In my experience with horses, I have had the opportunity to ride many different types of lesson horses. They all have something to teach us, some lessons are obvious others more subtle... Here are some of my personal favorites:
Topper was the first horse that I bonded with during riding lessons. He was an Appaloosa, probably around 15.2 hh, and sweet as a cherry. He was not a young horse, but with his age came wisdom and compassion for young, inexperienced riders like me. Looking back on my lessons and pictures, he was the most forgiving horse I have ever known. He taught me patience. When I was first learning how to put a bridle on, he would lower his head and open his mouth while I figured out where all the leather an metal was supposed to go (that is a lot for little hands to manage!). He always concentrated during riding sessions, and was certain to take care of his rider. One of the last times I rode him, he tripped on a patch of mud and fell to his knees. He knew that I was unbalanced, and made sure to stay underneath me, and waited to get up until I was ready.
Fast forward a few months, several horses, and I met Stormy. He was at the same academy as Topper, but was a level up in difficulty. I had learned the basics from Topper, walk, trot, canter, leg yielding, and riding alone. It was time for him to teach a new little girl. Stormy was an Appendix Quarter horse (if memory serves), and several years younger than Topper. Stormy was a beautiful dark bay, with a tiny star and one white fetlock. I remember my instructor explaining how to be more graceful when putting on the bridle "Think about it from his point of view. If you went to see a dentist and he was fumbling around with the tools, acting nervous and making a big to-do about it, would you be willing to open your mouth?" Stormy was much more ... opinionated than Topper, but he was still a great teacher. He allowed a certain number of mistakes per student, and one specific day, I reached his limit. I had a terrible time getting the bit in his mouth that day, and since I had taken so long with that, I tried to make up time lost by tightening the girth too fast. He was not happy, an promptly turned his head to bite me. It hurt, but it was a lesson quickly learned.
Part 2 coming soon...