Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart
Nov 23, 2011Give Thanks With a Grateful HeartBethany Couture, DVM
At Thanksgiving time we tend to look at our lives and find what we are thankful for. Fortunately, I don't have to look very hard to see blessings throughout my life. Like most people, I have faced my fair share of challenges, but those trials allow me to be even more appreciative of all the wonderful things I have been fortunate enough to experience. I'd like to share with you a few of my individual blessings, in the hope that you will be able realize your own blessings this year.
In 2011 I am thankful for:
Family and Friends: God has blessed me with the most supportive family and friends one could have. My parents were unfortunate enough to have a daughter who loves horses and sought to compete on them. With a lot of hard work and sacrifice, we attended many horse shows and owned two amazing geldings. I will cherish those experiences the rest of my life, thanks to my parents. I also have a very loving and supportive brother and sister-in-law, who were there at Purdue during all my school years to lend me a hand when I needed help and an ear when I needed to talk. Old friendships that got me through my childhood and newer vet school friendships that got me through vet school are relationships for which I am truly thankful.
My marriage: My greatest blessing in life is my marriage to my high school sweetheart, Casey. The first 4 years of our married life was during vet school, which was a difficult time to be newlyweds. Casey put aside four years of his life and career to support me through veterinary school and I can never thank him enough for the sacrifices he made that allowed me to achieve my goals.
New Life: This year my brother and sister-in-law welcomed their first child, Amber Marie, into the world. She became my third (but first blood-related) niece, my parents' first grandchild, and my late grandmother's first great-grand daughter. To watch her grow and thrive under the nurturing of her family has been a blessing and a great joy.
Achievements: In 2011 my lifelong dream and goal came true... I finally became a veterinarian, something I have been working toward since high school (for over 10 years, YIKES!). Without my family and friends I mentioned earlier, I would not have gotten through my harrowing years in veterinary school. For everything I have achieved in my life, I must ultimately thank God because my life is proof that through him all things are possible.
Nature: I was able to take an amazing vacation in Costa Rica this summer after graduation. It was a once in a lifetime experience. We did the kind of things people put on their bucket lists: ziplining 600 feet above the jungle, rappelling down waterfalls, riding our own horses on the beach (they resided at the residence we rented and their use was included!), our own private pool, snorkeling in the ocean, seeing howler monkeys on horseback, careening across the ocean on a catamaran... the amazing experiences were endless! We are so lucky to live on such a beautiful planet and be able to visit exotic locations.
Horses: Being an equine veterinarian can be frustrating, exhausting, and challenging, but I will never take for granted the reason I became a vet; the horse. I fostered a love of horses from a young age and have never lost that passion. I am thankful that I can help care for these innocent creatures that so desperately need our compassion and care. I am thankful that the horse is such a beautiful, free-natured, and powerful animal. I am thankful that I am able to work with them for a living.
For those of you who have had a similar history with horses, I am including the following story about a father's explanation of why he had horses for his children. I believe it summarizes perfectly how horses bless us with the lessons they teach us and experiences they offer us.
My daughter turned sixteen years old today; which is a milestone for most people. Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I took time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the choices she would face in the future.
As I looked at her I could see the athlete she was, and determined woman she would soon be. I started thinking about some of the girls we knew in our town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color under the sun, drop outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to no-where, seeking surface identities because they had no inner self esteem. The parents of these same girls have asked me why I "waste" the money on horses so my daughter can ride. I'm told she will grow out of it, lose interest, discover boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current generation's "slacker" label on my child. I don't think it will happen, I think she will love and have horses all her life. Because my daughter grew up with horses she knows what it is like to loose a good friend and a loyal companion.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she gives and finds rewards in seeing others growing up with their horses and excelling in that important relationship. Because my daughter grew up with horses she has compassion. She knows that we must take special care of the very young and the very old. We must make sure those without voices to speak of their pain are still cared for.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned responsibility for others than herself. She learned that regardless of the weather you must still care for those you have the stewardship of. There are no "days off" just because you don't feel like being a horse owner that day. She learned that for every hour of fun you have there are days of hard slogging work you must do first.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned not to be afraid of getting dirty and that appearances don't matter to most of the breathing things in the world we live in. Horses do not care about designer clothes, jewelry, pretty hairdos or anything else we put on our bodies to try to impress others. What a horse cares about are your abilities to work within his natural world, he doesn't care if you're wearing $80.00 jeans while you do it.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned about sex and how it can both enrich and complicate lives. She learned that it only takes one time to produce a baby, and the only way to ensure babies aren't produced is not to breed. She learned how babies are planned, made, born and, sadly, sometimes die before reaching their potential. She learned how sleepless nights and trying to out-smart a crafty old broodmare could result in getting to see, as non-horse owning people rarely do, the birth of a true miracle.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she understands the value of money. Every dollar can be translated into bales of hay, bags of feed or farrier visits. Purchasing non-necessities during lean times can mean the difference between feed and good care, or neglect and starvation. She has learned to judge the level of her care against the care she sees provided by others and to make sure her standards never lower, and only increase as her knowledge grows.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to learn on her own. She has had teachers that cannot speak, nor write, nor communicate beyond body language and reactions. She has had to learn to "read" her surroundings for both safe and unsafe objects, to look for hazards where others might only see a pretty meadow. She has learned to judge people as she judges horses. She looks beyond appearances and trappings to see what is within.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned sportsmanship to a high degree. Everyone that competes fairly is a winner. Trophies and ribbons may prove someone a winner, but they do not prove someone is a horseman. She has also learned that some people will do anything to win, regard-less of who it hurts. She knows that those who will cheat in the show ring will also cheat in every other aspect of their life and are not to be trusted.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has self-esteem and an engaging personality. She can talk to anyone she meets with confidence, because she learned to express herself to her horse with more than words. She knows the satisfaction of controlling and teaching a 1000 pound animal that will yield willingly to her gentle touch and ignore the more forceful and inept handling of those stronger than she is. She holds herself with poise and professionalism in the company of those far older than herself.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to plan ahead. She knows that choices made today can effect what happens five years down the road. She knows that you cannot care for and protect your investments without savings to fall back on. She knows the value of land and buildings. And that caring for your vehicle can mean the difference between easy travel or being stranded on the side of the road with a four horse trailer on a hot day.
When I look at what she has learned and what it will help her become, I can honestly say that I haven't "wasted" a penny on providing her with horses. I only wish that all children had the same opportunities to learn these lessons from horses before setting out on the road to adulthood.