How I Handicapped My Life

by Soul Places | Diane Ludeking

Me Galloping in Ocala, FL

I spent two exhilarating summers in college working at a horse racetrack where I started as a groom and worked my way up to pony rider (escorting racehorses to the starting gates) and then exercise rider.  One of the most interesting tidbits I learned there was how the horses were handicapped to make the race more equal for all participants.  The handicapped horse, the one that needs to slow down, is fitted with a saddle pad that has pockets for lead weights and the predetermined amount is loaded in there.

The weight assigned to the horse is called an impost and I can understand the need for it when the jockey and saddle do not equal the weights of the other riders and equipment.  But the idea of handicapping with weights beyond making each equine carry the same load became very absurd to me.  By trying to even the playing field amongst all horses, the handicapped horse or horses are running in a pack of animals not exactly in their league.

I didn’t think much of racehorse handicapping once I left the track, but a few weeks ago it became apparent to me that I was wearing a trench coat with dozens of these pockets full of lead.  And as I searched for an empty pocket to stuff with the most recent travail, I realized the insanity of what I was doing.  I was just plugging along in life, taking each difficulty as a personal attack, more suffering, another lead weight.  Pretty soon I was so handicapped that I was racing right along side other victims, creating more suffering for myself.

That's Me in Complete Bliss

When my eyes became open to the phenomenon of handicapping my own life, I tried to participate in “negative” experiences instead of just taking things as they came – another lead weight.  It became about being shit on by a bird, saying thank you and losing a lead weight for it.  Once I made this shift in my attitude, I became so much lighter in spirit and was able to cast off that injurious lead-filled trench coat.  I know that there will always be unsatisfactory circumstances, but I now know that I can adjust my reaction to them and receive all kinds of accolades for my efforts in the winner’s circle.

Walking Out to the Exercise Track