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- Paperback:62 pages
- Publisher:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 23, 2015)
ABOUT THE BOOK
All eleven-year-old Pip wanted was a best friend. When Pip gets a horse for her birthday, she’s delighted. She thinks that the horse she names Buck will be her best friend from the moment that they meet. But she finds out that friendship does not come that easily.
Pip’s father gently guides her so that Pip can discover for herself how to make Buck a true friend. Pip’s new friend, Buck, has a story of his own. After leaving his own herd, to move to Pip’s house, he is looking for a relationship that will help him feel safe. He, too, learns that making a friend takes patience and understanding.
Told from the perspectives of both Pip and Buck, The Gift is a heartwarming and valuable lesson about friendship, trust and love that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.
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Character Interview with Pip’s Dad
What was it like for you to watch Pip struggle to make friends with Buck?
Unfortunately, I have had a lot of practice with watching someone I love struggle. Pip’s mama was diagnosed with cancer when Pip was three years old. I watched her fight for her life for two years and watched Pip grieving her loss. It was excruciating to see them both hurting so much and to know there was little I could do. That experience more than anything else, taught me that I cannot take away someone else’s pain, and the only thing I can do is control own emotions.
It’s hard for me to hear how hard things are for Pip and see her confused and upset. I don’t want her to experience any more pain in her life. Losing her mama is more than enough pain for a lifetime. When Pip was smaller I hated to see her cry. The sound of it caused my heart to break. When she was little I did almost anything I could to keep her from crying. That meant I did a lot of things for Pip that maybe she could have done herself. Pip’s mama always said, “There’s no harm in struggling. The harm is in struggling alone when you’re a kid.” I always try to remember that since she isn’t here to remind me.
The truth is it is still hard to see Pip cry but I do things differently now than I did then. I realized that by doing things for Pip I was keeping her from learning. Not only learning how to do things but learning about herself. Pip is a smart kid but she is short on patience. I reckon the way to build patience is to have things that try your patience. But it is hard to watch, that’s for sure. I know it’s my job as her dad to be supportive of her so she has what she needs to be successful in life. I could have gone down to that pasture and worked with Buck myself, but if I did that Pip wouldn’t be any closer to a friendship with him. If you want a friend you have to make a friend yourself. Nobody can do that for you, no matter how hard it is.
Did you worry that it might not be safe to allow Pip to interact with Buck alone?
No, if I were worried about that I would have never done it. Horses are pretty good at taking care of themselves. The way I see it, if they feel unsafe in a situation they usually run. Unless a horse has been hurt by someone or has something wrong in his brain, he will run if given the chance. If they can’t run for some reason or feel that running isn’t going to solve the problem then they might strike out with a hoof kick or even bite you or run you over. That horse of Pip’s has a good head on his young shoulders. He just hasn’t had much handling, that’s all. I have no worries about Pip’s safety.
What made you give Pip a horse for her 11th birthday?
I promised Pip’s mama that I would get Pip a horse when Pip was old enough. I think I probably waited too long, eleven is kind of old. I was worried about how hard it would be on Pip and I wanted to protect her. I guess I will always want to do that. Something about your child losing a parent makes you even more protective of them. I wanted to make sure she could handle the feelings I knew would come up and the challenges having a horse would bring. I never worried about the responsibility part of it. Pip is a responsible kid. She gets herself up in the mornings and she does her chores, but she has a hard time hanging in there when things get tough. I knew she was ready to learn how to be responsible for Buck and her eleventh birthday was the perfect opportunity.
How do you know so much about horses?
Honestly, I don’t think I know that much about horses. My family had a few horses on the farm where I grew up. One of those horses was Kink, a black horse my daddy won in a bet. Kink and I became friends. My daddy and I had a few arguments about how I should treat Kink. He said I should show him who was boss. That just didn’t feel right to me. So I set out to have the kind of relationship with Kink that I wanted. I learned a lot about life from Kink. He taught me how to see things from another set of eyes. When I’m working with a horse, and trying to figure out what to do, I just ask myself what I’d want if I were him.
Do you think Pip’s friendship with Buck will help her throughout life?
I strongly believe that Pip’s friendship with Buck will help her in many ways, like learning how to pay attention. Paying attention to things is important and that horse is really teaching her how to do that. In this world, paying attention to things is half the battle. If you can pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking then that’s good. If you can do that and pay attention to what someone else might be feeling and thinking then that’s even better. As Pip grows up with Buck they’re going to learn a lot from each another. That friendship will teach her things that friendships with people just can’t.
Like what types of things?
Well, Buck is teaching Pip how she presents herself to others and what that tells them about her. He is also teaching her how to control her body, her feelings and the intensity of her feelings. From Buck, Pip is beginning to understand her impact on others.
I try to help Pip understand that inside each of us, and all around us, is energy. I think that’s important for her to understand because that’s how animals understand us. For example, when a mountain lion is hunting he has an intense focus on his prey and a strong desire to kill it but on the outside he appears calm. A horse doesn’t pay attention to the outside calm. He feels the intensity from deep inside the mountain lion. That’s the energy he’s responding to when he takes off running so he can keep himself safe.
Horses are very good at noticing when the outside of something and the inside of something don’t match. You can’t feel really angry and pretend that everything is okay and expect a horse to come to you. They won’t. They can feel the anger that’s inside of you in the form of energy. The outside of you isn’t matching the intensity on the inside of you, which makes them even more suspicious and wary of you. Buck is helping Pip understand her energy and the importance of her inside and outside matching.
You know how people are really good at taking something until they can’t take it any longer? It’s confusing for kids for an adult to accept a certain behavior for a long time then one day start hollering at them because the adult is sick and tired of it. Well, horses don’t do that. If they don’t like something from the start they let you know. They might let you know in a small way at first but they’ll keep showing you until you understand that they don’t like it. Horses are real honest and that helps us learn things from them that’s hard to learn from people.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Yes, just one more thing. I hear people say that horses are magic because peoples’ lives change from being around them. Believe me, it isn’t magic; it’s hard work. Really getting to know a horse and seeing him as an equal partner in your friendship changes your life. It changes how you communicate, how you interact with others and how you see the world. When you stop trying to control someone else and just control yourself things go much better for everyone. Sometimes you have to help horses learn that they can control themselves, but heck we have to teach our children that too. Relationships with people can teach us the same things if we let them. But most of us won’t let that happen with people. I suppose that’s because people hold on to things and horses give us more opportunities to do things over without bringing the past into it.
ABOUT REBECCA HUBBARD
Rebecca J. Hubbard is a master’s level Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over twenty years of experience working with children and their families. She began writing short stories as a child for her own amusement and enjoyment. Rebecca discovered that she could facilitate the healing of her young clients by writing stories for them.
Currently, Rebecca works at Spirit Reins as a clinician and as the clinical supervisor where she practices Natural Lifemanship, ™ a Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™ model.
Rebecca is a native Texan, who enjoys spending time with friends and family, including her two dogs, Idgie and Sully, and her two horses, Cash and Cloud. She also loves to read, paint and garden. Rebecca encourages readers to connect with her via her website and Amazon Author Page.