Where do I begin to thank you for all that you have given me?
I don’t think it is possible for me to even find the words, but I thought I might try.
When I first came to the barn, I had many misperceptions of horses.
I was a little over confident, thought I knew more than I do. And I guess that can apply where im concerned to a lot of things.
I realized that is a bit of a defense mechanism ive created, because I feel so vulnerable most of the time.
You didn’t judge my appearance; you didn’t care if I had short hair or long hair, if I had brand name clothes or second hand hand me downs.
You are the same with us regardless of these superficial aspects…..
You didn’t care what my “disability” was; you treated me the same as you would any other human being; and that is something that is rarely experienced by those of us with disabilities from those without.
That neutrality gives us the opportunity to safely open ourselves up and truly be present without preoccupations or concerns of judgment.
You are huge and powerful, but gentle and cooperative.
You scared me and yet your allure tempted me enough to dare to bond to you and enter into a relationship with you.
I learned how to negotiate with those with more power than I, which has always been a challenge for someone frustrated by feeling so powerless in far too often an unfair and hurtful world.
You were fair. You pushed back, and commanded respect, but you didn’t exploit me- more than i can say for many human beings entrusted with power over the vulnerable.
You used your power with a gentleness and kindness and reminded me that even those with power can be kind too; it is about my approach too and that I have to remember, they have feelings too; not just me.
Just as much as i dont want them to judge me for my lack of status, i cant hate them for their gain of status either.
The biggest thing you taught me, is consistency.
This is a big challenge for me because of my disability but you taught me the importance of this character trait.
Your reliability made you easier to trust and to count on.
I felt safer with you for it.
And the same applies to our human relationships.
When you are moody or unpredictable- even if you have your reasons, it erodes trust and makes people leery of you and less willing to trust you or engage with you- be your friend, enter into relationships or even, employ you.
You were fondly known throughout the barn as "steady eddy"
I prefer to call you “even Steven”
And although your name is Rebel, from the minute I met you we were kindred spirits in being ‘falsely labelled” lol ;)
Sadly you injured your leg, and you weren’t able to be returned to the program as a working horse, meaning able to be ridden.
The brief time I did ride you, you were so easy- we just clicked.
If I was green and didn’t give you clear signals, I didn’t have to worry that you would be harmful. You patiently waited to “hear from me” so to speak; patiently waiting for my cues.
You taught me that too with people- to not always jump the gun and assume the worst and react as such expending energy without being certain. You just sat and waited- you didnt assume.
You taught me to be more patient by your example.
Eventually we went back to how we started- in the groom program.
I brushed your red sorrel hair, combed your beautiful forelock and mane. I touched your soft chin, felt your breath in your nostrils when you sniffed the curry comb, interested in who was there before you. I felt your whiskers and your friendly expressive ears.
I picked your hooves all four of them too! Even though I was afraid!
I even gave you a bath! It was so much fun.
You were the first horse I ever rode, and i will always remember you for it- that and all the other things I mentioned here and others im sure I have felt but have forgotten to mention or don’t know how to translate into words exactly.
When I felt disassociated, overwhelmed by the pain of life, or sadness or fear, I would brush you down and feel your calming breath and steadiness- just putting my hand on your side grounded me out like nothing ive ever felt.
When you got afraid you would show your vulnerability- big eyes and spooky looks, and you showed me, that I didn’t have to be “aggressive” when I was afraid- it was actually ok to let others know that I was in fact scared, and they wouldn’t exploit that and it was ok to be scared even when you’re 1000 pounds!
If you could bravely show your fear, and vulnerability then so maybe then i could too.
You showed me that I could do scary things I didn’t think I could, and “live”- survive through it even.
You increased my distress and anxiety tolerance teaching me how to cope with it rather than run from it- or yell –or quit.
(Emma really taught me about distress tolerance and still, being ok and living through it- sometimes i wondered lol)
It gives me the courage, to maybe try some other scary things, and trust that no matter what, I will live through whatever happens- stronger for it.
You have helped me to grow. I would say grow up. But instead, ill just say, grow.
I am so sad to see you leave Rebel; im so sad your leg didn’t heal back and you were never able to be rode again. I wish that the last time I rode you I would have known it was the last.
The lesson in that too that you taught me is try as hard as you can never to take things for granted, and try to stay in the moment. Life is fleeting and so is our time together.
I am so sad to see you go, but in a way you wont ever leave me.
I will carry with me all that I learned from my time with you at WETRA.
Thank you for being the best therapist ive ever had.
Thank you for not throwing me out, or giving up on me, or talking badly about me to other people. Thank you for not judging me for the exact reason i needed your help.
Thank you for sticking with me, and seeing the good in me, despite the edgy exterior. You figured me out, easy.
Thank you for not caring if I “look like a boy” or whatever- not caring how i wore my hair or if i wore a blue or pink helmet.
Thank you for taking me just as I am/ was, and helping me to become a better version of what I could/ can be instead of judging me for what I was/ am not.
That’s what makes you the best therapist of all.
You can function on a far higher level than us mere mortals ever could.
Maybe that is the magic that people associate with horses then.
I hope that you will be happy in your new home, and they appreciate you the way I have come to know you.
Whenever I am scared I will think of you and how it felt to just lead you on your rope and pet you as you grazed, feeling that big strong but gentle body breathing under my hands.
God Bless you Rebel. May your life be kind and well.
May your new owners treat you kindly and know what a special gift they are getting in you.
I will miss you so much my friend.
Be well, be happy, run free.
I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU.
Love, Donna xo