‘He’s my saviour’: rider who suffers with mental ill-health credits horse for saving her life

  • A rider who suffers from long-term mental health issues credits her former racehorse with saving her life – twice.

    Tanya Docwra suffers from depression and anxiety and has twice been at the point of taking her life. And although she lost her beloved Midnight Spirit last year, she says he has inspired her to set up an equestrian equipment business.

    She told H&H former racehorse Midnight came into her life by accident, some seven years ago.

    “He’d retired because he had a small injury, and all the girls on the yard said: ‘He’s got to go to Tanya’,” she said.

    “I said ‘No, I don’t want another one’, as I had another horse, and my friend was going to have him. She was excited about this beautiful bay gelding but he wouldn’t stay there; he jumped out and all sorts.”

    At the same time, Tanya’s other mare lost confidence after Tanya had a fall, so she went on loan to another friend, leaving a space for Midnight.

    “I was trying not to fall for this horse, as rehoming is all about rehoming, not keeping them!” Tanya said. “But he became my saviour, my go-to, my everything.”

    Tanya, who has a severely disabled son, now 21, reached a “dark place” not long after Midnight came into her life, and was planning to take her life.

    But then she took Midnight across country.

    “We shot off from the starting box and by fence six, I was beaming all over my face,” she said. “That horse took me round. We jumped the big chicken house instead of the small one, and jumped off the big bank.

    “Later we did dressage, we did showing, but most of all, he’s been my best friend.”

    Tanya came to the point of contemplating suicide again, nearly five years ago, but again, it was Midnight who pulled her through.

    “My friend Amy said: ‘That horse won’t live without you, so if you go, what’s going to happen to him?’” she said. “That’s what stopped me.”

    Tanya explained that if she was ever away for more than a day or so, Midnight would jump fences to try to find her, as their bond was so strong.

    But last year, aged 19, he suffered from a number of health issues, eventually losing his sight, and he had to be put down.

    Tanya said her family and friends were very concerned for her health, as she had recently lost her father as well as the last whippet they had bred.

    Continues below…

    But in honour of Midnight, she had set up a Facebook page Midspirit Discount Equestrian, sharing money-saving tips, and she has since expanded this into a tack and equipment shop, which also makes donations to equine charities.

    This has since been her focus, and the fact his name is on much of the equipment she sells also helps.

    “Everyone has got his name, and he’s the horse who saved me,” she said.

    “When you’re in those dark places, you don’t think rationally, but you need to find a focus, then the pieces drop together and although you still have bad days, you’re ok.

    “With horses, it’s that total unconditional love; they never judge you, they get into your soul.”

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