I’ve been thinking lately about a lot of things pertaining to writing – things which could stay in my head or find their way here – but there was a thought I had the other night which was today reinforced.
It snowed quite heavily recently and although the snow is mostly melted there is still a lot, and it looks as though it will snow again soon. Even before the big snow there was a lot of ice. As a result of the weather, I haven’t ridden my horse in quite some time. Even longer when one considers I was on holiday in Scotland, and before that it was Christmas. So today I decided to make the trip up to the barn and see what things were like, and at the very least pay some attention to the old boy if I couldn’t ride him.
It can be difficult to explain to someone who’s never ridden a horse long enough to forge a genuine relationship, so I’m not even going to try. However, the day’s activities did make me remember what I was thinking about the other night, and I think really they help me to express my thoughts a bit better.
In addition to being rather overjoyed to see me again, he was more than eager to go after having been cooped up for a while (he had gotten out before the snow, and I’m told they turned them out briefly since the snow started melting away but the pasture was still too icy), so much so that he didn’t even protest the thought of having to go out with someone his back, which he usually does for the first few feet – understandable, really, if you think about it for more than half a second. Unfortunately, he wanted to go which was something conditions didn’t really allow for. But I felt sorry for him, having been confined to the stable for so long and then not being able to move at pace.
I knew the other end of a nearby river (officially it is a creek, but it is very wide and in places the water is up to my chest so you cannot tell me that is not a river), tended to be hit less hard whenever we got big snowstorms, so I decided to try heading over there. For many horses this can be a non-issue, but my horse takes to water like a kitten, so even being near it was not a particularly pleasing event for him. We couldn’t go around because that means going a long way out, and although I tried to find a place that wasn’t too deep with the snow and ice melting recently it was going to be fairly deep anywhere. And much as he may have disliked it, we forded it.
Unfortunately there was too much snow and ice on the other side as well, so we were confined to a walk, but it was while we were crossing back a few hours later that I specifically remembered my thoughts the other night. Never once on our walk did I have to tell him to slow down or hold steady. I could tell he wanted to move, in fact he probably wanted to move a lot faster than I would have liked to, but he never tried to quicken his walk or burst into a trot or canter. He stayed at a good pace the entire time. Even though he hates water, he crossed the river twice with no real complaints. He did these things not because he was told to, but because I told him to. If a friend had hopped up and tried to cross the river, my friend would be lying on a rock in agony and my horse would be back away from the embankment.
And I think it’s important for us to find people like that. A friend upon whom we may rely thoroughly. Someone who, no matter how much we may dislike what they are saying, we know we can trust their judgment. Someone who will not let us just blindly do whatever we want, but do their best to make sure it is safe. Someone who we know will always be there to offer support when we need it and criticism even when we may not wish to hear it.
This person doesn’t need to be your beta. They don’t need to be a fellow writerly. They just need to be that person, and you in turn must be that for them.