Frustrations. Love. More frustrations. Even more love. Sure, the horse may drain my wallet and increase my worries. Sure, he irritates me when he repeatedly loses a shoe or ruins his blanket. And sure, he has managed to send me to the hospital with a broken foot and given me more bruises than I could ever count.
But he has also comforted me when I was falling apart. He has always been there in the stable when I needed him. He has truly reminded me of even the smallest joys in life when they were hardest to find.
Most beautifully of all, he has done it without even knowing it. Because he is just there—driven by instincts and a dazzling immediacy. He doesn't think about yesterday and doesn't worry about tomorrow. He can only relate to life as it passes by, here and now.
When my first boyfriend left me, he was there for me. He loved me just because I had a couple of slices of day-old rye bread with me. And when I failed an exam and felt like the failure of the century, he was there for me. To him, I was the best in the world just because I brought out the equipment.
For him, "carpe diem" is not a saying, but life itself. He lives in the moment because he can do nothing else. Even though that means he can never tell me what's wrong, he can also never argue with me.
When I feel his muzzle, look him in the eyes, or sit in the saddle, a sense of calm descends upon me. This is where the magic happens and the immediacy rubs off. For a moment, my frustrations are replaced by unity and love. The sound of horseshoes, the togetherness, and an occasional snort are all I have to deal with.
Isn't that the case, no matter which part of equestrian sport one engages in? Whether it's a retired trotter, a winning Grand Prix horse, or an experienced riding school pony, the carefree mind and the ability to appreciate the very least, now and here, will always be there.
The horse is a friend in the moment, always ready to help its rider forget the worries of everyday life. Not because it feels obligated to do so, or because it has to. But because it is what it is, and because it masters what can be so difficult for humans: to live in the moment.
The horse is—at least for me—a true therapist on four legs. What is the horse to you?