I thought it would be over and everything would be back to normal by the end of the summer in 2020. Then I thought it would be over by Thanksgiving… or Christmas… surely by the New Year…. and here we are two years in and every day that passes seems to pull us farther away from normal. We’ve had to consciously cultivate inner strength simply to deal with everyday life. There are many for whom that strength is as thin as a pony’s whisker. And then there’s us. The Horsewomen.

Horsewomen have an inner strength that’s just not available to those poor souls whose lives don’t revolve around horses. We’ve laughed, cried. mucked out at 6 am when the temperature hovered around 0 and stayed up till 2 am walking a colickey horse (if your farm was in the north, as ours was, then that likely happened in frigid weather as well.) We’ve repaired fences, moved the muck heap with the front bucket of our tractor. We’ve spent frantic summer afternoons trying to get the 300 bales of hay in off the field before the thunderstorms hit. We’ve watched foals be born, and stood at the end of the lead rope, tears streaming down, as one of our horses comes to the end of his life.

If it hasn’t killed us, it probably has made us stronger. It’s a deep inner strength that can’t be built in a gym or on an exercise bike. It’s born of love and loss and hope and despair, and it has shaped who we are. Our strength grounds us, and in turn, we share that strength with those we love, those who we know need our strength, those we’ve never met.

The evening news says the numbers of people dying of Covid are dropping. But when you check the statistics for your county, there were 30 new cases yesterday and 2 more deaths last week. The evening news says that over 2,000 people in Ukraine have been killed. Innocent civilians, normal people who were going about their normal days and normal lives until Russia attacked and bombs and missiles rained down on their cities. The evening news says another Black man has been killed by police, another Asian has suffered a brutal attack. The scope of pain around the world can overwhelm us if we let it.

We can’t stop the bombings. We can’t stop Covid in its tracks. We can’t stop the senseless shootings in schools, in churches, in neighborhoods where black men are more than twice as likely to die from an officer-involved shooting than white men in the same locations. We can’t end homelessness or hunger or child-, elder-, and animal abuse. But if we do nothing, then the bad stuff wins.

So, we do what we can. We fix our fences, we take in the hay. We find comfort in the daily activities that make up our lives as horsewomen. We draw our strength from the normalcy of mucking out, filling water buckets, and spending quality time with our horses. We volunteer and donate when and where we can.  We say our prayers and hold our loved ones a little closer.

Whether it’s another tragedy on the evening news or a 10 pm call to the vet for a horse that needs sutures, we handle it, we keep going. It’s who we are.

We are horsewomen and we are strong.