I think I was born loving horses. I don’t know why. No one else in my family is horse obsessed. They like animals, sure, but there’s something different about horse people. I grew up loving these awesome animals, but we didn’t have the means for me to take lots of lessons or own a horse. When I was 19, I started volunteering at a horse rescue, where I met Rydell. After almost a year of working with him and falling in love with him, I was able to adopt him. All those childhood dreams were finally fulfilled and I was a horse owner.
Rydell is now 8 years old, I’m almost 25. We’ve learned a lot from each other between tears of frustration and tears of joy, high points and low ones. We’ve helped each other overcome fears. We’ve achieved goals through much effort and hard work. We’ve learned how to read each other to the degree that I feel like we’re reading each other’s mind sometimes. Most importantly, we’ve bonded and become true friends.
Before I moved to Orlando in 2015, I was riding or hanging out with Rydell almost every single day. We’d be on the trails or in the pasture until the sun went down. And after it set, I’d turn the lights on in the barn and stay with him until well past dark. That barn was my second home.
After I moved, I had high hopes of riding just as frequently. But moving brought a lot of change, and I was left with very little time for Rydell. There was a point when I didn’t ride for 2-3 months. I still visited him, gave him treats and scratched his itchy spots. But it wasn’t the same. I felt a lot of guilt and frustration because I couldn’t give him the attention he was used to. He didn’t seem too bothered by it, but I was. A lot. It was a difficult time.
Now that I’m married and am working full time on photography, I’m in a new season. Thankfully, it’s a season where I can see Rydell a lot more. I’m not in a position to ride him every day, but I do get to see him several times a week, and we hit the trails as often as we can. It’s our happy place. Rydell is always so excited to go explore with me, and it does my heart good. He’s content to walk down the trails, but he’ll pick up the pace when I simply increase my energy and say “okay, let’s go!” He doesn’t shy away from wild animals we see in the woods, or from other people who are out enjoying the trails. In fact, he’s a total ham and wants to stop for pets and treats. And once we’re back at the barn, he likes to hang out with me and wind down over a flake of hay and some butt scratches (oh, he loves to have his booty scratched!). I always leave feeling so full of gratitude to have this dorky, sweet, wonderful horse in my life.
I know that there will be other seasons of life with Rydell—seasons where I don’t ride as much, seasons where we’re together all the time. But I know that God brings change into our lives for a reason, and when we’re His, it’s always for our good and His glory. Right now, I’m truly thankful to have the time and ability to see Rydell more often. I’m going to savor every ride, every moment of peaceful barn time with my boy, and thank God for giving me this sweet gift.