I have never been a horse person. In grade school, some of the other girls had pictures of the shiny brown mammoths on the cover of their Trapper Keepers, the eighties in-vogue binders with the velcro flap. The horses had perfectly straight hair and were frolicking in a pastoral scene of rolling green hills. I suppose it was designed to inspire students to organize their notes, which much like the attraction to horses, was a concept lost on me.
But all that changed with Ruby, a horse I came to know through a friend.
She and her family move every couple of years because of her husband’s career. She handles the challenges with such remarkable grace that it would be easy to assume that it’s as simple as getting back up on that proverbial horse after an unanticipated fall.
But it’s not. It can be hard and lonely like I imagine a cowboy’s life while meandering trails that snake toward undiscovered territories riding his lone companion. So, when she told me she took up horseback riding after a move out west, I was excited for her despite my general disinterest in horses.
I was inspired by my friend’s willingness to embrace her new adventure. At the time I had started blogging again which felt like the beginning of my own journey. After my first post, I received an email suggesting I was “on my way to hell and in a spiritual coma.” It also remarked on the “abysmal title of my website.”
Mercy me! I found that really offensive.
I shared the bewildering email with my friend as she shared about her new friendship with Ruby. It reminded me that beginnings can be hard but they can also be rewarding. So, like a horse in its final lap, I learned to look for the rewards along the way.
As the months passed I looked forward to updates about Ruby. On the day before Valentine’s Day, I learned that Ruby’s boyfriend had left her for a new mare. The timing seemed particularly cruel, even for a horse. Meanwhile, I hadn’t received any more emails telling me I was on the highway to hell but I was navigating a hard road of frustrating technological challenges. Ruby gave me the strength to hold tight despite the rough ride.
Sometime during the Lenten season, Ruby befriended a donkey named Tallulah Bell. My friend sent a picture of them in the stall together and it was the perfect reminder to love everyone, even those we tower over and especially those that are different than us.
A short time later, I learned that Ruby was recovering from injuries. I could relate. Although physically fine, I was limping along, unsure of the future and frustrated with my pace.
Still, every time I heard about Ruby and the struggles she encountered, every time I thought about my friend with her own unique challenges of vacillating between pulling up roots and laying them down, I felt less alone and more hopeful.
None of us have figured it out, we are gripping the reigns, holding on despite what can be a treacherous ride. But knowing I am not alone, that I can persevere like Ruby and embrace change like my friend, makes me realize that while riding off into the sunset is the goal, we can find some real gems along the way. And, like Ruby, sometimes their shine is as bright.
Miss last week’s post?
Here I am with Jose, a mule I met a few months ago. Maybe I should introduce him to Ruby?