Horsing around

th-4Well, I suppose we’ve done enough horsing around here at the Catch for a while. I apologize if you are not very fond of horses, but then again, I can’t imagine anyone not liking a horse. They are such strong, beautiful animals.

Horses are big. The first thing you notice when you get up near one is how big. You gain a healthy respect merely related to its size. I always feel like they’re going to step on me. You feel their bulk. You walk around a horse and it seems like they know right where you are, as if they had eyes behind them, or a rear view mirror.

Horses are proud. They’re like royalty. Even poor, humble horses know this. They never forget. They look at you as if to say, “You don’t really know who I am. I’ll cooperate with you to a point, but there is much about me you will never understand, so don’t even try.”

Cooperation is the key. You never rule a horse; you cooperate with it. You make an agreement. You break your part of the agreement, there will be consequences. My first experience learning this was in the early part of my career when I was traveling and doing music. I stayed at the home of a family who had a few horses, and they let me take one out in the woods on a Sunday afternoon. Of course, when they asked if I had riding experience, macho John had to say “yes,” when, in fact, I was lucky to get up on a horse facing in the right direction.

My limited experience, up until then, was on trail horses who know where to go. So I pretty much let this horse go where it wanted, and at one point we got going pretty fast on a narrow trail bordered on either side by young saplings. And then, it didn’t seem to be a trail at all, but a grove of tree trunks we were just barely dodging. And just when I began to wonder if the horse knew what it was doing, it veered hard one way, throwing me the other way, right into one of those saplings that took me right out of the saddle. With the wind knocked out of me and a big bruise on my hip, I hobbled up ahead to where the horse was casually munching in a nearby meadow. As I walked toward the horse, it raised its head with a mouthful of grass as if to say, “Look kid, if you’re going to be on my back, you’d better figure out what you’re doing.”

Horses are mysterious. They are silent, and in their silence, they say so much. They give the impression that they know far more than they are telling.

Horses are ancient. You look into their eyes and it seems you are looking through to a long line of warriors, chariot runners, racers, explorers, wagon-pullers, field workers, and princes’ steeds. They know their history. If you don’t, that’s your fault.

In all of this, they reflect their Creator, who made them horses. Not dogs, cats, cows or sheep, but horses. Proud horses — made to serve us and intrigue us at the same time. Wild … tame … they never seem to lose that inner character that makes them what they are. And yet, with all of this, they can also be a companion — almost like a pet. Just ask any young girl who’s around horses a lot and you’ll notice a very special relationship that I don’t think anyone fully understands.

Go California Chrome.

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4 Responses to Horsing around

  1. KaT H. says:

    Not to mention, 2014 happens to be “the year of the Horse.” MY year! You mentioned that horses are strong–another word perhaps that we can use for humans is “resilient.” I have been told that I am resilient, and I take that as a compliament! 🙂

  2. bobbobs60 says:

    Have to confess a little disappointment, John.
    While I enjoy a good horse yarn as much as anyone, I was somewhat saddened that you neglected to mention anything about this pivotal day – June 6th – in world history.
    I was grateful that you (Marti, actually) took a break from your horse saga on Memorial Day to reflect on those who sacrificed their all on our behalf.
    I think, personally, you could have suspended – for one more day – the “horsing around” (as you put it) in deference to those dwindling and quickly-forgotten soldiers who liberated Europe and secured America’s future on that D-Day 70-years ago.
    If you’ll permit, I’d like to conclude with this small editorial from the the Everett, Washington Herald newspaper.
    Thank you for hearing me out and letting me share.

    (Everett Herald – June 6, 2014)

    At first light on June 6, 1944, American paratroopers were already on the ground in Normandy, France, ahead of a ground invasion that would begin at 6:30 a.m.

    Allied troops stormed five beaches, capturing four of them with only light resistance from German forces. Omaha Beach was a different story.

    America lost 2,000 sons, brothers and husbands in the amphibious assault on Omaha Beach. By day’s end, the heroism and tenacity of the fighters won the prize: The Allies had a foothold in France, and the campaign to rid Europe of Nazi domination could begin.

    Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and his staff conceived the massive attack under the code name Operation Neptune (part of a broader strategy known as Operation Overlord). Today, we remember it simply as D-Day.

    At the start of World War I, many politicians questioned whether our national interests would be served by involvement in a European conflict. As the clouds of World War II formed, the same arguments arose. In fact, President Franklin Roosevelt was forced to maneuver around non-interventionists in 1941 so the United States could arm Britain to resist Germany — in a war that we were avoiding.

    Virtually all fragments of isolationism disappeared after Pearl Harbor. When America’s troops hit the beach on D-Day, those charging into the fray had a clear sense of mission.

    It can be tempting to treat that historic moment as a quaint snapshot from a distant era. A time when national character was more wholesome. When questions of honor or morality could be defined almost by social consensus. In truth, World War II was fought at a time of fierce political divisions, when seeds of great racial and economic upheaval had already begun to sprout.

    The “greatness” of the war years was not something embodied in our political or social institutions. The greatness was what Americans saw in each other on the individual level.

    Seventy years have passed since that dramatic day on Omaha Beach. An NPR report from this year’s ceremony in La Cambe, France, describes American veterans arriving by bus. The young soldiers from 1944 are now in their 80s and 90s, and many walk with canes. French locals, some who lived through the war and others who are children or grandchildren of that generation, greet the veterans with tears and laughter to escort them through the village.

    This is no time or ideology or politics. It is a warm, human moment honoring these men who may be making their final trip to Normandy.


    • jwfisch says:

      I am sorry I missed this, too. The fact that this was the day (and the 70th anniversary) escaped me somehow. Thank you for bringing it up.

  3. Ralph Gaily says:

    well said….

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