Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gift Horses

Do you know who first said, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth?" The saying means that a horse's value can be determined by his age, which is roughly determined by examining his or her teeth. The message is that a gift (in this case a horse) should be appreciated for the thought and spirit behind it, and not for its value.

St. Jerome is the one who said that, way back around 400 A.D. He would not accept payment for his writings, and used the phrase in reply to his literary critics. According to history, his exact words were "Never inspect the teeth of a gift horse."

 I think of St. Jerome's words because horses have been such a gift to me throughout my life. But the gift is not entirely the horses themselves. The gifts surrounding horses are actually so many that I can't possibly list them all. Through horses I have learned so much about myself, I have learned about life through the wisdom of horses, I have found friendship and companionship with other horse lovers, and I have been fortunate enough to pass some of that on.

I have also learned to take both horses and life as they come. For whatever reason, specific horses have found their way to me and figuratively speaking, I do not look inside their mouths. They might not have been the horses I would have chosen, but they ended up being the right horse for me because I learned something from them. I think life is the same way. We don't always choose our circumstances and we do not always have control over what happens to us in life, but we can learn from any situation, any event . . . if we choose to do so.

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