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
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 at camp.
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
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 success.
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 knowledge.
Someone else there was good at communicating
too. Know who stole the spotlight
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
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
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...
New, Consigned &
9155 North State St., Redwood Valley, CA 95470
EASY access with Hwy 101