I love fashion and all things related to fashion. However, as much as fashion satisfies and inspires my creative self, it cannot compare to the fulfillment and soul connection I have with my horse. I am beyond blessed to own and ride this gentle sentient being. I never knew nor imagined I could feel so connected to such a magnificent animal. Lechoso feeds my soul on a spiritual and cellular level and has taught me some very valuable life lessons. We have not had an easy road, but I wouldn’t change our journey because it has been instrumental in the cultivation of my love, our mutual respect, and friendship.
There is something magical and romantic about horses. As a young girl, I was mesmerized by their beauty and grace. Two of my favorite movies were The Black Stallion and Black Beauty. I think most girls go through a phase wishing for a pink pony or a majestic white horse. As it would turn out, my fixation with horses did not wane once I reached adulthood. I was still fascinated and in awe anytime there was a horse in my midst.
I love everything about my horse; the way he smells, his personality, his long thick mane, the way he perks up when he sees me, his soft wet muzzle, I could go on and on. I would venture to say Lechoso is my greatest love affair. I’ve nurtured him, nursed him through injuries, loved him, have spent countless hours talking to him and grooming him, cried to him, and have told my 1200 lb fur baby how much I love him at every visit. Incidentally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I also spend the bulk of my money on my horse. Oi vey!!
This brings me to my first life lesson from Lechoso: The money that leaves my pocketbook on training, boarding, vet bills, horse supplies, farrier bills, food, horse massage, etc doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things because he brings me so much joy and happiness. Can you put a price on happiness? Money can buy many nice things, but does acquisition truly fulfill your soul? I am the first to admit I love purchasing new shoes, handbags, and clothing; however, I’ve learned those things, in and of themselves, do not make my soul happy. My shoes don’t nicker at me and my handbags don’t whinny or give me soft wet kisses. My clothes might make me feel beautiful and well turned out, but they don’t make me feel like I’m flying and soaring. It is a feeling like no other to plug in and feel like you are one with your horse. My horse makes me happy. Period.
He has taught me to be a better person and to be an active listener. Horses are highly intelligent and we often misjudge them. Lechoso is always communicating with me and I am still discovering how he talks to me. Sometimes it’s nuanced, other times I know exactly what he’s trying to tell me. I’ve learned to check my ego and my cell phone when I’m around him. The barn is the one place I try to fully disconnect from the outside world. Because he is always willing to work and please me, I’ve learned to be mindful and present when we ride. If he can give himself to me, I should reciprocate.
Another wonderful life lesson from Lechoso was learning to trust and conquer my fears. When I mount Lechoso, I am fully aware there is a small chance he could be unpredictable. Afterall, he is a prey animal and is guided by a natural fight or flight instinct. Despite the fact I am controlling his movements, he allows me the privilege of sitting atop his back. If he wanted, he could easily run and buck me off of him. I have had some terrifying and harrowing moments that have left me shaken and unsure of myself as a rider, but conquering those fears has been paramount to our success as a team.
One particular incident comes to mind when I had my life flash before my eyes. The strength and raw power this animal was capable of was astoundingly sobering. A leisurely trail ride with a fellow barn mate turned bad when Lechoso suddenly shook his head, causing his entire bridle to come off his head. His reins and bridle were hanging off his neck when he suddenly spooked. My trail riding partner could only watch as Lechoso and I took off at a breakneck speed through the desert. Just when I thought he couldn’t go faster, my horse turned it up a notch to warp speed. I had no control over this frightened animal and could only hold onto his mane for dear life, while simultaneously trying to keep his bridle from getting ensnared in his legs.
I remember thinking I couldn’t let go of his bridle; if I let go, he would fall and cause a catastrophic injury for us both. I had to stay the course and ride him like a jockey at The Kentucky Derby. He was running so fast the cacti were blurry. He was a bullet. There were pot holes, rocks, bigger rocks. All I could do was hold on and talk to him as calmly as possible despite being mush on the inside. He was going so fast, I had tears streaming from my eyes. Then suddenly, without warning, he came to a complete stop. He literally scared the crap out of himself and took a big steamer, while I’m fairly certain I peed my pants.
In that moment, I was a changed rider and had a newfound respect for Lechoso’s willingness to be guided and controlled by me. In my mind, I fully believe he acknowledged that I didn’t abandon him by jumping off. I remounted my stallion and walked off into the sunset…(cue music from Magnificent Seven!) Okay, I may have “enhanced” the ending to my liking…here’s a more accurate rendition: I remounted with shaking noodly limbs and barely made it back to the barn.
Owning a horse takes tremendous commitment and responsibility. Consequently, the relationship and special bond between rider and horse can go beyond the depths of the ocean and eclipse the warmth of the sun. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my horse. He has been my therapy, my happy place, and my salvation. Lechoso has selflessly given of himself while I learned the basics of becoming an equine owner and rider. In my opinion, the trust a horse places in their owners is the purest gift an animal can give a human being. This trust builds a relationship that can last for years or quite possibly, a lifetime. Not only is Lechoso my first horse, he is also my “forever” horse in the sense that there will never be another horse like him in my lifetime.