all rewards for a partnership. I don’t know how long my opportunity with Georgita will last, but I do know this – there will be many horses in my life, healing my heart from the one before. Each one makes me a better equestrian, and for that, I am grateful.
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!