I believe that animals can teach us the most about ourselves even without being in our lives very long.
When I was 13 years old I started to take lesson for horseback riding. I had been hanging around the barn since I was around eight, but had never ridden. My parents were always waiting for me to come home and beg to take lessons, they even would ask me on a regular basis if I wanted to, but I never felt ready enough. Then one day, I decided I needed to try. For one year and a half, I took lessons every Saturday learning how to steer, stop, clean, tack, canter, and eventually jump a horse. I picked up many skills and learned many new things, but I was just another average student. Nothing about my riding skill or my spirit put me above the rest.
Then my trainer decided it was time for me to be challenged. She assigned me to a chestnut colored pony named Cupcake. Ponies are stubborn and Cupcake was no exception. The first time I rode her I expected a challenge, but did not plan to work hard. I ended up falling off. She became the first horse that had actually challenged my skills and spirit, and I had failed. Because of this failure I started to push myself, and had gained huge amount of respect for the small pony, even though she still did not respect me. Unfortunately, I was not the only one who had fallen off of Cupcake and the owner was planning to sell her. I was devastated, because a challenging horse like Cupcake was leaving and I might never have another chance to prove my skills and spirit to my trainer and myself.
My trainer knew that I had bonded with the pony, and decided that I could have a lesson with Cupcake for the last time. I was ready for this lesson and I was confident that I would do well. By the end of the lesson, I was a horseback rider, and I had found a new level of spirit and confidence that I never knew existed inside me. Not only that but Cupcake had actually warmed up to me and respected me, which meant that she did not bite, kick me, or throw me into walls like she did to everyone else.
Since that day, I have jumped many challenging, stubborn, and crazy horses, and each time I have improved. My trainer now has a new confidence in my ability, and I am often given the most psychotic horse she has in the barn that day to ride. Beyond just horseback riding, I now have confidence in my skill and ability wherever I go and in whatever I do. I found part of me that was buried away and all it needed to be brought out was an animal named Cupcake.
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