Today, I went to the horse races for the first time in probably 30 years. Growing up I lived in Maryland and we were raised to live for the Preakness, the second stop in the triple crown of racing. We went to races throughout the year, in the summer, at any track, as a child I don’t remember much, but I remember riding horses and that was about it.
I went with friends who were very savvy about horses and racing. They could explain all of the pomp, circumstance, and tradition to me. Now that, for me was exciting. Not just the call to post (when the bugler guy blows that amazing horn), or the bursting open of the gates and those giants beasts come pounding out, or the shaking of the ground as they stampede by, or even the agony and defeat at the finish line. It was long before the race even started as the grooms led the horses to the paddock, and the horse is saddled and led around the walking ring a couple times to cool off, get warmed up, show off for us spectators or for whatever reason it may be. But then; the jockeys come in. Their brightly colored silks and caps. Their perfectly short stature to make them aerodynamic and light weight for the sake of the rules or the horse. They are confident and quick to place themselves by the stall of the horse they will be racing. Then after all the horses are equipped and ready the paddock judge yells “riders up!” Here are these extremely athletic, perfectly capable, horse riding professionals, needing help. One hand for one leg. As the horse starts to move forward the jockey walks next to him, grabs the reins, the mane, and the saddle, and with one hand someone comes along beside him and gently lifts the lower part of one of his legs and up he goes. If you are not looking for it to happen you will miss it. You may not even notice the person who did it and the jockey and the 2000 pound creature are one, in an instant. Out to the track they go.
When I googled “leg up” (because I google everything) it said “an act of helping someone or something to improve their position”. I couldn’t help but think of the word altruistic or altruism. According to dictionary.com altruism is the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.” I guess I was truly inspired by the person who may never get noticed, cheered for, applauded, or recognized. Doing the simple task of just lending a hand. I was even fascinated by the way the jockey trusted that for a split second that hand would be there. They didn’t look down, they didn’t say anything. They knew that for the sake of the position of the jockey, to help that other person they would do that little thing.
How many opportunities a day do we have to lend a hand, do something quick and simple for the welfare of someone else? How many times are we willing to devote ourselves to others with unselfish concern and not get noticed or credit for our deeds? Maybe tomorrow I can give someone a leg up.