Brevon was an older gentleman. My parents leased him for me so I could learn from an expert. I was in awe of him, of his status, of his knowledge, and even of the great love he awoke in me.
The first time I ever rode him, I was eleven, and I was so thrilled to be trying out a horse that I don’t remember much. I do remember dismounting near the door that led through the passage-way to the boarder’s side of the barn instead of the lesson side of the barn. The thought of walking through that tunnel with my horse made me mightily proud.
I had dismounted and stood at a 45 degree angle to Brevon, my right hand on his left shoulder, ready to swing the reins over his head and lead him to his new stall. Then he stopped me by swinging his noble bay head around. He eye-balled me, then curved his neck around me and hugged me to his body.
With that, he taught me to slow down.
I learned from watching my trainer, now cured, but worn, bones broken by horses and their world. He would pause to talk with Brevon.
“Well, Father,” my trainer would start and then inevitably take a drag from his cigarette or a sip of coffee, “What do you think I should do…?” And my trainer would hang his head and consult with the comfort only wise Brevon could give, and then he would nod, and pat Brevon’s neck and move off, smoking, or drinking his coffee.
One day when I was riding, feeling frustrated at myself for not being better, a visitor had greeted Brevon, “Why hello Brevon, old man!” and ignored me. I was suddenly bitter. I started to canter down the long side of the indoor ring. It was good until it wasn’t. Something happened, something wasn’t right, I don’t remember what. But I jerked my right hand to punish, to correct. As I write this I can still feel that tension in my arm….
I had seen older riders do this, so dramatic, so wrong, but such a powerful feeling. I felt in control.
I jerked a second time.
Brevon stopped square, turned his fine head to look at me, disappointment, and more important, gracious forgiveness in his eyes.
He taught me power is not control – and I hope he taught me not to be a jerk.