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A ‘jump back up’ spirit

boy horse autumn yellow leaves


Regina Andrews - published on 06/13/23

When life kicks me off track, a memory with the new girl on the street comes back to mind.

Watching the Kentucky Derby recently brought back a special moment of grace and inspiration from my childhood. I grew up in a beautiful suburb and when a family moved in across the street I became best friends with the new girl, Betty.

Betty loved horses and on her birthday her father rented a stable down the street and bought her a palomino pony she named Coco. Betty’s father showed us what to do at the stable. On my first visit there Coco and I had an instant rapport. We made eye contact. Coco leaned across the railings of the corral, nuzzling my brown curls. 

Coco was a very gentle horse and I looked forward to going to the stables with Betty. I’d scoop the fragrant oats and grains into his feeding bucket, and once in a while I would take the reins and walk him around the corral. I wondered if he longed to get out. I mentioned that to Betty and she said she’d ask her father.

Betty’s dad suggested that we take Coco for a walk around the neighborhood. We were out of the corral and just getting onto the street when our friend Ryan appeared. Ryan lived right across the street from where Coco’s stable was nestled. He had a slight build and was the clown of the neighborhood, always cracking jokes about anything and everything.  

Before Betty and I knew it, Ryan had grabbed Coco’s reins and was tugging him, yelling: “Giddyup! Giddyup! Come on, Coco, let’s go, you’re free now!”

The next thing we knew, Ryan had jumped up on Coco’s back and was spurring him to run. Neither of us had ever seen Coco do anything except a slow plod. But something lit a fire in Coco at that moment, and he took off like lightning. 

Ryan was catapulted off the horse almost immediately and landed with a thud on the street. Betty and I were paralyzed, thinking Ryan might be dead. Coco remained by Ryan’s side. After 30 agonizing seconds, Ryan hopped up and screamed, “Run Coco! Let’s go!” 

But Coco just stood patiently, and before we knew it, Ryan held the reins, smiling at us. “How about that,” he said, “I can’t wait to jump  back up on him!”

Betty and I both told him how great he had done as we gently took the reins from him. Betty guided Coco back to the barn. There had been enough excitement for one day. 

At that time, I said a silent prayer thanking God that Ryan hadn’t suffered any horrible injuries and that nothing terrible had happened. But to this day, I still marvel at Ryan’s “jump back up” spirit. And when life kicks me off track, Ryan comes to mind. 

What a blessing it is to have the fortitude to get back up and ride again!


This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

The Human Being Fully Alive
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