I did not cuss. Sometimes the unexpected consequences of change HURT.
Last Wednesday evening I worked nineteen-year-old Ace indoors on a longeline, encouraging him to express himself physically and emotionally. Last summer, after eight years of keeping every promise I made, special-needs Ace finally committed to our relationship.
He loves attention but isn’t one to crave work for its own sake. The following morning, five months since he’d been ridden regularly, I saddled Ace and performed a full pre-flight checklist to be sure he was both mentally, physically, and emotionally present.
Ace isn’t the only one coming off extended time off work. Six weeks ago I sprained my left wrist, left shoulder, separated my right shoulder, and rattled everything in between.
I thought I was ready.
Even Good Plans Bring Surprises
After considerable planning for my return to the saddle, I rode Bo the Reliable last week. Tacking up with an eight pound dressage saddle was easy enough, as was climbing atop Bo’s broad back from a 2-step mounting block tucked into its usual place in the corner. Bo was a champ, the morning sunlight and temperature soft and cool, and we enjoyed a marvelous pasture hack and walk-trot arena playtime.
I’d planned everything out – except the dismount. The elation of the ride and healing progress faded when I remembered I still had to get off. We rode to the tack room door and I took my best shot.
Limitations of Pre-Planning
I’m usually concerned about protecting my knees, which means both my arms are busy. But my right shoulder wasn’t in any condition to participate. Gymnastics coaches would’ve cringed at my dismount. As a result, I factored the dismount into my plans with Ace. We used the ride to put more air into our working relationship balloon that deflated over the past five months, with more air still needed to get back to where we were.
My dismount was pre-planned, a 2-step mounting block conveniently placed, and all systems “Go” for a soft landing. Leaving my left foot in the iron I swung my right foot over and stepped down to the block. I was only 98% certain Mr. Ace wouldn’t shift his hindquarters, so didn’t want to kick out both feet. Muscle-memory and reflex told my right arm to volunteer in support.
Apparently The Checklist Wasn’t Complete
The precise location of the torn ligament made itself known. Yeoww! I did not cuss, but wrapped both arms tightly around myself, stepped away from Ace, and quietly waited until I could breathe again.
“Well, that didn’t go as well as expected.”
Bless his heart – Ace came over and touched his nose to my arm. “Are you okay, Mom?” I’d made adjustments to handle the change in circumstance, but once again, I missed something.
Wrong Assumptions Can Earn You A Trip to The Emergency Room
Our barn training routine changed drastically following a three-day equine biomechanics class in January. I regrouped, stepped WAY back, and instituted new exercises with the horses. My goal is making what I ask even easier and more natural for them. I got change, along with the unexpected consequences that came along with it…
…and a trip to the Emergency Room. I’ll share that story another day, but suffice it to say, when you change something, be prepared for either a blessing or the fallout.
I failed to remember the cardinal rule for life with special-needs critters: Balance is possible, but it must be scrupulously maintained.
Every Change is Consequential
Newton’s Third Law states that, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It isn’t possible to change something in a vacuum. Every action creates a reaction. Change is never inconsequential.
The degree of change influences the degree of reaction. If a woman with waist length hair cuts off one inch, her husband may or may not notice. If she shaves it off and sashays in the front door billiard-ball-bald, he’ll notice and react.
When someone within a relationship changes, the balance or status of the relationship also changes, whether it’s related to income, major weight gain or loss, physical disability, parenthood, or ideological change. When something significant changes, there WILL be a significant reaction.
Society and Culture
Changing the definition of gender, marriage, paternity, and responsibility creates change in society. Whatever the positive intended change, according to Newton’s Third Law, there will be an equal and opposite reaction. In science this is anticipated and acceptable. In society this totally natural effect is often considered intolerant.
Faith and Religion
Changes to one’s beliefs create changes in behavior. If there is no change in behavior there is no change in the heart and no change in faith. People who come to sincere faith in Jesus Christ are different; creating changes in their habits, schedules, and perspective. Those changes affect the people around them – especially spouses and children. Any significant change of faith explodes the status quo.
Politics and Economics
Changes to political or economic policy cause just as much reaction as other changes. Suggesting that increased taxes is an easy way to increase funds for government spending only considers half of the action-reaction whole. Politicians suggest that changes exist in a vacuum, which it does not. You can’t effect one change (more cash) without a correspondingly equal and opposite reaction (like economic slowdown.)
Change Reveals Character
The way you process change reveals your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. How generous are you in success and how optimistic in failure? Each presents its own gift.
Life is a River of Change
Heraclitus of Ephesus (530-470 BC) wrote, “We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.”
He noted that nature is always in a state of transformation. “Cold things grow hot, the hot cools, the wet dries, the parched moistens.” Railing against change is silly. Our challenge is harnessing change when possible and reacting in ways that maximize truth and one another when it’s not.
There is one exemption from change – Jesus Christ. He never fails, never forsakes, and His actions never have unforeseen consequences.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. – Hebrews 13:8
Coming Full Circle
The training routine I began in January needed some tweaks – I’ve tweaked. I’m rebalancing two of my special-needs horses, their confidence and faith strengthened, our relationship renewed, and change is (once again) predictably positive.
There are no true do-overs because every experience leaves its mark. My horses didn’t mess up. I made changes without allowing for equal and opposite reactions. My journey with Ace (and Journey) has similar landmarks to previous paths, but we’re not truly plowing the same ground.
All of our horses will benefit from the lesson and blessing I’ve received from recent changes. I already have. God is good! (And I never even thought of cussing!)
Always seek the blessing. It may be hiding, but it’s there.