Nathanael Nii Lantey Heward-Mills had buried his nose in a newspaper and did not see his son pass right by him. Dag was in a hurry. Outside he could hear a horse whinnying. Its hooves made slight thumps on the ground as it walked, clop clop.
Soon Dag was riding. One hand was wrapped around the horse’s neck while his other lay on its mane, lightly holding the reins. He had strapped on the helmet his mother asked him to wear, albeit grudgingly. No other jockey he knew wore a helmet. It was just awkward and he didn’t like it. But he had obeyed her with a scowl and decided not to think about it.
Though he was enjoying the feel of the air rushing past on his face, he was trying to bring his horse to a slow trot. They were going on a path he had ridden on several times. It went behind the houses at Burma Camp, approximately 40 miles from his home in Osu. The dirt path snaked around a car park and went downhill. It got a bit dangerous as it could be steep at times and required some decent equestrianism as well as a good horse. But the challenge was the thrill: the bigger, the better. The jockeys sometimes disliked Dag’s choice of horses from his dad’s stable (there were several: Klooklooloto, Odododiodo, Why Worry, C’est La Vie, Miracle, Correcto Perfecto, Flashing Beauty), especially the one he was riding that morning. His father had named it Onopod: One Nation, One People, One Destiny.
The horse was honestly quite a wild one and that afternoon, it was in its element.
horses have a mind of their own.
tamed creatures, they are
but at their best,
obeying their riders until
they do not feel like it
and only conceding to the infliction
bearing much in resemblance
to human flesh
which refuses to yield
to a regenerated spirit
It was simply refusing to slow down. Instead, it was picking up speed to quite a quick gallop. Dag dug his knees into the horse’s flank and leaned down to hold on more tightly. “Easy!” he half shouted half spoke to the creature and stroked its shoulder.
But the horse would pay no heed. Now they were going downhill and at full speed. His horse had turned insane. There was no stopping it. Suddenly, without warning, it jerked its back and neighed loudly. Then, it lifted its two front limbs. Had it forgotten it had a rider sitting upon it? The jockeys usually carried a special whip for the special horses. But Dag was unarmed. The shock of Onopod’s movements left Dag losing his grip on the reins and his hold on the horse. As the horse descended the hill, with a final snort, it threw its rider completely off and trotted away.
Dag landed with a loud thud. His back hit the ground, followed by his head; it was not a graceful fall. Had he broken a limb? Probably not. He tried to sit up but felt too much pain. Laying on the grassy field, he began inspecting his body for bruises. Suddenly, he was grateful for the helmet his mother had insisted on! And, he could not but think on the verses he had heard at scripture union recently that said,
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”
Thank God for a helmet! Surely if a helmet is crucial to riding, salvation must be crucial to Christianity? This lesson and the soul’s most critical need for salvation was imprinted upon his heart from that day and onwards.