In May, three friends looking for adventure.

In May, this ad in the paper:

“Good rider without a horse?

“Good horse looking for a rider!”

It was a “meet cute,” as they say in the movies.

A challenging opportunity? A stroke of luck? Too risky an undertaking? It would depend which friend read the ad. “A stroke of luck” friend was the reader.

Weekly they came to be near the horses. Weekly they left with their lives changed. Horses have that effect on people.

The friends were different in many ways: age, background, work history, life and horse experience. The youngest had never ridden before and was timid around horses. The middle friend had been wild-riding all her life. The big sister of the trio had a horse as a youngster, but after a serious fall she spelled “afraid” with a capital “A.”

What does an owner do with three such different riders? Simple. It wasn’t about riding. It was about the horse. Start with a little western, a little classical and a lot of ground work. Add aspects of dance, tai chi, centered riding and lots of imagery. Six months ago three friends started on the ground. Now three friends are confident on the ground and in the saddle.

Horse work was just the opening chapter to this adventure. The real story is the effect the horses had on their lives. Skills they learned with the horses had a way of creeping into their daily lives.

Two of the friends decided to change careers. This is a serious life change. Ask anyone who makes a living around horses. It’s long hours, hard work and little income. Ask these same people if they would do anything else. The answer: “No.”

The two friends spent the summer attending clinics, watching DVDs and practicing with the horses. They reached out to the horse community for hands-on experience. Now the youngest is an apprentice manager at a stable with an assigned horse to train. The middle friend, already an animal care provider, is now being asked to ride and train horses.

On the summer solstice, they took a midnight ride under the full strawberry moon. It was a rare full moon, not to be seen again for almost a century.

Full moons are a time to let go of things in your life. The third friend let go of the fear in her life. She was the most scared of the three, yet on the first riding day she swung her leg up and rode bareback. Now she leads the rides and laughs when the horse spooks.

Three friends, six months and an adventure. Six lives changed for the better: three friends, two horses and one owner.

As the year drew to an end, so did the adventure. For the three friends, new and even bigger adventures await. For the owner, the fledglings were riding away. It was as it should be.