To Borrow Freedom


The Melbourne Cup always makes me cry.  I don’t know why.   Every year, when I blog on this day,I try to figure out why I get all teary and overcome about this particular race.  I don’t bet on it.  I don’t really care about who wins.  I’m a horse person, so I love watching the animals and how their jockeys relate to them.  Generally, I barely watch the actual race.

This year, I watched closely.  The camera work was spectacular so while watching, there were a number of things to be seen.  I saw So You Think (the favourite) four back and just off the rails, only a smidge before half way.  I pointed out to hubby the way the jockey (Steven Arnold) was hanging on to keep him back.  You could tell because his elbows weren’t moving and the horse was all bunched up through his hind quarters.

Just after half way, Arnold’s elbows began to move, the horse loosened up and began to take good, long, solid strides. By the home stretch, all the lead jockeys were leaning forward, watching between their horses ears, arms urging rather than restraining, as they let their horses do what they do best…run.

I have been told that ‘to ride a horse is to borrow freedom’.

There are some (possibly those who’ve never ridden), who will tell you there is nothing ‘free’ about a horse being ridden, that the horse is submitting to a controlling rider. On the other hand, when I used to ride with  my old stockman friend, if he wanted me to bring my horse forward he would instruct “Ask him up…” Because when a relatively small and easily breakable person, is dealing with a large animal who has hard hooves and sharp teeth, all we ever really do is ask.

And maybe that’s what gets me on days like today.  In a world where we live within rules and maintain control of ourselves and our lives, those  last two hundred metres are a gift for us.  Because, when the strategy and control is done; when the race becomes all about the urging and the asking; we are given, just for a few precious moments, the chance to borrow freedom…and truly it is a pleasure to look upon.


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