Yesterday was remarkable.
The projected high was 88°F, and while I don’t know what the actual high ended up being recorded as, I am quite sure that the weather didn’t get any warmer than predicted.
It was overcast and breezy and there were occasional outbreaks of what we water-deprived Californians exaggeratingly refer to as rain.
Basically, it was impossibly gorgeous for June 9th.
As if the weather weren’t enough of a blessing, I had the marvelous opportunity to take a trail ride with my best friend in the entire world. (No offense to you two-legged folks. You’re awesome and all, but you don’t live in my backyard.)
Toby (my horse) can be an idiot even on his best days, but on our ride he kept the idiocy to a minimum and was mostly willing to trust me when I assured him that that terrifying noise or smell or whatever wasn’t actually out to eat him.
The pigs we passed got him riled up. But really. They’re pigs and they smell weird and they’re mostly lacking fur. Who can blame him for being afraid of those alien creatures?
Any time I get to go for a ride, it truly blesses me.
Because in my horse I see an unpolished version of myself, the version that lacks the self-control and the verbal skills that have been so carefully engrained in me.
And let me tell you what: if you’ve never had to deal with the tainted mirror version of yourself, you are both lucky and seriously missing out.
And also quite frustrating.
Toby gets up in arms about every little thing. Literally.
- Yesterday we were frightened of a passing car. (Little car. Like, not quite Mini Cooper, but close.)
- We were afraid of pigs.
- We were skittish because of the orchard we’d been riding alongside for the past ten minutes but that suddenly became scary.
- We nearly ran into a tree because we were so busy eying the house and driveway beside us. (Those things are pure evil, folks.)
- We pranced at the sound of somebody offloading feed sacks.
- We shied away from the wall because it was reflecting back at us the sound of the dirt bikes we’d already gotten over.
- We were afraid of the dirt bikes.
- We were nervous about walking on the gravel because it sounds and feels weird.
Most of these items we encountered are items we encounter on most of our outings. The pigs were new, the dirt bikes are rare, and the only place we usually encounter the noise of feed sacks is at home when he’s getting fed. Aside from those three, though, all of this should have been pretty normal.
But, like I said, Toby’s all about the drama.
Fact is, so am I.
I am afraid of the dark, of spiders, of insects, of being alone, of being in large crowds, of talking to cashiers, of talking to strangers, of talking to people I know, of talking in general, of fire, of knives, of guns, of dangerous objects that aren’t fire or knives or guns, of loud noises, of heights, and of driving.
I get anxious on a daily basis about things that, especially when handled properly, are extremely unlikely to hurt me. I let the ‘what ifs’ of life take control of my emotions and send me spiraling to places I’d rather avoid.
It annoys me to death when Toby does it, and I can’t get inside his head and change anything. Why do I approach the same behavior within myself with such a ‘such is life; can’t change anything’ type of attitude?
Toby is also exceedingly lazy.
Yesterday was better, but most days it takes us three times as long to go the .3 miles to from my house to the end of the neighborhood as it does to ride .3 miles anywhere else. Why? Because Toby doesn’t want to leave the house. Because leaving means working. Because working is hard.
Any time we get to a turn that turns back toward the house, my usually docile, doesn’t-need-steering horse becomes a tough-mouthed mule who takes every bit of natural and artificial aid at my disposal to get to continue in a straight line. I mean, it’s preposterous. We’ve walked this trail a hundred times; you should know that we don’t turn back homewards at this junction.
I should know the same thing.
How many times has that sister pushed that button? How many times have I responded inappropriately and had to deal with the consequences? So why do I yell at her this time and next time and the next time?
Why don’t I realize that the reason I’m struggling with this math problem is because I inadequately completed the last one and because I still haven’t bothered to properly learn the formula?
These are the sorts of things that go through my head when I’m applying leg pressure and verbally correcting and using my reins in the not-proper-riding-technique ways they teach you not to use unless your horse is being an absolute idiot the way mine is.
Toby points out to me my vanity, my impatience, and my lack of pliability.
Toby reminds me, as I struggle to remain patient, how much patience God daily shows me.
Toby keeps me humble, which is a remarkable feat considering my unerring tendency to be completely full of myself.
As pessimistic as all that may sound, I ended yesterday with a sense of wonder and bliss at the incredible blessing and opportunity that I’ve been given in this inexplicable bond that Toby and I share.
I would not trade yesterday’s ride for anything.
Well, maybe for a chance to join Mary in sitting enraptured at Jesus’ feet, but nobody’s invented time machines yet, and I somehow suspect that I’ll get that opportunity in heaven anyway.
Also, if you’re now kind of wishing for the chance to have a horse point out all your failings, I’m giving riding lessons this summer.
Now I think I’m off to bed. Because sleep is almost as beautiful as my beautiful, beautiful horse.