Let ’em Live Free…
I’m called upon more and more frequently by kind folks who swear they own my next perfect horse. They own the “fixer upper horse.” You know the type—the project horse—over weight, hanging out back behind the barn, living on a sliding attitude scale. “I have a horse you should take,” they exclaim, “I think he would make a great _____ add the flavor of the day_____.” If I took every free horse, I would have to be a superman to get them all trained and cared for. Instead, I just smile and wave.
“Let ’em live free,” I reply ‘tween my toothy grin. While I truly believe every horse should get some “down time”, some horses never get to experience the “up time.” They spend all their days doin’ nuttin. But don’t judge me when I tell you I recently broke my own rule and took on a project horse…well, there is this thing called fate.
With the fate of the horse in question, I listened to the heartfelt care and concern coming from the other end of the phone, “She’s never been ridden, is eighteen years old, and was left in a round pen with a short lead line to catch her when I found her.” …Yeah, I had already judged the conversation, “Let ’em live free.” But oh no, this time the Morgan breeder in me had to ask the question, “What is her pedigree?” Did you ever hear the line from the Dylan song, “What’s a sweetheart like you doin’ in a dump like this?” I had to wonder about why this sterling pedigree ended up down this nowhere road. So, I took her—and gave her a dream life with a mare’s herd to run with, and green meadows to graze in.
My stallion, Patriot, at nine years old, has no progeny. He is the last in his line, a line of about five generations of my bloodline. I believe, found in this mare, were some genetics worthy of him. Horses are not super complicated, I kinda know what the horse world experience means to him. I also know what he gets out of his time spent with me…a darn good roll afterwards.
It is most definitely a one-sided dream, but Patriot is my dream horse. He’s my King of the Wind. He does everything with gusto and yet is as gentle as a lamb. He is the answer to my question: What does the horse world mean to me?
I have been asking myself this question a lot recently. My journey with horses has lasted for over forty-five years and I am always pursuing toward the new…and so I ask this question often. My current transition, or growth spurt, is geared towards you. It is about a training method, and it is about bringing horsemanship (the kind I practice) to you in a larger way. Watch out for it in 2018. It embodies not only what I have been about all these years but it speaks to who I am as a horseman. It’s called The Complete Horse Method. But let me set the backdrop for you first.
I love riding in the Catskill Mountains. All of my trails that I enjoy transform into another world with the seasons. The terrain totally gets a makeover. Whether I am coaching someone along one of these trails, or schooling a horse along them, or just enjoying my own personal horses, riding without fences or walls are moments I could never do without—it is a total sensory experience. There are few rules to this kind of practice; the ride becomes what we make it—just my horse and me.
To empower other horse lovers, and to pass along to them this particular freedom in experience is what I am focused on accomplishing. It is why I love what I do. With the many horsey obstacles people face, the top topic is safety. The reality for many equestrians is how to be able to get their horses better schooled for rider safety, and become more in tune with their mount for safer riding. But that is not ever the end goal for any rider. The end goal is to create art; expressing yourself on horseback—the landscape being the canvas, the harmony and partnership between you and your “Thunder Hoof” being the very brush strokes that define you. Isn’t that why we endure the boatload of work and expense that goes along with keeping these massive creatures? How to accomplish this task is what horsemanship is about.
In these moments of creative expression, of harmony and partnership, my horse doesn’t care what I look like, what I am wearing, or what saddle I am in (as long as it fits); he cares about how I am sitting. He doesn’t really care how long my whip is, the style of my boots, or even the type of bit I use, or don’t use; he cares about how I use them.
In our own personal horsemanship journey, it is important to remember that we all have a belief in our horse. A belief we want to share with someone. Everyone wants to share their passion with other like-minded people. You are a part of ____add your own place____ where you are free to share that passion.
Membership into a world of horsemanship is just a belief that, together, you and your horse can do something great. Harmony and partnership between you and your horse and rider being the essence of what you should build.
Dutchess, my new rescued mare, “met” up with Patriot over the summer. In spite of the fact that she thinks she’s a little wild weanling in a great big mare’s body (when it suits her). In spite of the fact that she’s got a fat-Morgan’s-health-drama diagnosis, it looks like Patriot will add another part to his resume since they are expecting a June foal.
Giddy-up and have a great holiday with your four-footed gift!
I appreciate your feedback. Please take some time and “like” www.facebook.com/Jeff-Wilson-Cowboy-Dressage. I have been training horses for over 30 years and value the western horse lifestyle in my approach to training. Giving clinics and seminars on how to reach your full potential with your horse through the training foundation of Cowboy Dressage makes me happier than a full breeze from a corn-eatin’ horse.