I had a visit the other night from my old mate Bruce. Some of you might recall Bruce from a story I wrote a long time ago where I described the first person to ever ride a horse and being responsible for domesticating horses and starting this whole gig of riding them. Well, that was Bruce. He was the bloke that we all have to thank for having the hair-brain idea that a person could catch a foal, raise it and try sitting on it. It was crazy at the time, but now everybody does it.
Bruce always appears in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t know how he gets into the house, but he is like Houdini and can seemingly walk through walls.
As you can imagine Bruce is several millenniums old but looks better than fellows half his age. It has to be admitted Bruce looks good for a bloke born during the last ice age. And he still has a sharp mind – clever, insightful and ornery.
I hadn’t seen Bruce for a while, so there was a lot to catch up on. He asked about these new fangled ways of transport called horseless carriages and why would anybody want to be pulled around by something without a horse in front of them. He didn’t seem to understand the purpose and certainly didn’t trust them. I guess he had a point since cars kill more people than horses. I didn’t dare tell him about planes.
After the small talk had concluded we got around to discussing horses like we always do. I told him I was teaching horsemanship nowadays to amateur and professional riders.
Bruce’s response was not exactly supportive, “Blimey mate, where are you going to find people to teach who know less than you do about horses?”
I tried to explain that since the horseless carriage arrived on the scene there were a lot of people who know less than I do. In fact, in certain circles I am considered quite knowledgeable and experienced. Bruce seemed unconvinced. I made a mental note to myself that I need a better quality of friend.
I said, trying to hide my crankiness, “You may know it all, but I do okay at helping a lot of people with their horses.”
Bruce replied, “I am far from knowing it all. As old as I am, I am a rank beginner.”
“Oh come on Bruce. You know more than anybody else I know. You’ve worked more horses than most people have had breaths in their life. There can’t be much you don’t understand.”
Bruce said, “Mate, this is what I have learned. The first 500 horses taught me how to stay on. The second 2000 horses taught me how to be effective at getting a horse to do stuff. The next 5000 horses taught me that all the troubles I had with a horse disappear if I allowed it to do what’s on his mind to do. If I don’t get in the way of their idea all the horses seem pretty happy.
The next big step is going to come with the next 100,000 horses. I’m hoping they’ll teach me how to get them to have the desire to do what’s on my mind and to get out of their way.”
The next 100,000 horses!! I didn’t know what to say. Bruce is right, I don’t know much at all. The old man had humbled me once again and left me feeling stupid.