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Introduction by Keila Aartila

By KJ AartilaPublished 2 years ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read

“I wish she cared about me that much,” said my then-husband to someone, contemptuously again, referring to the mornings before work. I would wake up early to care for my ailing horse at the boarding stable. Always jealous of my compassion, my wasband and I didn’t see eye-to-eye regarding care and concern for my animals. He didn’t seem to understand; he was the lucky one, not having to deal with a likely life-ending injury. My old horse had been in my life, through thick and thin, a lot longer than he had.

My sweet old horse, my first horse which had been with me for over twenty years. He was 27 years old now and suffering from an acute injury. I treated him twice a day by wrapping his legs, administering pain meds and making sure he was comfortable in a clean stall.

After a couple of weeks, with the veterinarian’s assessment, it was determined that his injuries were not improving - actually, his condition was going downhill - he would be humanely euthanized. I can’t convey the heartbreak and emptiness I felt from his loss, even though I had other horses in my life. I was an adult. Nothing would ever be the same, but I could do better in my life with handling animals overall. My little horse had shown me that.                                                 

This is a story about a girl who loves horses, but more than that, it’s about a girl who developed a passion for the horses, helping her learn to deal with trauma, navigate friendships, family issues and the turbulent teenage years. Horses have taught her about communication, reliability and drive. They have also taught her not to give up, but to learn to persevere in new ways.

You see, horses are natural healers. Science has proven this a fact in many ways, mentally, physically and emotionally. I feel that any passion a person strives to pursue can provide many of the same benefits, as long as we’re willing to do what’s “hard” and maybe non-conventional.

My job is to teach you what Jimmy - my tolerant, half-Arabian, sweet pony - taught me over his years on this Earth. This story is not just about horses, though. It’s about pursuing a passion and opening our minds to the strength we have inside.


I grew up around horses. I sat on a pony before I could walk, and learned to ride that pony on my own by the time I was five. I got my own horse when I was eight. I rode and trained horses through out my teenage years, even earning a minor in Equine Studies in college. After college, I still rode, trained and showed horses - my own and other people’s. In 2006, I officially started a business of breeding, training and selling Arabian horses.

I also have a progressive, genetic neurological condition that greatly affects my mobility and balance. I grew through the first half of my life basically unaffected, it has now progressed to the point where I have been forced to reconsider my interactions with horses. The way I grew up, learning how to manage and train horses, was no longer working. I either had to incorporate a different approach, or give it up. Since giving up did not seem like a good option - as for many of the things we love - I decided to learn a new way. I have gained extraordinary strides with my horses, have learned a new way of relating to people, as well as to myself. Instead of feeling discouraged, defeated and incapable, I feel unexpectedly empowered and my wish is for you to feel the same way about pursuing your own passion.

It’s not about how fast you can get there - it’s about the journey - the present - the moment. Take your time and you’ll realize you have a better YOU and a trained horse.

More to come … Watch my Youtube channel HERE for videos, and HERE’s my Facebook page to follow.


About the Creator

KJ Aartila

A writer of words in northern WI with a small family and a large menagerie.

My Substack

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Comments (2)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran2 years ago

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your horse. Also, it's difficult when people in our life don't empathise with animals the way we do. It must have been so difficult for you to write this. But thank you for sharing this

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