Playing With Horses - A Trip Down Memory Lane
My first encounter with horses was at the 6th Grade leadership camp. Picture this, in what seems like the middle of a small forest is a clearing with a few buildings, vegetation, animals and obstacle courses. We would have campfire meetings and early morning devotionals. I remember writing a poem that I thought was basic but received astounding praise when my father read it after I returned home 6 days later. We were divided into about 6 groups and we had different activities scheduled for each hour of the day. We hardly showered. It was your typical leadership camp in Zimbabwe. You learn skills that are to help your decision making and the ability to function in a team plus this was one of the tools teachers would use to pick students that showed leadership skills; the prefects.
Our day had finally come, finally my group was to ride horses after lunch. Well there I was, 11 year old Yemurai listening intently to the instructions the guide was giving us. How to stop the horse, turn right or left and how to transition from a walk to a trot then a gallop. He also stressed to us what not to do. I remember repeating to myself, "don't scream, don't pull the reins too hard, don't kick too hard RELAX!" I'm on my horse, and he was gorgeous.
I remember screaming and in the background a lot of yelling was going on. Many voices saying too many different things at the same damn time. I remember pulling the reins with all my might and looking back, I believe that my dominant hand was pulling a bit harder than the left because the horse kept running in circles. As I was trying to gain control of my upper body I think I neglected my lower body because the horse kept going faster and faster. I was kicking the shit out of that horse. He kept running as if he just found out he was about to become a gelding. `
My knight, the guide, finally got his shit together and came to my rescue. He was riding right next to me. He was so calm and his movements intentional. He told me to not let go as he grabbed the reins and gently pulled back. My horse obeyed. He slowed down. We kept riding and at this point I felt like we were in slow motion. It was picture perfect. We were riding in the direction of the lake. I don't remember thinking this at that time but as I'm recalling it, it's like a movie scene only not as beautiful and romantic. I guess the extra riding was to calm me down before joining everyone else. People laughed at me but I never heard them due to my screaming and adrenaline plus me just focusing on not dying, so I wasn't scarred for life. That's why when my dear friend Ashley called me and invited me on a ride to visit Christina's horse I jumped to the occasion.
I went to an all girl's private college that was surrounded by horses. Midway University has an awesome equine program. I remember running and walking through our barns during tennis practice and sometimes for isolation and reflection and couldn't help but admire everything about those horses. Though consumed by my own issues, when I came face to face, eyeball to eyeball with one of them, I just stopped thinking. In a way I lost my train of thought and became present. I was there, in that moment I existed and that was enough. It's like the horse commanded my attention. Demanded adoration. Forced me to humble myself and realize that I am a small piece to a very immense puzzle.
I must admit, I wasn't expecting to ride Hercules. I was expecting to just be out on a ranch and watch people ride or just admire this wonderful creation of Horses. Christina had a bit more on the itinerary. We fed him, we learned how to clean out the hooves and put on the horse shoes. I got an insight of what it actually takes to care for a horse. We aren't going to address the financial aspect of it. Girl!!!!!!!
I remember watching the race horses during the annual Ok Grand Challenge horse races back home in Zimbabwe and exclaimed that I wanted a horse and we should buy one. My father gave me his famous smirk and asked me "do you really want a horse?", then he turned to my mom and started talking to my mother about the costs of veterinarian visits. Well played Baba (dad).
Okay so what's the moral of this long story and journey to the past?
- Sometimes you can be prepared (sufficiently prepared or over prepared), and the plans change or a million curve balls are thrown your way. You never give up and let go. In this story I literally held on till a solution was met. I could have panicked and let go. I could have given up and stopped trying to figure out how to stop that damn horse. Had I done that, I would have broken at least one bone and nurtured a fear for horses or challenges as a whole.
- Not everyone's opinion matters. You have to choose the advice you retain from all your sources of influence. It's not all always for you. Learn to tune out the noise and focus on that one or two voices that will positively impact or aid your cause. Everyone at that moment thought they were helping. I'm sure I was getting instructions of what to do and not to do in that situation as I was riding like Zorro but like I said I heard no one. It was like magic, everyone was tuned out but as the guide came next to me in a calm manner and instructed me on what to do, I heard every word. As scared as I was, I knew to trust him and knew that he was helping me.
- It's ok to need and accept help but always try to help yourself first.
- Animals have a mind of their own and they also respond to our energy. This goes for people too. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
- Do not let bad encounters determine your future experiences.