When Rylie leads Eskador across the showgrounds parking lot in the beginning of REMEMBER NOT, she walks in the culmination of victories won over ten years. She’s focused on Eskador’s welfare; keeping him safe and providing the exercise he needs. She understands the damage this horse, with his short fuse and his precarious mental state, can do if provoked. No one can contain a fourteen-hundred-pound elite jumping horse with a fence or a rope. Not if he doesn’t want to cooperate. Pushed too far, he would get loose. The closer the cowboy follows, the more important it becomes to reach the round pen where Eskador can burn off angst and focus on her.
An Unintended Connection
Like Jason, you might ask, why Rylie messes with a dangerous horse?
Without intention, her heart connected with Eskador the first time she saw him at a horse show in Kentucky. After attending hundreds of horse shows with thousands of horses, he was the one horse embedded in her memory. Three years later, she discovered him, broken, destined for the slaughterhouse. Their parallel brokenness connected. Rylie recognized she was Eskador’s last chance for rescue. She did not know he would redeem her.
What are the odds a struggling horse trainer, traveling in another country, would find an elite horse in trouble and recognize him? Starved and beaten, Eskador looked nothing like the show horse she’d admired in Kentucky.
How did she bring the scabby, unmanageable horse across the border and haul him a thousand miles to her home in the Midwest? Their meeting was a divine appointment precipitated by divine intervention in both their lives.
A Life Change
After Rylie’s father died of cancer nine years earlier, she investigated natural healing. She chose herbal medicines for Eskador’s wounds. Her life experiences, combined with his, moved her away from traditional horse training. She became an empathetic communicator, intuitive with the horse, allowing his emotions time to heal. “Some would call her a Horse Whisperer.” These are the efforts that resulted in her own healing.
Are They Ever Healed?
Is either totally healed in chapter one? Or are they teetering on the precipice of a new life? Six years of repairing trust do not negate traumatic cruelty. It may soothe the surface, but a horse has an excellent memory. The human psyche doesn’t easily let go of damage, either.
Eskador would never forget his cruel treatment, nor would he forget who delivered it. Rylie wants to forget the abuse she survived. She can’t. She blames herself for the moral breakdown that left her pregnant, bruised, and ashamed. Her past must keep her in check, to prevent the same from happening again. The destruction of her innocence forms the structure she uses for protection. She must have control of her own life to survive and succeed. Memories of her mistakes threaten the fragile ground she’s gained. Had she not had Lexi ten years ago, Rylie would have let go, rather than face her worthlessness.
Abuse has a way of seeping into all corners of a person’s life. People who have not survived such treatment rarely understand why a person doesn’t just walk away. They don’t understand the very weakness that made them a victim can become a powerful prison. Too bad more people don’t get what can go on inside an abuse victim’s mind. Sometimes accepting help requires a hand up at the right time, or a small kernel of grit left untouched by destruction. Sometimes it’s both.
Abuse didn’t damage Rylie’s courage with horses. She entered college at sixteen. Her abuser knew nothing about horses. Perhaps the horsewoman core of her personality was stronger than abuse. Whatever the reason, the courage and confidence she gained riding as a child became a cornerstone in her adult life.
The New Rylie
Living in her horse trainer persona, Rylie is strong. She believes there is safety in never becoming involved with another man. She developed the skills required to deal with men in the horse world and knows how to keep them at a distance.
Rylie crosses the parking lot with Eskador as a strong, gifted horsewoman with a fiercely talented horse. She’s in control. She and her horse are on the cusp of success. Beyond their talent, their emotional conditions are knit together by a thread.
Jason, Hero or Antagonist?
We could forgive Jason for butting in, even though he broke the first rule of horse training by interfering with Rylie’s work. However, his good Texas manners sheathe a vein of male chauvinism. The protective intentions Jason has in his mind are aggression to Rylie and they expose her insecurity.
Following her, he puts pressure on Eskador. His presence eats at the boundaries Rylie has constructed, and her strength against fear crumbles. When Jason grabs her, she’s caught between reverting to victim status and survival.
Jason may be the story’s hero, but for a time, he is the antagonist. He remains in his hero/antagonist role until the real villain appears.
Scripture for Remember Not:
Isaiah 43:18 &19 ESV
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Thank you for reading,