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Horse Girl: A Journey Home

at age nine, as I sat on a horse for the first time, an unbreakable bond was forged. 

It set the stage for a lifelong odyssey for this determined girl and her devotion to her equine companions.

As I took the road less traveled, I found myself fighting the constant pressure to fit the norm and perform. I battled the societal traps of who I was expected to be, but, in the end, through my bond with my horse, I found a way to break free. When I did, I found myself living my dream life, even before I knew what it entailed.

My Life with Horses

After three books and 26 years in the horse world, I decided to combine my two loves: riding and writing. This resulted in the birth of my fourth book and my first memoir, Horse Girl: A Journey Home.

In it, I share my journey with horses from the moment I sat on them for the very first time to where I am today. This tale is dedicated to every horse that shaped me into the person I am. This tale is one of love, life, and finding your way home.

The Influence of Horses

Horses are my oxygen, my inspiration, my spiritual practice. They have shaped my life in more ways than one and taught me lessons I would have never otherwise learned. They have led me to where I am today and written this book with me.

From lush Brazilian rainforests to serene Swedish farms, from thrilling British derby banks to the picturesque wine hills of France, this is a story that spans continents, careers, and crossroads. From driven Olympians to bold bullfighters, from kind horsemanship trainers to daring jumpers, each character who crossed my path shone a light on who I yearned to be.

Excerpts from Horse Girl

I jumped as the alarm went off. I hadn’t been in a deep sleep with all the butterflies in my stomach but the alarm still spooked me. I was on high alert. Frankly, I’d barely slept. I leaped out of bed and looked outside. It was still pitch black. I grabbed my uniform which I’d prepared the evening before and got ready. I forced a cracker with a slice of cheese down me whilst standing by the kitchen sink. Eating was the last thing I wanted to do but I knew I’d need the energy. I’d need everything I had. I grabbed my readily packed kit and headed into the car. Before getting in, I took some long, deep breaths. Gosh, the nerves were really getting to me.

As I drove out of the garage, I checked the clock: 4 a.m. The early bird catches the worm, right? Eww – the thought of that just made me feel even more nauseous. Not good. Before I knew it, I’d arrived at the stables. It wasn’t a long drive and in today’s focused state, I barely noticed doing it. I entered the barn through the middle entryway and turned left. I pressed the light switch as I passed it to turn on the lights in that half of the barn. I was the first one there. But I wasn’t alone. At the stables, you never were.

As I walked over to Mickey’s stable, I took great joy in hearing nothing but the munching of hay. It’s one of the most meditative sounds in the world. So much peace. So much calm. So much contentment. Even in my distressed state that morning, I was still able to enjoy it. As I got to Mickey’s stable, I looked over the door to see his two beautiful black ears lower down. He was munching away on his hay that lay on the floor. He turned to look at me, surprised, as if to say, “What are you doing here at this hour?”. I opened his stable door and went in to stroke his neck. “Hi baby boy. Big day today,” I whispered into his ear. He listened. He nuzzled my hand and we had a quiet moment to ourselves. Moments like these are the ones I live for. Just him and me. Together. Fully present.

Breathe, Trust and Let Go…

Maybe I wasn’t destined to go all the way to the Grand Prix level or to the Olympics. Sure, not many riders get to the Grand Prix level and even fewer riders get to the Olympics. Yet, somehow, I had continued to believe I would be one of them. Now, being faced with the realisation that I might not even like competing, the dream I had held on to for so long came crashing down.

This is why I’ve been able to come through the sensations of feeling lost and express gratitude for the competitive dreams I once had. Why? Because if I hadn’t had these dreams, I probably never would have gotten Mickey. And I’m so thankful I did. My old competitive dream served the purpose it was meant to: it led us to each other. And he led me back home to myself.

As I take what feels like a whole new part of our journey, I’m taking my time with it. I’m listening to my intuition more, I’m listening to those around me less. I’m doing things with more feel and less head, I’m starting at some version of square one again.

~ Susanna Newsonen

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