Bad things happen. We were at the November Pony Club meeting at Hunter Trial Hill in Camden. It was a beautiful, wonderful day. The morning was spent at the Pony Races at the Steeplechase Museum (I should have blogged about that very entertaining event and might yet, but the bad thing that followed took away my impulse to write about that day). The afternoon was a regular Pony Club meeting on Hunter Trial Hill, that sacred, inviting place for jumping that's used only one day per year. I competed there as a teenager and at that age it was the finest place I'd ever ridden. I was excited that Pony Club was meeting there and Lily would have a chance to jump those fun, inviting jumps.
We had a picnic, chairs and enough sun for a sunburn. I had picked out a spot, along with my brother-in-law, to put our chairs with a good, close-up view of a couple of jumps. Lily's group was riding, and she had just finished a jump -- I think it was an Aiken -- and was waiting for her turn. We were sitting on one side of the jump's landing area, Lily was mounted and waiting across from us, facing us. We had a great view of this jump.
One of the handsomest horses there that day was an off-the-track Quarter Horse. His owner and her parents had looked long and hard for this horse, and he was special. It was a joy to watch them all. Lily jumped the jump. Then the OTQH came next. He jumped, landed, and then his front end collapsed. He went down, down, down, catapulting his rider over his head before the horse somersaulted into stillness. For a moment it looked like his crashing legs would hit his rider, but they didn't. The girl started to get up, but everyone made her stay on the ground. To our relief, the horse's legs moved, but he didn't get up. And he didn't get up. And he didn't get up.
Two ambulances came for the girl, who checked out all right at the hospital. A vet came for the horse, who finally got up and could walk, but didn't look right. He wanted to go down again. He wasn't lame, but he wasn't right. Later that night he had to be put down. He had broken something up in his neck.
We didn't know the fate of the horse until the next day, but even so, it felt like the day was over. Still, there was another group of Pony Clubbers who had yet to ride, and Lily was invited to ride with them since her group had ended so abruptly. It had been a long day. We were all tired and darkness was coming quickly. But i told Lily if she had the opportunity to ride, she needed to. She didn't want to.
I helped her tack her horse back up. This time, she put on her protective vest. After she mounted she asked me, "Mom, am I riding this for me or for you?" I said probably both.
They did what they came to do, but the joy was knocked out of the day, replaced by fear and some measure of horror.
The girl whose horse fell had been working to rate up to in December (in Pony Club, you are rated by a professional and your rating determines what you can do at meetings and at rallies). With a tragic fall and no horse, it seemed the girl, whom I'll call Carly, was out of luck for the next rating. In fact, we wondered if she would even be interested.
Here's where the Good Samaritan came in. One of the Pony Club DCs (I think that's the title) immediately got to work. She called Carly's instructor and offered to let Carly use her own daughter's horse (her daughter had gone off to college) for rating up, if Carly could shift from grief to work. The instructor and the Pony Club DC, hereafter called The Good Samaritan, persuaded Carly to give it a try.
The Good Samaritan loaded up Winston, her daughter's horse, and hauled him to Carly's lesson barn twice a week every week so that Carly could get used to the horse and prepare for her rating. I think Carly also came out to the Good Samaritan's barn for some extra time riding and getting used to the horse.
The Good Samaritan worked with her and made her comfortable on Winston. And by the time that the rating came around, Carly was scared but ready.
The Good Samaritan hauled Winston 80 miles to the rating on a miserably cold day. They were there early in the morning. They went home after dark.
Carly was in a group of five girls, including my daughter, Lily. The rating was hard. Of the five, only three passed. Carly (and Lily) were among them.
Thanks to a near stranger, Carly got to fulfill her dream of rating up. Though she still grieves, her riding continues.
When I commented to someone how extraordinary it was that The Good Samaritan would spend week after week going to so much trouble for someone else's child, they told me it wasn't extraordinary at all. They said, "She's always doing things like that. Her husband calls her 'The Good Samaritan.'"
I am touched and inspired by this story. The Good Samaritan took what she had and brought it to a grieving girl. Twice a week, week after week. No doubt many of her suppers were late. Her own chores didn't get done. She skipped time out with friends or time on her own with a book. She gave what she had -- herself, her time and her horse -- with joy and love.
To misparaphrase Mark Twain, "Live in such a way that when you die even the undertaker feels the loss."
I can't see me hauling horses twice a week for somebody else's child, but I can do more than I do. I look to this Good Samaritan as my role model, and I see that there are ways I can help other people with what I have and who I am. And my resolution for 2010 is to once a week (it sounds so paltry) to do something nice and out of the ordinary for someone not in my family.
Remind me. And offer suggestions. It really doesn't take all that much effort to lighten someone else's load. Bagging your own groceries when the cashier is overwhelmed with customers. Cooking extra to take to an elderly neighbor. Babysitting for someone who needs some time off, or taking an older person to the movies. I'm sure if we are open to the idea, the opportunities will present themselves. This year, I'm available.
Tell me about the Good Samaritans you know.