My first love was a big bay gelding named Clipper. I was 5, visiting a cousin’s horse ranch for summer vacation. Clipper was a gentle giant who was always steady and calm around me; it was as if he sensed what I needed. With no dad in my life and a mom suffering from mental illness, steady calm was rare for me, so my time with Clipper was a stark contrast, a magical refuge.
Once, I saw a teenage girl who was obviously experienced in the saddle riding Clipper. I didn’t even recognize him at first because he was proudly high-stepping for her! I realized he was giving her the ride she was hoping for, just like he always did for me. I knew then there was something special about horses. I believe they try to give us what we need.
Sadly, I only had a few summers with Clipper before things changed and the opportunity was gone. It wasn’t until my own teenage years that I was able to ride other horses again, and again those times were a magical respite from my life’s chaos. Adult responsibilities came later, and for too many years I had no way to be around horses.
Now I’m approaching retirement and grateful to Warm Beach Horsemanship for the chance to be with horses again. In the horsemanship classes, it’s wonderful to watch how steady and calm the horses are with the tiny kids just learning to ride or for the adults with physical challenges who get a magical hour of mobility as their strength and balance grows. The horses are trying to give them all what they need.
In a way, horses can also be subtle mirrors, reflecting back our emotions. As a horse leader in Warm Beach Horsemanship classes, I know if I’m anxious the horses will be too, so I have to bring myself out of my head and breathe through any stress I may be holding. I need to be calm in that moment, which is therapeutic for me…so I’m getting what I need too!
With all this horse magic, it’s no wonder the Warm Beach Horsemanship barn is my happy place!
-Shelli Young, Volunteer and Riding Lesson Student
Warm Beach Horsemanship