It had been a challenging day, and I almost decided not to go for a ride. I wasn’t in the best mood, and the sun had already dropped behind Owl Mountain for the day. My mare Shelley needed exercise, though, so I stuck a hose in the stock tank to fill it while we were gone, and Shelley and my dog Sadie and I headed out. When we returned, my mood was much improved, and I didn’t feel quite so tired. I was reminded that I’m not the only one who finds time with equines therapeutic.
When we last went to Fort Collins for major errands, we went to our customary restaurant and were pleased to be waited on by a favorite staff person. I don’t remember how it came up, but we soon found ourselves talking about her husband’s racehorses, a topic we’d never touched on before. I would never have guessed that she had equines in her life; she just didn’t seem that sort of person. It is her husband’s only hobby, and she admitted that she found it relaxing to be around the horses with her children.
About an hour later, I was checking out at the grocery store, and the clerk noticed that my fanny pack has horses on it. “I love horses,” she said emphatically. She had grown up around them but didn’t have any in her life right now and she missed them. “They are so wonderful to be around,” she said as we parted.
The next day I was buying propane for the stock tank heaters, and the attendant told me that her eldest daughter had had a life-changing experience. This summer a local rancher committed suicide, and it was that seventeen year old that had had to call for emergency services. “She rode with her dad on the forest checking cows for ten days straight,” her mother said. It was just the therapy she needed after witnessing something no teenager should have to.
I’m not sure my ‘desk’ is representative, but there seem to be a lot of stories about horses in therapeutic roles that come across it: programs for war veterans, seminars for corporate leaders, workshops for troubled teens, riding for the disabled. It’s pretty obvious from that list that equines can play important therapeutic roles. After my tough day improved and I remembered the three stories I’d been told recently, it’s also pretty obvious that equines can be good therapy for ordinary people, too. We just may not know how lucky we are to be receiving it!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014
If you enjoy stories like this one, you might also enjoy the books A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies and What an Honor: A Dozen Years with Fell Ponies, available internationally by clicking here.