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The Only Safe Thing
Taking a chance on joy
Horses are prey animals. Their brain is wired to be wary and on guard. They look to the strongest of the herd for guidance and protection. When I’m with Trudy, that must be me. If she doesn’t trust me to lead, we have a problem.
As someone who has learned to be wary and on guard, I can understand how she feels. Her caution is innate. Mine has come from many hard life lessons. But to fully be that leader and teacher that Trudy needs, I must build my confidence. Especially when it comes to my riding abilities.
My trainer and I had kicked around the idea of buying a second horse a couple of times. One who is more advanced in skills that could help me develop as a rider. While it made sense to me, I questioned whether I could do it. Not to mention, how would Trudy feel about it?
Sitting in the barn a few weeks later with my barn besties, everyone was oohing and aahing over some beautiful horses a particular seller was showing online. The seller specializes in Friesian horses from the Netherlands. Every horse my trainer worked with that had been purchased from this seller had been excellent and my trainer had come to trust her.
As we looked through the available horses my attention kept being drawn to one in particular. A tall, dark, and handsome eight-year-old gelding who had already won several dressage competitions and was purported to be very calm and safe. One of my barn mates peeked over my shoulder and noticed that I kept going back to this horse’s photos and let everyone know. With that, all eyes were on me and the campaign to get me to buy him began.
You could call it peer pressure, but it didn’t feel that way. It felt natural, like family. My trainer texted the seller and asked more questions. Every indication was this could be a good horse for me. I voiced my concern over the price (roughly the price of a new luxury car), not to mention doubling my board, training, feed, veterinary, and other costs.
Buying this amazing horse sounded like a fun idea, but could I trust myself? After paying dearly for impulsive decisions in the past, I have learned to be cautious.
I know what it is like to be poor, to be drowning in debt, to be unable to pay my bills. I never want to experience that again. It has taken me years to clear out all my debt and to feel financially stable. As a result, I have a bit of an obsession about my credit rating and check the number daily, following the changes up and down the way some people follow the stock market, as I analyze the impact of every financial decision I make.
Over the last few years, I’ve made a concerted effort to put away money for retirement. I was a little late in coming to the realization that I needed to do this but had managed to put aside a decent amount. When people ask me when I’ll retire, I don’t talk about an age, I talk about a dollar figure.
I have to be safe. I have to be safe.
Purchasing this horse would mean I’d be tapping into some savings I’d accumulated. And the impact to my monthly budget would mean I couldn’t save as much as I had been.
But here I was, surrounded by the gang, feeling myself coming around to the idea. Every objection I floated up, they’d pop like a balloon, usually in hilarious fashion. But one voice got my attention. As I explained that I was saving for that magic dollar figure so I could retire, and saving less might mean I’d have to work more years, she said, “Who knows where you will be in ten years? Who knows where any of us will be? Is it worth not living now?”
I heard that. Not with head, but with my heart. Later that evening I pulled up my accounts and ran some calculations and allowed my head to get on board too.
I could do this. I might have to tweak my expenses some, but I could do this.
Once the decision was made, I felt happy. A peaceful happy.
We all carry our own pains, our past hurts and mistakes, that have left us fearful. And all the while, the world around us is in disarray and there always seem to be those who revel in creating fear. The weight of all that fear can be debilitating.
I’ve learned to be wary and on guard. But there is a difference between safety and paralysis. And there is a difference between being adventurous and being foolhardy, too.
Sometimes you just have to take a chance and choose joy.
And on that day, I chose joy. And his name is Thymen.
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