Rejuvenating Love with a Horse

Life can be pretty grim when you lose your mate in the eighth decade of life. It can be equally grim when you are slowly starving to death. How can love bind these deep wounds?

Margery Olsen acquired her first horse at age 10. She enjoyed and rode that animal for a few brief years before his departure. Many years later she and her husband rode horses a couple of times, but that was the extent of her horse experiences. Margery’s daughter Sue became a horsewoman in the Parelli horsemanship style and yet Margery wasn’t much interested in the animals.

When Margery’s husband passed away two years ago she found herself alone and in declining health. Her mini-strokes and high blood pressure made her future seem rather bleak. A dedicated doctor worked to help her improve her health issues, yet she didn’t have much purpose to her life or much reason to remain active.

Joey, a handsome 14-year-old half Arab, half Appaloosa horse, spent his latest years struggling to find enough to eat in a pasture with little growth and no outside source of feed. He was slowly starving to death and had no one to come to his aid. He eventually was targeted for a rescue effort in Oregon when Sue and her cousin found him. “He was so beautiful!” Sue exclaimed. She just had to buy him and try to help him recover his health. She found out later that he had been in a bad accident, flipping completely over on his back during a trailering incident. He was flighty and didn’t want to be touched by anyone. His head was always dragging towards the ground even after he put on some weight. Hope was slim for Joey.

Sue began utilizing some of the basic Parelli games with Joey, working to gain his confidence and raise his spirits. “He is fabulous to ride” claims Sue, after working with him for a year. But Sue had another horse that she preferred to ride, so Joey didn’t get much time under saddle.


One day Sue begged her mother Margery to come and just watch this beautiful horse at work. Margery sat wrapped in an electric blanket, watching Joey go through his paces. It was love about to blossom. When Margery spoke to Joey, he raised his head to her. He remained calm and they just seemed to click. Sue says that her mother is a calming influence on Joey. Margery says Joey just seems to love her.

Margery on Joey

Margery began to work with Joey, using the Parelli game techniques to build a relationship with him. She says he is so understanding. When Margery approaches the barn, he nickers softly. She can get him to lie down in the arena and allow her to sit on his back. As she turns her head to one side, he will do the same. When she turns her head the other way, he will roll over and follow her moves. Margery has also taught Joey to balance on a teeter-totter and to move in a circle with his hind feet while balancing his front feet on the board. The treats she bestows must certainly encourage him to play along! Sue notes that Joey tries really hard for his new love.

Margery sitting on her horse, Joey.

Margery rides Joey several times a month, always with a helmet and daughter Sue in attendance. Walking Joey is a smooth experience but trotting is too bouncy and Margery is working on her posting skills. She would really like to go trail riding and holds that as a goal for the coming year. At nearly 86, Margery has been given a new reason to live and thrive and Joey, at 14, is a healthy, happy and devoted equine partner in this relationship. Love has been rejuvenated and flourishes between this happy couple.

Margery and Joey

2 thoughts on “Rejuvenating Love with a Horse

  1. Margery,
    Good job! I am so happy that you found this special horse to share your life. I am in my 60s and have ridden my whole life-so I know how special it is to have a horse.
    I wish you many more years of riding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.