Back on Track ‘Horse Therapy’: Devinne & Ariana

When Devinne’s equine partner passed away, it took a special mare to remind her of not only her love for horses but her dream of becoming a veterinarian. Read Devinne and Ariana’s story.


Ariana brought me back from the darkest corner of depression.

A few months prior to meeting Ariana, Sassy, the horse that had breathed meaning into my life and helped me heal my confidence after being a four year victim of sexual and emotional abuse, passed away suddenly right in front of me. Horses had been my entire life for twenty years. But when the vitality left Sassy as she breathed her last before me, I felt my dreams and my will to love and trust in another fade with her. At that moment, I swore off horses and my plans to apply to veterinary school. I tried to shove animals from my heart entirely. For several weeks after Sassy’s death, I maintained my determination to forget the love that I had held for Sassy and her kin.

My dressage trainer, Leeandra Wesley, eventually called me and asked me to tag along to help with the driving on a trip to Virginia. Leeandra was bringing home a pregnant Andalusian mare to be the foundation of her breeding program. My attempts to shy away and politely decline were brushed off as she insisted that I accompany her. After some resistance, Leeandra convinced me and I reluctantly joined her.

Ariana knew I would be hers from the moment her eyes burned into mine. She was fierce and intense in all facets of her being, including the depths of her affection. Emotional, headstrong and passionate, a misfit as I was, she introduced herself as my reflection and salvation with each day I cared for her. Every lesson in which I rode her I came to appreciate more her soft eye, playfulness, cuddles and demand for constant undivided attention. While working with Ariana, I felt my love for hoses rekindled and I embraced my purpose in life – to care for those creatures who, through their companionship, had cared for me. I graduated veterinary school, working with Ariana throughout my schooling.

Ari flying

Leeandra suffered many health challenges which forced Ariana’s sale six years later. She knew that a horse with Ariana’s quirks and particularity would require an owner who could embrace such demands and extended the offer to me. Walking her off the trailer as my own two years ago was the best day of my life. I felt whole again. Ariana reminds me daily to be patient, kind, gentle, and assured enough to face challenges with a bold heart and an open mind. To be in her presence is to know love and freedom. She is my escape, my counselor and my dearest friend. Together we soar as if on wings.

Through her I have come to better understand myself, and with her there is no trouble that cannot be lost in the swift wind of her stride and the serenity of her gaze.


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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