• Taylor Thompson

Beauty in the unexpected.

"But do you want to ride ever again?" This was an innocent question posed to me from a volunteer. I was spending the day teaching EAL (Equine Assisted Learning) at a local horse camp. This camp meets once a week all summer and aims to expose children to the care of horses, riding horses, showing horses and other things outside of those basics. I was invited in to showcase what and how we can learn from a horse in an EAL setting. I started my time with these campers and the volunteer staff with an introduction of myself and the horses I work with at Starting Gate, my home base. The three horses in my field are not currently able to carry a rider but instead teach us eye to eye on the ground. A volunteer approached me midway through our arena time and asked me that question. I surprised myself with a pause.

My life is so joyfully full even without ever sitting on a horses back. I have been around horses since I was a child and have spent many happy hours in the saddle but 10x those hours happy in the stable working around the horses. (Theres a funny little meme out there that showcases how 'horse back riding' is a lot less 'back riding' and whole lot more horse care.) I adore my Mika and my Zeke and our friend Tom without ever riding them. We have so much quality time and fun together working EAL, clicker training tricks, routine chores, filming social media content and just quiet time together outside that I haven't *really* missed riding. It's surprising. If you had asked my 14 year old self who basically lived at the barn riding whatever horse was offered for as long as I could that I would have horses in my backyard for 2 years and never ride them.... well that 14 year old me would laugh at you. Yet here we are. It's funny how life plays out. I hoped one day to move to the country and bring horses home but I never guessed that I would become an EAL facilitator or that my herd of horses would all be unrideable rescues. But I also wouldn't change my story for anything. It is my story and it is beautiful, even in its broken places.

Do I want to ride again? Sure. I have enjoyed riding friends horses a couple times over the last few years and I do have it on my goals list to purchase a riding horse for myself and do some trail riding around my home state. But right now, I'm OK. Life didn't turn out how I anticipated, but its still beautiful. I still have these three gorgeous horses outside my window and I get to share them with other people regardless of their horse experience. How has your life turned out unexpectedly? Can you still find the beauty in it?

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