Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mira's Birthday Party

Nineteen people came out yesterday to help me celebrate Mira’s 34th birthday. The guests were mostly former students who had memories of riding “the crazy Arabian” in their lessons with me. One of those students drove two hours with her husband to surprise me!

We cooked hotdogs, compliments of one of the moms. Others brought yummy party fare. The little kids, who are still riding the old mare in their lessons, played games, and had the music turned up high at one end of the barn, and we grownups congregated at the other end on the patio. We sat in lawn chairs and talked and reminisced. They even brought Mira gifts: carrots, apples, mints and horse cookies.

I don’t know how many riding instructors keep in such close connections with their clients after the business relationship has move on. I feel very blessed to have had so many boarders, students, and training clients turn into good friends. I’ve been advised against it in fact. Not good business. And maybe that’s why I’ve never gotten rich in the horse industry. But, friends are more valuable than gold.

Mira was not that easy to get along with in her younger years. She was, and is, an aloof horse, knowing she is somehow superior. In those early days she had her limits to putting up with inept kids bouncing around on her back and bumping her in the mouth with their uneducated hands. She has grown more tolerant in her old age, when you know with her sway back the bouncing is probably more uncomfortable. I think she likes the little ones. Maybe it brings out her maternal instinct?

I no longer run a real riding school. I give just a few lessons, to help pay the feed bill. I can’t keep lifting hay bales and feedbags, getting to old for all that. But I hope I can keep teaching folks to respect their horses and to treat them, and other creatures, with compassion. That includes human beings.

Proverbs 12:10 tell us good people are kind to their animals, but evil men are cruel to theirs. So, I think we call tell a lot about people by the way they treat their animals. At the same time, we should be careful not to go so far to the deep end that we put their welfare ahead of our families and neighbors.

Miramar’s birthday party was a reunion of people who have in one way or another had their lives touched by a horse, either as students or parents or some who had horses in our care. What good are memories if we can’t share them with someone else? Some remembered getting soundly dumped on the ground by Mira, some remembered winning their first ribbon riding her. Others remember her as an aging pasture mate to their own horse.

Mira has been a good horse, and her humans have been good friends. Yep, better than gold.

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