Life Matters: How Grief and Horses Changed My Life

 

“I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine” said equestrian photographer Fiona Scott-Maxwell as we chatted at Belton International Horse Trials earlier this year “Kathryn’s written a book you might find interesting”

Kathryn White was standing almost shyly just a few paces away “I have been in touch through Facebook but haven’t heard back”. My heart sank as I remembered receiving some information about Kathryn’s book Life Matters: How Grief and Horses Changed My Life, making a mental note to read it and then getting caught up in everyday life. As you do ….

Kathryn’s book is actually a huge reminder of how we take so many things for granted in life and how we need to make the time for the things that matter.

Life Matters is a book covering Kathryn’s journey from being widowed at 37 and how horses have played a significant part in her recovery. Her late husband Ian and Kathryn were both keen amateur eventing riders until Ian was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in February 2008. He died nine weeks later.

I knew from the topic that this was not a book to be idly flicked through and had planned to read it on the upcoming flight back to Australia when I had plenty of time but again, things intervened. I am so glad that I didn’t read it on the plane as I spent much of my time reading it sobbing my heart out, which could have been quite disturbing for my fellow passengers but was quite cathartic for me

Whilst the aggressive nature of Ian’s illness brought his untimely death very quickly after diagnosis, Kathryn’s journey to resume a ‘normal’ life has taken many years and many realisations. The book details some of the stories from Kathryn and Ian's time on the eventing circuit which continues to be celebrated to this day; after his death, she set up the annual Ian White Memorial Trophy at Smiths Lawn Horse Trials in Windsor Great Park for amateur owner/riders

 

During happier times - Kathryn and Ian enjoying a training session with top Australian rider and coach Bill Levett

Photo Fiona Scott-Maxwell

 

Eventing riders will love some of the anecdotes in the book and will easily identify with many of the horsey stories but any reader, interested in horses or not, will appreciate the strength that Kathryn has shown and be interested in the various methods she has tried to help in moving forward with her life.  

I am sorry to have never met Ian; I think I would have like him very much but I am delighted to have been introduced to Kathryn White and been allowed to share her journey, a journey that has many layers ……

“A good friend of mine likened the process of grief to peeling layers of an onion. Not that the grief diminishes, it’s just that with each phase, or layer, you learn something new and move on. For anyone going through the loss of a life partner, whether it be through bereavement or divorce, it is a significant and traumatic event that shatters your life, future and self-confidence into tiny, heart-wrenching fragments ……. Life isn’t easy. Change is inevitable. Challenges are par for the course. I still have my fair share of wobbly days when I want to scream and yell at the unfairness of it all; to remain within the safety of my duvet and weep. It’s all part of the process of peeling another layer of that damn shallot”

Life Matters: How Grief and Horses Changed My Life is available as paperback or e-book for Kindle from Amazon