Cash is king for Lisa Mitchell.
Just ask her; she can never get enough.
Without Cash always there when needed, her life could be hell.
Cash, you see, is a 13-year-old quarter-horse; but for Mrs Mitchell he is more than that — so much more.
In so many ways Cash has become a lifeline for a woman who has been an epileptic since she was a toddler and a victim of anxiety for longer than she cares to remember.
Inspired by the story of Cobram teen Daniela Gargaro – whose dog Fudge helps her deal with epilepsy and cerebral palsy – Cash is Mrs Mitchell’s therapy friend.
“I have had horses for 30 years but I have never had one like Cash, he is the best,” she said.
“He has helped me so much throughout my life. Cash is my medicine.”
Mrs Mitchell’s Cobram East property tells the story of Cash's presence well before her equine hero trots into sight. There's a horse float plastered with clever equestrian slogans, a barn full of feed; and then there's Cash, prancing around his paddock like the lord of the manor.
Mrs Mitchell’s lifelong battle with her physical and mental demons began as an 18-month-old, when she had her first convulsion.
While epilepsy didn’t dominate life during her pre-teen years, when she turned 13 the auras began to take over.
“Epilepsy affected me from when I was 13 or 14 until I was 22,” she said.
“When you hit puberty it either stays or it goes — mine stayed.”
Electing to have radical brain surgery in 1993, Mrs Mitchell’s life was transformed. Since going under the knife, she has been seizure-free.
Then, 19 years later, she bumped into Cash, and it was not just love at first sight — it was a meeting that very soon became the answer to the depths of utter despair.
Woman and horse had barely been together for a year when Cobram hairdresser Brooke Richardson's car veered off the road and collided with a tree in 2012 – right outside Mrs Mitchell’s home.
As the first person on the scene at the fatality, the trauma of what she saw made Mrs Mitchell lean on Cash as if there was no tomorrow.
And he did not fail her.
Whether it’s a gallop through the Barmah forest or a pirouette around the paddock, Cash responds to any request with his knowing nod.
He thrives on the love showered on him by Mrs Mitchell. From his twice daily feedbag, to getting a rubdown and going for a ride — or even being given a shave come summer — Cash certainly lives the good life.
“I always say to people: ‘When you pass away and get a second chance at life, come back as my horse’,” she said.
Without Cash, Mrs Mitchell knows her life would be much more of an uphill battle. She has learned to deal with personal battles thanks to the help of her best friend, pet and sounding board.
As an advocate for mental health, she urges others whose daily lives are plagued, even crippled, by mental illness, to follow her example.
“If anyone has anxiety or depression, don’t hide,” she said.
“Talking and telling the right animal can help you big-time, it has helped me so much.”