. As equestrians, I believe we have an important role to play in encouraging new riders into the world of horses; paying it forward so to speak. “Today I spoke with one of the Moms at the yard and she passed an observation that has stayed with me… “You are great to have all these children around all the time and to spend so much time, care, and attention on each of them.”
It reminded me of when I was young and overflowing with enthusiasm for anything horse-related. I spent every waking extra hour at the barn, stables, yard. If there was a pony there, I was there! I distinctly remember the feeling of rushing home from school and, with all thoughts of homework cast aside, scrambling into my ‘riding gear’ and setting off to the riding yard on my trusty bicycle. Every pedal action fueling the thoughts in my mind of eventual cross-country or showjumping glory.
Later, I upgraded my mode of transportation to my trusty pony Shadow who, to my dismay, my trainer very honestly and I think with no hard feelings, truthfully, labeled useless… As a show-jumper; yes. As a young girl’s first love… Ah, she remains my favorite and most loved :-)
Either way and regardless of the mode of transportation, I lived for the stables. The smell, the work, the feeling of utter joy at achieving a perfect stable. This was after painstakingly clearing every piece of droppings from the bed. My trainer was a strict lady and if I was not personally willing to lie in the bed, how DARE I even suggest her horses would!
It not only made me feel alive, the riding, training, and interacting with horses. But also it, daily, willed me to do my best and, often, reach well beyond what I thought I could achieve.
Yes, It was hard work, no doubt about it. It was a HUGE responsibility. And yet, it also taught me so many lessons which, if I was not exposed to such circumstances, I am sure would make the present ‘Me’ a far lesser person. I am now a person who will very verbally tell the children at her yard that leaving the tack/equipment/horse unattended when tired/unsure/wanting to go home was just unacceptable. A person that won’t accept anything but your best effort in the arena. And a person that expects a basic use of initiative at all times from all in her company, and a person who demands an unwavering allegiance to the pony or horse’s best interest from all her ‘little people’ and ‘big people’.
Coming Full Circle
Bringing me full circle to above mentioned Mother’s comments…. I do this, not because of some sadistic sense of satisfaction from ‘young labor’, but rather in the hope that the values of initiative, self-belief, and responsibility that were embedded in me twenty years ago (yes, do the maths!) will be transferred into an impressionable and open few who, God willing, will go on and in another twenty years, pay it forward again…
But with more experience, knowledge, and confidence than I could ever hope to instill in them….
Paying it Forward
So today, when at the barn or yard… Look at those little earnest faces. View them as little vessels waiting to be filled with the most wonderful of all that is horses. From this place, ask yourself the question, “What life lessons and skills served me best?” and in your answer, there is the beginning to paying it forward.
We would love to hear your experience of paying it forward. Whether it be someone who bestowed this gift on you? Or how you try to incorporate it into your life now, as a gift for future generations.