Q&A: Carolyn Davey

Amateur dressage rider Carolyn Davey received financial support from the Equestrian Aid Foundation for six months in 2016 after she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Thanks to positive results from a clinical trial she’s participating in--along with the steadfast support of her friends, help from Equestrian Aid, and a healthy lifestyle--she’s fought her way back to good health. We caught up with her this fall in Loxahatchee, FL, where she boards and trains her Arab-Dutch cross, Corbu.

What influence have horses had on your life?
They’ve shown me that you have to stay determined and work toward things. You can’t just give up if you have a bad day--you strive toward a goal. Last year, I competed at nationals at third and fourth level, and then I was diagnosed in February. I had joked with my friends about getting older--”FEI before I die!”--and all of a sudden it wasn’t so funny. And, well, I pushed through to Prix St. George because I just didn’t know. The first test I did, I was so sick. I remember saying, “I just want to ride in a shadbelly. I just want to ride the test.”
 What would you be doing if you weren’t riding?
 Drag racing an ’81 Camaro. Back in New Hampshire, the guys next door had a garage. They raced. Then I got into it and started working on the motors. I blew up two in the process. It’s like thinking you know how to ride, and then you crash and burn and realize you really don’t know how to ride.
What are you most passionate about?
Having the horses and a barn... being outdoors... all the people you come into contact with in the horse world. We’re all here for the same thing, and the camaraderie you get is irreplaceable. We all have the same passion and we all really know what it takes.
What message do you have for other people facing their own battles with catastrophic illness or injury?
First, give yourself the chance to feel bad and feel sad, but don’t let it overtake you. Go to the barn. Talk to a friend. I had my dark days and my inner battles, but make yourself do it; you’ll feel better for doing it. You’ve gotta take care of your soul. Second, be your own advocate. Advocate for yourself they way you advocate for your horse. I was 35 the first time I got sick. I kept having this pain, like a muscle soreness. This tech made me feel little the first time around. “Cancer doesn’t hurt,” she told me. Had I listened to her and walked away... I think we’re lucky being horse people that we think this way--we diagnose things.
Click here to read more about Carolyn’s journey.