Paula and I were doing our normal Saturday morning routine, enjoying a warm-up on our horses in the ring before going out for a trail ride. I was concentrating on getting Sportie to lift his feet more by walking over ground poles, since he had had a bad stumble the previous weekend.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Paula trot past me. Then her horse Manny unexpectedly broke into a gallop with a sharp turn to the left. Paula, caught completely off guard, flew to the right. Thankfully, she's a seasoned rider and it wasn't her first rodeo. She just went with the fall, rolling clear. Immediately, I jumped off Sportie to go grab Manny's reins, but no need. He had come to an abrupt stop as soon as the saddle was vacated, turning to stare at his rider. I don't like to anthropomorphize too often, but Manny looked very worried and penitent.
"Are you okay, Paula?" I asked, as she got up and walked over to her horse, brushing herself off.
She checked his tack and glanced over to the shrubs where he had spooked.
"Yeah, I'm good," she replied, checking her helmet for cracks. "And you know, I have to get back up. Not sure what he saw in those bushes but there was something. Better watch out."
With that she hopped back on, took a deep breath, gave Manny a pat on the neck and kept riding.
I love the ladies at my stable for so many reasons but the most important one is that I have never seen them blame their horse when something goes wrong. They know horses are at heart super-sensory prey animals and riding is a risk. They accept it because the rewards are so worth it.
How many relationships in life could be saved if the silent exchange I had just witnessed was exercised regularly.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"I know. It's okay. Let's keep going."