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Photo: Everything in life experiences change and growth

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There are moments in our lives that can appear quite routine but actually are momentous. I recently found some essays I wrote and saved. It seems quite apropos at this moment as one daughter is about to be married and the other daughter is establishing herself in her profession and in a serious relationship, and my son has moved back to Vietnam to reconnect with his family there.  I am struck by how quickly time passes. The way we see our children has to change also. And we need to acknowledge that as they grow and change there is much we can learn from them.

It is cool on the picnic table and I enjoy the breeze with the sun on my face. She is seeing what the horse can do. Keeping her on the rail is difficult. Her long legs curl around the horse’s body and I can see she is trying to keep the reins loose while steering with her legs. The horse occasionally tries to back up; fighting the cues the rider is giving. Gently, again loosening the reins, but with a firm kick in her sides she keeps her moving forward. The horse is staying on the rail and trotting evenly. The rider easily moves from the trot to a cantor, something I cannot do. She confidently pushes the horse on, cantering faster. The trainer, who is preoccupied with having sand delivered shouts, “Tighten the inside rein and kick with your right leg!” The rider does it and horse levels its body and straightens its head holding it steadier as they quickly move around the arena. The rider looks confident and secure, totally absorbed in the activity, as she puts the new mare through her paces. The mare is staying on the rail, her head is not bobbing as she moves; she is listening and responding to the rider, both moving together to the rhythm of the gait. The trainer walks by again, this time she yells, “OK, she looks good; let your mother get on now.”

I realize I have just witnessed a passage. My almost 13 year old daughter now gets the horse ready for me to ride. In the past, in fact for the last six years I have exercised the horse first; making sure the “edge was off” and that the horse would listen and respond to the little legs and light weight of my daughter. Somewhere between physical growth and acquired skill, she has become a better ride than I am. Her skill is obvious and acknowledged by the profession trainer. I have a moment of quiet, remembering that my mother and aunts and grandmother spoke of these moments. I etch it forever in my memory and mount the horse listening to her instructions, at that moment not mother and daughter but two riders, one learning from the other.