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Train­ing my feisty colt was a chal­lenge, but it gave me the courage to face the source of my timid­ity.

EQUUS - - Equus - By Cindy Casey

-Y -eToo mo­ment

One day, seem­ingly out of the blue, my trainer blurted out, “Whomever it is you need to stand up to, do it!”

Ifirst saw the grulla Kiger colt when he was just 4 months old. My cur­rent mus­tang’s ring­bone was ad­vanc­ing, and I was start­ing to plan ahead. I would need a solid, de­pend­able horse to ride well into my 60s and I wanted to start my own horse this time around, with ad­vice from my trainer, Lynn. I thought the Kiger colt would be a per­fect choice for me.

The colt ar­rived on a cold De­cem­ber day. I named him Co­ra­zon, which means “heart” in Span­ish; “Zory” for short. And our jour­ney be­gan.

I was de­ter­mined to rise to the chal­lenge. I didn’t learn to ride un­til I was 35. Since then, I’d logged thou­sands of miles, but I was still a timid rider. Maybe that’s why I found Lynn to be so help­ful. Lynn and her hus­band have de­vel­oped a train­ing sys­tem rooted in the prin­ci­ples of nat­u­ral horse­man­ship, and she seems to have an un­canny abil­ity to read and com­mu­ni­cate with horses. But it goes be­yond that---Lynn is good at read­ing peo­ple, too.

I re­mem­ber once when Lynn was ob­serv­ing a friend who was strug­gling with some ba­sic ground­work. Fi­nally, Lynn asked, “Is ev­ery­thing all right at home?” My friend burst into tears. Lynn told me the horses al­ways “tell her” when some­thing is wrong.

Zory turned out to be a dom­i­nant horse. If he be­lieves you are a good leader, he will fol­low you like a per­fect gen­tle­man. But he will test your lim­its, and if he finds any weak­nesses, he’ll keep go­ing at you un­til you get it right. I learned quickly that I couldn’t be timid with him.

Lynn went to work on me, push­ing me to be as­sertive … and more as­sertive … and even more as­sertive. I be­came ac­cus­tomed to hear­ing her call from across the arena: “Get tough!” One day, seem­ingly out of the blue, she blurted out, “Whomever it is you need to stand up to, do it!” “What is she talk­ing about?” I won­dered. No one I knew in my life seemed to be a prob­lem in that re­gard, so I just let it go. As time passed, I did be­come tougher, and I found that my “Zory en­ergy” was in­flu­enc­ing other as­pects of my life. Peo­ple in gen­eral seemed to be treat­ing me with more cour­tesy and re­spect. And Zory, now about to turn 14, grew into the fan­tas­tic trail horse I hoped he would be­come.

Last year I watched the rise of the “Me Too” move­ment with in­ter­est. “Yes, me too,” I thought, re­mem­ber­ing work ex­pe­ri­ences that most women my age have en­dured. But then I thought about the real as­sault: I was about 9 years old when a rel­a­tive drove me to a park to look at an­i­mals. And I re­called the in­ap­pro­pri­ate things that hap­pened.

All these years I’d pushed the in­ci­dent to the back of my mind and I’d never done any­thing about it. Now the sto­ries of the brave women in the news mo­ti­vated me, and for­ti­fied by my new­found “Zory en­ergy,” I found an ad­dress for my rel­a­tive. It had been 50 years since I’d seen him. The note I wrote was brief, but it said, “I re­mem­ber.” And the shy lit­tle girl who couldn’t speak up for her­self be­came strong.

I never ex­pected a re­ply. It didn’t mat­ter if I got one or not. Sim­ply con­fronting my abuser was enough. So I was pleas­antly sur­prised when, on my 67th birth­day, I re­ceived an apol­ogy.

Some­times horses change our lives in ways we never imag­ine. I am grate­ful ev­ery day for the tough lit­tle colt who taught me so much.

STRONGER: When she be­came the leader her horse, Co­ra­zon, re­quired, Cindy Casey found that peo­ple in gen­eral treated her with more cour­tesy and re­spect.

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