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  • Writer's pictureSarah Rivera

Eating Dirt

There are times when life drops you in the dirt without an appointment. For me, it was quite literal. What started off as a casual ride at the barn ended in a trip to the ER. Turns out, I wouldn't last eight seconds in a rodeo.

And it wasn't anyone's fault. It was just a set of circumstances that lead to a freak accident. As the pain killers were hitting me in the ER, I thought this would be the worst of it. Once they got me checked out and cleared to go home to rest, I thought things would be just fine.

They weren't.

The next day, my mare who has never been sick for the past three years had colic. Colic is essentially a stomach ache in horses that can be mild or fatal. In this case, it went from bad to severe pretty quickly. Here I was, barely able to move, and my horse was literally fighting for her life. How could I help her when I couldn't even help myself?

They say you need a dark night to clearly see bright stars. My bright stars came in the form of people. People who stepped in and cared for my little mare when I couldn't. They stayed up all night, fed her medication, food, and kept close watch over her. My husband drove me out to see her as many times as I could when I still wasn't able to walk on my own yet. Every day, someone would text me to check up on me and to give me an update on my horse. I found out just how amazing and loving the community of people around me truly are.

It has taken weeks for my horse to recover. There were a few times when we thought it might be the end of the road for her. I cried, I prayed and cried some more. Through it all, my bright stars kept pulling for me and my mare. There was no way I could have gone through any of this on my own. As self-sufficient as I'd like to think I am, I'm really not. None of us are. In a split second, all of my autonomy was gone and I was dependent on those around me for everything I previously could control.

Recovery has been a slow road. Both me and my horse are going to be fine and we'll be back doing what we love together. The rest and recuperation has given me time to think and reflect. How many things do I have an illusion of control over? It's a very small list of things that I can actually control, and even that can be gone in a moment. But then I feel a profound gratitude for the amazing people in my life who were there for me when it mattered so much. If this had not happened, would I have ever truly known the depth of their friendship and love?

I don't think any of us would choose to go through painful and difficult seasons. It's not something we lean into naturally. However, there are shining stars to be found in our black times. Stars that we may not have realized were there all along and could only see during a dark night. It can be easy to take them for granted, especially if they've always been there. But when it matters most, those stars give us hope, encouragement, care, love, and support.

My little mare and I are slowly getting better and will be spending the rest of the year working on a full recovery. We've come so far and the worst seems to be behind us now. We look forward to the new year with gratitude and anticipation for all the wonderful things yet to come. And to all of those amazing people who shined so brightly for us over these last few weeks, we say thank you from the bottom of both our hearts.

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