The Ultimate Pick-Me-Up: Horses
I believe in riding horses, in the healing that comes from just being near the gentle creatures. Riding is my escape, a place where I can let everything else fall away. Driving up the long driveway, entering the lively stables through the large sliding barn doors, hearing the soft noises of horses’ feet shuffling in the stalls and the pleasant sound of swallows singing brings a smile to my face. Breathing in the smell of fresh hay helps me relax and calm down.
In my freshman year of high school one of my best friends developed Bipolar Disorder and tried to commit suicide several times. The next year was full of worry. Always in the back of my mind I worried about my friend wondering how she was feeling. Her illness sparked a wildfire of depression, which took over some of my other friends’ lives. It became routine for me to check in every day with some of the girls just to make sure they were eating. Worrying drained me physically and emotionally. I became angry all the time ⎯ angry at the illness, enraged when it seemed I was the only one who trying to make things better. I would walk the halls of my high school wanting to scream. Expect for Wednesdays. Wednesdays I was a little happier, all because that was the day I would see Profit.
One summer I connected with Profit, a beautiful dark brown horse with a white zigzag stripe right above his nose. Whenever I came in he nudged my hand with his soft hairy nose in playful banter. I would return the nudge with a scratch behind the ears. He could comfort me on my worst days and keep me laughing on my best. It was hard not to smile when I was around him.
The minute I walked in the barn all I needed to focus on was Profit. Any anger or stress about my life would vanish. Just getting his tack and grooming him pushes all other thoughts out of my mind. On days when I was still riled by the time it came to bridle Profit, he played this game of tossing the his head so high that my five foot three height could not match his. Only after calming myself could I coax Profit to allow me to slip the bridle over his dark brown head. Cantering around the ring, with the cool breeze in my face, relieved me of the anger I had built up. Flying over sets of jumps made getting through another week worth it. Riding gave me a reason to be happy. It was a reason to get up in the morning, a reason not to give up.
Riding helped me see that life was much like the old cliché: once you fall off a horse you have to right back on. It was not just the riding or Profit’s stubborn loving attitude, I believed in but feeling that there is always a reason to keep going, something that can brighten any day. Riding provided me my ultimate pick-me-up, something that would keep me smiling no matter what.
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