Can Horses Really Change Your Life?

Like most young girls do, I grew up as a horse crazy little girl. My family wasn’t agriculturally involved, None of my family members had horses, or even an interest in them. But I loved them just the same. Where this passion came from? Who knows. But all I do know, is it was something that took over my heart at a very young age. I can still remember begging and pleading with my parents for a pony, writing up lists of what I promised to do if they would just do this one thing for me. It’s all I truly ever wanted and I was relentless. At age 11, my parents must have finally gotten tired of my pestering and signed me up for Horseback riding lessons at a local stable. It was one of the greatest days of my young life.

I spent 5 years at this stable, taking weekly riding lessons, doing barn chores and spending any additional time I could with the older barn girls who I idolized. I would scoop poop in other peoples lessons, groom girls’ horses for them at shows, tack up, clean up, feed horses — ANYTHING that would allow me more time around the horses, I was signed up for. It was never enough for me though… I always longed for the opportunities that I saw so easily handed to the other girls. Many girls leased some of the favorite school ponies, or had their own. I would sit in the stands, green with envy. Watching them pop around jumping courses and collecting ribbons. They were living my dream.

Fast forward a few years, I eventually had the opportunity to lease a few horses on my own, I even got to show. But not every situation was ideal, and not every horse owner I leased from treated me fairly or even kindly. Whether it was getting thrown at every show I attended because the horse wasn’t sound, or owners getting spiteful with me because I spent more time with their animal than they did, it ended up with me walking away from many horses that I had “fallen in love with” heartbroken. At this point, I fell into a dark place, got in with the wrong crowd, picked up some nasty habits — And left my one true passion in the rear view.

After a few long years of being miserable and having no real drive in life, I started seeking the kind of mental and spiritual relief that being in a barn always brought me. I cautiously eased myself back into the horse world, I took a couple sporadic lessons and even went a tried out a couple horses i was interested in leasing. Eventually I ended up finding a sweet little Quarter Horse mare who needed some miles. I took this project on eagerly, and looking back now i’m forever grateful that I did. I worked diligently for the next few months, showing up at the barn almost every day. It was my sanctuary and my safe place no matter what time of day I showed up. Really I believe that it was my saving grace. My parents started noticing a change in my attitude and in my well being. I was happy, I was back to my old self.

The partnership between me and the little mare gave me lots of valuable tools. I learned so much from her, I learned when to put pressure on and when to release. When to push and when to let it go. How to appreciate a small win and how to gracefully accept a loss. But most importantly, she gave me my confidence back. I tried to buy her unsuccessfully and then walked away for my own benefit. It was one of the hardest choices I've ever had to make. That mare prepared me for my biggest accomplishment.

After months of planning, saving, of stress and excitement, I finally could call my dreams a reality. I finally bought my first horse, a little Quarter Horse filly who was more than halfway across the country. I paid for her all by myself, paid to ship her all by myself and continue to pay for her and all her other expenses all by myself. She is the light of my life, my love and in the short amount of time I’ve had her as my own, my best friend. Don’t let anyone tell you, your dreams are too far out of reach. Don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t achieve something — Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough, or smart enough, or old enough. If you work hard, and put in the time, and really want something. You CAN make it happen. At 20 years old I never dreamed that I would be a horse owner, but that goes to show what hard work and dedication can really do. Horses changed my life, maybe they can change yours too.

Me and my dream come true…Ms Freckles N Pep “Hadlee”

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Olivia Gaetz

Horse mom, Reining/Ranch Sorting/Penning/Cutting. Happily taken by the love of my life.