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.