Thursday, April 27, 2017

Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? A Life With Meaning

He seems like such a humble old guy. He works around the clock for little, if any, financial reward. His life is dedicated to saving something precious for people that he will never meet--for people yet to be born. Odds are you have never heard of him.

Even better odds that you have never seen the horses that he preserves.

But Bryant Rickman matters. Look at this incredible little film about saving the Choctaws--  

Feel the past when  you look at the film. Feel the present when you look at the film and feel what the future will be if we simply let these horses disappear.

Take a look at the picture above. That is Lydia on Manny, a pure Choctaw and the fruit of the work of Bryant Rickman and a handful of others who keep the candle from being blown out.

On May 6 Lydia and Manny will be down at Biltmore in North Carolina for Manny's second official endurance race. His first race was up in New Jersey. it was the first endurance race that we had ever seen.

We carried five horses to the event, three Choctaws, a Shackleford, and a very high percentage Choctaw/BLM cross.

We won four of the top ten spots in the thirty mile race--in the first race that we had ever seen. Other racers went from sniffing at our unshorn ponies and our western saddles and boots, and our "pit crew" composed of only one person for all five horses to asking, at the end of the race, "What are these little ponies, they look as if they are related to one another?" And my favorite question, "Where does one acquire one of these ponies?"

I rode, Joey, also a Choctaw with a touch of Cherokee lineage. As I recall the weight of our tack and his rider was 256 pounds. Needless to say that was much more than any other horse there carried.

Joey came in ninth. (I forget how many contestants there were but there were between 35 and 55, I think.)

Super athletes, beautiful, rich history, incredibly smooth to ride--but those are not my favorite things about the Choctaws. I have reached an age where I am no longer impressed with a horse's speed. Long ago I realized that it is easier to get where you are going first by simply starting before everyone else does instead of trying to break the sound barrier.

What draws me to the Choctaws the most is a bit of unhorseness in their temperament. They need to be with people. They want contact. They want to follow you around.

In some ways they act more like milk goats than like horses. Horses generally are asking scores of questions every time a person approaches. My Choctaws only seem to have one question--"So, where are we going today?"

Of course, the Banker horses, such as those of Corolla and Shackleford, have strong historic and genetic ties to the Choctaws.

And I would not be privileged to know all of this first hand were it not for Bryant Rickman's  decision to find meaning by dedicating his life to preserving these horses.

Make sure that you take time to look at this video--especially if you have not yet figured out how to give your own life meaning.

It's not too late.

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