Today was a very lovely day. This was unexpected, since I was up all night worrying about twenty-seven different things. The specific worry was a stupid one: the red mare is a little bit sore on her near fore, and the weather had gone loco, and I lay in bed, stiff as a board, listening to the ruthless gales and horrid rain, and thinking of her dolefully limping over to her favourite tree. This then led to the twenty-six other worries, which are a filthy melange of existential fears, family stuff, work frets, and general self-reproaches. I tried doing my good sanity test. I said to myself: you can sit up all night worrying about things you cannot change, or you can go to sleep like a sensible person. But even this did not work.
So I went madly down to the field this morning, bereft of sleep and feeling distrait, only to find the mare as happy and relaxed as a bug, and a kind friend there ready to listen to every single one of my lunatic night terrors. I had not necessarily meant to share with the group, but that was how the conversation went. We walked our horses and talked in the sunshine, and out it all came, and there was perspective, sympathy and laughter.
Afterwards, I remembered my great maxim, which I know by heart yet still manage to forget: vulnerability is at the heart of confidence.
I like this because it is true, but also because it sounds like a paradox. The moment I lay myself bare, put down my stupid defences, permit myself to be vulnerable, the better and stronger and more at home in the world I feel. I have a constitutional dislike of asking for help, of seeming to be needy, of not being seen to be entirely independent. This is not a good character trait. Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes. Doing everything on one’s own is not a sign of strength or brilliance. The kind friend helped. She did not point or mock at my idiotish fears and human flaws. She listened and spoke some wise words and, as always, sunlight, literal and metaphorical, sanitised the dark and twisty parts of this human’s condition.
The funny thing is that the red mare taught me this lesson well, and it still amazes me that I should forget it. I had to ask for help with her, and I got it, and it transformed everything. She was glorious this morning, and her glory exists because I did not try to do everything by myself. I stretched out for other humans who know more than I, and found teachers and mentors, and that is part of the reason every day with her is a joy.
My next step is to make sure that all those mighty life lessons she teaches me can be applied to humans as well as horses.
I wish that I could bridge the gap between the known and the applied. I really do know quite a lot. It’s just that too often I forget to do the things I know.
Sweet picture of the dozy red mare and her beautiful Paint friend taken by the very kind Colette Faichnie.