Her name is Candy and if you met her you would know why. With strength, a racer’s spirit and her graceful great power, mostly what you notice about her is how very sweet she is. She sure gave me a healthy dose of an antidepressant!
Depression is something I’ve struggled with for most of my adult life. I’ve never been able to tolerate the side-effects of antidepressants. I’ve turned to more traditional medicine for my symptoms. I did once promise myself if depression zaps me to the point of not being able to get out of bed that I would take medication but the older I got the more sensitive I’ve become to the side-effects.
Acupuncture helped me when I had access to treatments. Gardening helps me a great deal too. When I last had a garden, my favorite part of every day was going outside first thing in the mornings and checking to see if anything had happened during the night. Often times since I was living in the mountains, things did happen. Little things that amazed me. Personally, I think getting closer to nature is good treatment for depression.
The mental and psychological benefits I feel during and after riding a horse came as a surprise to me. I don’t own a horse but I sure wish I did.
My grandpa used to buy and sell horses. The thing about that was that he sold them way too soon for me to get to know one.
I got a taste of equine-assisted therapy by volunteering at a riding center in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina for people with disabilities. She was about six years old. She was amazing. She helped me put the saddle on the horse and when we made it to the ring she stopped.
“Why did you come here today?” she asked me.
I had to think for a second. “I came to help you ride,” I answered, which appeared to satisfy her. She complimented me on my hair band. I’d bought it in Texas at a cowgirl craft show. It was my favorite. “It’s very pretty,” she said.
Then she looked at me in the eyes and so sincerely she said, “This is the best day of my life.”
I understand better now what she may have referred to. After having the opportunity to get to know Candy, discovering the antidepressant benefits along the way, I can relate to the feeling of having the best day of my life.
Several years after meeting the girl I started thinking of riding horses again. One day while driving through the country I saw a sign.
“Horse lessons and Trail rides“ — I jotted down the number.
Not long after that day I was driving up the steep gravel drive on the small farm in a rural area near where I grew up. The land was familiar.
Candy was gorgeous Appaloosa. She was obviously sweet but I had no clue how spunky she was and wouldn’t find out until later when we took her to the forest on an equestrian trail.
Candy gave me good medicine. I would come home so tired I had to go straight to bed but it felt good.
I would rest and remember how it felt being with her. Every little turn in the trail had stuck in my mind. I couldn’t wait ’til the next time I could ride.
I think riding a horse makes my brain produce all those wonderful chemicals depressed brains need.
I felt good when Candy listened to me too. She certainly didn’t have to but she did. She really wanted to do something else, which was fly as fast as she could alongside her competitive friend but she did what I asked her to do instead. I learned to trust her. I wanted her to trust me too.
I couldn’t believe the power she had. She begged me to let her show off her racing skills, but I was not at all ready. I knew I was too weak to handle her if she took off running and I could feel how fast it would be if I let her go. I felt like we became friends in a way. She was disappointed that she couldn’t fly but her loyalty seemed to be to me, as long as I let her know what I needed and wanted her to do. I was sad for days that she didn’t get to run in that forest. I felt like I had disappointed her.
There are many feelings that I experienced during the blessed time I was with Candy.
Fear, confidence, trust, excitement, accomplishment and love were all part of my experience.
The effects of the rides would last about ten days, maybe a little more. That’s pretty darn good for one dose of medicine.
Healing and medicine doesn’t always come in the form of a pill.
I’m not a doctor or a medical professional. This post is not intended as medical advice.
I’m just a person who discovered that building a relationship with a horse is healing.
Thank you for visiting my blog.