Meet the gorgeous duo, Courtney + Dior. Last week, I had the privilege of spending time with Courtney and Dior. Courtney is a cousin of mine. Due to various factors, however, we have only conversed a hand-full of times. Once I started this project, our paths miraculously crossed and it led me to spending an entire evening with her and Dior. It was a magical evening witnessing the deep connection between these two. Courtney comes to care for Dior a few times a week, after work. I was privileged to see the routine they have from grooming, feeding, to riding. I felt a deep respect for Courtney as I watched her lead and direct Dior (an incredibly large, muscular animal) because of a trust they continually foster. Not to mention, Courtney is a walking encyclopedia for horse facts. Her love and excitement for life is contagious. I left with a load of great pictures and greater knowledge on horse training/care. Here is her story……
My love of animals and horses specifically started at a young age. I used to run around my house pretending to be a horse, jumping on and over furniture, crawling around on my hands and knees…generally making a mess of my mother’s meticulously vacuumed carpets. I was fortunate that my parents were able to start me with riding lessons at the ripe old age of 4. I’m sure they thought it was a phase that I would eventually grow out of, but here I am at 32 and more in love with riding and horses than I was when I started. It hasn’t always been an easy road though….
I was 21 when I first met Dior. She was in a large field with 3 or 4 other moms and babies. They were running around and none of the mares wanted to let me anywhere near their young foals. After about 4 minutes of standing there scratching my head and watching the horses run away from us this “little” (and I use the term loosely) black filly walked up to me without her mother and stood with me for about 45 minutes. I tell people when they ask me how I found Dior that I didn’t pick her…she picked me. It was like we were destined to belong to one another and that’s exactly what it feels like.
It’s hard to explain the bond between a horse and rider to someone that isn’t familiar with horses or who has never had the opportunity to ride, there is no feeling like it in the world in my opinion. I’ve heard the phrase that for horse people it’s like it’s in their blood. This innate calling to be around, touch, ride and simply exist in the same space as a horse and it’s something that never goes away no matter the age. That’s how it is for me, but it hasn’t always been easy.
There have been many tears, heartache, and broken bones along this journey. There have been days when I was soaring on cloud nine and days when I thought that I should just throw in the towel because I had bitten off more than I could chew. The financial burden alone is hard to swallow and then having to justify it to your friends and family can be defeating but I continue because it’s what I love. It’s my biggest passion in life and I can’t imagine who I would be without it.
Riding and training horses has taught me strength – physically and mentally, patience, humility, how to be firm but kind and how to follow my heart above all else. It’s important for each of us to find something we are passionate about that we truly love and feel at home doing and when you find that passion hold on to it and chase it for everything that it’s worth, I believe that is the only way to live a truly fulfilled life.