Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Going Home To A Place He'd Never Been Before
Steven Ambrose, I believe, was the writer who said that Crazy Horse lived a life as free as a man could be--on the prairie, on horse back, without fences, born to whatever station in life yet able to aspire to any station in life.
Developing a close relationship with horses changes one's relationship with the rest of the world. It knocks down barriers. Without the artificial motivations of competition and profit, a pure understanding, a pure affection can develop. Without the artificial barriers of competition and profit freedom can develop.
When one is free in a world that limits that freedom with artificial barriers of title and entitlement one becomes a radical by default.
When one comes to understand that the sales price of a horse has nothing to do with the value of a horse one can finally understand that a person's station in life has nothing to do with the value of that person.
Respect for others grows from that understanding.
I care everything for actual respect and I care nothing for the language of artificial respect. I have been a lawyer for nearly thirty years and there has never been an occasion in court in which I referred to a judge as "Your Honor." I do not believe that to be an appropriate phrase for one American to use to another American.
When I was about twelve years old I went on a trip with our local county agent. He was in the National Guard. He had been to college and was an officer. He was also raised on a farm just up the road from me. He told me how much it bothered him that his friends had to salute him when they were on duty. I shared his horror. He was 100% sincere, though I suspect that there were few other officers who shared his revulsion at military courtesy
Daddy worked at a plant that was not in Smithfield for a while when I was little. The workers, nearly all black, were required to call the supervisors, nearly all white, Mr _______. The workers wore name tags. One of the workers scratched out her name and replaced it with Mrs.__________.
She was fired for her impertinence. You see, it was viewed as disrespectful for her to ask for the same degree of "respect" that she was required to show the boss man.
I do not like to be called "Mister" nor do I like the term "sir" being applied to me. The parents of many of my riders teach their kids to do so and, of course, I do not seek to contradict such teachings. But I am acutely aware that there are scores of people out there who call me Steve who I can absolutely count on.
I would not want to put my life in the hands of anyone who calls me Mr. Edwards.
It seems a bit perverse to me that anyone could consider me arrogant for thinking that everyone else is deserving of the same respect that I am.
And no, that does not mean that I do not believe in manners. I thank everyone who does a kindness to me and I mean it. I expect everyone for whom I do a kindness to thank me and I expect them to mean it.
And to my surprise working with horses has radicalized my feelings on the issue of title and positions. A horse respects me or he does not. He cannot hide his contempt or lack of respect by calling me Mr. Edwards.
Could they talk, each of my horses would call me Steve.
When it comes to horsemanship my respect goes to those who are one with the horse. Ribbons won, honors given, degrees from colleges in horsemanship, recognition granted through a tv trainer's program are utterly meaningless unless a person can become one with the horse.
And the person who can become one with the horse needs no artificial indicia of respectability.
The freedom that one gains from well practiced natural horsemanship can be disturbing to some people. When one's eyes are opened one can sometimes be shocked at what one sees. Hours spent in the round pen teach one what is real. Hours spent in the round pen can break one free of the illusions that society teaches as truths.
Being free is like going home--even if you have never been there before.
(I think that I would have been four years old when this picture was taken of me on my first horse, Tanka, a Welsh/Hackney cross. I got him when I was two and he was one. The following year I rode him in the Christmas parade. )
Posted by Steve Edwards