Thanksgiving – the oft overlooked holiday; skipped over for days of shopping, dashes directly from Halloween to Christmas, lost in the bustle of the holiday season – and it is actually one of my favorite times of year. Usually this isn’t a huge break from school for me, so I think it’s because I truly enjoy reflecting on the wonderful things in my life and taking the time to be conscientious of how much I have. Pausing to focus on the positive parts of my life rather than stressing about what I don’t have, or what isn’t going right in a given moment that is so easy to do on a day-to-day basis.

I am endlessly thankful to be in veterinary school, pursuing a career path that is excruciatingly difficult, but going to be worth every bit to be involved with care and healing of the creatures that have given me so much. I am blessed to have some amazing roommates to support me along the way, as well as friends that are now literally all over the country (and abroad) that have my back. I know I can call nearly any time of day or night and they will be there for me.  95% of these individuals I have met through horses in some fashion, which is pretty awesome, in my mind.

I’m thankful for my dog; she might not ever be a barn dog (like ever. Terrified of horses; it just isn’t going to work), but she’s a great study partner, cuddler, she can always make me laugh and she does a fantastic job keeping my feet warm at night.

My family…where to start there? Any equestrian knows how important a supportive family is. Even if they don’t understand 100% of what is going on, having a family who is enthusiastic about your latest show or lesson, or empathetic about the latest setback, or who texts when you post a really cute picture of your horse really is priceless.  My family-especially my parents-love The Mare.

It didn’t make sense to leave horses behind when I went to vet school. These creatures and the sport that ignited my passion for veterinary medicine…they are the reason I have pursued a career in vet med so relentlessly. So how did it make any sense to give that up while I was in vet school?  I just didn’t see how I could make it happen logistically.

When I toyed with the idea of selling The Mare, my mother flat out refused that option and told me she would buy my horse from me if I tried to do that.  When I graduated, my parents gave me probably the greatest gift I will ever receive, and it is because of their support that my horse is attending vet school with me. My parents recognized how important my horse is for my well-being in so many ways, and knew my horse would only aid in my success, rather than hindering it or distracting me.

So I am thankful for parents who understand my love for my sport, and specifically for The Mare and that she is able to be with me.

I am endlessly thankful for The Mare. Every little part of her. For everything she has taught me, for choosing me to be her person, for every second we have had together and for the future adventures we have yet to conquer. Even more after this past year, I am thankful for her health, her happiness, and the overall sturdiness and resilience of the Morgan breed.  Without her, I honestly think I would be a very different person, and I am so so thankful that she came out the other side of all her health problems and illnesses of the last year with virtually no lasting physical damage.  I am thankful I get to continue educate and be educated by this fantastic little athlete. She is so much more than just a horse, and while she may never know that, I am so thankful for her presence in my life.

I am thankful for our barn. We’ve had a little bit of a bumpy road finding a facility that best suited The Mare and I, and we have finally settled in the place we belong.  I am thankful for great barn staff and management, who care as much about all the ponies as I care for my own horse and are as diligent, knowledgeable and observant as a boarder could ask for. I am thankful for a truly welcoming barn family, who took The Mare and I in without judgement and have been nothing but lovely to us.  I am thankful to be able to share stories and conversation with them; they have made the barn a second home once again for me.

I am thankful to be working with a fabulous trainer once again.  After lucking out with some great coaches, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find that yet again; but I have found a truly kindred spirit and educated, competitive teacher with my trainer here.  I am thankful for someone who shares the goals for my horse and I, and is constantly working to improve us both while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone.

With a crazy schedule it is easy to find problems, rather than blessings. But when you take a second to look around, I think you’ll find there is a lot to give thanks for. I hope that this holiday season you will take some time to reflect on those things you are thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, Horse Junkies.