Riding with Mercy Part 1 by Nina Heller

It’s so fascinating how things happen, and only by looking back do we see clearly how fascinating these things really are. 

When I brought Mercy home, i decided she needed a new name. “Mert” was not a very pretty name, and, it didn’t sound like the name of a champion.  I was conflicted though, because it’s bad luck to change a horse’s name, but really, the name "Mert" had thus far certainly not brought this filly very much luck.  So, I was determined to keep the M, and did not want to stray too far from the "Mer" sound, so…try it yourself..."Mercy" is the about the only nice thing you will come up with!

I liked it, and it seemed fitting, as it was sort of an act of mercy to even give this filly a second look, what with her huge head and ears, skinny body, upside down neck, and a telephone pole for a left hind leg.  So Mercy it was.

How very fitting, then, that this filly would bring with her such a strong lesson in what it is to be merciful, and that she would be such a catalyst for change in the direction of mercy, not just for me, but for so many.

When I decided to commit to riding Mercy bitless, I figured that she would never see a show ring, and therefore would never need a show name, but I was wrong again, and when it finally came time to select a show name for her, for our internet competitions, I had a few ideas, but, nothing seemed just right.  Driving to and from the barn each day, I pass a little clothing boutique.  It’s called Gramercy.  I see this sign every day, but one day it finally reached into the car and slapped me.

What?  Was that to be our show name? What did the name mean?  I had to know.  I immediately called my husband to ask if he would please google the name for me.  One thing I instantly liked was that it was a subtle way to get the word gray in her name, as I had done with my gray mare, Mini, whose show name was Gracious, which she was. 

I so hoped that Gramercy, if it even had a meaning, would be one that was fitting, and when my husband read the definition it gave me chills and our an entire story came together for me. 

The definition of Gramercy is "great thanks".  It’s an archaic word, expressing much thankfulness. 

What definition could have been better than this?  There is a constant theme of appreciation in our relationship. I can only imagine that from the start Mercy has felt great thankfulness for the nice life that I have offered her, and I know that I feel great thankfulness for the abundance of gifts that she continually bestows upon me, the greatest gift of all being the awakening and growing of the awareness that there is a more humane way, a more merciful way, to engage with our horses, a way that expresses the gratitude that we should all feel for our horses, individually, and as a species.  One of those ways is to remove the bit from your horse’s mouth and life, and to spare your horse the pain, discomfort, or irritation that the bit causes. 

Because of Mercy, so much mercy has been spread.  Our entire barn is bitless, and I am pretty sure that all of the horses are very thankful for this, as are their riders.  Because of Mercy, many, many other horses have now gone bitless as well, all which I imagine are thankful, along with their thankful riders.  When I first met Mercy, I did not know that I was accepting an invitation to engage in such an amazing mission, a mission to share with others this awakening, this awareness.  As far as I knew, I was just bringing home my next horse.  It was all very innocent, but looking back now, I can see very clearly how and why everything has happened the way that it did.  I can see now that i was ready to not just bring home the next horse, I was ready for something entirely different, something less about me, and more about the horses.  I was ready to learn about mercy, and share what Mercy had to teach me about it.  This would be like nothing I had experienced before and Mercy and I would not just be going out for a ride, we would be going out on a mission, a mission of mercy!


   Nina & Mercy


Nina & Mercy