That’s what I often think, while remembering the scene in the movie, “Willow”. He is a tiny being standing before a frightening situation. He whispers to himself, “Courage, Willow”. Life as a horse trainer and instructor requires courage. Life as anything these days requires courage! I think perhaps it always has.
Courage for me, as a stablewoman, means taking on another horse whose owner lost her job. This is a horse I rode and I like and who will fit into our program… yet, it takes courage to decide to be responsible for one more. I think it’s because I take these responsibilities seriously. Horses are my family and each family member is not a possession, but a friend. It takes courage to have so many friends!
I see courage all around me. I had a student who had suffered a severe head injury in a car accident (and had been in a coma). She used her riding to regain motor skills and balance. She would call herself “wimp”, “chicken” and so on. I thought she was the bravest woman I knew. I know a man who broke his hip and was up, back to work in weeks and facing limited funds with an animal family to care for. He found a beautiful place to live where he could keep his horses and dogs and, by staying courageous, created a new, happy life.
I know a man in his 80’s who cares for a large herd of horses and runs an organization almost single handed. He has had a shattered ankle, broken hip (and replacement), a heart attack, had a branch imbedded into his eye, the list is long of his “battles” and yet, he is still the strongest man I know. I can’t keep up with him loading hay! Courage is his mantra, I believe.
And I watch friends who rise every day to care for an elderly parent or an infirm child or who go to school while holding down a job (or two!). They practice great courage daily.
I stand in front of a hay barn whose roofing has blown away and just tie the tarps tighter for the predicted wind. I dig the post holes for railroad ties for the fence to hold the new horse that is coming and soak in epsom salt baths each night. I remember looking at my shriveled arm as a child, after a devastating injury, and proclaiming that I would still ride. “Courage, Willow.”
We cannot presume to judge the courage of another. It may take more of it for someone to drive at night or to climb a ladder than it does for others to ride a bull. We are all facing different battles, different paths. But we all know what courage is! We all conjure it up on a daily basis and we need to pat ourselves on the back every time we take a deep breath and push onward.