All of this is survivable, and she does survive, and yet at age thirty-five, happily married and living the life she had always dreamed of, she is suddenly hammered by panic attacks, which become so debilitating she's unable to leave the beautiful house she and her husband just moved into. The runaway is hamstrung, and that immobility frightens her to death.
Chin refers to her childhood self as a runaway with a mixture of derision and pride. As a young girl, she hears the sound of hoofbeats in her mind, and longs for the wild, galloping freedom they represent. But when she meets Claret the horse, who will become her salvation in many ways, he is himself troubled by a possibly rough past, and certainly by some untreated physical ailments. Claret requires a presence of mind on Rita's part, which precludes running away or freezing in panic. When he spooks at falling ice in the barn and tosses her to the dirt, he returns to her and puts his nose down on her helmet. His breath reassures her and she climbs on him again - a major accomplishment for this runaway rider and for her fearful horse. It's clear they need each other, and that the bond between horse and woman is stronger than the trauma they both have faced: