All over the publishing industry we hear tales of the many times an author with a great book had to offer their work all over town, only to be turned down over and over. A Wrinkle in Time got the thumbs down from 25 different publishers. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had ten rejections, then a publisher’s eight-year-old daughter told him to back it. Chicken Soup for the Soul had more than 100 rejections.
Venture capital firms also sometimes keep track of companies they had a chance to fund, and passed over. One outfit famously admits to having turned up its nose at Google, Facebook, AirBnb, Apple, Fedex, PayPal, and Zoom (among others). They call this their anti-portfolio.
I’m not a New York editor or a venture capitalist, so I don’t have an anti-portfolio of best sellers or blue chip stocks, but I did get to thinking about that time I bought a horse… I’ve purchased many horses, but I hit a horseless stretch when my long-time trainers and friends moved to Florida. After a few years of no horse and no riding lessons, I decided I was ready to get back in the saddle. My old trainers found me the perfect horse.
Dante was (is!) a wonderful guy. He’s a cross between a Thoroughbred and a draft breed, which can result in a big, twitchy wingnut, OR it can result in a mount with athleticism , good sense, and a comfy build. Dante got all the right genes, and I was delighted with him.
I was not delighted with riding in sub-freezing temperatures, without a familiar trainer to help me learn to communicate with my new horse. I wasn’t motivated enough to ride alone (and that’s not safe), and it became clear I had acquired a very expensive animal that I no longer had the chops to fit into my life. With the help of my friends, I found him a wonderful, forever home, though that process was protracted and not easy on the horse.
The decision to buy Dante was an oops. When I face it squarely as such, I can look at why I made that mistake–I missed my ridin’ buddies. I hadn’t found any other tolerable exercise, I was lonely for a time when I had had a greater sense of physical competence. Riding got me out of the lawyer/writer two step and around people who shared my values. I wasn’t buying a horse so much as I was trying to recreate some much-missed joys.
I haven’t purchased another equine since making that mistake. I have a wonderful lesson horse, whom I do not own but am welcome to spoil, pet, ride, compete, and hug. My barn friends now are not quite the close-knit circle I was part of before, but they are good folks and I am always glad to see them.
In my headlong rush to cope day to day, I sometimes don’t have the time to reflect on missed opportunities, bad decisions, or mistakes, but I think that exercise can be revealing. I’ve found a way to be in the saddle that works for who I am now, and I will also think long and hard before I ever buy another horse.
Do you ponder your boo-boos? Are there some lessons you had to learn the hard way? To three commenters, I’ll send signed copies of How to Catch A Duke!