The Start Box

Photo courtesy of Juli Hutchings.

Today I was sitting up there atop my speckled grey horse, waiting in line to go out on the Intermediate cross country at Plantation Field. We’d jumped a couple warm up fences and then headed down the hill toward the start box. 

I watched my horse watching the other horses gallop over the field of jumps at Plantation Field. His charcoal tipped ears flickered back and forth between me and the horses on course. He was aware of his surroundings, he was entirely calm with a hind limb resting, and he was waiting for me to tell him what to do next. 

My horse knew exactly what his job would be in a few minutes time. What occurred to me is how amazing it is that the creature standing there with me was willing to essentially put himself in harms way to do what I asked of him. As my dear friend Carol Kozlowski once said, “A horse’s only job is to sit in a field. Anything they do outside of that is entirely a rider’s fault because a horse would never go out and do this all on his own.” 

In a rather out of body experience, I was reminded (as I truly am frequently) just how special these animals are. And more so how lucky we are that they are willing to give up their freedom of being a horse, a sole minded being, and conjoin minds with the human atop their back, and form a partnership. 

When our turn came, my horse took me out of the start box and safely through the finish flags in a double clear ride: ABC elements, water jumps, coffin, double corners … All of my goals that I asked to be his goals too. A horse wouldn’t dream of that while grazing in the field. And I feel so small that all I can do is thank him.