For two years since before my last post here, longer even, I was too depressed to function. That is not to say I spent no time with Zil, but riding was fairly rare, fraught with anxiety and could not be done without my daughter. I usually had to force myself to leave the house even to pet Zil, and I’d anthropomorphized her to the extent that I was often really uncomfortable asking her to do anything. I was unworthy.
No, I really was.
I don’t want to make myself revisit the point at which I abandoned Zil, my family, my life; but at some point in 2015 I gave up. When I finally got out of the Acute Treatment Unit, it was slow going at first. I had to face some tough realizations. I had to figure out what to do with them. I’m still figuring it out. I will be figuring it out for the rest of my life. I am blessed that I have such a resilient and forgiving family, with such a wonderful dog in it, and such a non-judgmental horse.
I began as a tentative new life, to touch the sunlight and Zil’s warm brown fur. I learned how much she loves her face rubbed and scratched. I learned not to be heartbroken on those days when she walked or ran away from me to stand gazing tragically over the fence. It would take time for her to want to approach me. And gradually I began to realize our empathy and how our moods are mirrored in one another.
After a few weeks of husband and daughter putting up with my whining, I began to lose my fear of spooks, bucks, drop-offs and steep mountainsides. I’m glad I didn’t know all the trails then, or I would have stuck to the flat ones and never grown into the monster that I am now. We go out two or three times a weekend. Our average pleasure ride length is around 12 miles. I prefer to climb through the dense forest and up above it to 12,000 feet, where we look out at the world through our wind-whipped manes. We talk constantly to one another without words on such rides. We’ve shared two seasons of competitive trail and distance rides, learning all the way, and are now conditioning for our first 50.
Zil and the San Juan Mountains are now my sanity. My childhood dreams of romantic, reckless horse adventures are being realized in my 50s, and I can hardly wrap my mind around this blessing that was given to me undeserved.
I’m re-starting this blog today, and I hope to continue to share our journey and adventures here. I will explore horsemanship triumphs and foibles, San Juan mountain and other trails in the Four Corners, and Lord knows what else. I will try to represent my struggles with bipolar depression in a positive way. And most importantly, I will continue share my love of my big-hearted Arabian mare, Zil.