A typical 16 year old, I was looking forward to a summer filled with fun, beach, horses and friends. I had plans to attend my friend's 16th birthday party, but I had to work at the local deli that day. What I actually did at the deli - operating a meat grinder- I kept a secret from my parents, telling them I worked at the register and stocked shelves figuring they would never find out.
I remember all too clearly waiting on a customer - how many pounds of hamburger he wanted, the kind of meat to be used, and that it was to be ground 3 times. I was the counting times I had run it through, when I suddenly realized my fingers had become caught and the machine was pulling my arm. As I screamed for help, a friend of the owner ran in to turn it off. The paramedics arrived and to their amazement, I was still conscious and talking with my father who stood behind me as I told him I didn't have a hand and apologized for the family missing the picnic at Holiday Hill the following day. As I overheard the conversation, I knew at that point I no longer would have a hand. I started to wonder what would become of my life as the 16 year old girl who had one hand, what people would think, and, worse of all,l who would ever love a girl with one hand. I replayed that day in my head for many days while I recovered in the hospital with the question "Why Me"?
After a short hospital stay, I found myself back at the barn with the horses just four weeks after my accident. Through their intuitiveness the horses sensed that I was somehow different than before and they displayed great kindness and patience as I re-taught myself the basics of horse care and riding. I felt nervous and scared, wondering if I would ever be able to do this with one hand. As time passed, with the assistance of the horses, I found the courage and the strength to overcome many of my insecurities. Family and friends began to see the changes in me. Arriving home from the barn I would be happy and elated. My self esteem and self confidence were increasing by leaps and bounds. My overall outlook on life was more positive, including the acceptance of my amputation and the harsh reality of what life had dealt me. I truly was finding myself through the assistance of the horses with the nonverbal healing for which they are known and respected.
As I modified my previous skills to accomplish things with one hand, I realized that the power, strength and confidence I had received from the horses could be applied to all areas of my life. I joined the swim team. The courage and strength I needed to swim with and in front of everyone who had two hands, I attribute to the horses. The horses never judged me. They accepted me for who I was, and they allowed me to find out that I am just like everyone else - I can do everything that others can do. I look a little different, but that doesn't mean I'm limited in what I can achieve in life.
As time passed, I excelled in many areas of my life. To this day I attribute this to the horses and the skills they helped me learn about patience, persistence and maintaining my focus. The horses taught me to follow through with my vision, dreams, and the task at hand, to reach my greatest potential.
Today I'm happily remarried to a wonderful man who has helped encourage me to not let go of my dream, even during some of the biggest challenges, wanting to give up, he remains as my biggest cheerleader. I have two wonderful children who have witnessed the journey which began when the company I worked for closed and I started pursuing the dream of Destiny's Ride. They have remained there with all the love a support a mother could hope for. Along the way they have learned that when you go forth with patience and perseverance, you can turn your dreams into a reality. I still have my days where I continue to ask "Why me?" " I'm not strong enough or smart enough," and "What was I ever thinking?" But each new day brings a new level of confidence and strength that keeps pushing me towards my dream.
Regardless of our own disabilities, we are all on a journey to have a life filled with love, joy and happiness - and we were meant to have fun along the way! Embrace the challenges and setbacks, knowing you are right where you are suppose to be, and there is a happy ending to everyone's story - even yours.
There are so many positive things that the horses can teach us, whether it is raising our spirits or giving us the confidence that we can ride an 800 pound animal. The best part is that what we learn from the horses carries over into our everyday lives. As we increase our self esteem and confidence we become happier and more satisfied with our lives, we become more successful in all areas of our lives. This is the desire Destiny's Ride envisions for everyone who walks through our doors.