I believe in horses and that they can change our lives.
I got my first horse when I was 22 years old after graduating from college. Handy was a good looking, sorrel colored quarter horse. From since I can remember, I wanted a horse, although the desire simmered mostly in my subconscious, and never pre-occupied me like horse-longing can in young girls.
Handy taught me well, and he provided me some keen personal insights, as I believe horses will do. I lacked assertiveness, but I was patient and determined. Most of all Handy taught me to truly love horses.
I boarded Handy near San Jose, California, and about 50 miles from MBA School at Berkeley. Two years later, I moved into a San Francisco apartment as I started my career in business, and Handy stayed put. Most of my weekends were spent going to San Jose to visit my parents and my friends, and to ride Handy. It was inevitable that horses would lead me to meet my wife, and Handy did just that. Betsy ran the boarding stables, and eventually she and her horse Dandy stole me and Handy away.
After we got married, Betsy moved to San Francisco, and Handy and Dandy moved over to beautiful Half Moon Bay on the coast. Eventually, Dandy and then Handy were laid to rest there. Dandy went first, succumbing to nerve affliction in his legs. Betsy’s last days with him remain a bittersweet memory. But it was through his death that Handy gave me my first real lesson in mortality.
We moved to Half Moon Bay ourselves as caretakers of a picturesque horse ranch, and Handy joined us there. I commuted to San Francisco when I wasn’t traveling for business. I was in Chicago at a partner’s meeting on a pretty summer day when Betsy reached me with news that she had found Handy rolling on his side battling colic. Betsy got him to his feet, but she did not think he would make it, so I told her to do what she knew she had to do. The vet put Handy down under the tree in our yard while I returned to my meeting. I was scheduled to fly home that afternoon, and I held my silence and my composure until I got on plane. I cried the whole way, looking out the window so no one would see me. I was 36 years old; and Handy was 24 when he died.
In time, my work and inevitably our love of horses took us from California, and we ended up in Northeast Texas. I have owned and ridden several other horses since Handy, including Tator, Elvis, Ralph, Scooter and Rocky, as well as the two I ride now, Herman and Laphroaig. Betsy and I got into team roping, and I have roped off of all of my buddies, other than Handy. Ironically, he would have been the best rope horse of them all, but Handy had other things to teach me when I was younger.
Now, at age 50, I still believe in horses, and each horse has taught me something unique about myself and life.
I believe in the beauty, the power and the grace of horses, and I have felt it first hand countless times. I believe that when you connect with a horse, he or she will never leave your heart. I believe that horses can make us better people, and remind us of our weaknesses while they thrive in our strengths. And horses teach us their golden rule of caring nothing of race, religion, politics or wealth. They care only how we treat them and of what we are made.
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