Passion, Pain and Horses
Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!
My dad, riding ahead of me with his friends, doesn’t hear my call. But Danny does. Danny is my dad’s Appaloosa. Danny turns and starts galloping back towards me, my dad tries to get control but can’t. My dad’s friends are saying, “Hey, what the XXXX is going on, what’s wrong with that horse?!?”
Danny gallops up to the top of the ridge – that’s when my dad sees what’s going on. Danny still galloping toward me, my dad said he felt like time stood still and he couldn’t go fast enough.
As the horse I was riding bucked I went flying high in the air (I was a mere 98 pounds) and as I started coming down he bucked again, kicking me with those powerful back legs and tossed me right back into the air!! That’s what my dad was watching as Danny galloped to my rescue. Daddy said it was the longest 60 seconds of his life. Just as Danny and Daddy got close, I hit the ground. My buttons on my shirt were kicked off, my bra was split in half and my pants split open!
Daddy took his shirt off and wrapped it around me, picked me up and took me home.
Amazingly, I wasn’t broken, just decorated with hoof marks from my breasts to my ankles. One ankle was swollen and dark; it was hard to straighten it out. (As I write this, I’m wondering why I wasn’t taken to the doctor? Probably no insurance.)
My mom was so upset! She was listing all the reasons I should not have been on that horse. My dad stayed quiet and then turned to me and said, “Come on Kathy, we need to go back.” My mom knew why we had to go back so she didn’t argue, but all I was thinking about was a hot bath and some kind of pain pill.
Daddy and I went back and he helped me get on Danny. I rode around on Danny for a while. We went home and I got my hot bath.
I was 18 that day and my mom and dad were going to buy me my own horse. The horse I wanted, Duncan, was too big, so my parents thought, I didn’t. I loved Duncan and he already loved me. Duncan was $1500 and the horse that gave me a rodeo ride was $500. He belonged to one of my dad’s ranch buddies.
When my dad went to “speak” to his buddy early the next morning, he was gone and so were all of his horses, including my buckin’ bronco! (We’ll call him Bucky)
We found out from the owner of the ranch that Bucky’s owner knew Bucky had problems as most of his horses did. He picked up retired rodeo horses for next to nothing, did some training or re-training and then he would sell them, usually not to anyone in the area. Yikes!
So, I didn’t get Duncan and I didn’t get Bucky and my dad didn’t get to beat up Bucky’s owner!
I let this one incident change my life. It put so much fear in me that I couldn’t even think about riding without panicking. I stopped going to hang out with horses and with my dad. I rode a few times since then with years of no riding in between.
I was 22 – Ensenada trail ride. Feeling good, then I get bucked off, the horse galloped back to the stable and I walked back tears running down my face.
I was in my forties - I am at Cal Poly Pomona College taking classes in the Equine Department, hoping to overcome my fears. One day, we ride to the arena, I am doing fine, we get in the arena, still doing fine…Then, the instructor says, “Katherine, go to the middle of the arena.” I did, everything went silent, I couldn’t move, I got hot and sweaty – I was having a panic attack.
“Get me off!”
“You’re fine.” The instructor told me.
“NO! Get me off now!!”
I walked out of the arena, again with tears running down my face.
I was 56 – My daughter was looking for a horse. We found one at a place that also did trail rides. My daughter and the grandkids wanted to ride. I said very casually, “OK, cool I am going to sit over here in the shade and wait.” Angelo, my 9-year-old grandson said, “Grandma, you can do it, I’ll be right here.” Geez!! I had to get on and go. I was a little queasy, but I went and stayed on for the ride. I haven’t ridden since.
My love, my passion for horses never stopped, in fact, it continues to increase.
I must tell you I wasn’t only fearful of riding, I was fearful of being around or too close to horses. (There really isn’t a “too close to horses” is there?) My daughter and I started a rescue in Norco, California. I cleaned stalls from the outside of the corral, yes behind the panels and I was pretty darn good at it! Sometimes my daughter would put the horses in the turnout for me so I could get inside the corral or barn stall. Yes, I had fearitis bad.
We moved from Norco to Yucaipa, California and the rescue went with us. I got a job at the local plant nursery and met some new friends, Efrain, Roberto, and Santiago. They helped us more than I could ever thank them for. What I am most grateful for is Efrain’s calmness and natural behavior around horses. Efrain would ask me to “help” him, hold a horse, walk a horse, “look” at something, like a back hoof!! It just seemed so easy with him around, I never questioned or said no. (Angels are sent in many forms) I didn’t realize it at the time but he was helping me with my fears without either of us realizing it.
Over time I was inside the corrals; walking horses on my own; grooming and even doing some training. Still no riding but I was feeling great!
I am not writing this to make you sad or to feel sorry for me. First, I wrote to tell my story so I can heal. Second, I wrote to explain what I believe passion to be. We talk about passion, hear about passion and we are told, “go for your passion!’ I believe passion isn’t something we “go” for or search for; passion is inside of us and always has been. I believe we are passionate about more than just one thing, although one passion will stand strongest. Our other passions may be related to our strongest passion.
My definition is:
When you feel a strong pull towards something and it is in your mind every day, when you hear something related your ears perk up, when you feel it in your heart and no matter how much it hurts, costs or how long it takes, you keep trying to be with that something. You keep trying without complaining, without regrets and with love.
I have been passionate about horses all my life and I still am, even though I put my passion aside and pretended like all was well like it was ok not to be around horses, like I didn’t miss them.
I would like to offer a piece of advice. Don’t let one incident or even two, three or four….stop you from your passion. Don’t tuck it away and tell yourself it doesn’t matter or it’s ok. It does matter and it’s not ok to ignore that burning desire in your heart.
Get back to your passion whether it’s horses, dogs, sewing, cars, serving others…whatever it is, open up to it. Take baby steps.
I got to see Monty Roberts and ask him for advice with my fear. He said, “Give the horse and yourself a chance, do just a little bit at a time and celebrate each move forward.” That’s pretty simplistic, but sound advice for anything. (In case you don’t know who Monty is he is a natural horsemanship trainer, author and has a wonderful story, google him.)
Give yourself a chance to ignite your passion, talk about it, cut pictures out and hang them up, make a vision board, write about it, ask for help and most important….don’t wait, do something, anything right now to keep your passion burning.
I wish everyone a life full of passion, love, and kindness.
P.S. I am blessed to be around horses again, my daughter and granddaughter just bought horses this year, so I get to enjoy them also. My vision board has a picture of me riding again, I truly feel like I am close to that accomplishment.