PATRICIA SMITH: Life With Horses Helps Keep You Centered
"There are times in life when things happen that kick us in the stomach," to quote Jimmy Herring, who used to work for Barbaro trainer Michael Matz.
When those times come, our horses keep us grounded and help us cope with our distress.
Horses require constancy. The inexorable rhythm of their lives becomes the rhythm of our lives. Feeding, caring for and exercising our horses must go on every day, no matter what else is happening. This rhythm can be a great comfort.
In the lives of many horsemen, there is usually a story of how a horse got them through a rough time. Michele Lobsinger's horse, Able Sportsfield, helped her ride the waves of a very difficult time in her life. Here is Michele's story in her own words:
"I have had Able for six years. I purchased him in 2001 from David and Lauren O'Brien while I was their barn manager. Able is a 10-year old Irish Sport horse. He and I have competed successfully through the preliminary level of eventing. He is an incredibly talented athlete with an excellent temperament and a heart of gold.
"My Mom died of cancer in October of 2005 at the age of 59. While my Mom was sick, I was frequently flying back and forth to Michigan. It was a very sad time in my life.
"Caring for Able, riding him, and competing him were the only things I could do to ease the pain.
"If I hadn't had the goals I had set for Able and myself that year and if I hadn't had his friendship, I really don't know how I would have made it through. When I came home from the weekends with my mother, I would hop on him bareback and go for an hour walk in the woods and bawl my eyes out. I was then able to get back to the realities of my life here, my mother's illness and my responsibilities.
"The regular barn chores and the routine really helped, especially on days when I just didn't know where to begin or how to get the day started. Preparing Able for competitions was a bonus because it provided a focus that required commitment.
"Able is my 'once in a lifetime horse' and I know it. I will take care of him and enjoy him as long as I possibly can. Although Able's competition record is very good, it is not the reason I adore him like I do. He has a kindness in his eye that will melt your heart. He has taught me so much and I am grateful to have him in my life."
Michele describes so well what horses bring to our lives beyond riding them or driving them. They are partners who see us through the good times and the bad times. Horses keep us focused and moving forward when we can't seem to find the right path. They are our reason for getting up in the morning. They are always there to offer us refuge from a storm. Our horses bring us peace and solace.
As for Michele, she says, "I can go out bareback on Able and run into an unexpected thunderstorm with pelting rain and lightning. As always, Able keeps a cool head and gets me back to the barn in one piece. What more can I ask for?"
Able always brings Michele home safely -- in every way. That's what a life with horses is all about.
Patricia Smith can be reached at fotobyTocco@vbbi.us
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