Horses have kept me grounded. They have taught me to persevere when times get tough. They have also opened doors to lifelong friendships, some spanning over two decades. These friendships have withstood distance, marriages, and divorces. Our connection all began with a shared passion for horses.
I cherish the friendships where you can go months without speaking to one another and pick up the conversation like you just saw them yesterday. The friendships where you can reach your lowest point and know they are ready to be there in an instant to pick you back up.
Fun annual traditions like Friendsgiving kept my college friendships going even when life got too busy to see each other throughout the year. Jess, my college roommate, was the glue that held our circle together. No matter what life threw at us, she was there to bring us all back together.
As my anxiety increased, I was trying over-the-counter solutions like Rescue Remedy and herbal tea. They provided minimal relief to the weight on my chest and the feeling that I couldn’t breathe. Jess frequently encouraged me to come visit for weekend get-aways. Sometimes not having enough money for gas to travel was an issue. I suppose this was Ted’s way of trying to keep me home, but Jess would not hear of it. If money for gas was preventing me from visiting, she would send me a gift card.
On one particular trip, I had been driving for about an hour and I noticed that the weight on my chest began to lift. I could finally catch my breath. I knew I was experiencing anxiety but to feel it lift the further I drove was a sad realization of my current state of mind.
Though my weekend was filled with girl talk, horses, and Jess treating me with mani-pedis and dinner out, the reality of my life was still waiting for me. As I drove back home, the weight on my chest returned and I felt that suffocating feeling of not being able to take in enough oxygen.
The benefits at my job included certain types of complementary services, which included a consultation with a lawyer. My marriage was not improving and I didn’t want to keep living this way. I scheduled an appointment to see what my options would be to file for divorce. I scheduled the appointment during work hours and was hopeful that I could find a way out.
My heart sank as I heard the lawyer tell me that since we had barely been married a year, everything we brought into the marriage individually would go with us individually, including debt. The majority of the debt was in my name.
I felt stuck. With no control over how our money was being managed, I felt hopeless. I could file for divorce and leave with the debt, but where would I go? I wouldn’t be able to afford to live on my own with that much in payments. I had considered bankruptcy but I didn’t want that on my record. I went back to work and accepted that for now, this is my life.
I continued working at the therapeutic riding center so I could keep my arrangement of free board. I started my horse search shortly after I sold the little chestnut mare, Baby Doll. I had the small amount of money I received from her sale, so my budget was limited. My plan was to buy something “cheap”, train it and sell it to buy something better. Ahhh, those best-laid plans.
It didn’t take long before I was going to look at a potential horse. She was a young thoroughbred mare who had been used for camps. Her owner was in Virginia and during the winter, sent some of her camp horses to live on friend’s farms. Kara knew the woman who was boarding the mare for the winter and introduced us.
She seemed sweet and enjoyed getting groomed and fussed over, which was the opposite of my last horse. I rode her a few times and every time she was very tense and spooky. She seemed sweet enough on the ground that I thought the spookiness was just from being in a new place and being young. I went through with the purchase and figured I could always re-sell her in a few months if it didn’t work out.
Yoshi’s spookiness did not go away. She was unpredictable. One minute she was trotting calmly down the long side and the next she’d duck and spin and try to take off. Her flight instinct was in overdrive. Many days I would dismount to let her gallop like a fool for 5-10 minutes around the arena just so she felt safe enough to ride. She didn’t care who was in her way; if she was getting out of Dodge, you better move.
Yoshi would tremble in the cross ties if you had even remotely gotten upset with her on a previous ride. She would tremble if a horse trailer pulled up outside the barn. A bystander might sneeze during a ride, and Yoshi would jump. She was the poster child for Chicken Little. I had her checked out by a vet, a chiropractor, and even an animal communicator. Her saddle was fitted regularly. I had no idea what to do. How in the world did kids ride this horse?
Within a year I had her sale ad listed. I was done. As inquiries came in, I began to question how I could ethically sell a horse that was not safe to ride? How would I feel if she seriously injured someone? She is a professional’s horse but is not nice enough for a professional to even look at. I took down the ad and decided to try to invest more time into her training. Maybe she would get better as she got older.
Pictures of Yoshi when I first got her in 2009.
A short clip of typical shenanigans.