An­i­mal Tales

My horse Whis­per and I leaned on each other for sup­port in hard times.


A rider and her horse, Whis­per, help each other to heal and grow.

Imet Whis­per when I was in col­lege. A young thor­ough­bred, she was a bit spooky and a lot green. A year later, I was in a ma­jor car ac­ci­dent, suf­fer­ing a trau­matic brain in­jury that would change my life. I bat­tled dizzi­ness, mem­ory loss, sen­si­tiv­ity to light and sound, and mi­graines— and that’s just the short list.

Doc­tors told me an­other head in­jury would be cat­a­strophic, and a fall from a horse was a risk I should not take. An ex-race­horse wasn’t the ideal match for me, but when I rode Whis­per a few months later, she was qui­eter and depend­able. In­stead of spook­ing at in­vis­i­ble mon­sters or try­ing to break into a trot or can­ter, she walked qui­etly as I re­learned how to bal­ance. It wasn’t the last time Whis­per walked me through tough times. I pur­chased her a year to the day af­ter my ac­ci­dent, and she be­came my first horse. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing with a dou­ble ma­jor in English and flute per­for­mance, I learned I had a med­i­cal con­di­tion and in­juries that would end my mu­sic ca­reer. This was dev­as­tat­ing; I’d sac­ri­ficed so much for my fu­ture, and it was taken from me be­fore it be­gan.

I turned to Whis­per. Rid­ing her took much con­cen­tra­tion, so it was the only ac­tiv­ity that kept me from ag­o­niz­ing over what I’d lost. And Whis­per was there when I needed to sit in the pas­ture and think.

We had count­less ad­ven­tures to­gether. We went for rides in the snow and learned equine agility. We even took part in an episode of Horse Master with Julie Good­night. Julie taught me more about rid­ing than I’d learned in years of lessons. Whis­per was in­jury-prone, so I also learned about equine re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and first aid.

Last fall, I bought a house with a small barn and brought Whis­per home with me. She had to be fully re­tired at 16 be­cause of med­i­cal is­sues, but she’s now teach­ing Lyric, a younger ex-race­horse, about man­ners and be­hav­ior.

I know I won’t have Whis­per for­ever, so I ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery day. On pa­per, she may not have been the right horse for me, but life some­times gives us ex­actly what we need. Thank good­ness I have a soft spot for thor­ough­breds.


Whis­per will al­ways be a win­ner in Paige’s heart.

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