In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

These Three

On Friday, driving between meetings, I listened to Science Friday on NPR.  The interviewee was quadriplegic and the recipient of new technology that permits human thought to direct a robotic arm.  This individual had been damaged by a stroke rather than an accident, but the horror of her situation struck me in a manner that such stories usually don’t.

I can’t say exactly why.  It’s not as though I don’t know the risk I take every time I ride.  All horsemen do.  Endurance riders, especially, consider the danger of our regular pursuit in which we set out at speed, for many miles, over unfamiliar territory — often alone.

I pondered this yesterday, astride Acey as she cantered along a dirt path 10 miles from anywhere another human was likely to be that day, or perhaps for many days.  If I fell and was badly injured, I’d face a hell of a challenge getting to help.  That’s assuming I was able to help myself at all.  But I went anyway.  Again.  I do it all the time.

To get where we want to go — today, and in the larger scheme — we must have faith.  Faith in our riding, fallible though it is, to keep us astride a stumble or spook.  Faith in our training to stop or turn or rush our horses as needed to avoid unexpected hazards.  Faith in our and our horses’ good sense, good instinct, good decisions.  Faith in the people we told we’d be back by 4:00.  We must have faith.

We must have hope.  Hope that today will not be the day of the freak accident, because they do happen.  Hope that if it doesn happen, it won’t be too bad.  Hope that our horses’ minds and ours align today, so we can hear each other.  We must have hope.

We must have love.  This is the Do it Anyway.  Do it when we are tired.  Do it when we are afraid.  Do it because we know there’s a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, which we may or may not ever reach.  Do it because we aren’t content until it’s done.  Do it because the land is rough and the wind is wild and the sky is endless clouds and blue and the mane is soft and tangled ’round our reins and the hoofbeats and the heartbeats swell and we wouldn’t take away the danger if we could, because this is what we love.  This is what we do.  We must have love.

I believe it was the Corinthians who first read the words:  And now these three remain ~ Faith, Hope, and Love.  And the greatest of these is Love.


8 responses

  1. As I have spent the last 6 days feeling painful healing after full knee replacement surgery I really get the picture. Such a hopeless feeling…being totally dependent. My husband and daughter are taking care of horses, dogs and cats…chores that I have done for the past 30 years. Not being able to go to the barn leaves me frustrated, with a hole in my gut. You never know when you could have a life changing experience. The love for these animals runs very deep and puts me in a very emotional place. Be careful.

    May 20, 2012 at 6:27 am

  2. Eloquent and heartfelt. Very well-put.

    May 20, 2012 at 7:30 am

  3. Horseman

    Rather not see you, or any horse person, rely on faith or hope. I hope lightening will not strike me; means one thing before mounting up on a cloudless day and another where black clouds are billowing in. Me? I rather check the tack than hope or have faith that it will not snap. I am all behind the loving what you do. But some times it is better to let that ride happen tomorrow when you have a gut feeling that this isn’t the time. Call it instinct, the little voice, intuition. In skiing, it is saving the last run of the day, when you are tired, the lift lines are closing and you want to squeeze one more run, though you are tired and not on your A game. Make the last run the first run of the next time you going skiing. Save it, let it go.

    May 21, 2012 at 7:43 am

    • Hi Horseman — thanks for commenting! I don’t think we disagree. Of course we need to take all practical precautions, and I too believe in listening to intiution. My post was intended to focus more on how and why we take the risks we take — the risks that transcend our best efforts to mitigate them. We hope for the best with regard to events beyond our control, and we have faith in the effectiveness of past efforts such as training while still realizing that no horse is bombproof and accidents still happen.

      As for the “do it anyway” concept, I intended to address our human tendance toward laziness and the all-too-common, fear-induced paralysis rather than geniune physical weakness or intentionally heading into a more-than-usually dangerous situation.


      May 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

  4. Tamara- what a great post to decribe those of us out there training for this sport. It is so true. Endurance riders definitely take the award in risk taking department. Being out there alone (in most cases) far from home, sometimes out of cell range or any sort of easy access to help. For me, family worry and wonder why I do it. They wish I wouldn’t ride alone. Even beg me at times not to go. Tell me its unsafe. We have other risks here , grizzly bears, black bears, cougars and more than a handful of a wolf problem. I have run into all of them in my adventures. It is scary and yet, I keep going back because there is some internal satisfaction of simply being able to. That said, I have finally decided to get formal training and become more comfortable with carrying self protection other than bear spray or mace. It will go far to make the husband feel better about me being out there alone! I often tell people, when they question why I do it.,. “because I can”. God forbid, there may come a time where maybe I can’t. I I hope not. I know two people that no longer ride because of accidents. I have lost another aquaintence . Her horse unfortunately died in that sameaccident. These situations are never far from my mind every time I load my horse up to get out for a ride but I could not become paralyzed by it. We take precautions where we can and as you say (although I never thought about it) have faith, take precautions where we can, and keep riding…

    May 21, 2012 at 7:59 am

  5. ~E.G.

    I think I need to come back and read…and re-read this eloquent post so self-descriptive of the person you are and the person I try to be. I needed it today. ~E.G.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:56 am

  6. Mary Weaver

    I never thought about falling off of my horse until after I actually did and ended up witha broken pelvis. I was back in the saddle in 5 weeks , I run bird dogs in Field Trials and it requires us to go full speed ahead no matter the terrain, and I allways think about what “could ” happend when I am in the saddle, I have had to overcome this to be able to move forward. Its tough , but trust is the issue and I know I cant live a full life anyway without riding. So there is really no other option but to trust.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:13 am

  7. Pingback: Welcome to the June Blog Carnival of Horses | EQUINE Ink

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