Dreaming of Going Long Distance - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-11-2017, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Livingston County, MI
Posts: 8
• Horses: 2
Dreaming of Going Long Distance

The moment when you knew you loved horses was when...

On Clinton Anderson's Facebook page, this statement was posted and it got me thinking. What was the moment that I loved horses? It's a good enough 1st entry for a new blog as any, I suppose! So hello there!!

My name is Joy and welcome to my first journal post!

Well, first off, to answer the above question, I think that when it comes to horses the word "love" needs to be elaborated on. There are people in the world who love horses, and then there are people in the world who *really love* horses.

People who love horses appreciate their beauty. They rubber-neck them if they are seen during a car ride. They buy horse magazines not just for the pictorial eye candy, but even read the articles. They may buy horse paraphernalia, take a couple lessons or go on a paid trail ride a few times in their life. These people simply love horses, and they may or may not own horses for themselves.

This is versus those who *really love* horses and they are people who can pinpoint a place in time when something inside them WOKE UP, or rapidly "bloomed" within due to an overwhelmingly positive event that happened with a horse. These types of people would live in a barn if they could. They spend just about every waking minute owning, working, grooming, caring, feeding, loving and engaging with horses. If they weren't privileged enough to be a barn rat, they got there as soon as they were able to. If they don't own a horse, it doesn't matter- they will be around a barn SOMEWHERE. They'll simply BE. Around. Horses.

For me, I can't remember a time when I didn't love horses. My parents both loved horses. In fact, my mother in her later teen years was on the verge of buying the horse of her dreams when tragedy struck for her and the potential mare (that's another blog post). However, I DO remember the moment when my love for horses turned into something more.

I was 10, 11, or 12 when I went on a paid trail ride. It was either with my dad or a church group, I can't remember which, but this ride changed my life. I was riding a sweet grey mare named Sugar and she was truly sweeter than her name! The guide asked us all if we wanted to canter and I didn't know what that meant, so I asked. She explained it in the best way she could to a child that it was like galloping, and to my 10-11-12 brain, that meant faster! So yeah, let's do that!

--now don't beat her up too bad, she meant well. And, at the end of the day, whether what she did with a true rank beginner (and a kid at that) could be called foolish or stupid, I am forever grateful for her recklessness... anyway...

At that moment of takeoff, Sugar gave me a taste of something I'd never had before.

It was my own set of wings that spread out to take flight and together we flew to a place of unadulterated freedom where there was no fear, just wind in our faces and joy in our hearts. I mean- I was FREE y'all! Know what I mean? The rhythmic pounding of that 3-beat gait set my soul on fire! It only lasted a few minutes, but I'm telling you I could have done it forever... So, after coming down to a walk- naturally, I asked if we could go again! Who wouldn't?

Sounds totally hokey, I know. Not to mention cliche. But, for this little girl who had a very difficult and traumatic upbringing, it was a transformative experience. And, it has been something I've been chasing ever since.

Some might call it chasing the dragon. In any case, chasing this dragon is a good thing to chase.

This is where the story gets even more common and I'll give the briefest of details:
Girl grows up
Girl gets married
Girl has kids
Girl's kids get older - time for horses again
Girl is now working through an age-related conundrum called FEAR
Girl buys an OTTB as first horse (**of course**)
Girl never enjoys horsey time with horse that is too much horse (although he really WAS a good boy)
Girl goes through the economic collapse of '06- loses horse, house, car, everything.
Girl comes back from collapse nearly 8 years later
Girl moves to house with acreage
Girl immediately gets to work putting up a pasture
Girl buys two horses before pasture is complete

Now that we are up to speed, this girl right here still has issues with that age-related conundrum called fear. This is even though this same girl owns two of the quietest mares on the planet.

So why am I here? Well, I'm here to document my journey. The journey of chasing the dragon. I'm here to chronicle the events surrounding the fulfillment of my dream. The dream of not being afraid. The dream of becoming a long distance rider. Or, at the very least, to ride without fear. To ride out alone, or at least with one of my kids and not be afraid. I want to ride with joy in my heart, wings in my spirit that has been SET FREE. I want what I had with Sugar. I want to be that girl again.

Soooo, of course first order of business is hiring a trainer. Check. He comes Monday at 3pm to my farm. It will be my first experience having a trainer come to me and I'm apprehensive and excited. There are things I want to tackle, like:

Get... wait, wait, wait. I'm getting out of order. I think an introduction of my mares are in order-

First, we have Nala. She's a bay 22 yr. old QH in semi-retirement. She is my babysitter and has boosted my confidence a few levels up from rock bottom. The girl in the picture laying on her back is my friend's daughter (not me, sadly).

Here's me:

Then, we have Zoey. She's a 16-17 yr. old chestnut half-Arab that has the potential to be my long distance mare. She's a great mare, but as you can imagine, she's a bit more "spirited" than my half-dead, lazy as all get-out, babysittin' QH.

Look at that sweet face!

Pics were taken from my IG account, so feel free to follow me over there! My user is joyb0218!

__________________________________________________ _______

Anyway, getting back to what I was talking about. I'd like to tackle some things I'd like to work out with the trainer. Such as, getting Zoey to lunge (just can't quite get it right) and also finding out how arena-sour she is (she's gotten a taste for the trails and appears very grumpy if we don't leave the pasture). And, as far as the fear issue goes... the trainer has offered to work on that with me too. But, that will have to be my next journal entry- the "why".

Thanks for reading!!

Last edited by Joy Brock; 03-11-2017 at 03:42 PM.
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-12-2017, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Livingston County, MI
Posts: 8
• Horses: 2
Post 2 - Why I'm Fearful & Tips That Have Helped Me

I had my first panic attack in 1994. It led to a month-long series of ER visits, hospitals, diagnostic testing, monitor wearing, therapy-ridden, and medicinally-induced time of hell in my life. That month-long spark catapulted me into years of on and off treatment.

The long and short of it was I was diagnosed with GAPD- short for Generalized Anxiety & Panic Disorder. It’s been one heck of a 23 year ride, let me tell you! And, if I’ve learned anything it’s that mental illness STILL isn’t being talked about enough. It is still stigmatized.

I think the baby-boomer generation (my parents) is the most in the dark about it. As in, my parents can’t wrap their mind around the fact that I’m “anxious”. They don’t understand how and why I can be so “anxious”. As if, I can just STOP being anxious and everything would be fine. Do you want to know why they have that mindset? Because having a mentally ill daughter is too much to handle in their minds. Their generation sees the terms ‘mentally ill’ and they will always gravitate toward the word, ‘institution’.

But anyway, that’s a whole ‘nother blog post (maybe just more of a rant, I don’t know).

So, throughout my GAPD journey, I’ve learned a lot of things, but two of the most important things that I’ve learned that I’ll share here are: what it is in my mind that defines “control” and, 2) the physical aspect, or the brain chemistry/adrenal aspect behind anxiety/panic.

CONTROL: It’s taken a long time to come to this concept and whether or not I have it, or how much of it. When I was little, taking that first canter on Sugar, I didn’t have any sort of control at all- yet I could care less… I had implicit trust. I was naïve and completely ignorant to what could go wrong.

Now that I’m older, I still know that I don’t have any control, but I’ve lost that trust completely and I *know* what could go wrong. The difference is this- I don’t give anything or anyone a chance to “go wrong”- they are automatically put in jail and I firmly believe that now that I’m a parent, a lot of that goes back to my own parents. That whole traumatic childhood thing I talked about in my first post (found HERE). Now that I’m grown, I see my history in a new way and it destroyed a particular part of me that’s very hard to explain. It changed the way I view the world… coupled with:

MY BRAIN: The physical aspect of GAPD and the wiring of the brain is very complicated (always is), but what I just learned about a year ago came from a very unsuspecting book that I checked out from the library about depression- just a medium, very thin, hardbound picture book with a sad ballerina on the front. It explained things that I never knew before and boy, did it click when I read it because it was so relative to me and what I was experiencing. I’ll make it brief:

It is regarding the fight-or-flight instinct and it goes like this- you’re driving a car when suddenly another car quickly swerves into your lane. You jerk the wheel to get out of the way, nearly missing the other car by inches. After the incident, your heart races, your legs shake, your breathing is heavy and your chest may even tighten up. Now, in a normal person, this trigger-response will dissipate rather quickly because the danger is over. With someone who has GAPD, the response is much more severe and I’ll tell you why.

GAPD sufferers are more vulnerable to everyday ordinary life stresses. During stress, the brain sends signals to the adrenal glands that secrete adrenaline into the body. During the fight-or-flight response, the brain triggers the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline to activate your body and senses. With someone with GAPD, in so many words, the brain is malfunctioning and is consistently sending signals to the adrenal gland to produce adrenaline much, if not most of the time. This creates almost hair-trigger responses to even the smallest of stresses. It’s how and why panic attacks seem to come out of the blue. The illness is your brain is incorrectly sending signals to produce adrenaline. Sometimes A LOT of adrenaline, hence panic attack, comes on or due to a consistent slow-drip your system just eventually crashes, thus causing another panic attack.

What medication does is prohibit that signal to produce adrenaline. But, as every medication does, it can have nasty side effects. Tranquilizers can help too, but again, can be addictive. What I have done to manage my own GAPD is therapy, various medications, using tranqs when needed and a lot of positive self-talk. But that’s not really what all this post is about…

What this post is about is overcoming my fear of riding horses even though I’ve done it hundreds of times. I want to abolish it completely. Yes, my GAPD is tied into all that and kudos to you for reading this far. Nevertheless, it is something I feel like I need to conquer and I can’t even begin to describe what that means to destroy an old friend. Fear feels like my best friend because it’s always THERE. It never, ever leaves my side. And as much as it loves me and has been forever loyal, it needs to go.

Three ways that have helped me this week are this:

1) I’ve begun to change my thinking about riding horses. I’ve always been proud to talk to horse people about my desire to be a “passenger” and trust me when I say I get a sideways head-tilt every time when I boast about it. They counter with, “You have to ride the horse. Be the leader. You can’t be a passenger- that’s preposterous!” And yet, that’s what I wanted! I guess, I still do in a way, but maybe the wording is wrong. I want to TRUST my horse. I want her to take care of me no matter what anyone can say or argue. And the change is this- I need to view horse riding as exercise. I reckon that I do need exercise; I mean, don’t we all? I also reckon that if I’m going to take a quickly paced walk down the road to elevate my heart rate a bit, why not just elevate my heart rate on horseback and we can work-out together? And the very first order of business is to use my mind to envision a positive “work-out”. I need to fight my mind to not envision a negative one because that is my mind’s go-to response and guess what happens when I do that??? My adrenaline rushes in!!! By not allowing negative thoughts into my mind and focus only on the positive, I’m consciously resting my adrenals. So far so good, but I’ve got some ways to go and having a trainer will help (Lord willing).

2) Anchoring- I don’t know much about this, but I read that when it comes to anxiety or fear, anchoring is a way to combat it. By choosing an object or mental image that brings a sense of calm, you can utilize its help by carrying it with you during the times you are fearful. So far, what has come to my mind is an image that I saw in a horse magazine a long time ago and wow, it took me some time to find this image again! But, I did it! Here it is:

I just love it so much because the riders look so… relaxed. Maybe they’re going a million miles an hour, maybe not, but they seem so carefree. The reins are slack; their butts are grounded in the saddle, they’re using only one hand… for crying out loud, they’re wearing yoga pants and tennis shoes! I really can’t explain enough why I am drawn so much to this image, but I am and it just makes me feel good to look at it. Maybe it’s because it instills hope- a hope that one day that can be me.

3) Now, don’t laugh, but the 3rd one is hypnotherapy. I watched a YouTube video about a woman who was a horse trainer and after one session with this hypnotherapist she was cured of her fear. I mean, it seems genuine enough? Check it out here:

Who am I to say they’re lying? Maybe it works! I don’t know, but what I do know is that you CAN download audio recordings of YouTube videos for free and play them through a headset while you lie down in a quiet place. It’s good for just simply quieting your mind at least. If you are anything like me, my mind never ever ever ever shuts down. It feels like a wheel that never tops turning and when I lie down to listen to a recording, it really does relax my mind if only for a bit. And no, you won’t turn into a robot or serial killing machine! If you want to know more on how to do this, just ask. I consider it free therapy!


Well, that’s really it for today. Tomorrow is lesson day- yippee! I heard we are having bad weather (lots of snow- booooooo!) so I’m praying we don’t have to cancel.

Thanks for reading and I’ll let you know what happens tomorrow. Have a great day!
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-12-2017, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: So. Indiana
Posts: 164
• Horses: 1
I'm definitely subscribing to your journal. I loved reading what you wrote, I suffer from anxiety myself (not to the extent that you do, but it's there), and you have the same name as my horse, so you have to be alright. I also followed your IG account, I love "meeting" fellow horse lovers.
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-12-2017, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Livingston County, MI
Posts: 8
• Horses: 2
Thank you!! It's so nice to meet you, and I love to meet other horse people too. I stalked your instagram a bit, hope you don't mind. I have a big soft chunky gooey melty spot in my heart for Friesian's! Especially mare Friesian's! I used to be a 'gelding' girl, but then I got some mares and now I prefer them 😂 and thank you for the kind words about my name, can't take the credit, but it's a good name for a Friesian mare!!!
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-12-2017, 07:28 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
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very interesting journal, will def keep reading.

On a side note- we have a few things in common- our horses share the same name though spelled differently ( Zoe) and she is an arabian. While I do not have GAPD, I have Graves Disease- form of hyperthyroidism. While I do not experience anxiety attacks to the level you described, due to the output of excess thyroid hormones and it's inpact on the body, I have periods of increased anxiety or anger (heightened fight or flight response). Sometimes to the point I am trembling. Any little worry about something is so intensified. While my condition comes from a medical condition ( autoimmune disorder) I can understand what you go through since I feel we have common symptoms. You state " the brain is malfunctioning and is consistently sending signals to the adrenal gland to produce adrenaline much, if not most of the time." With grave's, its the thyroid gland malfunctioning. I actually was diagnosed with graves when I went to the doctor about my anxiety.

And there are times I get anxious with my horse for no reason, or very little reason. But guess what? I manage. And I firmly believe you can too. I take things slow- I am sure other people could be further along with Zoe than I am, but its fine. Sounds like you have a great plan set up, and I look forward to reading about your success with your two horses.
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-15-2017, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Livingston County, MI
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• Horses: 2
Originally Posted by edf View Post
very interesting journal, will def keep reading.

On a side note- we have a few things in common- our horses share the same name though spelled differently ( Zoe) and she is an arabian.
That's so cool about the same name!

Originally Posted by edf View Post
And there are times I get anxious with my horse for no reason, or very little reason. But guess what? I manage. And I firmly believe you can too.
I understand what you mean. However, I feel like I've "managed" too long. It *always* feels like an uphill battle just to get out and ride and so much of the time I simply don't have that energy. I want to "want" to get out there. I "want" it to be my stress reliever, not a stress inducer, you know? I want that "high" back again like I used to have.

Originally Posted by edf View Post
Sounds like you have a great plan set up, and I look forward to reading about your success with your two horses.
Thank you so much!!
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-15-2017, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Livingston County, MI
Posts: 8
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Post #3 - It's a Re-schedule!

So, Monday looked like this:

But that's not the reason we had to reschedule.

In the morning, the trainer (who I'll call, Dale) txted asking if we should cancel due to the snow. I wanted to say, are you kidding? We're horse people, unless there is a tornado ripping through the pasture, we ride no matter what! But I didn't say that. I *did* say- let's not cancel, let's do this! He said, OK.

Then, a few hours pass and I get a txt that there is a family emergency. Oh well. We will try again for this coming Monday, same time.

On a side note, the weather is FREEZING in these parts... 20s for the high during the day. Not to mention the wind has been kicking up a bit making it seem colder. But, it's going to get warmer and warmer and hopefully on lesson day, it will be nice
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-19-2017, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Livingston County, MI
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Post 4 - All My Horses...

:::cue dramatic soap opera music:::

My first real horse purchase was an OTTB named, “Market”. This was before the internet and when I saw an ad in the paper about a horse for sale for $600, I thought- wow! A cheap horse! Didn’t really know much about him other than the price… So, I went to see him (never even went to see any other horses) and of course, wanted him immediately. Don’t even think I rode him, just freaking bought him!
Idiot alert!!

The funny thing was… was since I had gone on a few paid trail rides, I thought I *knew* everything about horses. If there was any person on the planet who was the most wrong- I was WRONGER.

Amazingly enough, this beautiful bay TB with a hay belly didn’t kill me. He spooked me off onto my feet once, and nearly had me hanging on his side another, and that was really all it took for me NOT to ride him without my trainer present. I praise God that He saw fit to at the very least have a trainer willing to take me on and give me weekly lessons.

At any rate, I had three small children, worked a full time job and had a house and husband to care for. Over some time I lamented to my trainer that I didn’t feel any more confident in my riding ability after weekly lessons (he had a HUGE canter that I couldn’t sit for the life of me). Her quick response was, “You need to ride him more!” But I didn’t feel safe at all doing that without her, and she was a busy gal. Not only that, he was extremely herd bound and I didn’t know how to handle his constant calling out to his friends when I had him (on top of the spooking). Selling him never crossed my mind until the economy started taking a dump and with my husband’s income taking a direct hit, Market was the first to go in the start of letting a lot of things go… The worst part of this story is that we were almost homeless at one point. It was a sad and scary time.

But, before Market was given to my trainer, she revealed a little bit of a nut-punch when she told me the guy who sold me Market had never even ridden him himself! Goes to show you how IGNORANT horse buyers can be.


Fast forward to 2014 where I’ve been horse shopping (and praying!) for about a year looking for the right horse. Over the course of many years, I did a LOT of reading and researching about horses. The internet is now in very full swing and boy o’ boy did I have a lot of growing and learning to do! At this stage, I *knew* I was a very rank beginner and I *knew* I needed a half-dead, been-there done-that, babysitter. So, I waited. And, I prayed. However, not only did I do that, I volunteered at any barn I could get to the second I moved out to the country (in 2012). I worked for lessons. I learned how to properly care for horses- multiple horses. I learned how to halter, lead, pick feet, groom properly, blanket, water, worm, proper grain/hay ratios- the full gamut. At the end of it all I was caring for 18-20 horses and getting pretty good! And, my confidence was coming up just being around them all. I was blessed to have some awesome horse people in my life who were patient with me and allowed me not only to learn, but make mistakes too! Mistakes that weren’t life threatening, but good mistakes... As in, I *won’t* be making THAT mistake again!

I had started mapping out the pasture at my house when I saw an ad for a free QH. After a year of watching and reading hundreds of Craigslist, Facebook and Dreamhorse ads, I really found one that sounded good to me- and free to boot! Woo Hoo! I fell in love with her face the moment I saw the picture.

When I went to see her, she was so beautiful (and a bay too- double yay!). Her owner was a bit older and had had hip surgery (I think it was hips, not back, but not sure), so when she rode her, I saw how careful this horse was with her owner.

And I wanted her.

Catch was the owner had another lady that was a forerunner for this free horse. The other lady sounded like she would be a good owner, too. And the owner had a decision to make between me and her. I’m not gonna lie, I really did want this horse and I was trying so hard not to hold my breath. It really was a situation that sounded too good to be true almost so I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high.

When I left, the owner said she’d call me.

Those 2-3 days seemed like an eternity! And when her number popped up on my phone, I thought my heart was gonna pop! After I answered, the owner said in the sweetest voice, “Do you want a horse?...” I screamed, “YES!!!” I was soooooo excited and happy I can’t even describe it.

When the day of pick-up came, it truly was bittersweet. And, I don’t use that word lightly- very, very bittersweet. It was sooooo hard to see the great sorrow in the owner’s eyes and the tears being constantly wiped away over the loss of her great friend. The owner *knew* her horse’s worth; this wasn’t just someone who sells and buys horses every day- this was a family member to her and after 8 years and one colt later, she was leaving to come live with me... and not her. I can only imagine how sad she must have been.

So, long story short, I had to board her at the barn I worked at for two weeks until my pasture was finished. And, once that was done, I brought her home… with a buddy!! His name was Gin and they were pastured up together at the barn and lucky me, Gin’s owner said I could take him to my place so that my new horse… Nala (!) wouldn’t be lonely!

Know what's funny about these pics??? The pasture is GREEN! LOL- it's not so green anymore!!!

Long story even shorter… Gin did not work out. And, because he didn’t work out, I got Zoey!
(Gin’s story has to be another blog post!)


The first time I saw Zoey, she was standing in this run-out stall from the barn that was right next to where you park your car at the barn I worked at (same barn Gin came from). The second thing I saw about her were her FEET! They were *the worst* pair of front hooves I ever seen… (Might as well warn you before this story gets any deeper, that it might make you angry, because it sure made ME angry!)

Now, they weren’t long … they were like… sawed off along the front and they looked like squares!!! I can easily guess that they were long and in a New York minute, someone chopped them off before Zoey was given back to the barn!! Ok, so that was the SECOND thing I saw. The first thing I saw… was how skinny she was.

But that was no surprise because this barn is notorious for getting rescue cases and they do a darn good job rehabbing them (at their own expense)! Now this is where the story makes me mad…

I didn’t really ask about this mare because she was just one of the twenty, but I knew she was obviously new when the owner casually mentioned that this mare used to live on their farm roughly 7 years before and they were just getting her back. Then the owners says that the mare was bred and was skinny from weaning (?!?!)

OK. Take a deep breath. Maybe the breeding was accidental? Maybe it wasn’t? But either way! This mare was bred when they couldn’t even take care of her feet?! Ugh!!! Let alone feed her?!?

Oh, my poor Zoey…

Anyhoooo… ‘bout a month later, when Gin didn’t work out, Zoey was offered to me. Only Zoey wasn’t free- I had to work for her. A whole whopping $300 of work-- Makes me chuckle a bit knowing that 7 years before they sold her for nearly $3k as a kids trail horse.

Knowing what I know now about her, imagine my good fortune! But, at the time I was apprehensive because I had only known her a month and I had to make a split-second decision to take her. They were going to give her to me first, then I’d work her off. How’s that for trust?

She ended up being a very good decision!!

Now she's a fat, little happy sushi roll!


I know this was long so thanks for reading!! Tomorrow is lesson day!!!

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post #9 of 10 Old 03-20-2017, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Livingston County, MI
Posts: 8
• Horses: 2
Noooo Shooooooowwww...

Waited around in the pasture for an hour, no trainer. Left to go pick up my daughter and he rolls in. Says he had the wrong time written down, so we are on track for next Monday... Again.

At least Zoey got herself all groomed up and we even took a short walk down the road!
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post #10 of 10 Old Yesterday, 09:45 AM
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I just fell in love with this post.

Larasun is offline  

distance , fearful , horse , long , rider

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