If you’ll pardon the expression, I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back to you.

I’m writing this on my first day back to MyHorse Daily after being gone for five months on health leave. There’s nothing like a little cancer to put a damper on your horse plans and life in general.

Reader’s Digest version: My new colt Freddie arrived this past spring about six weeks before my breast cancer diagnosis, and it seemed like the colt and I had barely gotten to know each other before suddenly all my horse time was replaced by doctor visits. Then it was usurped by surgery…followed by chemotherapy, followed by hospital stays caused by complications of chemo.

Armed with lots of pictures of Freddie on my phone, I stared out the window and thought about him during the sting of all those needles, making plans and many promises about the horsewoman I would become.

If I learned anything from the past few months, it’s that life is a process, and sometimes there’s just no way to fast-track your journey. You have to settle in and breathe and do the best in each moment you have–and as we all know, horses are the best teachers for that.

So on the days I became frustrated because I was too sick to make it to the barn, let alone ride, I would console myself in other horsey ways, such as re-reading Julie Goodnight’s new trail riding book or watching Buck Brannaman videos.

And I thought about all of you, and wondered where you were in your riding goals, or whether you had gotten a new horse, or finally found the perfect saddle you’d been wanting.

On the rare days I felt good enough to ride, my colt Freddie was always ready for me, in large part because horse trainer Larry Fleming made sure of it. Larry would do groundwork with Freddie, saddle him for me and even ride him first if it appeared the colt needed it (he is only four, after all). He also helped me train Freddie to step so close to the giant dirt-filled tire we use as a mounting block that the colt’s legs would scrape against its sides, just so I wouldn’t have to use any energy hoisting myself onto his tall back. On those days, Freddie and I would simply walk around, and I was content with that.

Then last month another stint in the hospital left me weak all over and saddled with an unhealthy dose of the blues. Winter was setting in, and I had missed the best riding weather! I hadn’t seen Freddie in weeks–he probably wouldn’t even remember me! The thought of even grooming him–picking out those enormous hooves–made me tired!

Riding my colt Freddie, even if meant only walking around, became an important part of my recovery from breast cancer. | Photos courtesy of Amy Herdy

Thank goodness a horse friend of mine called and gently suggested–insisted, really–that she drive me to see my horse. So out we went, and when I walked up to Freddie’s paddock, he was lying on his side, enjoying the morning sun in that blissful way that only horses do.

“Hey, buddy,” I called to him as I unlatched the gate, fully expecting him to scramble to his feet. But he didn’t. Instead, the colt simply watched calmly as I slowly approached, and then, oh happy day, he allowed me to first pet him, then lean on his side while he napped.

In that moment, feeling the warmth from Freddie’s coat and smelling the sweet smell of hay and horse, the misery of the previous five months evaporated, and all I felt was peace.

I took this picture with my phone of me on the ground with Freddie the colt at the end of his recent nap.

So when you tell me that your best life is one that has a horse in it–well, I get it. And I’m incredibly happy to be back and sharing it with you.

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