The Wars Our Horses Help Us Fight


It’s official. Ngugi and I are jumping full courses, and I finally have video to prove it.

My dad is my biggest supporter and came out to my lesson this morning to record it all. He knows that my sister and I have adored horses since we were little girls. Although, when I think about it, my love grew as a result of just wanting to copy every thing my older sister did. As adults, we both have horses and bond over our peaks and valleys with our four-legged companions. It is real love for both of us. It’s a love that my dad helped to cultivate. And I think that all this time he has known what horses can do in the lives of people. He understands the long history humans and horses have had–all the wars they have helped to fight (for us), all the fields they have plowed (for us), all the carriages they have pulled (for us)…

More importantly, he understands all the wars our horses (Ngugi, Wes, Lucky, and Clown) have fought FOR US (my sister and me). They’ve helped to build us up and teach us about the fruit of commitment and dedication, repetition and consistency. Horses do that. They beg for us to pick them as our “forever horse,” our “forever friend.” When we make this decision to commit to them, I’d argue that sometimes they end up doing more for our sense of self than what we end up doing for them. I mean, I sure hope I’ve helped to provide Ngugi with a greater sense of purpose. Just watching her in this video makes me think about how much she loves having a job to do. Jumping, that is. She absolutely loves jumping. I can see it in the way her ears perk. I can feel it in the energy she exudes. It’s not a nervous energy anymore; it’s a radiant energy that I can feel transfer from her to me every time we jump. I like to think of it as an outlet for her. She’s certainly the type of horse who will get into trouble if her job is mundane, monotonous, drudgery…

But, she really is helping me build myself. Our time together rewards me with more inner strength and energy for all the best days of my life that haven’t happened yet.

Rittner (Rider) Welcomes Me Back


I am finding my way back to myself, but the interesting thing is that I didn’t know I was lost. Yes, I am paraphrasing Avicii’s latest hit, “Wake Me Up”, which lately begs to be blasted while I’m driving.

How have I discovered that I have been lost, you may be wondering? Without going into trite detail, because it is not in my character to exude negative energy, I have lost myself in a marriage that just recently revealed derailment and betrayal. Divorce accompanies me these days. But I have two options: to either allow myself to be hazed by divorce and abandonment. or stand up to the circumstance and use it as a way to re-define or re-invent myself. I choose the latter, which in past experiences with adversity has created in me a sense of empowerment–and ultimately, survival… I mean Revival.

Tonight, I’d like to share something beautiful that my sweet friend Heather wrote to me just days after my husband asked for a divorce. I share it because it reveals something beautiful, and quite ironic, about my maiden name–the name I am returning to. The night I invited my closest friends over to help me pack up my soon-to-be ex-husband’s things, Heather delivered me the following letter and the chest armor to her last year’s Halloween costume (yes, she was a knight).

I spent some time today researching the last name Rittner. I did this because I think there will come a time when you feel peace and even happiness that life has brought you back into the arms of this surname. You see…Rittner is derived from ‘Rite’ and ‘Ritter”. Its origin is Anglo-Saxon and Germanic, dating back to before the 7th century. It has twisted and turned and changed and still survives today to complete the name Stefanie Charlotte. The name’s meaning has not changed. It translates to rider or ride. Originally, it was an occupational surname given to people who rode horses…predominately to mounted warriors…’cnites’…or as we call them today…the modern knight.
You see Stefanie…this name suites you. It always has. It knows you. This name is you. Rittner welcomes you back gladly. Gladly, because you are a rider. You have been one since childhood. As an adult you twisted and turned and changed, but your horses called your heart back. You heard them through the crazy working woman’s schedule and teacher’s income and all other sounds that detach people from hearing and answering their life’s call. You answered though…you came back to them. You have always known yourself as a rider… and I have always viewed you as one. You may not have always known you are a knight as well…but I have always viewed you as one. You are fucking knight warrior! You are the bravest, baddest bitch to sit in the saddle! As a knight you will not stay knocked down for long! You will get back up, get back on the horse, and god dammit you will CHARGE!
You are your own knight in shining armor and mine too. I love you girl.

I am one lucky lady to have my horse Ngugi, who lets me rest my head on her strong shoulders to feel her steady inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. I am even luckier to return back to Rittner with friends at my side.

Cheers to me staying in the saddle and the awakening of my new life.