My first mentor was a crotchety old man, who hardly spoke to me the entire time I worked for him and when he did the words usually came out as grunts and mumbles; mostly of approval, a couple times of disappointment. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor, he was a brilliant horseman. I developed a basic set of equine philosophies that I still believe in today and I honed my skills of observation, as well as the ability to decipher Caveman talk.
My first (serious) riding instructor was a crotchety old German woman. She didn’t talk much either and when she did it was a mix of English and German. I typically only understood every third or fourth word. The more German words in a sentence, the more frustrated she was with me. And when the entire sentence was German, well, that basically meant I was on my own; sink or swim. (I sank a time or two.) I couldn’t have asked for a better riding instructor at the time; that was when I stopped being a passenger.
Both proved (to me) that you don’t have to write a novel or orate endlessly to teach effectively. Indeed, that might not be the best way at all. (It might also have proven that I was a willing student.)
There are many greats, whom none of us will ever have the privilege of attending, but we can still learn from them because they have left behind gargantuan nuggets of wisdom about horses and horsemanship expressed in just a few words.
“When the human calls the horse dumb, stupid, stubborn, etc…, they are working from where they are, not where the horse is.” – Ray Hunt
Nothing drives me crazier than when a person labels a horse ‘lazy’. I want to smack them upside the head with something a lot harder than a baguette. It seems, though, from Mr. Hunt’s words that I should be sticking a cattle prod up their derrieres instead.
“My horses are my friends, not my slaves.” – Reiner Klimke
I prefer to use the term partner to friend, but I definitely agree that a horse shouldn’t be viewed as a slave, and yet I see that all the time.
“It is the difficult horses that have the most to give you.” – Lendon Grey
This quote resonates with me more than any other. Two of the most difficult horses I’ve owned were, without a doubt, my greatest teachers. If you really want to learn, embrace the challenges.
“No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.” – Winston Churchill
Clearly a man who understood the allure of horses and what they give us.
What are your favorite quotes or words of wisdom?