Apr 072011
Cow by Maraker

All of us have hopes and dreams, but the process of making them a reality is not easy. On our journey towards our goals, we are likely to face various obstructions that block our path. Take the case of 15-year-old Regina Mayer. Her dream is to ride a horse, but her parents refused to get her one. Undaunted, the resourceful teen made do with riding a cow named Luna instead.

Riding a cow is certainly not surprising. But if you are like me, you probably never heard of people riding a cow like a horse to do jumps. I certainly had to see the remarkable video for myself. In the end, this incident is instructive. It shows that when we face obstruction to our plans, the best course of action is to find other options.

Regina and Luna the Cow

Yijing Hexagram 39: Obstruction

Hexagram 39 by Ben Finney

OBSTRUCTION. The southwest furthers.
The northeast does not further.
It furthers one to see the great man.
Perseverance brings good fortune.

The southwest is the region of retreat, the northeast that of advance. Here an individual is confronted by obstacles that cannot be overcome directly. In such a situation it is wise to pause in view of the danger and to retreat. However, this is merely a preparation for overcoming the obstructions. One must join forces with friends of like mind and put himself under the leadership of a man equal to the situation: then one will succeed in removing the obstacles. This requires the will to persevere just when one apparently must do something that leads away from his goal. This unswerving inner purpose brings good fortune in the end. An obstruction that lasts only for a time is useful for self-development. This is the value of adversity.

How to Deal with Obstructions

Obstruction by J Stephen Conn

1. Know How and When to Retreat

When Regina’s parents forbade her to get a horse, she did not give up on her dream or despair. Realizing that she could not change her parents’ minds, she had no choice but to back off. Yet, she was not willing to sit around and do nothing about it. Instead, she trained her cow Luna to act like a horse.

Nothing that is worth it ever comes easy. The more important our goal is to us, the more likely obstacles will appear in our way. While we can overcome some of these obstructions, we may be powerless against others. In the face of such hindrances, the only thing we can do is to retreat. Retreat is not running away. It is an awareness of the times and having the wisdom to advance in another direction. If the direct route to our goal is blocked, the roundabout way might just get us there instead.

2. Consider Alternatives

When Regina’s parents refused to get her a horse, she faced an obstruction to her plans. Given her tender age and limited resources, there was little she could do but wait until she was older and had the means to reach her goal. This is what most people in her shoes might do. But instead of doing so, Regina displayed her resourcefulness by using what she had at hand. Because she lived on a farm with many cows, she decided to train Luna to act like a horse instead.

When we open our minds to the impossible, our options are endless. The difficult part is opening our minds. On the one hand, we may have a fixed idea of doing things, so it is hard to see other alternatives. In fact, we might be reluctant to deviate from our original plan. On the other hand, if we do not believe that something is possible, we will not attempt it. Because things rarely go as planned, we have to be adaptable to reach our goals. If our actions are not yielding the results we desire, the only option we have left is to change and try alternatives until we succeed.

3. Find Help

Training a cow to act like a horse is no easy feat. Apparently, “steering” a cow posed a problem even for the resourceful Regina. So what did she do? She sought help from an expert on cows. It turns out that riding a cow like a horse is not unheard of. Not only did cow expert Anne Wiltafsky resolve the “steering” issue, she also shared that young cows can jump really well. This is definitely the most interesting thing I heard all week.

Some obstructions may be beyond our ability to manage. When this is so, we should not be afraid to seek help. What may seem like a difficult task for us might be a piece of cake for someone else. If we can find such experts to guide or help us, we will be able to overcome our obstructions and reach our goals.

4. Persevere

Regina has managed to train Luna so well that she acts like a horse now. Luna can also respond to commands like “go” “stand” and “gallop” if she feels like it. A cow is still a cow even if it has horse training. This does not mean that Regina has given up on her dream of riding a horse and settled for riding cows instead. She is merely biding her time and waiting for the day when she can ride a horse. But I am sure Luna will always have that special place in her heart.

The only way our dreams will become a reality is if we never give up. If a dream is worth fighting and dying for, we have to keep that flame alive until the very end. It means we have to keep on getting up every time life knocks us down. It means we have to keep on finding another way every time we run into an obstacle. Remember, life is not out to get us. The adversity we face is necessary for our growth so that we have the capacity to make our dreams a reality.

Two Paths One Destination by Beautiful Cataya

Taking Action

Obstructions are a part of change and life in general. Obstructions could happen because we need to change our actions to reach our goals. Or it could be because that the timing is simply not right for us to make our dreams a reality. Here, it could be that we lack the resources or the experience and wisdom to do so. In times of obstruction, the best thing to do is to find other ways and means of overcoming it instead of charging straight ahead.

What do you think of the story of Regina and Luna? How do you manage obstructions when they hinder you from reaching your goals? Do you charge straight ahead or find another way? Do you have other ways of dealing with obstructions? Do share your thoughts and comments below. :)


The I-Ching or Book of Changes Translated by Richard Wilhelm, Cary F. Baynes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1997.

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  26 Responses to “No Horse to Ride? Ride a Cow!”

  1. I was thinking of a mountain stream as I read this remarkable post. It would be too bad for the stream (and for us) if the stream simply gave up after encountering the first rock that tried to block its path. The stream finds another way to fulfil its destiny, and simply flows around the rock.

    I am more and more charmed each time I come to your blog Irving.
    Christopher Foster recently posted..What is your deepest longingMy Profile

    • Hi Christopher,

      We can learn so much just by observing nature. In fact, that is where most of the wise men in the world got their wisdom. A mountain stream is an apt imagery for dealing with obstructions. Water after all is one of the most adaptable substances on Earth. If we could all be like water when facing problems, we would have less trouble with them.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  2. Irving, I like the example you give of Luna the cow. It’s true. Obstructions happen. Often. But they’re not a bad thing. In fact, they usually push us to know what we really want, and what we will do to get that result in our lives. Thanks for sharing. I will never look at cows the same. And I live in Missouri, USA! :)
    Bryan Thompson recently posted..How Your Lack of Trust May Be Sabotaging Your Career and RelationshipsMy Profile

    • Hi Bryan,

      I stumbled upon the story of Luna the Cow by accident. But inspiration struck soon after and I had to get the article out.

      You’re absolutely right. Obstructions are neither good nor bad. They can actually help us to be clear about our priorities in life. If everything were smooth sailing, it would be hard to know what to do or what we want.

      You and I will never look at cows the same way again! ;)

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  3. What a great story! I watched it twice! And what a great lesson you generated from a jumping cow and the girl who wouldn’t give up!
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Mad-Sad-Glad GameMy Profile

    • Hi Galen,

      This is indeed one of the more interesting stories I have come across. There is so much insights to gain just by reading it. I am glad you enjoyed the story and the video. It is definitely worth re-watching just to get inspired.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  4. Hi Irving,

    The girl’s attitude really brings to life the old truth … where there’s a will there’s a way.

    Obstacles and roadblocks are always going to appear on our road to achieving those important things we want. We can either give up or go on.

    It basically boils down to how much you value your goal combined with how much effort you’re willing to put in. Without a good balance between these two factors, we’re unlikely to get there.

    PS I love this story – it’s very a’-moo’-sing!
    Scott McIntyre | Vivid Ways recently posted..The 8 Best Ways to Have Breathtaking IdeasMy Profile

    • Hi Scott,

      Yeah, I love that old saying. I also like the one by the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca. “We either find a way or make one.” Such is the power of taking life into our hands and making the best of it.

      I like how you point out that there must be balance between our desire for our goal and the effort we make. This is true. If we get the balance right, we are likely to succeed.

      Haha! Indeed this is an a-moo-sing story. ;)

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  5. This is excellent Irving! It’s not about having obstacles at all. It’s about what we choose to do with them. The obstacles aren’t the challenge, it’s our perceptions of them. Thanks for this Irving!!
    Dandy recently posted..Women and angerMy Profile

    • Hi Dandy,

      You’re perfectly right. Our perceptions of events determine whether we will be able to overcome or succumb to them. This is a vital life lesson that everyone can benefit from. If we only realized that our choices and actions affect the outcome of events, we would live much more fulfilling lives.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  6. Irving,

    This is a fabulous story. I enjoyed it immensely. It takes skill to work with obstructions. You’ve laid out a good map here. Over time, I’ve learned that it’s far more skillful to retreat momentarily and consider the alternatives. Often there’s a way to flow around the obstacle if you restrain yourself from trying to charge through. Thanks for this enjoyable story and great tips too.
    Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..Stop the World and SeeMy Profile

    • Hi Sandra,

      Yes, this is one of the more lovely stories that I have come across.

      I love how you point out that it is far more skillful to retreat momentarily to consider our options when we run into obstructions. A tactical or strategic retreat is not only a strategy in war, it is also something I do in games or in life when the odds are against me.

      If we can all be like water and find a way to flow around our obstacles, there is little in life that can stop us.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  7. Irving,

    The story of Luna was extremely inspiring to me as well. She really did make lemonade out of the lemons in her situation. So, many times people don’t get their exact expectations and instead of adjusting they give up. Life doesn’t always go exactly at planned so when life gives you lemons, build a lemonade stand.

    Outstanding job!
    Frank recently posted..Don’t Die ThereMy Profile

    • Hi Frank,

      I am glad that you enjoyed the story of Luna. Even though we have heard how we must make lemons from lemonade, it is always inspiring to see this in practice. There is much we can learn from the creativity of others. One day, we might just be in a position to apply these ideas to our own lives.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  8. Irving,

    Ride a cow! Very interesting and inspiring story that I had not known about it. How have you been? I took some break from blogging and slowly getting back in to it now. Slowly, I have lot to catch up, how have you been?

    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind recently posted..10 Easy Ways to Earn More MoneyMy Profile

    • Hi Preeti,

      It is lovely to see you here again. It has indeed been awhile. Yeah I am aware that you took a break from blogging, but no worries, I shall pop over your blog again now that you are getting back to it.

      I have been good. Been busy with HoH as you can see. :)

      I am glad you liked the story and learned something new about cows. I know I did. ;)

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  9. How resourceful for the girl to learn how to ride a cow instead. I like the idea of using our imagination to expand our paradigm into what’s possible for us. Having a creative mind obviously helps. I try to encourage my daughters to use their imagination by playing games with them. Playing games and puzzles help to stimulate the mind. Hopefully, they will learn how to cope with problem solving better.
    Evelyn Lim recently posted..Self Love Series Say Yes to Loving YourselfMy Profile

    • Hi Evelyn,

      Yes, our imaginations are so useful if we know how to apply it to a situation. With our imaginations, we can envision solutions that are not easily apparent to the naked eye. What seems impossible becomes possible.

      I love playing games. I think it is a brilliant way to encourage creativity and to stimulate the mind. It also makes learning fun too. I remember how boring I found history lessons in school. But when I played historical strategy games, learning history was a breeze. I suppose it is different when you are playing a game that shapes history instead of just reading about the history of others.

      With your guidance, I am sure your daughters will be more imaginative and creative than most of the other children their age here in Singapore. :)

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  10. Really great story and message. I loved the line where you said that when we open our minds to the impossible, our options are endless. That is such a great piece of advice and pointer in the right direction. Great post.
    Sibyl – alternaview recently posted..Why You Actually Are More Successful if You Don’t Work Too HardMy Profile

    • Hi Sibyl,

      Yeah growing up I was always told that things could not be done. What I was rarely told was how to do the impossible. One of my heroes is JP Morgan and I will always remember his attitude. He said that he hired people not to listen to them say that it could not be done. He hired them to tell him how to get the job done. If we believe the impossible is possible, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  11. Oh goodness.

    Growing up, I must have been a holy terror for my parents; I was always stubborn. If I was met with “no,” or any other obstacle, I always managed to get what I want. It’s still a saying of mine: “I always get what I want.” Whether it was through open defiance and blatant disobedience as a child, or resourcefulness and creativity to find another way, if I made the decision to have it (whatever “it” was), it was as good as mine.

    Of course, the other saying, “Be careful what you wish for” is another danger. The younger and more naive/ignorant I was, the more of those things I obtained were big mistakes. But I learned, and as I learn, experience has taught me judgement. I rarely move on impulse now, but I still get what I want if I make the decision to have it.

    I remember seeing this story a while back on Facebook, originally. I really admire her spunk. She sought another way to get what she wanted, and I think she’s proven that she has more than enough of what it takes to have a whole team of horses.

    Delena Silverfox recently posted..Chums Coupon CodesMy Profile

    • Hi Delena,

      You are indeed a formidable person. From your comments, I can already feel your steely determination to always get what you set your sights on. It is a good attitude to have especially if you use creativity to attain your aims.

      The thing about people who make an effort to get what they want is that they have experience. From experience they know when to act and when not to.

      I agree with you. Regina does have enough spunk to have a whole team of horses. If she maintains this attitude throughout her life in all that she does, she will achieve a great deal.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  12. I loved your post! Kind of like “When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade”! I wanted to come and visit your website because I always see you commenting on Angela’s Powered by Intuition. You have a great site….and I’ll be back often!

    • Hi Betsy,

      So nice of you to stop by! I am glad you enjoyed my post. :)

      Yes it is like when life gives us lemons. But it is refreshing to have a different kind of spin on that old saying. I love to read about the different and creative ways that people apply this wisdom to their lives. There is much insights we can gain in the process.

      Yes I have also noticed you at Angela’s site too! Do stop by again! :)

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  13. HI Irving, this is such an uplifting story. I admire Regina’s decision to try the “impossible.” All our great technological leaps forward have been created by people who rejected the conventional wisdom about what could be done. They failed often but perseverance meant they eventually succeeded.
    Jennifer Barry recently posted..A House of Cards- An interview with Nye LavalleMy Profile

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Yes, when I saw this story, I knew I had to share and write about it and so I did. It is such an inspiring story because it shows that creativity and resourcefulness can happen at any age. All that limits us is our imagination and the ability to see the ordinary in an extraordinary way.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

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