When I was a young girl, I was absolutely horse crazy. One of my earliest memories was riding a pony at my friend's house at two or three years old. The walls of my bedroom growing up were covered in horse pictures and magazine cutouts. When I was finally old enough to go to horse camp, I waited all year for that one week when I got to ride everyday.
I had plans for my grown up self. Someday, I was going to buy a big piece of property and just let a herd of wild horses run around on it without a care in the world. I would look out my kitchen window and see them galloping by or grazing peacefully.
It was a dream that slowly died the old I got. I went to school, got married, had babies and worked. I took riding lessons here and there, but had to stop for one reason or another. At one point, I just told myself that even though I loved being around horses and they brought me so much joy, they didn't fit into my life. I locked it away in the back of my mind and shut the door every time it would crack open.
And I hated it.
There are things were are designed to do; things we are meant to have in our lives. For me, one of those things has always been horses. My journey to becoming an Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator started at a rescue.
I had just moved to Washington and had said goodbye to my job in California. I didn't know anyone and I didn't know what to do with myself. The kids were in school and my husband was gone during the day at his new job. He was actually the one who suggested that I look for volunteer work. After some research, I came across SAFE (Save A Forgotten Equine). This small horse rescue was in need of volunteers, so I went to orientation and signed up.
Around that same time, I found a clip on YouTube about a therapy program where horses interacted with humans to bring healing and closure. The video captured me in a way that nothing else had. I told myself that I didn't care how long it took, but I was going to find a way to make an impact in the lives of people with the help of horses.
Turns out, that was easier said than done. First, I didn't have a horse, second, I didn't have any property and third, I wasn't a professional at anything except desk work. I spent a lot of time searching for a way to make my dream happen. I went to conferences, I talked to people, and I found a lot of ways that this was not going to work.
A year after volunteering at the rescue, a small gray thoroughbred came in. It was her second time being returned to the rescue and she seemed distressed every time I saw her. But there was something about her. The moment I saw her, I just knew. This was my horse. Underneath that stress and trauma was my horse.
I was determined to make her mine, and so I found a part-time job, a place with an opening to board her and adopted her with a new name; Mercy. The day she stepped off that trailer into her new home, I was so proud. My first horse!
We got to know each other at our first barn, and I was still trying to piece together how I would run a program with only one horse. Then, another life change happened and our family moved further north. I needed to find a barn closer to home and as luck would have it, I knew someone looking for boarders.
I had met Lori while volunteering at SAFE. She was a barn manager and had bought her own barn close by. She had plenty of room for Mercy, and even a companion horse that instantly fell in love with my little mare. Mercy settled in and I continued to search for a way to make my dream of helping people with horses come true.
I finally came across Equine Connections, an internationally accredited organization for Equine Assisted Learning. The more I researched, the more excited I became. This is what I had been looking for! I flew out to Arizona for training and after a lot of hard work, became a Certified Facilitator. I was so excited and Lori was so gracious to become my host barn so I could run these amazing programs. Everything seemed like it was coming together.
Then COVID hit. I started off 2020 as my year to make it happen and then the entire world went into lockdown. At first, I thought it was a curse, but turns out, it gave me time to fine tune things. It also gave me time to help Mercy with some health issues that had previously been undetected. She needed chiropractic care, stretching, and at one point last year, got so sick that I nearly lost her. Fortunately, she is in great health now and enjoying the snow today.
When I go out to the barn, I feel most like myself. All the lists, worries, and stress seem to melt away as Mercy and I work together. She shines as a teaching horse and I'm so proud to call her my partner. The amazing moments we've shared in the arena with women who experience a personal breakthrough are incredible. She is my team mate and friend. I'm so amazed at how far we both have come. Both of us lost, but something special when we're together.
I've promised her to be there till the end. It doesn't matter if she get's too old someday to be a teaching horse. She has accepted me with all my flaws and I accept hers. I love her from the bottom of my heart and I can't wait for you to meet her.