You may be wondering who that cool kid and that dapper horse are on my cover page.
That’s me, and Big Willy, taken by my riding coach a couple years ago. Willy is a 16 year old registered Quarter Horse, who I’ve completed in a sport called Eventing. Eventing is awesome because you need to train and posess a horse that is able to have the grace and strength for dressage, athleticism and endurance for cross country, was well as precision and stamina for stadium. Oh, and it’s an olympic sport, so that’s cool. (no I will be attending the next olympic in case you’re wondering….lol) Willy is big ,dorky and kind and forgiving. He’s pretty much the best thing ever after coffee and naps.
Anyways….Yes, I swam with my horse, (bucket list checked) It was Willy’s first time swimming. He hesitantly waded into the water, pawing, splashing, stopping and looking. I quietly urged him forward, until the water was up over his back. He really wanted to keep his feet on the ground below. (Don’t we all). All of a sudden, he was not able to touch anymore, and he sunk like a rock. I can’t only speculate that he felt it was safer to keep his feet on the lake floor, rather then keeping his head above the water, but I’m not a horse, so I won’t judge.
He came up spouting more water than Shamu, and seriously embarrassed that he lost his composure. I took him back out to the deep again, and once again, he went under the water, trying to keep his feet on the ground. I wondered to myself if this horse would have enough self preservation to survive in the wild. If you are thinking, “woman, why are you drowning your horse?!” my response would be, “They can swim, most of them just do it!” (except for mine)
So the third time, I took him back out, I wanted him to know that if he paddled his feet, he would move forward and keep his head out of the water, both at the same time. Off we went, of course he’s extremely tentative this time, because he is VERY convinced I’m trying to drown him, but the kind trusting soul he is allowed me to send him out again. Guess what? The lug did it. He paddled his feet (they move them the same way the do when they canter, for you wonderers…) He paddled around like some giant hairy duck, and we turned back to the beach and contemplated life.
That day, he taught me how to hang on and float, while 1200lbs of muscle tries to drown himself….today? Something quite different. Today while I look back to that day, he taught me that sometimes you sink. Sometimes while you are trying so very hard to keep your feet on the ground, you end over your head. You come for air and wonder “What the heck just happened?” you compose yourself and off you go again…trudging forward tentatively until it happens again. Your feet firmly on the ground and all of a sudden you find yourself completely under water struggling to come up for air. Finally, with some encouragement and strength you figure it out. You can be free to paddle forward AND breathe at the same time. What a concept.
This brings me to my motto. I refuse to sink. I’ve been down, we all have. We all just need to refuse to sink. Willy did.