Sonya Julie riding one of her favorite horses, Cal.

I began riding nearly 10 years ago as an adult. It took a lot of courage to get back onto a horse after having not ridden since I was a child. At the time I was easily 40 pounds overweight, unhealthy, and recovering from a severe case of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that had lasted for several years previous. The first time I rode my legs buckled under me when I got off the horse at the end of my ride. I was in severe pain and could barely move for a week. But I went back the next week and again suffered from pain for the following week. And I kept going back

I was heavy and unbalanced, bouncing around in the saddle. I knew it wasn’t fair to my horse to have to carry someone like me so I was inspired to get into better shape. I worked on my balance, lost some weight, increased my strength. It took time but after a few months I no longer had so much pain. And then after a year had passed I was told I was ready to learn how to jump. I had come a long way!

The thought of jumping made me really nervous but I did it. And it was fun! It has been an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I have also tried to incorporate equestrian activities any time I travel such as visiting mustangs out west and riding on state land up north. I have also volunteered at a barn that specializes in therapeutic riding or hippotherapy. I have also worked at barns in exchange for lessons, helped with riding camps, and have cared for horses. I am truly a horse lover at heart.

I was presented with many opportunities to experience courage, love, and gratitude. The largest gift is that which the horses give. For such a large animal to be willing to carry me on their back and willingly take direction from me is a beautiful gift.

Lately I have been unable to ride much due to some unexpected life circumstances but I certainly plan to get back to it as soon as I am able. And I am certain that one day I will have my own horse. In the meantime I still visit the barn and ride about once a month. I continue to have gratitude for my courage on that first day that I decided to get back into the saddle.

Courage took me to a wonderful place.


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