Category Archives: story

The Horse Story

A long time ago, a Rabbi told me “The Horse Story”. As to how I came to be listening to a Rabbi – well, that’s a whole story in itself, so I’ll leave it to another day. But the Horse Story must be one of my favourite stories so I’m going to retell it here.

Once upon a time, there was a man who lived in a small European village. He had a wife and seven children. His only asset of any value was a cart. One day, he swapped his cart for a horse.

“Oh how stupid!” all the other villagers said. “Why get a horse if you have no cart for the horse to pull? What a stupid thing.”

“Hmm,” said the man, “I guess I’ll just wait and see.”

The next day, the man woke up and looked out of his bedroom window. Disaster! The horse had escaped from his stable. Now the man had nothing and a hungry family to feed.

“Oh how stupid!” all the villagers said. “We told you that you shouldn’t have swapped that cart for a horse. Look at the disaster which has happened as a result!”

“Hmm,” said the man sadly, “I guess I’ll just wait and see.”

A week later, the man was sitting at the kitchen table in despair, wondering what he was going to do. He didn’t have any money left. He rested his head on the kitchen table…then he heard a noise. Parrupety, parrupety, parrupety… That noise sounded like the hooves of a horse. He looked out of the kitchen window and saw not only his own horse, but nine other horses with his horse. The horse had been lonely and had gone and found his brothers and sisters so that they could come to live with him. Suddenly, with ten horses, the man was the richest man in the village.

“Oh, how amazing!” all the villagers said. “It seems like getting that horse was a great idea after all! How lucky you are!”

“Hmm,” said the man pensively, “I guess I’ll just wait and see.”

A few weeks later, the man’s eldest son, who was 15 years old, was out riding the horse. The horse shied and threw the son onto the ground. The son’s ankle was badly broken. He would not be able to walk for months.

“Oh how terrible!” all the villagers said. “We told you from the very beginning that the horse was a bad idea, and look what’s happened now!”

“Hmm,” said the man, “I guess I’ll just wait and see.”

Shortly afterwards, the local ruler declared war on the next country. All the young men of the village were rounded up and conscripted, except for the man’s son, because he was still unable to walk on his broken ankle.

“Oh, how lucky!” all the villagers said. “What a good thing that horse was! Now your son will be safe.”

“Hmm,” said the man. “I guess I’ll just wait and see.”

It seems to me that the message of this story is that you can never tell whether something is a good thing or a bad thing at the time. You never know what the flow-on effect of an action will be. Ultimately, hopefully the universe is geared towards the good (the man became the richest man in the village and his son was saved from conscription) but there are moments when one’s life seems like a disaster.

I had a rough week this past week: I thought that I would get ongoing employment at my present workplace, but I was told rather brusquely that this was unlikely to happen, despite a lot of hard work on my part and very positive reviews from my students. Of course, it was all a bit crushing, and seemed like a disaster – but who can tell what opportunities will arise in the future? I guess I’ll just wait and see!

P.S. I hope you like the picture of the horse; I drew it myself.
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