Friday, March 11, 2011

Healing Power of Horses

While I was going through chemotherapy in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009, I spent a lot of time in the barn with my horses. My oncologist really didn't want me in the barn, but reluctantly agreed to let me continue riding.

She always marveled at how well I coped with chemotherapy. I thought chemo was awful, but in hindsight, it could have been a lot worse.

I truly believe that riding and spending time with my horses allowed me to cope with chemotherapy and recover faster. I remember days when I would put the saddle on and sit down for a break before bridling my horse, but still I rode. I remember another day, I was wrapping a front leg with a polo wrap and was so dizzy when I finished that I had to lean on my horses leg. But I still rode.

In July 2009 I attended First Descents. First Descents mission is: First Descents is committed to curing young adults of the emotional effects of cancer and empowering them to regain control of their lives by experiencing outdoor adventure therapy through kayaking, rock climbing and other outdoor adventure sports.

I went whitewater kayaking in Glacier National Park in Montana. I was awful at it, but loved it and went back in 2010.

I started hosting benefit trail rides for First Descents in the fall of 2009. To date my trail rides (we have a spring ride and a fall ride) have raised over $3000. My friends and I have a lot of fun riding for a cause and we also get fantastic support (prize donations!) from the equestrian community.

I would like to give other young adult cancer survivors the opportunity to heal mentally from cancer with horses. My horses have played a vital role in my own recovery and I want to share that.

First Descents has agreed to consider an equestrian camp, and I would like to provide them with stories about the healing power of horses (besides my own). Do you have a story to share about how horses helped you - it does not have to be cancer related. You can post your story here or email it to

Thank you!


  1. I plan on writing a blog, when the words form themselves in my brain, about how horses and Pippi brought my daughter and I closer.Riding and being at the barn, has helped us stay closer as my daughter becomes an adult, and has helped me see and accept this transition.

  2. I understand the part about forming the words Emme! This blog post didn't flow for me at all, but I wanted to get input from people. Its hard to explain what my horse meant to me during chemo. Sharing riding with your daughter must be a really neat bond - cases like yours and mine make me wish more people had access to horses.

  3. My future wish is to share Pippi with kids and adults that are temporarily living in our local abused womens shelter. I totally believe in the restorative effects of horses, and in learning a new skill. Overcoming fear or trepidation can be a great catalyst in life.
    How many times did we enter the barn with the intent of being there for "just a few minutes" only to realize that hours have passed when we leave? That is what horses do; stop the world from spinning for a while.