Gratitude is a proven health-booster. That’s lucky for me, because after every ride, I thank my horse. Even if he hasn’t done exactly as I’ve asked—and, let’s face it, often horses don’t—I’m still thankful for the lessons that horse has taught me.
What are those lessons? Here are some examples.
[READ: Horse Blogs from Horse&Rider]
To my very first horse. Thank you for the kindness in your eyes and the patience in your soul. Thank you for putting up with my ignorant and childish behavior—for example, the times you stood patiently as I teetered on a metal coffee can to climb up on your back, then proceeded to ride you around bareback for hours. Thank you for being my first love and the start of my horse-crazy career.
To my first lesson horse. Thank you for teaching me how to really ride—for being the horse that made me think about my riding. Thank you for being willing, but not too willing. Thank you for your guidance over the years that I rode you. Thank you for putting me on the right track to being successful with my riding.
To my first foal. Thank you for letting me watch you grow up. Thank you for being my first “heart horse.” Thank you for the many adventures we had getting you to adulthood. Thank you for teaching me how to be patient as we learned together—I learned to apply my skills to riding a young horse, while you learned everything about being ridden.
To the horse that bucked me off. Thank you for only hurting my pride. Thank you for showing me the power of a horse, and for explaining in no uncertain terms that I need to pay attention every moment I’m riding. Thank you for not tossing me off again when I climbed right back on, trying to regain my pride.
To my first barrel horse. Thank you for giving me the need for speed. Thank you for helping me learn the ropes of the event. Thank you for dealing with my mistakes as I figured out how to ride you fast, fast, fast—and, as a jockey, failed you more times than I helped.
To my first show horse. Thank you for not being the perfect show horse. Thank you forcing me to become a better horseman to handle your quirks. Thank you for pushing me to my breaking point in the show pen so I learned to be humble—by knowing that even though we practice perfect, that doesn’t mean we will win.
To the horse that gave me back my confidence. Thank you for dealing with my insecurities. Thank you for showing me light at the end of the tunnel when self-doubt took the reins in my life. Thank you for making riding fun again.
To the first horse I sold. Thank you for making me realize selling horses isn’t for the faint of heart. Thank you for making me cry as you left my driveway. Thank you for being good for another family that gave you more love and time than I had available.
To the first horse I trained. Thank you for being my learning curve and still turning out pretty great. Thank you for helping me realize my talent for training horses. Thank you for teaching me that I while I am the teacher, I am also the student—you probably taught me more than I taught you in the long run.
To the horse I won my first barrel race on. Thank you for not making it easy. Thank you for making me work to be a winner. Thank you for putting me on a roller coaster of good runs and bad, so that when we finally won, it was a gracious win.
To the difficult horse. Thank you for all the struggles. Thank you for making me put in countless hours of work. Thank you for making me think outside the box—because typical training just wasn’t suitable for you. Thank you for making everything difficult but worth it in the end.
To the horses of the future. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to. While I don’t know what you’ll teach me, I do I know one thing. I’ll be thankful for it.
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