I’ve had Fortune, my senior mare, since December 1999. That’s important because January 2000 was when my first marriage ended, so to say that she’s been with me through most of my major adult traumas would not be an inaccurate statement. She was three months old then, a just weaned foal who hadn’t been given any neonatal nutrition. She’d been one of those surprises that sometimes happen when you buy a horse at an auction and the people who bought the mare hadn’t planned for, or wanted, an unregisterable foal. (They stood stallions and had their own breeding operation.) Luckily they sold her to me for $100.

A few years later my father would die.

We went through numerous health scares with my mom.

And each time, I’d wrap my arms around Fortune’s neck and cry into her mane. I’d go out to the barn just to get my mind off the stress and worry of each of these scares, and the daily crap of working for a major financial institution during two refinance booms when our caseloads were three to four times what was recommended. Then, my fibromyalgia diagnosis, and even losing 90 lbs through Weight Watchers.

Fortune was there. Still is here.

So imagine my fury, my disgust, my frustration, when someone said “oh she’s just a pet” as if she held no deeper meaning in my life. She’s so much more than that. She’s my anchor. Many days she’s my reason for getting out of bed (all the horses are to be fair) and my reason for living. (ditto).

I’ve had very bad, no good results and interactions with the mental health system. There’s a problem when you’re “high functioning” in spite of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and cPTSD. Being told to “get over it”, “just breathe”, or “think positive” isn’t much help.

You know what is a big help? My horses. Being with them, being forced to focus on the now, to center and breathe. I can tell them my issues, talk to them about my fears, my hopes, my worry, and there isn’t judgement. Just love and acceptance. That’s what my horses mean to me.

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