By: Deb Kitchenmaster
When you think of a horse, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it a picture of a horse? A song, a photo, a memory or something else? Do you remember a grooming time, a trail ride, a particular horse show, a fun time at camp riding, or simply riding just because? Amid thinking or remembering a time with a horse or a story you read that really touched your heart, I want to tell you a true horse story from my life’s album that exposes kindness and the healing power that comes through this very act.
My daughter met a gal who had recently moved into our area. She was a horse lover and had shown Arabian horses in her past. I invited her to our Thanksgiving table, and she accepted. We saddled up Arianna and Annie to enjoy an afternoon ride amongst deer, wild turkeys, pheasants, and prairie wildlife. This opened the door for other times of riding and building a mother-daughter-like relationship. This one day after saddling up our horses, she said, “You never let me ride Annie.” Well, they were two different horses, and each had their own mission statement. Arianna was all about ‘safety’ and Annie was all about teaching and genuine leadership.
Once, I put a two-year-old little girl on Arianna’s back with my daughter walking at her side, and when I asked Ari to walk, she reached over and grabbed my wrist with her mouth. She didn’t use her teeth, but she was saying, “Get that little girl off my back. She’s not safe.” I giggled and told her she would be fine. Ari walked off like I asked, but it was like she was tiptoeing! Annie on the other hand had more riders in tears, I lost track of counting. She was our alpha horse and ‘the look’ gave her the space from other horses to eat to her content. She didn’t care what you thought you knew about riding; she had ways to get you in touch with what you honestly knew. She was a leader, and she knew it. If you didn’t know how to be a leader stronger than she, there were issues, and she was determined to teach. I knew this gal could ride and I knew Annie was safe, so I let her ride her.
We had crossed the roads and the fields that lead us to open prairie land and woods with lakes and secret riding trails! The gal requested that she have a smoke. We’re talking about cigarettes here folks. I told her that would be fine, but that she had to dismount first. Safety for riders and for horses is something I am consistently aware of. What if the wind hit the fire on the end of that paper and tobacco? It could land on the horse, burn the horse, and off the horse goes with you on its back. Not a pretty scene nor safe for human and horse.
The rider dismounted and I took the reins of her horse, remaining on the back of mine. There she was standing on the ground having a smoke, and she informed me she didn’t think Annie liked her. I listened, then began asking questions. Come to find out, in her head and thoughts, she was in a horse ring like she had been when she showed. She wasn’t relaxed, enjoying the trails, in the moment, and Annie was not about to let her live in her performance illusion. She was going to teach this beautiful person to relax, take in the beauty of nature and the God of all this creation, and be in the moment. What a gift of kindness and healing! Then Annie did something. She draped her head over one of this gal’s shoulders. “Wow. Looks to me she’s giving a hug to reassure you that she likes you just fine; she simply wants to teach you to just BE. You can’t make this stuff up, people.
Be kind. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. This Thanksgiving, enjoy another helping of kindness. It’s good for you. HAPPY THANKSGIVING.