If you've spent any time at all around horses, you know how special they are. The horse-human relationship is unlike any other. Horses have been our friends, our therapists, our legs, our confidantes, our brothers-in-arms, our partners-in-crime, our dreams, and our healers. Their manes have dried our tears, their bodies have given us stability and strength, and their spirits have inspired our dreams. They are, indeed, life changing.
Time to Ride—an organization dedicated to introducing people to the incredible world of horses—collected responses to the question: How have horses changed your life? The answers ranged from instilling confidence to helping overcome loss to easing the pain of bullies. With permission from Time to Ride, we're sharing some of those responses here...
“Once I discovered horses, the longing for a sense of stability disappeared, and with it, my uncertainty and fear. Now, at 20 years old, experiencing college, I can easily say that simple sense of belonging is the greatest gift I have ever received.” —Abbey G
“When you’re a kid, the world isn’t always as innocent and pretty as it’s made out to be. Sometimes, there are bullies at school and problems at home that are hard to ignore. Sometimes, in those situations all you have is yourself. That was my childhood; that is until I met Annie’s Dream Girl, of course.” —Aimee P
“Horses have given me so much. They gave me strength when I needed it. They gave me the freedom to escape my pain. They gave me the will to fight back.” —Elisha H
“I know firsthand the healing power of horses. Nothing has healed my heart like they can, over and over again from the bruises left by life’s school of hard knocks. I believe God made their eyes and ears extra big so they can take in everything, the good and the bad, and yet they constantly respond calmly and empathetically.” —Jayne S
“My family did not have money to own horses. Spartacus was a gift from a farmer, and I worked off his board. I had been an overweight, shy child who always stood in the back of the room. But when I rode him, I was beautiful, graceful, and strong. He was my best friend, my guardian angel.” —Kathi M
“I enjoy horseback riding for more than just my love of the animal. To me, horses are the best kinds of teachers. There are no words spoken just actions given. Horseback riding is more than just a sport. It is a partnership. The special connection between horse and rider is hard to put into words. While riding, the horse and rider become one. You need to completely focus on you and the horse. This allows me to take my mind off of anything that has been worrying or stressing me out. Although it may only be for an hour or so it is a huge stress relief when needed.” —Lauren C
“During their ride, 20 years flash through my mind. Buying him myself as a teenager. Learning to ride on my family’s New York dairy farm. 4-H and shows. Crying in his mane as I grew up, because when you are 16, falling off a horse is about the least painful thing you will go through. He was my first taste of freedom and the responsibility that made me appreciate it. The recruiter sealed my decision to join the Marine Corps with the words “base stables.” I boarded Priority with my 4-H leader while in boot camp, a lock of his mane tucked between the pages of my Bible, the one possession I could take with me. Over the years he carried me on beaches, in parades, over fences, and around barrels. We have ridden down about a million miles of trails in multiple states. But more than that, he has carried me through the greatest part of my life. He has seen my heartaches more clearly than any human and has forgiven me my every shortcoming.” —Mindy L
“Red taught me one thing…life will go on. Loss is a part of life. Don’t run and hide but face it. I’ll admit that I was struggling afterwards. I considered going back to my old ways of just being miserable. But I think that would have tarnished Red’s memory. I think he would have been disappointed and let down had I done just that. So for Red, I carry on. Red gave me my life back and I am eternally grateful to him. Horses are now a huge part of my life and I cannot see myself without them in it.” —Whesley W
“He gave me strength when I needed it most, and courage. He taught me how to hope and to throw my heart over first and the rest will follow. He was my encouragement to better myself in all aspects of my life.” —Julia W