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The Face of Perseverance

It’s not often I capture a moment on camera that’s truly worth a thousand words. This image will always represent a meaningful life lesson for Jeremiah and for me. To say this particular riding lesson was a hard one doesn’t begin to describe the complexity of the experience. Horsemanship isn’t always about the mechanics or the “how-to,” as Jeremiah discovered today. Control doesn’t come from pulling the reins or saddle. The rider’s instruction to the horse is less about what he’s communicating with cues and more about his energy and how he’s sharing those cues. My little man has confidently and expertly retrieved stuffed animals time and time again from various spots along the fenceline while on horseback. This time, however, either Jazzy missed a queue and didn’t stop, or Jeremiah didn’t communicate it in a way she understood. Whatever the case, things started to go south.

With less and less confidence, he tried over and over again. And then, frustration set in. As Jazzy would seem to go just past the target, Jeremiah would release the reins, unconsciously queueing her to continue further rather than stop. The tears began, and he looked to me for comfort while his riding instructor and I encouraged him to breathe and try again. Around and around the pen they went, missing the mark each time and becoming more and more emotional. I was tempted to rescue him as he pleaded with teary eyes. The connection between horse and rider now lost as Jeremiah focused inward rather than on their relationship. Rather than rob him of an opportunity for growth, I trusted the instructor and walked back over to the horse I would soon take my lesson with, watching from afar.

She talked him through his emotions, helped him calm his frustration, connect with Jazzy, and slow down the mechanics one step at a time. The next time they circled the pen was a success. Moments later, I captured their embrace. It was one that illustrates the bond between them, one that could only have been formed in the face of battle, chasing a goal.

Imagine if humans were as aware of one another’s energy, feelings, and emotions as horses. What could we create when we partner with one another?

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