Monday, March 29, 2010

Accepting risk

Warning: this may be a bit on the "rant" side.

Trying to run a business around horses has gotten more and more challenging in recent years. Folks who run dude ranches or trail riding facilities know that you can offer all sorts of activities--as long as you pay for the insurance coverage. And it is not cheap.

Defective equipment is one thing, but taking on the risk of riding and then deciding that you don't accept that risk after the fact (and suing the company) seems really wrong to me.

Maybe every trail ride should start out with a fundamental statement: Horses can be dangerous. Even the most calm, boring, complacent trail horse can revert to its prey animal, lizard brain, primeval reaction with the least bit of warning. If you are getting on, you have to accept that you can fall off and get hurt. Period. If you won't accept that risk, you have no business on the back of a horse. And if you won't accept that risk for your child, don't put them on the back of a horse--wrap them in bubble wrap and go on your way. I wish I could protect Katie from all life's aches and pains--physical and mental--but I'd rather be proud of this tough, self-sufficient young woman who can take care of herself and learn from her mistakes.

Unfortunately, it seems that we have become risk-averse. Life should be cuddly and padded and no one should have hurt feelings, let alone scrapes, bruises, or (gasp) broken bones. None of these are are fun, but all of them teach us something about ourselves, our strength, our abilities, and our limits. Yes, there are tragic accidents resulting in horrific injuries and even death, but that is the flip side of the extraordinary gift of riding, of finding that cohesion between you and your horse. That is what you accept, and you can protect yourself to the best of your ability, but there is still inherent risk--as there is in life as a whole, of course.

I've had to work through a lot after the various accidents with Bar, and I'm not as brave as I'd like to be, yet, but I've been very (very) lucky (I fall and bounce exceedingly well), and I'm learning and growing as a rider. If I fall off tomorrow, if I die, I'll know I was pushing myself to get better. And if I don't die, I'll be working to get back on that horse as soon as I can.

Maybe my attitude is too simplistic, maybe I'll feel differently if I get seriously injured, but I hope not. Steve is still struggling with a bit of what they call "post-concussion syndrome" after his accident with Bar last July, but he still gets on and rides Lena as much as possible. It seems to be as healing to him as anything else is.

Life is what we make of it, and mine includes the gift--and therefore the risks involved--of horses, of loving people around me, of saying what I think at work, of driving a tiny convertible, of..

Life contains risk. If it didn't, what fun would it be?

1 comment:

Dave (aka Buckskins Rule) said...

A risk free life would be very dull, indeed. On very rare occasions, it occurs to me that I could be killed or seriously injured riding horses. I dismiss the thought, because I'm having to much fun to quit.

Well said.