Horses are therapy

 

Horses are therapy

I’M BACK! For the readers who may have wondered what happened to my articles… They say life is a journey and that you should embrace the roads travels. Well, last March my life was turned upside-down when I suddenly lost my Husband Mark of 25 years. Taken so young at only 59. Besides a comfortable life here in New England, my husband and I bred and showed our Standard Poodles for years together, creating a unique lifestyle. He endured my intense horse life with all its ups and downs, because he knew it made me happy. The shock and sadness of his loss has been overwhelming and nothing feels normal…and I guess it never will again. I tried to write…but I thought it would be too sad. Maybe it was just too sad for me. But with the amazing support of family and my dog and horse friend’s, I’ve found my way through a very hard year….and the truth is, days are still hard. I miss him everyday but because of the animals in my life, I got up and carried on each day. Mark was always supportive of my goals and dreams, including this crazy sport of Eventing. So here goes…another article for my fellow adult amateur fans, with more articles to come.

Mark and I ❤️ 12/24/2011

Anyone who is involved with horses know how much they can give us. Who knows why? They are incredibly needy animals, that require hours of work to feed and clean them just to enjoy the hour ride we have with them daily. Maybe we humans need something to take care of to give us purpose.

Sure we all get started with that same dream… Riding the beautiful horse on the beach. With the wind blowing through your hair, the soft splash in the water from their galloping hooves under the glistening sun… Then BAM… reality sets in as you’re sweating your buns off mucking stalls and trying to get that manure pile moved that built up all winter! No energy to ride, there’s only one thing on your mind – soaking in a hot tub. The beach ride will have to wait another day. But the dream is always there. Just out of reach. But close enough to keep us working for it!

I think a lot of us need the horse has an outlet for certain unpleasantness or tragedies in our lives. I recently had a tough blow myself – sudden loss of my husband last March. It’s taken me a full year to be able to finish this article… And I would say if I didn’t have the horse to fill my time, I don’t know what I would be doing.

At first, I didn’t know how riding would be, because I didn’t have much fight in me. Would I be safe? But with great support at the barn and from my trainers. We did some quadrille riding, that my horse actually liked allot; and when she played follow the leader. I could just sit up there and enjoy the ride. And eventually I could ride serious again. It actually felt good because it took most of my focus away from my problems.

 


 

Going to the barn every day to see my horse and do my ride, felt normal. So in the wake of everything in my life that was not normal. The horse was good therapy. With my head all over the place. I needed to find something to focus on. So I started to put together a show schedule for the season. Maybe a slow start and amp up towards the middle of the summer.

So I started to do some jump clinics… Some schooling shows… And I entered my first shows for late June.

Here we go again… a real test for my psyche. The physical riding was actually going ok. I had improved my position and effectiveness of aides and my challenging horse had finally settled into a mature outlook on the work she’s been trained to do. Almost too well – she came out for the season like gangbusters, rearing to go out of the start box or for any jump course…. like being shot out of a cannon! Just hang on Mom, I got this!!! She clearly, in only DIVA Mare fashion, thinks she knows more than me. With a quick diet change and a few miles into the season and lil extra hot weather here in the east, we settled into a groove for the show season.

But it wasn’t the physical riding that affected me by my tragedy, but the mental piece again! Not to say that my brain wasn’t already a working on a slippery slope… this year was the year for forgetting things! I for the life of me kept forgetting my Dressage Test….nearly getting eliminated each time. Oh the show nerves, combined with personal distress seemed to be rearing it’s ugly head at uncontrollable moments. Of course this created anxiety for each show, causing me to practice my dressage tests until I knew them like the back of my hand. If I conquered the dressage memory test, I would forget a jump or go off course in the jumping phase!!! What the heck is going on?? I guess it’s called “widows brain” who knew this was a real thing?

My uncertain future with this heartbreaking sadness has consumed me. I guess it’s a little like PTSS. Hopefully the excitement of everyday things will return. I clearly have to just be ok with the riding right now and not my own performance and with more time, especially that precious time in the saddle… my best form of therapy. Things will improve in my head to be able to think clearer and focus again. Gotta love our equine partners for all they give us, whether they or we know it or not.

I dedicate this to my husband MARK who always supported everything I did, ❤️ from showing my Poodles to the the all-consuming horse. I miss him every day.

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