When I first moved to Nevada I was in a much better place than I had been the year before. I thought I was doing pretty well emotionally from where I had been and was moving forward in my life. I had managed to return to college, get good grades and graduate with my degree. I had no idea what I where I would go from there but I was open to new experiences and change.
I had met my now fiance’ and he was living in Nevada. Upon graduation I was ready to try living somewhere else and seeing what new opportunities were out there. It was only supposed to be for a year. But it went so well, we extended and are still here almost 2 years later.
A big reason is because of my horse, Gigi (aka #SuperGigi).
Beyond the path that I am on now because of Gigi, competing in barrels and other horse events, I gained a part of myself back, part of who I was before my life in the military even. Part of me that was lost when my world fell apart.
Originally becoming a competitor in barrel racing was a far off fun idea. When I first went to see Gigi, it had been ten years since I had my own horse. I had rode a few times since then but I was out of practice with the general requirements of horse care and handling. I was excited, but also trying not to appear as a total greenhorn since it had been so long.
Gigi wasn’t particularly interested when I opened her pen to put her halter on for the first time. I remember being a little disappointed that she was so regular looking (I hate admitting that now because I think she is the most gorgeous horse in the world. I think other people do too!). After getting her saddled and ready to go we rode around and even went around the barrel pattern. It all went great and I was sold, but still not sure if I should really buy a horse! I went and saw her a few more times and then bought her. And I am so glad I did.
Almost every single day I drove about 15 minutes to where I had Gigi boarded before we had our own place. I gained confidence and I gained a partner. I was settling in to who I was at the core. I was stripped down to the foundation of being when Tyler passed away and I had to find that again to rebuild. In addition to God and Love, Horses are one of the pillars of what makes me who I am. So it is no surprise now looking back that horses became a part of my daily life again, but also helped me rebuild myself and my life. Today it has taken me to a beautiful place that I am very grateful to be.
People have asked me, are the equine therapy programs really effective? What is so special about horses that they could have such a profound impact on someone’s life when they are struggling? For those of us that have been in love and awe of these animals all our life, it needs no explanation. It is a chemistry, a certain kind of magic that can happen between a horse and human. Perhaps because the communication between horses and humans are for the most part silent, it becomes an even more potent message. It is mostly body language, understanding and touch that can convey a message and that is a very special thing.
To those that have always been around horses, or never really thought much more of them than a necessity to work, I am sorry. There is something that is very special about approaching a horse for the first time, or after a long time of being unacquainted with horses that everyone should experience. We can become accustomed to their size and forget their power over time, but for someone who is new all of those impressive characteristics are both amazing and intimidating. The fact that they stand for us to pet them, and even more, to ride them allowing us to tell them where to go and what to do, well, it seems a very special privilege to be in the presence of such an animal. I’d have to agree that it is. Don’t you?
To then learn to communicate and work with such an animal that responds positively can create an intense bond and instill confidence in the most timid of persons. For those that have trouble fitting in or communicating well in the human world, the quiet, accepting nature of a horse can become a place of comfort and understanding. Those dealing with fear and trauma can also find common ground and a bond with horses understanding their flight nature and can grow along with the horse as they conquer fears together. The possibilities are endless.
You don’t have to ride to have this experience. It can just be working with a horse on the ground. If you take a look at equine therapy programs you can see that the interaction and experience varies. For those with physical challenges, riding may be the preferred modality, and in fact they have found that riding can help improve some physical motor skills and strength. Other times just being with a horse and walking him through a trail course can be the perfect experience for someone working to overcome mental or emotional challenges.
Though I have again grown accustomed to my big friends, I still hold much respect and gratefulness for them. I hope to never lose that awe or appreciation for their willingness to work with me, as I know they could easily choose not to. Their presence is a gift and I am grateful everyday to have them in my life. I hope to continue sharing them with you and I look forward to the next person that gets to meet my Super Gigi for the first time and remember that feeling of awe and excitement knowing the potential it holds.
Until next time,
Never Give Up!
Visit http://www.facebook.com/chelseystimson to visit me and Super Gigi!