by: Ambassador Mallory Lobisser
2016 was supposed to be my year. I started the year with my dream job, a man I loved, and a healthy, fit, happy horse in Wellington. I couldn’t wait to jump head first into everything that was ahead of me. I was confident, I was happy. I had a plan and I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything get in my way. Benji and I had an extraordinarily successful WEF. We got good ribbons in the adult jumpers, which was truly a dream come true for me. My boy, who I have had since he was six months old, carried me to good ribbons at one of the biggest horse shows in the country. I was on cloud nine. On top of that, I was working for the Tryon International Equestrian Center, helping grow what has just been named the host venue of the next World Equestrian Games. I had managed to combine my career with my passion. I was literally living the dream. And then it all came crashing down.
I had been with my boyfriend almost a year and there had been talk of marriage. He loved my horse, was supportive of my career, and was my biggest cheerleader in the show ring. I felt like the luckiest girl in the whole world. We brought home Cleo, the most perfect wheaten terrier puppy, last February and our little family felt complete. But something changed. He stopped leaving the house and fell into a horrible, deep depression. I tried everything, but I could not convince him to get help. I was so happy; how could he not be?
This past May, I took Cleo and Benji to Tryon with me for two weeks of work and horse showing. After a manic breakdown during my absence, J ended up in the VA hospital and was eventually diagnosed bipolar. In addition, my boss at Tryon called me into his office and told me I had to relocate from Virginia or move on. In 24 hours, my perfect world felt like it was crashing down around me. And I still had to pilot a 1,500-pound horse over a course of jumps that weekend.
I don’t exactly remember what I did next. I remember putting one foot in front of the other and thinking that I had a dog and a horse that needed me. Above all, these were two things in my life that would keep me pressing forward. I did a lot of soul-searching, leaned on my incredible friends and family, experienced more guilt than I have ever experienced in my life, paid for a lot of therapy, and squeezed my Benji and my Cleo until their eyes nearly popped out of their heads (oh, wait, I still do that).
Eventually, I decided that due to the other changes in my life, a solo move to rural North Carolina probably wasn’t best for me. So why not throw job interviews into the mix? J’s mom moved in with me for about a month while he was in treatment. I would visit him at the VA, which was incredibly depressing. This was not the same person that I had fallen in love with. It was the most painful, heartbreaking thing I have ever experienced. I ultimately realized that living on the emotional roller coaster of being in a relationship with someone who is bipolar was not what I wanted for my life. There is obviously much more to the story, but I feel I owe it to J to respect his privacy. I felt selfish, I felt guilty, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other.
Reflecting on those few months, I don’t think I would have gotten through them if it weren’t for Benji and Cleo. Benji’s stall was the first place I went when the tears started flowing, when I felt like I wasn’t going to make it, and when I needed a reminder of how blessed I really am. Benji has made me realize that if I can ride him, I really can do anything. He made me realize that if he and I can get through Potomac Horse Fever, two bouts of tick fever or lameness and cross-country moves, that we can get through anything. And he also reminded me that he needed me to be strong mentally and physically. When I sit on his back, he needs me just as much as I need him. So that weekend, I got on him and I rode him and we won two out of three of our classes and ended up champion in our division. On my 31st birthday, we won the most prized tri-color ribbon that I think I will ever win in my life. No, it wasn’t the biggest class at the biggest horse show over the biggest jumps. I look back at the emotional and mental state that I was in and I have no idea how I did it, but I know that I had to. I had no choice. That ribbon is a symbol of the fact that I really can get through anything.
So thank you, Benji, for being my rock and my best friend. You have taught me more than you will ever comprehend. Even if it’s just me, you, and your little sister forever, I know that we really can do anything. Thank you for giving me the strength to put one foot in front of the other. If you only knew…
After making the little girl, God said:
“You’ll need something to lean on. Something with substance that will teach you the value of hard work, perseverance, and to never give up. A thing that won’t cast judgment when you mess up in life. Because you will often, it’s just part of growing up and becoming a decent human.
You’ll need something whose impressive physical presence must be respected at all times. A being who could break your bones in a whisper but will never break your heart. A creature who will be there for you when you cry for hours after someone you love lets you down. An unspeaking breathing being that will teach you to check all the noise in your head and completely listen to what he is saying.
Sometimes in life you need to let go and just hang on. I call this trust. The terrifying ability to follow something blindly out of the conviction of only your heart. It will keep you centered and restore your faith when life happens. When you realize that you are forgettable to the world you won’t be to this creature.
Something that will keep you truly humbled yet teach you how to fly!
You need to understand the painful reality of death. Sometimes it’s ok to let go. That kindness will always be rewarded before the use of force. And that courage means trusting him to get you safely to the other side.
Something to get you out of bed in the trying times. When you feel like you have nothing he will remind you that you are still wanted. Something to give you perspective about what’s really important in life.
You’ll need a best friend. Do not take this relationship lightly. It just might save your life someday when you see no out. Treasure it always I’m trusting it to you to take care of for a reason.
A creature who will restore your faith about all of the goodness in the world even when you are so broken down that you cast Me aside.
In turn with time and healing he will bring you back to Me. Know that your struggle won’t be made alone, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride..
So I will make a horse."