For the Love of Horses

When I left School many years ago, the only thing I had an interest in was horses. So I went to college and got some qualifications and even competed in some small show jumping and cross-country events. At the stables I worked at, we ran summer clubs and gymkhana’s. My days there were some of the happiest of my life. Except the falling off horses, being kicked by horses, being trodden on by horses and horse flies…. Other than that, pretty awesome days. As much as I loved all the horses in my care, two stole my heart. Starlight and Sundance, although we had nicknames for them. I still have a drawing of them both that was given to me as a gift for my birthday when I worked at the stables (I think it was for my 18th birthday).

Here, have some pictures of me between the ages of 17-20 ish years old with both of them.

Horses

Sundance, also known as ‘Fatty’ because he never stopped eating, was bay colour and a gentle yet stubborn git! If you wanted to head to the right, it was a given that he wanted to go left…. towards the lovely grass he had his eyes on. Always getting holes in his rugs, I spent many a night at home hand stitching his rugs. He was popular with everyone, his name often requested for hacks out because he was pretty safe with all scenarios regarding traffic etc. He was the cute boy that you just had to love.

Starlight, also known as ‘Scar’ or ‘Scar bag’ because of the scars on her face but she was so beautiful. She was a chestnut mare with a serious temper. Nobody was allowed near her tail, she was a kicker. She once let me plait the top of her tail for a competition but made it clear when she’d had enough by trying to eat my face. At competitions she had to wear a red ribbon in her tail which basically alerted others to the dangers of her flying back feet. She was a bitey, kicky, feisty, moody, stubborn, aggressive mare… and I loved her dearly. Point her at a show jumping fence and she was happy. We won a fair few rosettes for clear rounds between us. I have fond memories of us jumping, hacking out (although freaking at the sight of a tractor and trying to chuck me in a ditch was not as pleasant memory wise) and I loved just watching her grumpy attitude as she strutted across the field. One day I went to work and she’d gone. The vet had been called and she was ‘put to sleep’ because of twisted gut and she was suffering. I cried for days. I miss her every day, even now.

1-horses-leave-hoof-prints-on-your-heart-joyce-geleynse

Eliza will be 9 soon and has struggled with anxiety a fair few years now. We use essential oils which help loads. We have various strategies that we use if we see her anxiety rising. These days she is pretty good at saying how she feels so she can sometimes give a heads up that anxiety has popped by. One of the best things she ever did was attend ‘Horse Therapy’ (or Equine Therapy). At the start she hated it, well hated the thought of it (anxiety) and would scream as soon as she saw the turning to the stables (anxiety) and we’d spend the first 20-30 minutes of the session in the car for safety whilst she screamed, kicked the car seat and yelled (yep, anxiety). Eventually she would get out and tell me she’s only staying for five minutes. I agreed as it was confidence for her and her compromise. Every time those five minutes ended up as at least an hour if not longer. She’d help groom the ponies, feed them and learn about how to look after them. The minute she sat on a pony to ride she was totally relaxed and anxiety gone. Horses are said to be amazing help for those with autism and special needs and it certainly worked for Eliza. We went for weekly sessions for a year unless the weather was too bad. It gave her confidence, pushed her boundaries, improved her speech along with the confidence and lowering anxiety. She also made friends there. After a year, she didn’t want to go anymore and to be fair I think she’d got what she needed from it. The amazing power of horses.

(I’ll just add here that even though Eliza’s anxiety caused some upset as described above, I know her extremely well and I trusted my instinct and her fighting spirit that she could do it and it was worth persevering. Eliza often needs ‘anxiety squashing time’ and she actually really enjoyed the horses company and she still talks fondly of them now. If at any time it seemed damaging to her, I would have stopped the class).

Here she is (2015-2016)

Eliza Horses

This has been a post for ‘Photo Share Friday’ (although mine turned out to be an essay too lol). Hosted this week byΒ Sporadically Yours andΒ Finding Ninee

15 thoughts on “For the Love of Horses”

    1. I never intended it to turn out that way but I’m so pleased the blog came out like this πŸ™‚ Once I started talking about my experiences it seemed a great time to talk about Eliza’s πŸ™‚

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  1. I, too, am a huge fan of horses even though I’ve been kicked, intentionally cut by low-lying branches and thrown. Love how they helped your daughter and how you knew to hang in there with her before the sessions. A relative suffered from severe anorexia a decade ago and the only thing that helped was equine therapy. Amazing. She’s thriving now and life is good.

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  2. (My favorite post are those that take the form of a story. You past experience and your present experiences. v cool.)
    Though I understand the ‘perfection’ of animals I’ve never had any experience with horses. But the experience of introducing another to that particular relationship I can certainly identify with, though dogs weight much less, on average than horses. lol

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    1. I only meant to write a short piece about them and it turned in to adding in Eliza’s experiences which was awesome (Plus it’s generally a blog about her so I was pleased it turned out that way). I love most animals, very much a dog person. My son is a cat whisperer lol, at 4 years old he has them sussed and they adore him.

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  3. I love that equine therapy helped Eliza! It’s in her genes from mama’s days of performing and love of horses. I love them too although it’s been way too long since I’ve ridden. The last time was when I was visiting my mom in Montana. All of her neighbors have horses and they let us borrow them. My mom’s horse though? OMG. The strap on the saddle wasn’t tight enough and she fell and broke her arm. I had to run back with both horses, remember where she was and get an ambulance. Yikes. But I still love them. So much. Maybe it’s time to teach Tucker to ride!

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    1. I have not ridden for years but considering having a go again (quietly, non competitive wise lol). Ouch for your mums arm. The difference in Eliza’s anxiety and confidence was worth it all πŸ™‚ Xxxx

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  4. I’ve never been a huge fan of horses. We had a feisty mare when I was a kid. She bucked me off the first time I sat on her. Our relationship went downhill from there. As an adult, if I were to have a horse there would be so many things I would do differently in caring for a horse.
    There is a place that does equine therapy very near us, and I truly believe in the great benefits of that. It is a blessing to many.
    I’m glad your daughter was able to have that kind of help.

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  5. a) Both your pictures and her pictures are awesome. b) equine therapy is great. Marcus did it as a little boy for a bit – then we stopped for many years, now he is learning Carriage driving. He’d like a job driving a horse carriage to take people to the theatre. Originally he was saying in Times Square. (They don’t do horse carriages in Times Square anymore (of which we agree – that’s ridiculous to put horses in that situation)) But Marcus is still learning to “drive” on a farm outside of town through our local equine therapy assoc. Yea Horses!

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  6. That is so sad about Starlight. I’ve never been a little girl who wants a pony, mainly because we’ve always had them! I used to ride and show but I stopped in middle school. I have no idea why. My mom has a horse, a mule and a pony at her farm and I’ve never ridden them.

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  7. There is an equine rescue farm not far from me, and they offer classes for kids with autism – how amazing to be able to provide an experience that is positive for both a child and an animal who was suffering. I love reading about the power of healing through interactions with animals. Thank you for sharing!

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