Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thoughts on The Horse

I was involved in a conversation on another blog about dressage and showing, and how hard it is as a type A personality to compete with a horse that isn't quite there yet. The blogger in question has two horses, one of which she has been riding for a while (endurance) and the other which she has been riding for a short time and is struggling with. She is struggling with her personal dissatisfaction with not winning the competitions she is entering.

You all know I don't show and don't want to show, so my perspective was a little different from the rest of the people who replied to her blog. For me, riding Ashke is about our spending time together doing something we both enjoy. Riding dressage is a way to further our conversation and to develop the skills and abilities we both need in order to ride for long periods of time. I like to believe that Ashke enjoys having a job. I know he enjoys being out on the trail with me from how he acts, how eager he is to go, how alert and interested he is in everything we experience. I like to believe he would rather be with me than to be alone, in a field somewhere.

The blogger (K) had a slightly different take on it. She said:
"If we are TRULY in it for the horse, we would never ask them to do anything hard. Horses were not put on earth for our enjoyment (speaking scientifically). Any time we ride them, we are creating an artificial experience for them to serve our own purpose. Horses do not require our "teaching" to become better. They're just fine out in a field without our interference. With that said, all of us who ride are using our horses to serve our own purposes to one extent or the other."
Maybe it's because I ride an Arabian and have always been in love with the breed; or maybe because I grew up in the West where the idea of the relationship between horse and rider was shaped by Louis L'amour, Jack Schaeffer and Will James, Mari Sandoz, Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley; or maybe because I was captivated by the relationship between the great horse cultures of the West - the Lakota, Cheyenne, Comanche and Apache - and their wild and free approach to the horse, but somewhere in all of that, I completely absorbed the idea of the horse being specifically created for a relationship with humans. With me. And Ashke has just reinforced that concept.

I found this online, attributed to the Bedouin:

"And Allah took a handful of southerly wind,
blew His breath over it, and created the horse.
He said to the magnificent creature,
"I have made thee as no other.
All the treasures of the earth lie between thy eyes.
Thou shall carry my friends upon thy back.
Thy saddle shall be the seat of prayers to me.
Thou shall fly without wings,
and conquer without any sword. Oh, horse."
~ Bedouin Legend ~

For me, this speaks deepest to my understanding of my relationship to my horse.
The horse was first domesticated in about 6000 BCE and was ridden by sword weilding warriors out of the steppes of Russia. Judith Tarr has a wonderful collection of books, starting with Lady of Horses, about both the conquering hordes and the lasting changes the introduction of the horse made upon the development of Western Culture and our modern world. Told from the perspective of people completely captivated by this new creature.

And again the world changed with the advent of the horse in the New World. The great Horse Cultures of the west consisted of riders and their mounts, hunting buffalo, fighting for their lives, and always from the back of a horse. Those horse cultures were combatting the calvary of the US, the cowboy culture, and the riders who made an art and a life from their relationship with their horse. All reinforced by the stories I devoured: Black Beauty, Monte Walsh, Smokey The Cow Horse, Silver Canyon, To Tame a Land, The Horsecatchers, Skyrocket, A Wind in Cairo, King of the Wind, Brighty, Black Gold, Mustang, San Domingo, White Stallion of Lipizza, and the Entire Black Stallion series.

These were fodder for my life with horses and shaped my sleeping and waking dreams. Even now, they contribute to my romantic notions of my horse. They form the shape of my relationship. They lurk deep in my subconscious, where a bow and arrow, a saber, a sword and a horse rule, where I consider what it would take to create a chariot, where my horse curls inside my tent, with my children curled against his belly, where the horse is taken care of regardless of the damage to the man.

Always, it was and still is, about the horse. And I believe, for Ashke and for Cali and for all those other horses who really truly have both a job and a relationship, it is about their connection to their humans.

1 comment:

  1. Very Heartfelt, Well Said!
    I Got To Know You More Through That, And I Appreciate Your Desires And Motives.

    I Can Say Too, I'm With You In Back Ground, Beginnings With A Slight Competition Edge. I've Lost That Desire, But Not The Desire To Bond (Which This Summer Has Been Terrifically Glorious For) With My Mare.

    The Fact That We Own, Board And Care For Our Horses Is Joy...Stressing Them Out In Situations Of Pressure Filled Competitions..And Not Being Happy About Being With TheM, Because They Didn't Bring In The Right Award...There Is Something Wrong There. There Should Be Joy On The Trying, The Effort, The Learning Experience.

    You My Dear Steer In A Way More Natural, Loving, Enlightened Relationship With Your Steeds...Because You are Paying Attention To THEM,their Comfort And Abilities To Achieve.

    I'm Sure Glad You Wrote All That You Did. I Loved It.
    You Keep At Loving, Pursuing And
    RelatingTo Your Steeds,.It's Beautiful!