There’s a certain malaise that has come over me lately.

It manifests itself as a feeling that I no longer have control over my welfare and that of my loved ones. It’s happened before; most notably the evening of 9/11/01 and the weeks following—not understanding the depth of what had happened, not knowing what to do to keep safe, and what seemed like a constant wait for the other shoe to drop.

Life had been turned upside down. Nothing seemed to make sense; things we took for granted were suddenly gone, and things we hadn’t imagined were now part of daily life. We relented to exchange some of our personal freedoms for our collective safety.

It was uncomfortable; nothing was the same as it was. Until I walked into the barn…

The barn was an oasis of normalcy in a desert of uncertainty. My horses live in the day, in the hour, in the moment. They don’t regret yesterday and they don’t fear tomorrow; their needs are immediate and their expectations clear. If we choose to exist in their world, we accept their terms. They give the gift of routine, and routine brings comfort when little else can.

It seems like the conditions of the world in which we currently live change by the minute, and not for the better. I’m not by my nature a fearful or overreacting person, but it did feel anxiety creep in today as the news cycle painted its increasingly grim pictures. It lasted all the way until I walked down to the barn to feed dinner and entered the last stall on the right. I put my arms around the neck of DannyBoy, my APHA gelding and wingman for the past 16 years. I hugged him hard, exhaled and felt the cares of the world dissipate as my stomach muscles relaxed.

He gave me a curious look like, “You OK, bro?”

Yeah. I’m OK now Danny. ❤️

The author with his APHA gelding DannyBoy. ©Thomas Gumbretch

Thomas Gumbrecht began riding at age 45 and eventually was a competitor in lower level eventing and jumpers. Now a small farm owner, he spends his time working with his APHA eventer DannyBoy, his OTTB mare Lola, training her for a second career, and teaching his grandson about the joy of horses. He enjoys writing to share some of life’s breakthroughs toward which his horses have guided him.