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This one is for all of my equestrian friends, and the animal who changed my life forever.

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been captivated by horses. I began riding at the young age of three, and have been ever since. It has turned out to be one of the greatest parts of my existence.

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I think the first time I saw a horse, I just felt safe – they have kind eyes and soft noses, but their greatest quality is their huge hearts. The thing about horses is that they’ve been the one constant in my life. I’ve always lived in a whirlwind of instability (within my mind, and various other things) but nothing ever changed at the barn. I always knew that I had that safe place to go no matter what. When I was in school my anxiety and depression really made it hard to make and keep friends, I found myself alone often. Taking riding lessons and owning horses really contributed to the social aspect of my life. When I step into the barn I become another person. I change within seconds, but the ironic thing is I become more ‘myself’ than I ever feel normally. I’m confident, outgoing, patient, kind, open minded, and at home. I’ve never felt good enough, smart enough, strong enough, but in the presence of a horse I know that I AM all of those things.

Some of the best friends I’ve ever had have been four legged with hooves. I have memories upon memories of summer days spent cantering through fields, or collecting ribbons at shows, or even falling on flat on my ass. All of these memories make me smile. Horses have this magical presence that I feel so fortunate to be a part of. I’m so lucky to have such a strong form of therapy. Horses do the impossible for me; they make me forget my mental illness even exists. I feel like a normal person, and that is something I can’t even begin to process.

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About five years ago one of the most life changing horses happened to me. Dexter. Where do I even start? I was only fourteen when he came into my hands, and he was this crazy, untrained, giant beast of a horse. But I saw something in him that just struck me, and I knew there was no going back. In my mind I had started entering the dark clouds of mental illness, and I was dealing with it completely on my own. I never talked about it, because I was scared. I didn’t know why I was so sad all of the time, or why I felt like everyone would abandon or give up on me. I remember how scary Dexter was too. He was only scared though, just like me. Everyone kept telling me to sell him, or put him down. And I was almost convinced, but then I realized that I couldn’t. Maybe we could come to an understanding of each other. We did.

The five years with Dexter have been nothing but challenging, and that is why it has been so worth it for me. I had this fire in me that just didn’t want to give up on him like I had on myself. And that kept me

Mental illness makes you feel disconnected, and isolated from everyone. But there is something about horses that break that barrier, and bring you into this whole other world. It’s thrilling, and beautiful. I won’t ever be able to repay these animals for what they have done for me, but I will spend my life trying.fighting through my mental illness. I got to watch this beautiful animal that was so hostile and wild turn into this loving, gentle being that has become my best friend, and my anchor. On my tough days there is nothing I need more than to just go to the barn and spend time with him. Become myself in the barn, and feel connected to another soul.

And to my beautiful boy Dexter who will never be able to read this, you are my savior.

 

“There is something about the outside of a horse, that is good for the inside of a man.” – Winston Churchill

About Emma Holden

18, tea enthusiast, animal lover, word writer, and wants to change the stigma on mental health one blog post at a time.

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