(Blue looking longingly down the driveway…hope you don’t mind that I borrowed your picture Jen!)
The old farm at Gormley had two driveways both of which emptied out onto Stouffville Side Road. While it was not as busy a road in the 1980’s as it is today, it was still a route where cars traveled at highway speed. In order to get the horses from the paddock, or either of the barns to the arena, you had to walk across the parking lot and across the mouth of the west driveway. The driveway was probably at least 200 feet long and even though it was not an ideal situation, we all got used to it.
One day, I was in the lounge talking to a client when a young rider ran up to me.
The desperation in his face made me suspend my conversation and I turned to speak with him.
Before I could say anything, he began talking with a devastated, sorrowful but worried voice.
“I didn’t do it on purpose, I swear.”
“Do what?” I asked, a bit concerned at his worried appearance
“It was an accident I swear.” Came the reply.
“Okay, but what happened?” I managed to ask, even though I was having trouble getting a word in edgewise.
“I was just walking him and I was paying attention and everything.”
“What happened?” I tried again.
“I didn’t know what to do so I came to get you right away!”
“That’s fine, good idea, but what is going on?” I was starting to get frustrated as this seemed to be going on forever.
“I just don’t want anything to happen to him..” the young student continued
“WHAT IS IT?” I almost screamed.
“Blue got loose on me.”
I sighed with relief. Blue was as quiet as they came and I imagined him wandering to the barn on his own once he had liberated himself from the young student’s care.
“Its okay. That can happen. You don’t have to get so upset with yourself, okay?”
“What is it? You can tell me.”
“Well, he’s down on the side of the road…”
I think it took me a full 5 seconds to register this and then I ran out the door.
One of the problems with having wonderful students is sometimes they worry too much about getting things wrong. I mean we all get things wrong sometimes even with the best of intentions. The key, as I always believe, is to do our best all of the time, learn from these things, and then move on.
But this is a lesson I confess I can still have trouble with and for a kid who was barely 10 it must have been even harder.
At any rate, I ran down the driveway and exactly as the young rider had suggested, there was Blue. He was not terribly interested in the cars speeding past because he had other concerns. His little quarter horse head was buried deep in the grass beside the shoulder of the road, steadily munching with ravenous energy.
I refrained from running up to him although Blue was notoriously difficult to startle. He didn’t raise his head but just looked at me as he continued to try to stuff as much grass in his mouth as possible. I guess he knew his good fortune was time sensitive and he wanted to make the best of it. As I lead him up the driveway I felt he was already wondering if he would ever get that lucky again.
Once it was all over and Blue was safely ensconced in his stall, I sought out the young student. I thought it was important to explain to him that I knew how conscientious he was. I wanted him to know that I understood how accidents can happen and that he shouldn’t be so hard on himself. I think he felt better after all of that and so I thought I would take the occasion to also add just a little bit of advice… I gently suggested that if there ever was a next time, he should probably lead with the ‘loose horse on a busy highway’ part of the story. Just a thought…