Highs and Lows


The funny thing about horse people is we think we know a lot more than we really do. Working with kids, I see it all the time. Young teens overhear their instructors and repeat the information as if they understood it correctly. “Your problem is you’re not capturing the rib cage.”

OK, granted, most of these kids have been riding a while, yet their idea of bringing up the rib cage is to hold firmly onto the poor horse’s mouth until the instructor responds, “Ok, let’s do something else.”

Oh, but it is not only the kids. We all march around with our chest stuck out doing the “I got a horse and I know how to use it” dance. As if somehow riding a horse gives us some superpowers. Somehow we are more wholesome, more natural and a whole lot tougher than those who merely own dogs. Try to share anything with us about training our coveted animal, and we will invariably answer with “I know,” “That’s not what I was trying to do,” or “I did that last week”.

We should wear shirts that say “I am a horsewoman: I teach, but I do not learn!” We are an odd bunch, and the fantastic thing is the less we ride, the more we seem to know. I think this is a pretty comfy arrangement, wouldn’t you say?

The funny thing about horses is, you think they don’t know that you don’t know, but they do. How many times have you practiced your no-hands side pass and felt so accomplished only to be knocked off your 14.2-hand horse when trying to show off for your friends? “She does it all the time. I don’t know why she isn’t cooperating now.” Could it be that you practice at the end of your workout opening the gate that leads to her much-anticipated bowl of grain?

I am not writing an admission of guilt, but that girl looked just like me. The cocky pride-filled highs and the humiliating lows are undoubtedly worth it for the enjoyment of this majestic animal. So my heart finds patience with the little know-it-all horse people that run rampant at the Wild Ones Youth Ranch. Their hearts glow as they gloat and the tears flow when they fail.

I wonder where their imaginations take them as they trot Wiley for the hundredth time around the arena. I imagine they are the star attraction of a magnificent horseback riding performance troop. Perhaps they are competing in their first mustang makeover and they astound all the other contestants. Those moments make it all worth it. When on top of the world they rejoice and when they fail they cry out to God. We travel our journey of highs and lows, pride and humility, but I thank God for the opportunity to watch these young people walk down theirs.

– Jeanie