We recently asked our readers to write about a moment or realization they had where they truly felt horses were where they belonged. We’ll be bringing you their entries over the coming weeks, and keep an eye out next week for the announcement of the winner of a show set-up from Kensington Protective Products!

By Brandie Tryban

There’s a phenomenon in a runner’s world called a “runner’s high”. As an old runner, I know it well. It’s amazing. It’s that moment when you are in your run, and you hit that beautiful stride and the entire world melts away. You feel lighter than air. Your breathing is easy. Your mind is clear. Your legs feel effortless. It’s a feeling of complete bliss in the middle of the run. Sure, not all runners achieve it. Some runners will never experience it. But, for those that do, it’s magical.

I feel like we equestrians have the same “high”, although for us it’s a little different, considering we are achieving this high with a 1200-pound free spirit. It’s still a feeling that is hard to put into words. If the runners had to describe their “high” to a non-runner, some might struggle with it.

How do you describe one of the best moments doing what you truly love to do? All riders know that we form a partnership with our horse. It doesn’t matter if it is a horse you own, you lease or even ride in a weekly lesson. When you consistently ride the same horse, you become partners. Sure, some “partners” pull their own weight better than others. There is always that horse that would rather be hanging in the pasture with his buddy. You have to beg him to complete a task. He gets grumpy or does it but you can tell he isn’t really feeling it. He could care less if you are in the picture or not. While it might still be a good ride, the work in the partnership seems to be more one sided.

But for those of us that are blessed to be on the other hand, it can be amazing when you have a horse that is a complete giver – that horse that would do anything in the world to please you. Even if it means they don’t understand what you are asking, you can see them genuinely trying. Their success ends up being your success. And when you achieve that huge milestone in your ride that took you months, perhaps years to achieve, maybe some of us do experience some form of an “equestrian high”.

So, if we had to put into words, how would we describe the “equestrian high”?

Well, for some of us, perhaps it is a feeling of conquering a fear. Maybe a recent fall from a horse has left someone feeling afraid of getting back on. The moment their foot hits the stirrup, their heart rate starts increasing and they can feel their body start shaking. After several minutes of walking around the arena, they settle in and find themselves enjoying the moment. Realizing that the horse they are on is enjoying as much of his job as they are enjoying the ride. Starting to relax more, they melt into their saddle. They smile. Their breathing starts to relax. And for the time being, they find peace. Not only in the ride, but in themselves.

Perhaps, it is a feeling of accomplishment. My first ride on my off-track Thoroughbred rescue mare was spent doing one rein stops. She wasn’t a flighty type horse per se, but is an old rescue race horse and has seen some pretty dark moments in her life.

Some moments that I will never truly understand, I am sure. She and I had to get to know one another. Build trust in one another. We started out in lessons together. That first lesson, I was terrified. But, I knew she would make me a better rider. She demanded an experienced rider and there was something about her that made me want to be hers. She pushed me. She challenged me.

But you know something? She changed me. Time and time again. The moment that I first cantered on her, I was terrified. She was fast and I was scared of losing control. But, I found that even for a few strides, conquering that milestone for her and I was a big moment in our relationship. I had to surrender complete trust in her. And she proved to me that she is more than worthy of it. For a few strides, I had that lighter than air feeling. My legs seemed to melt away. My mind was clear. That felt that feeling of complete bliss in my ride. It was then that I realized that maybe there is such a thing as an “equestrian high”.