“Will you be on our relay team?”
Three times we’ve had that question asked in recent weeks. Without hesitation, we’ve responded: “Sure, but I want to run first.”
Each time, the ones making the request seemed taken back at our willingness, verifying: “You will?”
“Just put the entries on my tab. I’ll be riding Zane,” brought broader grins to little faces as they took off at a gallop.
The first time, it was a 10-year-old cowgirl organizing her team, and the other times a six-year-old cowboy was rounding up team mates.
Excitement prevailed with the young riders as we attempted to bring reality that running a horse full blast around the arena, and passing a baton from one speeding rider to another wasn’t really all that easy. None were concerned about technicalities.
It’d actually been decades since we’d been in a horseback relay race, but we reflected 50 years ago when we won our first horse show blue ribbon.
It was in the relay race at an Emporia show, when two “old” cowgirls, probably early 20s, asked us to ride with them, and another.
In those days, one barrel was set up at the opposite end of the arena, and riders took turns running around the barrel and back to the starting line passing the baton to the next rider, with time stopping when the fourth rider finished.
Like today, there was always the risk of missing a handoff, knocking over the barrel, or dropping the baton, not disqualification, but costing time.
Noteworthy, we got to ride with those “old” cowgirls several times in the future, and both of our children were on their relay team decades later.
Nowadays, most horseback relays are similar to track races, where team members race around barrels set up at each corner of the arena.
The kids and the old cowboy haven’t won yet, but after dropping batons, missing handoffs and knocking over barrels, everybody’s beginning to better understand the game. And, we’re going to win one of these times.
Reminds us of Second Corinthians 8:19: “Show eager readiness to help one another.” Essential, First Timothy 5:1: “Do the right thing in the extended family.” Because, Genesis 18:18: “Train the children to live kindly, generously and fairly.” Then, Genesis22:17: “Our children shall flourish like stars in the sky.”