The Value of Experience
by Catherine Madera
“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” is a familiar proverb. Since a horse’s approximate age—and thus their value in “using years”—can be determined by its teeth the verse is effectively saying, “When you receive a gift, don’t jump to conclusions about value based on appearances.”
There’s been so many times in my life when I’ve received something that on the outside appeared to have little value. A “gift” of experience looked more like a burden or even a curse. It was only later, in hindsight, that I could be grateful for what I received and see clearly its value. This could be a reversal in financial status, the death of a dream, disappointment, or the loss of a relationship. It can be hard—even impossible—to see these things as any sort of gift.
My daughter’s early horse experiences were unfortunate: her first two horses had to be put down and her third horse suffered a major injury after only two years together. At the third misfortune, it was so painful watching her grieve that I almost despaired of horse ownership myself. I felt like saying, as Haley did at age 8 after being bucked off, “I want to get out of the horse business.” Instead, we both kept on riding.
The holiday season is upon us and for all its joy, I know some of you have had the wind knocked out of you in a variety of ways. Perhaps you feel like saying, “I want to get out of this….(fill in the blank).” Your “gift horse” is obviously an old nag that has nothing to offer but heartache. Hang in there. The old horse of experience is a most useful ride.
Enjoy the magazine this month. On page 6 Mark Bolender and Rainier Therapeutic Riding will inspire you with the ways horses bless wounded soldiers and we have lots of gift ideas for early holiday shopping.
Published November Issue
Catherine Madera served as editor of the Northwest Horse Source for five years. She has written for numerous regional and national publications and is a contributing writer for Guideposts Magazine and the author of four equine-related books. She has two grown children and lives with her husband and three horses in Northwest Washington.