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Sitting On The Saddle, I Wept: The Healing Power of Horses

The Horse's Special Connection With Man

My first earthly experience of horses was when my parents gave me a purple My Little Pony. That was 1989. I was four years old.

The beauty and majesty of horses has been recorded throughout history and literature since the dawn of time. Horses, like dogs, are one of man's oldest friends, workmates, and companions.

Horses always intrigued me. I always admired the girls and boys who could ride horses, breed them, and share a connection with them.

I never believed that riding horses was something I could experience. It felt largely out of my budget - it's not a secret that horse riding and ownership is a rich person's hobby. And, I felt like horses were too intimidating for me as an animal. I never actively pursued the hobby and sport of horse riding.

Knowing When You're Ready To Ride

That all changed when my daughter turned two. She started talking about horses seemingly out of nowhere. She always gravitated to horses whenever we encountered them. At fairs and birthday parties, she felt an immediate connection with horses. She asked for horse riding lessons, but I felt she was too immature to handle the responsibility and the risk of working with a 1,000lb animal.

Her passion and interest never faded. When Daniel Beavers, my co-host on Valuable Insight, came into my life the horse issue took a prominent place in our lives. Daniel and my then 7 year old daughter would talk for long stretches of time about horses and horse riding. She shared with Daniel many interesting facts about horses that not even I knew. By the end of our week together, Daniel took a look and me and said, "She's ready to ride."

With Daniel's advice, guidance, and encouragement I started hunting for the right riding school for Harper and I. I figured I could learn a long with Harper as a mother-daughter bonding activity and that it would give me some "me-time" away from the demands of people and all of the mental strain from intellectual activities I engage in with school, business, and managing a household.

Crash Course Into The Horse World

child grooming a horse
My daughter learning how to groom and tack a horse.

I did not have any inkling that horse riding would help me in other ways.

When I got my first lesson with Beth Boyer at The Riding School in Vista, California, I wasn't exactly sure what I'd expect. I came in with a totally open mind, but I asked her to help my daughter gain self-confidence around horses and gain maturity and responsibility in caring for another living being. As for me, I wasn't sure how she could help me, but I trusted her experience and expertise enough to let her size me up.

And that, Beth did.

Beth threw me into a crash course: she taught me how to groom a horse, tack it up (putting on its protective gear, bridle, and saddle), how to get it in and out of its paddock and how to mount a horse.

I wasn't prepared for what happened next.

Becoming Body Conscious

woman on horse
I just wept.

While sitting on the saddle, with my feet in the stirrups she pushed my heels down.

She made a simple observation, "Your ankles and feet are stiff."

That observation opened up a well-spring of emotion inside of me.

I turned my head and looked at my six year old son and husband watching me.

Tears welled up. They started to stream. Then, while sitting in the saddle, I just wept.

Tears welled up. They started to stream. Then, while sitting in the saddle, I just wept.

I didn't know what made me cry.

I looked down at Beth and she knew exactly what to say in that very moment.

She looked at me with sympathetic eyes and said with full understanding, "You just want someone else to be in charge for a while, huh?"

My throat tightened. Tears streamed down my face. I couldn't let out a word. I just nodded.

It was at that moment that I could feel the tranquility of Burt, the horse, between my legs. It was if he was equalizing my energy with his.

I felt, in that very moment, totally understood.

I didn't have to explain myself or justify my feelings or give a reason why.

Beth knew exactly what I needed without me having to say a word.

Letting Go of 2020

In the process of learning horse care and horse training and riding technique, I had a moment of cathartic release.

The stress of 2020 added up:

I watched my friends fight amongst themselves and each other about politics. The uncertainty of the 2020 Presidential election left me frazzled. A good friend almost died of Covid. My friend's parents both died of Covid. My husband was laid off (fortunately with a severance package), and other Covid related stresses and strains effecting my business, friendships and family's lives.

I felt, for the entire year of 2020, as if I was holding my breath. I was waiting from the comfort and refuge of my home to see what everyone else was going to do. I was hoping that people would just work together for the sake of humanity.

That night I had a dream: The world was being invaded and destroyed by aliens we don't totally understand and everyone is just trying to save themselves.

It is the perfect metaphor to describe how I felt the world is behaving.

Healing Power of Horses

That was my first horse riding lesson. I was hooked from that moment and just four lessons in felt that confident rider emerge from within me.

Beth said that riding teaches people a lot about self-confidence. I believe her.

Essentially, it doesn't matter what is going on in the world outside of you if you believe in yourself.

The truth is, people and institutions will disappoint you. They will fail you. They will forsake you.

That's not a reason to hold your breath and give up on your dreams.

Horse riding allows me to be body conscious. Body consciousness allows one to notice where emotions and tension is trapped in the body. When you notice it, you can let it go.

Just let it go.

Once we let go, it does.

Like those tears.

The fear.

The burden.

The worry.

The hardest part is really letting it go.

Maybe because we are afraid of the damage our emotions and feelings will cause.

But, the real damage is holding them in.

Letting them go transforms them into hope, humility, grace, and peace.

The healing power of horses taught me that.

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