(Poem by Virgil Suárez, Professor Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. Image detail from painting that may be by John Rowe.)
It was raven black, of shiny mane, and the people
said the floods brought him in, burst
through the heavy aspen doors like a cloud
of rubber tire black smoke, into the church
on the hill, kicking over the pews, froth in its mouth,
like the anger of a thousand years, as it paced up
and down the aisles, some demon-like sentinel,
whatever got in its path, it muzzled over, like the votive
candle holders, the flower pedestals, even the frail
confessionals. The priest called the sheriff, and soon all
(“THE HORSE RAMPANT: How to Learn to Train and Ride, A New and Simple Method for the Education and Training of Horses and Riders” by Captain James J. Pearce, Formerly Equitation Instructor: Cavalry School and Weedon School of Equitation. London, Robert Hale Limited, 1947)
Rampant: rearing upon the hind legs with forelegs extended.
When I first saw the title of this book, immediately my curiosity was engaged. The cover image of the rider raising his horse in levade suggested that the reader would learn advanced training methodology. However, the subtitle (A New and Simple Method for the Education and Training) confused the issue for me, since learning to ride and train a levade is anything but simple. My curiosity was amply rewarded when the battered old book arrived and I read the author’s Preface. It alone was a real eye opener for me.
(Horsewoman with a Red Horse, Marc Chagall)
“To write a great book, you must first become the book.” ~ Naval Ravikant
When I read this quote this morning, immediately my horse-loving mind turned it around into something about the horse, because really, what Ravikant said is true of anything. So this is a great thought, to me…”To become a great rider, you must first become the horse.”
[© 2021 Kip Mistral. Eugène-Louis Lami (1800-1890) “Un Manège”: gouache, 1878]
Since it first floated by me, I have loved this charming painting of riders and noise-desensitizing helpers carrying on in a small manège somewhere in time. The drummer is taking a rest, the trainer is comforting his horse in the pillars. A young couple are managing to court in the middle of it all as the amazones and cavaliers continue their tight circles together on their supercharged horses. I had the brilliant idea of doing a reverse image search for it, and found one instance of it on the entire internet. Yet that was enough to find the artist’s name and further search unexpectedly unlocked a whole treasure trove of equestrian art.