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Getting back on the horse

In Year of the Horse, Marjorie Simmins chronicles her return to horseback riding after an injury

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Author Marjorie Simmins and Winnie at  Roseway Stables Summer Show in July 2015.

Author Marjorie Simmins and Winnie at Roseway Stables Summer Show in July 2015.

All horse riders fall, but it was different when a horse threw author and writing instructor Majorie Simmins in May 2011. It would be two years before she rode again.

“In the olden days when we were much less careful about first aid it didn’t matter if you were a broken bleeding mess, they just put you back on the horse. That was the rule of horsemanship,” she says. “You had to get back on the horse on to avoid losing your nerve. They had a point I’ll tell you. It took me two years to get back on and it took everything I had to do it.”

Her new book, Year of the Horse (Pottersfield Press), chronicles her return to riding through the challenges and joys of “regaining her seat.” While the book is largely a memoir of her healing and history with horses, it’s also a solid backgrounder on the sport.

9781897426906-webSimmins grew up in Vancouver, a short bicycle ride away from Southlands, a unique urban country neighbourhood peppered with stables, riding clubs, and horse trails. When she was 12, her mother bought the family a horse.

She rode consistently from that point on. “Horses aren’t something I’m interested in,” she says. “They are who I am. I see the world as opportunities with horses.”

The 2011 accident left her bedridden for months, and attending physical therapy long after she regained mobility. The idea of getting back on a horse seemed distant. But in 2014, the Year of the Horse according to the Chinese Zodiac, she knew it was time to ride again.

“I didn’t just heal and say to myself well you just went down with your face in the dirt and you have no way of changing that,” she says “That’s going to be your last recorded event with a horse and that’s it.”

She started writing the book before resuming riding, planning it as a chronicle of her path back to the saddle. Writing about the experience she says was “hugely” important to her recovery. As is sharing the book with others now.

“When I do readings now, I remember just how restricted my life was,” she says. “Reading those bits again, I’m mobile, I’m riding, I’m doing yoga. I have no restrictions. I’m so far away from that hurt, hurt woman who couldn’t turn over in bed.”

She hopes the books will help others decide to reach for their goals, regardless of their interest in horses or riding. “Whatever you dream you can have, without being ridiculous about it,” she says. “But there’s always a version of your dream that’s available to you. Other people’s judgements or assessments of your dream are just not important.”

Simmins will sign books at Coles in Scotia Square on Sept. 23 from noon to 2 p.m., on Sept. 24 at Chapters Bayers Lake from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chapters Mic Mac. She launches the book at Lion and Bright on Sept. 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.. Costas Halavrezos will host the evening that promises to be filled with readings, live music, and more.

**Marjorie Simmins was a long-time contributor to Halifax Magazine.

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