Humans of the horse world: Meribeth White
For this career groom, the goal has always been simple: Keep the horses happy so they can be their best in and out of the ring. In her 43 years in the barn aisle, Meribeth has taken horses to the ring for Olympians and cared for top hunters. She knows the difference between a rider and a horseman, and--although she doesn’t see it this way--she’s among the seasoned, expert grooms industry professionals lament are a dying breed.
The wear and tear of a groom’s life necessitated back surgery in 1984. In 2014 when her doctor suggested a repeat of the relatively simple procedure, Meribeth didn’t think twice.
“The day before my surgery, I went to Publix and got everything I’d need to stay in bed for four days before I could go back to work. I also tried to print out the DNR [Do Not Resuscitate form], but for some reason my computer wouldn’t work.
They severed an artery and I pretty much bled out right there on the table.
My sister and my best friend had to make the decision. They decided I’d fought so hard, they at least had to try. The doctors revived me three times.
God took me under his wing, maybe because I was born on Christmas. I’m not sure. But I know I’m blessed. When I was in the hospital those six weeks, Deacon Jim came and he gave me a rosary. I’ve carried it every day for two years--it gives me strength.
I told my sister about the DNR. She didn’t believe me. But when we looked on my computer there it was--the last thing in my search history.
I left the hospital with permanent kidney and neurological damage and an ostomy bag. I told my doctors we’re exploring every option, and I didn’t accept it when they said no. I searched out other doctors. When I got to the second world-renowned surgeon, he said I think there’s a chance. And now, I don’t have that bag anymore. It’s only because I fought.
When this is all said and done, the outcome is not going to be because I didn’t exhaust every possibility and every option I had. I’ll be able to sleep at night knowing I gave it my fullest.
What I miss most are the animals. I love those horses. I always felt like the underdogs were the ones who needed me the most. And the special ones--the ones who needed a little more understanding.
I’m learning to live with the pain in my back which will never go away, and I’m working to deal with this mentally, too. I pray every day for patience, courage, and faith.
This is not the life I dreamed of. I didn’t think I would be rich and famous at 52, but I didn’t think I would be... that it would be such a steep uphill climb. Like they say, if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger. And I’m a warrior. I am a warrior. People in my situation have to never give up. Never give up hope and never give up faith in humanity.
There have been times I’ve wanted to give up, but I know I’m better than that and stronger than that. I realize I’m here for a reason. Part of it is to take care of my dad. He’s 96. He gives me a purpose. I’m not sure what the rest of it is--it hasn’t come to me yet, but I feel something big is out there for me.
I haven’t gotten the huge blessing yet, but I’ve gotten enough blessings that I know I’m blessed--starting on November 14, 2014, at midnight when they saved my life.”
Meribeth is currently an Equestrian Aid Foundation grant recipient. Her grace and perserverance continue to be an inspiration to us all.