On top of a 1,000 pound animal is where I learn the best. Racing towards an obstacle with the hopes of jumping over it is the most exhilarating experience I can ever remember.

I’ll never forget the first time I fell in love with a horse. Her name was Scripture; she was a 3-year-old goof ball of a Thoroughbred. When she arrived she tripped over her feet, she barely knew how to jump, and I was way past her level. Nevertheless, for some reason, we clicked. At first, all the girls I was taking lessons with wanted to ride her. I mean she was new, and tall; who wouldn’t? Gradually, they all decided she was not worth their time, and so she was left to me, the kid who never complained about what horse they got to ride. The kid who wasn’t so ungrateful as she would ride ANYTHING the teacher put her on because she just wanted to ride.

As Scripture and I grew as a team, I began to learn how to signal her when to slow down, and when to speed up. I learned why she tripped over herself, and how to stop it. I learned that she loved Sour Patch Kids, but only the green ones. I learned that she was picked on in the pasture, and that she wasn’t too fond of hugs.

Scripture and I spent 3 years together, learning and growing. We competed in local shows and hardly ever did well. I remember feeling so disheartened, so angry with the judges for not giving Scripture the recognition she deserved. I knew how much hard work we did together to get where we were and I knew that Scripture was the best horse anyone could ever ride. I never understood why we didn’t place well in the classes. This was when I learned how you could really love something so unconditionally it kind of hurt.

I remember the day I decided not to show anymore. It was a hot day and Scripture and I had moved up a division and were competing against an even better group of horses and riders. I remember placing badly in some classes, and not placing at all in others. My trainer had other students to observe, and I, being the kid who never complained, was left alone. I went into the ring with no trainer to watch me, and I came out of the ring with no trainer having watched me. That day, I went up to my teacher and told her how I badly I had placed with tears in my eyes and Scripture’s lead rope in my hand. My trainer was distracted, and not really listening. So I went to the hose, rinsed off my hot horse, and cried into her shoulder, and for the first time the mare didn’t pull away from me while I hugged her. I can still see her turning her head to look at me while I cried. I tied her to the trailer, gave her a carrot, and told her I’d see her later and left vowing not to show again. This was when I learned that some things aren’t worth the trouble.

A few months later, I began to understand where Scripture was ranked on her caregiver’s list of which horse was the most important- at the bottom. One day Scripture was being used in a team practice and the coach took one look at her feet and said that she couldn’t use her for jumping, but she could use her for the flat. It was this day that I refused to ride Scripture until she got the care she needed. If you’ve ever seen those ASPCA shows then you know what I’m talking about. That moment where they lead the abused horse to the trailer and the horse is in so much pain from their feet you can see it in their eyes? That moment that brings tears to your eyes. I experienced that with the horse I loved. And I couldn’t take it. A few weeks later I received a notification that Scripture’s real owners were coming to take her back. After 3 years, they were taking my beloved horse away from me. The day before they took her I went to see her one last time. I took her on a walk around the property, just my horse and me. I recall sitting in the grass while she ate around me, and sobbing. This was the second time Scripture let me hug her without her pulling away, and I was grateful for it. This was the day I quit loving riding for a long time; this was also the day I learned about the horrible pain of heartbreak.

So I wonder what the point is in sitting in a hard backed chair and listening to the droning voices of teachers, and of dramatic stories that I really don’t care about. The back of a horse is where I belong; it’s where I want to be, and where I’ll always return. Yet every weekday I’m required by law to be in my first period seat, learning about things that I will never use in life. School doesn’t have horses. They don’t allow me to learn the way I want to, so why should I have to show up?

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