Thursday, January 13, 2011


I want to thank an old friend who remembered and who reminded me.

She said:
One of my most vivid memories from school is from a breeding class - there was a young stud colt, chestnut who we were trying to get to mount the dummy and different people kept trying to get him to do it and he wanted to but kept backing off at the last minute and we were all standing around watching and trying to figure out why he wouldn't get up on it. You watched him a while and when they gave you the chance to see if you could do any better you took off the chain shank, hooked it to the ring so as not to hit him in the nose when he went to the dummy and he was able to finish what he wanted to start but was afraid to because of the chain. You have good instincts and have the ability to watch, access and come up with something that may just work where nothing else has. Trust that. I sense that you are unsure of how much to say - and I know you have an opinion ;) - about what you see. I find that with me, I don't blow my own horn enough and worry way too much about what others think - good thing about getting older is that the holes in the filter get looser and things start coming through that wouldn't have when we were younger. Remember that colt and how you were the only one who could see the reason for his hesitation and could fix it with something so simple as to take the chain off his nose.

I remember it this way. We had partied the whole and entire night before and I was in sad shape to be handling a horse. Our plan had really been to show up to this class and hide in the back. But I was standing there in the freezing cold watching this, and I could see that chain rattle and that that was the exact second that this stud would back off. So I raised my hand. I knew I could do it better. I knew.

Now, you have to understand that what I did was "against the rules". The rule there was, if he's a stud, he has a chain on him, period. It wasn't a big deal but it was like the rule, if in a barn, have a hard hat on. There wasn't any breaking of it. I ran to hide more times for not having a hard hat on in a barn. I got caught breaking curfew one time and I think the punishment was not to ride the next day or something. No appeal, just do it. The place was run like that. I learned a lot from it but won't willingly submit myself to that sort of thing anymore. I don't much like rules, and never did. I made a career in high school breaking them and mostly not getting caught. So there I was, some form of hungover, raising my hand, and walking up to this stud and taking his chain off.

He mounted. He did his business. He dismounted. I put the chain back on. The teachers then discussed with the class what I'd done. I was cocky, no doubt.

I wished I'd asked more questions then, and listened more, and had a clue. I wish I had now a bit more of that walking up there and doing what I know to be right opportunity, but then again, I'm not in a class. When I doubt myself it isn't that I doubt my ability but I doubt ever having the opportunity again to put my ability to use.

And I have just as little clue how to get that done now as I did then it seems to me.

But I do know a few things:
  • life with horses is better than life without horses
  • nothing, not even horses, is more important than my family
  • there will be opportunities for me to step up
I love you ms. berry of the open range. I am very glad you are here to remember with me. May we grow old, on horseback, with our families, together.