When I was eight years old, my best friend’s mom took a group of us kids to the fair. We decided to spend some of our tickets on a pony ride. I had my heart set on the little white pony. He was lovely. However, while I was waiting my turn in line, the guy who was in charge came over and told me in a loud voice that I was too fat to ride the white pony. I had to ride the brown.
The brown pony was homely and ordinary, and I was disappointed. I was also embarrassed. My weight had been a problem for a couple of years, and I’d heard all the mean songs like “Suzie, Suzie two-by-four, can’t get through the kitchen door.” Funny thing, though. The brown pony seemed to understand how it felt to be the one that nobody wanted, and as we two stood together, eyeing the long line of kids waiting for the white pony, I didn’t feel quite so alone or quite so embarrassed.
The brown pony gave me a wonderful ride. He loved the ear rub I gave him. And he tolerated my hug.
Years after my pony-at-the-fair episode, I began riding with a friend who owned a gentle palomino, aptly named Gent. She boarded Gent at a farm, and the farm owner had other horses that he let me ride because they needed to be exercised. Once a week Sheri and I packed up and went for a ride, sometimes just through the fields and other times on woodland trails. I’m not a great rider, but I love being around horses. I love watching them, sketching them, and enjoying a beautiful day on horseback.
It seems to me that horses see through to the heart. If you’re afraid, they know it. If you love them, they know it. If you’re a fat little kid, sometimes a very special horse will give you a ride anyway, and as a perk you learn a little bit about tolerance and consolation.
How about you? Have you ever been taught an important life lesson by a horse?
Learn more about Sue Harrison on her website.