If you've been following Boondocks Equestrian on Facebook and Instagram for any length of time, some of this will be familiar. The story behind why this company exists to begin with is because myself (owner Jo) and my friend Richelle both wanted to have a comfy bareback pad when we would go for long trail rides.
Without being able to find just what we were looking for, it became something I wanted to also be able to offer other riders. My business degree has me always thinking from the perspective of,
"What do people really want and need?"
"How can I help?" and
"How can we all live our best lives?"
Ultimate comfort while spending tranquil time with our 4-legged besties out on the trails is soul-serving. Those moments for me were like a detox for my mind. Time spent with my boy Kazan filled my cup. Even though I was nervous around a lot of horses due to an accident in 2007 when I fell in a riding lesson (on a leased Warmblood) and broke my leg in 4 places, within only a few months after bringing Kazan home, I realized he was as bombproof as they come. He had his 5th birthday just weeks after I got him, which was also just weeks after being gelded, yet he acted like an old man, with a "been-there-done-that," "no-bubbles-no-troubles" attitude. He was exactly what I needed and I'm grateful to have had him in my life for as many years as I did.
Despite the awesome bareback pads we were able to design, my body continued to have issues because of complex regional pain syndrome (from my broken leg), hypothyroidism, systemic lupus, and mixed connective tissue disease. Four autoimmune illnesses were robbing me of having a high-vibing life, and I suffered with not only the disease symptoms but also medication side-effects for many years.
My declining health and loss of my full-time career in Finance eventually forced me to make a decision I'll regret forever.... re-homing my "heart horse." I know where he is, and I get to still see him every day on social media, because his new mom adores him and posts about their adventures. He's got a loving home, and I'm so thankful for that. But I still miss him every day. I cried daily for months after he went to his new home. Just writing this has brought back grief that I have been working hard on forgiving myself for. But at the time, I felt I could no longer give him the life he deserved, because there seemed to be more and more days I could barely get out of bed.
I eventually decided I needed to take action and do something outside the box. I eliminated some huge stressors in my life. My now-fiancé Mike and I went to Nicaragua for a long-term get-away... honestly I was ready to just "call it quits" in my life and die a quiet, hopeless death on a Caribbean island but instead, and much to my surprise, I started getting better.
When we got back to Canada, I examined, scrutinized and changed the foods I ate. I eliminated using chemical products that are in everyday things I loved, like perfume-y dryer sheets and laundry detergents, chemically-fragranced air fresheners, floor cleaners, body wash, shampoo, and more. There are lots of studies showing that regular household toxins we are exposed to throughout our daily lives, and eating an inflammatory, highly processed diet are contributing to autoimmune disease, infertility, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, endometriosis, dementia, and more. We can choose different, non-toxic household products; we can change how much stress to allow ourselves to be under; we can change our mindset; we can change our diet; and by doing these things we can change how much we genuinely enjoy our time on this earth.
They say we are always just one decision away from having a completely different life and I'm so grateful I decided to go for it. My decision to try something different not only changed my life, it saved my life. I have been off ALL prescription medications, and over-the-counter pain killers, for over 4 years now, and any symptoms that come along are easily managed naturally.
I truly hope to inspire other autoimmune warriors to start making positive changes in their lives and taking steps to get their health back, too. This is ultimately why I wrote the book.
Jo and Kazan (from Rock Ranch Gypsy Vanners)
for The Autoimmune Warrior's Healing Key