Monday, October 24, 2011

When A Soul Awakens: It Begins Without Notice

I never thought of horses as more than a pet for country folk.  I wasn't ever the little girl who asked for a pony for Christmas or my birthday, and I didn't understand why any girl would.  They smell. 

My first experience with a pony was at a kiddie amusement park when I was about 4 years old.  I don't have any memory of this experience, I only know about my pony moment from looking through old photos.  There's a picture of tiny me sitting on top of a pony, and I am screaming crying - flailing arms, blood-red face, open-mouthed mid scream, the whole bit.  I look very miserable.  Maybe this miserable experience was stored back in my subconsious and formed my opinion about ponies, donkeys, and horses - they're nice to look at but don't ask me to get near one.  Ever.

It was somewhere around third grade when I came across another similar creature.  My aunt and uncle lived out in the "country" and, as country folk do, they had a horse named Winston.  Even at that young age, I thought it a bit much to own a horse - I had a dog and a gerbil and my schedule was packed.  When we visited my aunt and uncle, they always took us outside to look at Winston.  We fed him carrots, and I learned to keep my fingers glued together if I wanted a full set when I went home. 

My only knowledge of riding a horse was Thanksgiving one year, when my other aunt hopped on board Winston for a nice Thanksgiving Day trot and he bucked her off.  But not all the way off; just enough off that she was hanging by one leg.  I know this because we were all watching her from inside, arms flailing and open-mouthed mid scream.  Eventually someone went out to help her when we realized she wouldn't just fall completely off on her own.  She was okay in the end, but I think she left soon after and didn't get any pie.  Anything that keeps a person from pie on Thanksgiving is not worth my time.  Eventually, my aunt and uncle moved back into the city, sold Winston, and got a dog.

Fast forward almost twenty years (good-ness, this makes me sound old), and horses enter my life once again while reading a Lisa Wingate novel.  The book was Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner and the main character was posing as a horse therapy student to uncover some bad goings-on in the town.  I loved reading about her spiritual and emotional connections with the horses and the lessons they taught her about life and herself. 

The horses ended up tranforming her and helped to heal her bitterness and pain from her recent divorce.  There was also a tall, handsome cowboy who might have played a small role in her healing as well, but just like ponies, donkeys, and horses, they're nice to look at but don't ask me to get near one.  I completed Over the Moon with a desire to interact with horses in some capacity.  My desire for cowboys remained nonexistent. 

A few years pass and I'm updating my amazon "books completed" list, when I begin remembering my fascination with the human-horse interaction in Over the Moon.  At this point, I was knee deep in my journey to healing:  talking pretty regularly with my counselor, taking medication, reading Henri Nouwen, blogging my ups and downs, and making healthier decisions.  I felt a desire to seek out possible horse-related therapy options in my city.  After some searching on the internet, I came across a site that pulled at my heartstrings. 
Equine-Assisted Therapy, it was called, and it was calling my name.

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