The Davis girls lost a friend this week. His show name was My Buddy and he was a sweet, gentle quarter horse that taught me and my two daughters how to ride. A handsome bay with a white star and one white sock – he had a kind, intelligent expression that matched his endearing personality.
I remember four years ago when my daughter Emily started riding Buddy. She was only thirteen and had just started competing in Hunter Jumper horse shows. I often held my breath as she picked up a canter and made her way through the course, flying over those big three foot fences. I would watch anxiously, Emily’s small frame perched upon the massive creature, and marvel at the amazing way he took care of her. As they cantered around the course, jumping fence after fence, I always had a sense that Buddy knew he was carrying precious cargo – and that he took the responsibility very seriously.
Gratefully, all the Davis girls got a chance to ride Buddy. Both Emily and Sara took him to horse shows which gave them the joy of winning multiple blue ribbons in competition. Because if you rode Buddy – it was a sure bet you’d win first place in your classes. But I got a chance to ride Buddy for another reason. After a particularly tough year on a feisty mare, Dee (Buddy’s owner and my trainer) told me to saddle up her horse for what she laughingly called a “therapy ride.” After months of being challenged by the mare I was riding, she knew I needed to trust again. And she knew that Buddy was just the thing to restore my confidence.
I’ll never forget riding that quiet giant – cantering around the ring, feeling uncertain and nervous. Then approaching a big fence very afraid, wondering if he would ditch me or balk at the jump. My head was full of questions, “What do I do? Will you come through? Am I going to fall off?” And I will never forget the sensation of Buddy’s calm reassurance as if he was saying, “No worries …I got you.” Then I steadied myself by grabbing onto his mane, and in the blink of an eye, we were flying over the jump.
Job 12:7 says, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you.” What did Buddy teach me? Far too much to list here. But the one big thing he taught me is to trust again. To believe that it’s worth risking just one more ride to find the grace to make it over the obstacles.
I got over my fear of riding … but I will never get over being grateful for My Buddy.