Hey Frank, you're absolutely right... running is not my job, so I can
stop doing it any time I want.
As a matter of fact I haven't been able to run for the past 2 months
because something more important has to take place. I have to earn my place in
this world, and right now it's a bit of a struggle. I don't have the time
to run or ride. I took over ownership of a new tack store that was on the
verge of folding, and it's paying it's bills but, like these horses, I could
quit but I know where the feed bag hangs.
I get to talk about riding a lot, and am surrounded by riders and
kids, so I'm definitely not complaining.
I'm like Red at the 90 mile mark... this is tough and sometimes I
wonder if I'm really going to make it, I think about the grass along the trail,
too. I'm not in great shape like Red is, so it's harder for me, but for as tired
as I am, I feel strong. I want this. Like Red, I stretch, take a deep breath,
crest the hill and start thinking about the bucket of mash I know I'll find back
Horses CAN choose not to run, but these horses choose to keep going.
They understand that running is their job, how they earn their position in the
community. It's their job, for gods sake. Some of you may not understand that,
but somehow these horses do. Horses understand the stark reality of life
better than we do because of their awareness of the
constant presence of unseen predators. They understand that we're
the leaders who protect them, they have no illusions about a mythical Uncle Sam
who'll take care of them if they choose to quit trying.
Endurance horses can quit, and many do. You don't see the quitters racing
for championships; the quitters become pleasure animals, are shipped to Texas,
are backyard pets, mediocre endurance horses. It takes tenacity and desire to
achieve what these world class horses achieve. It also takes superb riding and
management. Many of our best endurance horses could have gone to the bone
knackers... but someone understood their abilities and supported their
Animals are phenomenal communicators, but people don't always
listen. Kerry and Christine Ridgeway were up here visiting last week, and
Kerry talked to our Redwood Riders riding club about saddle fit. I
video taped it and... Damn, Kerry is so good... let me tell you, that man REALLY
knows his stuff. And he can communicate what he knows effectively, share his
Someone else there was good at communicating too. Know who stole the
spotlight from Kerry?
The horse with a sore back who had something to say, and said it
with stunning clarity. Through the video camera, I watched this horse
with saddle fit problems try painstakingly to articulate exactly what hurt
and where. His communication was as eloquent as any mime I've ever
seen. He was communicating to us - the more intelligence species - and
Kerry showed us how to listen.
Their interaction was thought provoking. I
wish you could see this tape.
When horses have something to say, they say it. Riders like Heather and
Valerie listen better than most of us. They have to!! These horses are their
wings. You and I can make stupid mistakes and not have them scrutinized and
regurgitated in public, and even if our blunders do make it to Ridecamp, the
embarrassment isn't the same thing to us as it is to them. They pay for
being in the spotlight. Practically speaking, if their horses falter, so does
their reputation. If their horses start getting stale and resistant, they
need to give them time off and they know it. Horses won't compete this well
against their will. They will quit. For Heather, endurance is her life, and Reds
welfare is paramount, from emotional and practical perspectives.
I've been around race tracks, show barns of all types, breeding barns,
feed lots and ranches, and these high caliber endurance horses have, by and
large, an extremely good life. I've ridden with Valerie in Fort Valley, and
her horses get the best of everything. I've boarded horses alongside Red,
and that boy has a very good life.
Horses aren't toys, they are alive, they understand the rules for
staying alive as well as we do, and probably better. They don't have our
illusions to contend with. They have to uphold their part of the deal or all
bets are off.
Someone else can have my soap box now... Bye!
message dated 11/9/02 11:33:38 PM Mountain Standard Time, kadence@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Consigned & Used Tack
9155 North State St., Redwood Valley, CA 95470
EASY access with Hwy 101
In endurance sports where an athlete has to persist, the look is
the same...As a human being, you have the autonomy to choose
to participate and at what speeds, or even when to quit....not saying you
Determined, persistent, pacing -- measuring what they have to
give and how
much longer they have to give it. Sometimes it looks bad on
the outside but
feels great on the inside.
Endurance is about