I definitely have experienced this. My mule, Buddy, helped me get through a very dark time in my life. I was suffering from PTSD from a bad accident that could have killed me, and I became very depressed and somewhat agoraphobic. For a long time, I found it extremely difficult to go out at night by myself, and I couldn’t be alone for long periods of time.
When I got him, he needed someone to love and pay attention to him as much as I needed something outside myself to care for. I got better at driving in the dark, being able to go out by myself, and breaking through the fear and panic attacks I’d previously been having so I could go spend time with him. He was truly a gentle soul, and I definitely feel as though he was my heart horse.
I do understand having few friends. I am definitely an introvert – I can spend days and days alone, just puttering around in my own space with my critters, and be totally happy. I’ve met a lot of very good friends in the horse world, and I really feel like caring for equines is a community job. At some point, you’re going to need help, expertise, and some days a shoulder to cry on when you have a horse, especially if you are trying to achieve any sort of goals. Horse people can be some of the best and some of the worst people you’ve ever dealt with, depending on the situation. The key is to learn to recognize and keep the good ones in your life!
I will say that it is good to know all you can about equine medicine, but as with plumbing and electrical work, sometimes it’s best to just call a professional before a small problem becomes a bigger one. Along with your knowledge base, you have to develop a very clear sense of “This is beyond the scope of what I can handle” so you are not allowing pride or personal feelings to affect the care of your horse.