It’s Like Riding A Horse

Thinking of the famous difficulty of managing people, I recall an incident from when I was 19 or 20 that serves as an excellent illustration.

I was in California for the summer and hitchhiked to L.A. for a brief visit with my girlfriend at the time, a sturdy and elusive young woman I’d been attempting to have a love affair with from a very long distance.   We were staying at the beautiful home of friends of her family in a wooded area of L.A. on cliffs high above the Pacific.   They were gone for the weekend.  

They had a horse and she asked me if I’d like to ride it.   I said I would, though since a pony ride as a child I hadn’t been on horseback.

Having grown up out west, she expertly saddled the horse for me, then explained that she was allergic to horses and rushed inside to shower before the hives became unbearable.

I sat on this large animal’s back and was struck by how high off the ground I was.  I gave the giddy-up signal and the horse began to walk. Having been in the area less than a day I had no idea where to ride, so I let the horse go where he wanted.  It only took a minute or two, and we’d gone a very short distance, when the horse stopped.  I was confused.  The horse as much as said “well, then, fuck you, my friend,” did an about face and jogged back to his stall at a good clip while I held on for my life.

Horses, it turns out, need to know that the rider is in charge, confident and knows exactly what to do at all times.  Much like any humans you might find yourself managing, as much as they might also like to be treated with deference to their feelings, opinions and initiatives.

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