Of Horse

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Know Better, Do Better
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Know Better, Do Better

“My favorite memory is: her second chances.” - Julia, First Grader

“Look what Julia wrote!” My daughter Janette started tearing up as she showed me one of her first graders’ fill in the blanks report on how her year went. “How sweet is this! She appreciated the second chances I gave her. She wasn’t a student who tested the classroom boundaries often, but when she did, she chose to do something big... so I would whisper to her: ‘I’m gonna be really nice and give you a very special second chance. If you turn your day around, we can forget this ever happened.’ And she always made up for it.”

Where would we be without second chances? Humans make mistakes and rarely get it right the first time. We should be very appreciative when given the opportunity to try again. I thought of that when my new horse Tara tripped over a tree root this past weekend, pitching me forward for a second. As we both regained our balance and kept going, I felt the reins still secure in my hands and glanced heavenward.

“Thanks for giving me another chance, Sportie. Lesson learned.”

The anniversary of Sportie’s passing, a senior horse I had the privilege to ride for 3½ years, is the end of this month. I will never not miss him. He taught me so many lessons but one I use every ride is to keep my thumbs locked in place on top of my reins, no matter what. Early on in our riding experience, I had been studying video riding lessons by Rick Gore, emphasizing “light hands make light horses.” I agree with that, but the day I was focusing on relaxing my hands Sportie tripped unexpectedly. When the movement threw me off balance, I grabbed mane and the reins fell to the ground. He stepped on them as he righted himself and I jumped down immediately.

Thankfully, the leather was old and snapped in two on impact, but the yank Sportie must have gotten from the snaffle before the reins broke had to have hurt. He gave me his best “Are you for real?” look as I led him back to the stables to get another set of reins.

“I’m sorry, so sorry,” I repeated, giving him a treat and scratching his ears, anything to make him feel better. Then I took a deep breath, and Sportie gave me a very special second chance.  He stood quietly as I mounted up and we walked off to start over.

Every horse I’ve ridden since has been the beneficiary of Sportie’s graciousness.

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