When we were living in Wisconsin, I often rode and took lessons out at an equestrian facility called Fields and Fences in Gurnee, Illinois. During the past year, I was sometimes assigned a beautiful dark bay Thoroughbred named Billy. Billy was quite the character. When I first got on him, he was usually spooky and afraid of just about everything. In the wake of jumping away from some non-existent terrifying object, he had a tendency to forget he had a rider on his back.
Fortunately, I was able to hang on and somewhat maintain control, but I almost came off of him a couple of times in the history of our relationship. When he felt frisky and explosive under me, it was a natural desire to want to take my leg off and try not to aggravate him. The thing to do, though, with a “hot” Thoroughbred is to put my leg on and make him move forward. I had to make him work. I had to make him focus. Once I did, all the things that were once scary distractions faded away, and Billy became a smooth, steady ride.
It would have been easy to judge him as a flighty, unfocused horse, if all I saw was who he was at the start. But, hard work, time, and effort at a relationship showed me that this horse was incredibly sweet, responsive, and talented. I have learned so much from his work ethic and willingness to please.
So much of what I learn from horses can carry over to the world of people, including lessons from Billy. For instance, I shouldn’t be so quick to evaluate a person at a first interaction but rather take the time to see the value hidden beneath. Thank you, Billy, for showing me the power of digging a little deeper.