Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Monument Men

Amidst the carnage of World War II a handful of American leaders had the foresight to put a major effort into recovering works of art stolen by the Nazis. A minuet  fraction of Americans had ever even hard of most of this art. At a time when their sons and brothers and husbands and fathers were dieing in battle it is hard to imagine that most Americans would have supported the risk of spilling even more American blood to save paintings, especially if they understood that the hope was to return this art to its rightful owners.

The appreciation of the value of beauty has been hard to quantify in any culture. But in that instance enough people with enough power to get the job done took on that task for the sole purpose of preserving beauty for future generations.

The Colonial Spanish horse has also been stolen from us. He remains in a mere handful of places,being saved by a mere handful of people. These people recognize that they will never make any money from their efforts to preserve beauty for future generations. They recognize that few people even realize that these horses exist. They recognize that they will achieve no fame or glory for working to preserve these horses. They recognize that the only measure of success for them is whether their horses will remain for 200 years after they are dead and forgotten. They recognize that those who should be their closest allies, the established horse world, instead represent the greatest threat to their efforts. They live, and die, unrecognized by mainstream culture for their work.

They are monument men.

We had two very special guests visit the horse lot this weekend, Monique Scheaffer and her mother Mozelle Henry. Monique introduced us to the Choctaw horses. She gave Joey and Twister to our program so we could help increase the visibility of these rare Colonial Spanish horses. To commemorate the visit my riders worked hard to build a Choctaw chickee, a traditional summer dwelling structure of the Choctaws during the early 19th Century. A small plaque marks the structure.

Before lunch Monique and Mozelle joined Terry and I for a long ride through the woods. Monique is riding Joey, a Choctaw horse that she gave to us last fall. Mozelle is riding Porter, a formerly wild Corolla horse.

(I will not give any specific ages but I will say that Monique is younger than me and Mozelle is older than Daddy).

They both share  my belief that the only  hope our horses have is for all of us to work together regardless of which particular strain we support.

They also understand that often the only difference between worthless and priceless is the ignorance of the consumer. When people ride these horses they learn what it pricelessness truly is.

Perhaps that is why I have never sought to sell one of my Corolla fillies and have instead,given them to special people.

 It is too hard to calculate the sales tax on a priceless item.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... calculating that sales tax, you might accidentally divide by zero and turn time inside out..embarrassing at best.

Folks that keep and work with Cavallo Espana tend to be a breed apart..I have been fortunate to meet or at least become acquainted with many people who are prominent in the world of the Spanish horse, and to a person, they are invariably hard headed, devoted, focused on their horses, and very, very compassionate, These are folks who know a good thing when they see it. They tend have one foot planted in the future, and one foot planted in the past, and their heads, heart and soul right here in the present, just like their horses. There are many things in this world worth preserving, old skills, which have fallen into disuse because they are not convenient (Let's face it, a young man or lady wo can fashion a comfortable riding saddle given not much more to work with than a dead cow or mule is a valuable person..that takes grit.) Old varieties of plants or animals, simple ways of living, even if they do require one to get off their duff..I cut the small amount of hay that feeds my goats with an Austrian pattern scythe which has been manufactured to the same specifications for 500 years..and I can outrun you with a weedeater...that is worth preserving..gasoline goes away, my goats will get to eat if I have to cut hay off the roadside.
Are any of those things more or less important than preserving these valiant little horses? In a word, no. Everything fits together, everything has a purpose, even if you can't see it from the road.
It does not take a strong man, or some mighty heroic action to preserve such things, it simply takes a little pioneering spirit, a little teamwork, and a realization that once the good things are gone, they are gone for good. I for one do not want to imagine a world in which there are no horses like Baton Rouge, Red Feather, Twister, or Snow on Her.(You knew I would get that one in there, right?)
I have found a great deal of enjoyment in telling the story of these horses, and the Mill Swamp riders, And of the journey I have embarked on with Snow on Her, and I have found quite a few people who simply cannot believe that we can teach young kids to gentle and train wild horses..Is it really so unthinkable? Not very many years ago, The people that lived as one with our country lived each day, each hour with 'Horse Nation,' it was a way of life, and it was a good way of life. Not easy, certainly, but whole. Kids were on horses before they could walk, they rode as easily as you breathe. What a world that must be. That world still exists in Mongolia today, and to a vastly lesser extent right here..Mill Swamp is just one tiny bright spot in a universe of what could be.
More and more people are discovering that horses are better for the ailments that our too complex, overly stressful society seem to create in our is not only things from the past that are worth preserving, the future of our world is worth preserving..The Spanish horse was there when it was built, it needs to be there as it continues to grow and change.
Each of you can be a Monument Man..It doesn't not take alot. As long as I am able, I will tell people of my journey with Snow, of the triumphs and tribulations of our kids as they learn horses, and try to show them a better, gentler way... -Lloyd