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Lilli Matusow
May 13, 2014
The Galloping Guardian
By Lilli Matusow
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 :: Posted 02:48:20 PM UTC

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Lilli Matusow is a young rider who is a member of the Southern Garden State Dressage Soceity. She and her horse, Livius, have been together since since they were 11 years old. 
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The equestrian sport of dressage is more than a sport to me. It is a relationship between the horse and the rider, creating harmony and connecting on a whole different level. A horse has the ability to mirror their rider’s soul even if it’s not what they want to see. We can give humans a gift that they cannot receive on their own or with the help of others. In order for a human to harness a horse’s power, they need to be able to harness their own. The acts of a human’s mind are constantly referred to as like a wild horse. They can then begin to learn more about who they really are. We lend them the wings in which they lack.

I can hear Lilli’s car when she arrives at the barn. It’s the muffler that gives it away. I look up from the hay that I was just given and walk in her direction. To me, Lilli is more important than a fresh flake of hay, a choice that not many other horses would make. We met half way. The connection we had for one another was so real and clear. It was magnetic.  

When I am with Lilli, everything around me becomes nonexistent. Nothing matters more to me than the time we spend together. Without a halter, I trail behind her, following her every print in the mud. Lilli is aware of how dangerous I can be. She realizes that horses have to be handled with complete caution, but she never seems to be worried about that with me. She is able to anticipate my every move. Without hesitation, Lilli weaves in and out of my legs and hangs like a monkey from my neck. I diligently watch her every move. When Lilli is around me, she is a part of my herd and I am her protector.

I was recently diagnosed with chronic uveitis in my right eye. Cataracts began to form and my vision became impaired. We tried to treat it for a year, until I lost all vision in that eye. I lost hope and depended on Lilli for courage. Lilli made the decision to have my right eye surgically removed. I trusted Lilli’s intuition. I never questioned her decisions. Now, we stand as each other’s protectors.

Ever since I had my eye removed, Lilli has become fearful that I will lose sight in my other eye. Shemakes me wear a fly mask to protect my eye from the sun, and I’ve never hated anything more. I learned to take it off on my own and toss it outside of my field, but every day I somehow end up with it back on my head. What doesn’t she get?

Although I have only one eye, my one eye is always fixated on Lilli.  Wherever she goes, I follow in her tracks. I feel it is my goal to keep her safe.  After I had my eye removed, the bond between Lilli and myself changed. Our relationship is more intense than what a human could develop with a sighted horse. Our level of trust is deeper and more substantial than it ever was before. This is simply because I know that I have to depend on Lilli for every step I take. It’s like she's my eyes and I’m her legs and together we are a team.    

I can sense when Lilli is dealing with something within her family. As Lilli hops onto my back and slips her feet though the stirrups, there is a different type of energy. She rides with heavier reins and her focus becomes nonexistent. I can feel the burden that has become too heavy of a load for her to carry. Although it causes me much distress, it is my job to free Lilli from this internal pain that consumes her.     

A talented rider is told to leave all of their troubles from the outside world behind once they step foot in the saddle. For me, Lilli is the only exception. I want all of her struggles to disappear, but I realize that is something that is out of my control. Instead, I take the responsibility to carry both her and her problems. I believe I was put on this Earth to be her guardian. Somehow, this has strengthened our bond.  

When Lilli becomes mindful of her surroundings and controls her breathing, she is able to feel from her heart and have trust in her body’s communication system. She becomes one with herself, along with becoming one with me. With my guidance, Lilli is able to live powerfully connected to all that she is.    

I have taught Lilli a number of lessons in which she will carry with her throughout her life. I represent the most constant thing in her life, through all the good and the bad. I hold the reins to her heart. As a horse, I guide Lilli to view life through her heart, have the eyes of compassion, learn to trust and have patience, and have the abilities that a hastily judging mind tends to disregard. I have provided for her the living experience of unconditional love.   

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Lilli Matusow and Livius


When I carry Lilli on my back, we share one mind and one body. Every step is a moment of pure beauty. We soar through the air as the earth lifts us off the ground. A synergistic balance is formed between us when a combination of elements develops an overall effect that is greater than the sum of its parts.    

When we compete, we compete as a team. Together, we represent a gang, a squad, and a tribe. We build off each other’s skills to produce a true equestrian art. As we approach the show arena, I can feel Lilli’s heart beating through her chest and into mine. Whatever she feels, I feel.    

I turned my head and looked directly into Lilli’s eyes. I told her that I couldn’t do this alone. I needed her just as much as she needed me. I knew she understood what I said because when I gazed into her eyes, she began to cry. Lilli leaned down, squeezed my long neck, and whispered, “It’s just me and you, bud, just me and you.”         

Lilli and I stood outside of the arena, waiting to enter the show ring. Our trainer, Jennifer, gave us the traditional pep talk… “Ride him like you stole him!”

We rode down the center line, trotting straight towards the judge. Next, we halted and saluted to the judge.  When everything became silent, Lilli leaned forward and whispered into my ear, “Let’s show them what were made of, boy.”     

And I responded back, “Ride Lilli, Let’s Ride.”

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