Last week when I was out with the Golden Girls and Jack, two boarders rode up on their horses to say hello. We did the usual chit chat about weather and horses. Then one rider shook her head and chuckled. “I’m surprised Jack wants to hang out with the old ladies,” she said.
My first reaction was somewhat defensive, though I didn’t say anything.
But I thought, Hey don’t go badmouthing my sweet old girls. Instead I chose a more diplomatic response and said, “Oh they’re old friends. They’ve been together for a long time. They’re family.”
She looked at me as if I’d said something really odd –like it simply didn’t compute. How could horses feel like family?
But they are a family. I guess the more accurate term is a herd. A herd of three. In my world, they’re family.
They hang out together away from the larger herd.
They find comfort in each other.
They watch each others’ backs.
They keep a vigil when one is missing.
And yes, on occasion they get a little snippy with each other. Usually over food. But they always make up.
I think that’s the lesson about human families too.
There is no such thing as a perfect one.
Families are messy, because people are messy. Even so, I can’t think of anything that’s more important.
When I need a reminder about loyalty or commitment or comfort, I usually find it at the pasture.
The horses have been some of my best teachers. And for that I feel really grateful!