The Good Old Buddy Horse

I live near Belmont Park Racetrack in Floral Park, New York. It is where the last leg of the
Triple Crown is run. Since I live close to the racetrack I go more than I would if I lived
anywhere else. My favorite part is the pageantry before the race is run. The Racetrack Bugle
Page playing “Call to Post”, the excitement when you see the magnificent thoroughbreds come up through the tunnel out onto the track, and jockeys wearing their dynamic colored “Jockey Silks”. But of all the racetrack traditions my favorite is that of the “buddy horse” or escort horse, walking the thoroughbreds to the starting gate.

The job of the buddy horse is to keep the thoroughbreds calm by keeping them company as they make their way to the gate. They also serve by giving comfort and confidence to their
magnificent buddy. The thoroughbred looks at his buddy and thinks “Boy I am so much better
than this guy, I could beat him in any race!” And if that helps the thoroughbred win his race,
then the buddy horse is glad to oblige. After all, he’s just happy he isn’t the one that has to run, he just has to be a buddy… to the one that has to run.

The biggest difference between the buddy horse and the thoroughbred, isn’t breeding, it’s
purpose, you see in the same race they each have a different purpose. So it would be a mistake for the buddy horse to compare himself to the thoroughbred, or to try to run his race. There is great lesson to be learned from the simply buddy horse. That is, that we should never compare ourselves to others. If we do we will either become unnecessarily insecure, or unjustifiably confident, depending on who we compare ourselves to. Whenever I wanted to feel good about myself I would go to a Weight Watchers meeting and compare myself to the heaviest person there. Then I would feel like a super model, until I walked outside and bumped into someone in a size six, then I thought “Oh boy I gotta get myself to a Weight Watchers meeting”!

Once we know who we are, and learn to run our own race, we get that much closer to self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is how we feel when we do our best, know our strengths, and accept our shortcoming with humor and grace. The buddy horse accepts who he is, and is happy to make the thoroughbred feel like a winner. He knows he’s not in competition with him, he’s happy to be who he is. It takes a lot confidence and generosity to do that. !
Sometimes in our lives we are the thoroughbred, and other times we are the buddy horse. As for me, I like it best when I’m the buddy horse. I love helping my friends to calm down and relax, it’s easy for me because I’m better at doing nothing than any of them could ever be. My friends are smart, hard working, achievers. I’m happy to be their greatest fan and biggest cheerleader. Pour them wine when they need it, and do nothing but watch bad TV when necessary.

I remember after my niece’s wedding, my sister who had been working on all cylinders for
weeks, finally sat down on her couch. It was midday and we had just completed a thousand post wedding errands. As we sat on the couch for a minute, I turned the TV on and did a little channel surfing as we “vegged out”. I came across the show “Snapped” a show about women who kill their husbands after they totally snapped! I asked her if she had ever watched the show and she told me she never had. So we ended up watching a “Snapped” marathon. Next to murderous, psychotic women we both felt like perfect, loving, saintly wives, and entitled to spoil ourselves.

After watching hours of non-stop mind numbing TV, eating pizza and drinking wine, she said
“Oh my God, I have never felt more relaxed in my life.” I said “That’s because I’m your buddy
horse, and if I can help you do nothing once in awhile then I’ve done my job. I’m happy as long
as you’re the one running the race… and I’m just the one walking you out to the gate!

Whenever I’m a buddy horse, I feel like a triple crown winner!


By Nancy Witter