Brianna Heilig’s Personal Horse Story

Brianna Heilig

My name is Brianna Heilig and I am currently sitting at my barn looking down my shed row at my crew of horses. I am being given the task of summing up in words why it is that I love horses and do what I do. For me, putting that kind of emotion or rather part of who I am into words is a bit of a challenge. I believe for me it started when I was 8 years old and my family had just moved to a cattle ranch in Montana. I had ridden a little bit before we moved there, but honestly I was a little intimidated by horses. I can remember following my mom down the trail and my horse would break into a jog to catch up and I would bust into tears because I felt like I couldn’t stop him. Then moving to that ranch changed things for me. I had to swallow my fears a bit because riding a horse was the only way be out there where I wanted to be. But there were two horses in particular that I will credit to really starting me on this journey, one of which some of you will know or maybe have even ridden. His name was Pal and he was genuinely the kindest soul I have ever met. I spent hours on that little horses, most of the time without a saddle, and he and I would go everywhere. From checking cows, to jingling horses, to carrying buckets of frogs I’d caught in the creek back up to the house. He had endless amounts of patients putting up with me, but I trusted him implicitly.

The second horse I should give some credit to would be a little sorrel Arabian mare named Emma. She was assigned to me as a bit of a project and boy was she ever. She was independent, stubborn, had lots of energy, and didn’t hand me much of anything. She would run out of patience with me and just lay down where ever we happened to be at. I laugh now because I realize that she was me in horse form. I have to credit her for teaching me how to just let go and have fun with a horse. But also how to just be in the moment and how to be determinedly patient. I think that is why I love horses, because they try me and test me every day. But their tests are not on world history, or math, or which actor played in what movie. Their tests are on the nature of your soul and your character. They keep me honest and humble and yet demand me to have some self confidence and to go with conviction. They demand mental, physical, and emotional balance. But most of why I love them is because there is something in their joy that feeds mine. Feeling them light up when their galloping down a track, or chasing a cow, or jumping a fence, or even leaving the arena for the their first ride outside. That’s what lights me up. That’s why I do what I do every day. It’s not an easy life style to choose regardless of what avenue you take with horses. There is a constant supply of hay that has fallen down your shirt, bruises on your legs from who knows what, early mornings, late nights, and a modicum of tedious chores that have to be done every day even if you have a massive cold or want to sleep in. But when I feel my horses light up about something, that just pure uninhibited joy, I get up in the morning for that.