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  • Riyan Holte


Written by guest blogger, JL Hardesty

Horses . . . Holders Of The Heartstrings That Connect Us

The melody of all my memories is underscored by the music of the horse. From my life’s beginning, I’ve loved these great creatures . . . all breeds, all colors, all shapes and sizes. I’ve never met a horse I didn’t care about and rarely ridden one I didn’t want to ride again. With every fiber of my being, I believe that the good Lord sent His horse to carry me across the long and lonely miles of a life that wasn’t always easy; and that the horses did His bidding, saving my life as He meant for them to do.

My adventures in life began when I was 3 years old and my dad put me on my first horse. From that seminal moment in time, God’s gift of the horse would inform and form every aspect of my existence. And for this, I am ever grateful.

When I was 12, my dad traded a grand piano for an Arabian gelding. And when a friend from my early childhood, Bonnie Butler (now Hart), walked back into my life when we first started high school, one chapter in my life closed that day and another began, an adventure that led me everywhere I would go for the next several decades.

With Bonnie, her sister, Cindy, and their mom, Betty, I became a horse show kid and member of the small Butler family. In those days, competition was a lesser component of camaraderie. Every show was a family reunion. Every challenge was a chance to help each other. I rode in my first Arabian show at Scottsdale in February of 1961.

I’ve heard it said that life is like time and a river, flowing where it will. When I came to a place in time where I needed to leave the roaming, sometimes raging river, and go find a home, I moved to the mountains where my heart had always yearned to go. I began to write books to seek peace, to be still. And I lost touch, for the most part, with my extended horse community family that had given me a place to belong.

Time passed and my body aged and my balance declined, and with that, my confidence on the back of a horse, the one place that I had always been able to call ‘home’. One spring day, I told my loving husband, Jim, that I didn’t think I’d ride that summer, and then my tears began to fall.

Long story short, Jim, an exercise scientist, invented a cool gadget (the Balance Rider) that I could sit on like a bareback horse (but with seriously greater challenge) to rebuild my core strength, restore my balance and renew my confidence so that I could ride again. And with that another adventure began.


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