14 Oct A Metaphor for Life: Lessons From a Horse
I must have been around ten or eleven years old when I found my first true love. She was a beautiful brown appaloosa horse that was in her prime.
She was pregnant and though I was told I could ride her, I was given very strict instructions to not let her run. The instructor explained that running would exhaust her.
We were in a fairly large group and decided to take six horses out. As I sat in the saddle and was given instructions on leading the horse, my belly gave birth to a million butterflies ready to take flight.
It was exhilarating to feel the power of this beast beneath me.
We started out slow riding up the hillside. There wasn’t much of a view—just dirt and tumbleweeds. Before long, we picked up our stride, though I took great care to ensure my horse did not go faster than a trot.
I remember the wind picking up and my hair billowing out in the wind. I was grateful my friend had recommended I let my hair down for the ride.
For a moment, I closed my eyes and felt completely alive—my spirit soared free.
After a while, two of the more experienced riders decided they were going to run their horses. It didn’t take long before all of the horses started to follow suit.
My horse started running, fast and furious, through the brush despite how hard I pulled the reigns and shouted, “Whoa! Whoa!”
Knowing her own limitations, the horse seemed to determine that she could not keep in stride with the other horses with me on her back. She did what instinct told her and reared multiple times before knocking me off.
As I fell to the ground, I saw her backside as she ran fearless in the distance, kicking up dust in my direction.
It took a good thirty minutes to round up all of the horses. Once we had them all secured, the instructor handed me the reigns and insisted I get back on the horse.
Feebly, I complied with tears staining my pink cheeks.
When we returned to the corral, the instructor came to my side and wiped my tears. She kneeled beside me and gently asked, “Did that scare you? Is that why you’re crying? Or are you hurt?”
Thinking for a moment, I replied, “Yes it scared me—a little. No, I’m not hurt. I’m sad because she ran away from me and I love her.”
“So what lesson did we learn today?” the instructor prodded.
Pausing for a moment, I reflected on the day. “Well, I suppose I learned I can’t control a horse.”
Smiling, the instructor said,
“Yes, I suppose that’s true. But I think the lesson is that in life you will deal with things outside of your control. And sometimes, no matter how much we love someone or something, they may choose to leave—no matter how much love we carry in our hearts. And it may make you feel powerless…
But the lesson is really that you can cry about it, or you can stand up, dust yourself off, and get back on the horse. Today, you showed bravery when you got back in the saddle.
Today, we learned that you are brave.
I would suppose we also learned that if something or someone is weighing you down, sometimes it’s best to let them go and keep moving forward. That’s what the horse had to do in order to run, right?”
Smiling, I nodded in agreement as she was so kind, although, it wasn’t until many years later that I fully understood the words she had planted like seeds in my heart.
It was a metaphor for life.
“It’s not what you go through that defines you; you can’t help that. It’s what you do after you’ve gone through it that really tests who you are.” ~Kwame Floyd
Looking back, I would also say that the horse taught me another important life lesson that the instructor did not discuss:
“Enjoy the ride. I’ve known plenty of horses who’ve enjoyed the ride, whether that means gleefully bucking me off or galloping along a beach. Ultimately, perfection is an unattainable goal, a journey with no real destination. So, at the end of the day, all you can really do is make the most of it and enjoy a bareback ride at sunset.” ~Jordan Lasonde