It started when I was a kid taking riding lessons. Then we got a cute Appaloosa pony named Raisin which my sister and I rode for a couple years. I turned twelve or thirteen and for some reason lost interest in these magnificent animals. We gave Raisin back to her original owners (a happy ending for her) and eighteen years went by with me being horseless. I don't think I ever really forgot this love though. It comes out in my stories. My first novel Thicker than Blood (started when I was fifteen) features a young woman living on a ranch where horses are a part of her everyday life. My second novel also involves the animals.
Now I've started being around horses again, learning what makes them tick, how to communicate with and train them, and how to ride again. As I slowly progress, I'm learning some things I can apply not only to my horsemanship skills, but to life too.
Yesterday I was watching a DVD by a trainer named Mark Rashid. I'm learning a ton from this guy. I love his philosophies and gentle techniques. I heard him say, "It's only a big deal if you make it a big deal." He was talking about your horses' behavior (or your mistakes), but I realized how important this maxim is to life too. How many times do we blow a situation way out of proportion when in fact it really wasn't worth worrying about?
Through horses I'm learning to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy life a little more. It's not all about training and striving for success. There's a place for all of that, but sometimes it's okay to just get on and take a trail ride. Enjoy the scenery. Thank God for what we have. Horses have been a great reminder for me to stop and smell the . . . er, well . . . stop and smell something!