(© Kip Mistral 2019. Detail from the “Apotheosis of Kaiser Wilhem” by Ferdinand Keller, 1888. National Gallery, Berlin)
Everyone knows, on an archetypal level, that anyone riding a white horse in a movie is a good guy and anyone riding a black horse is a bad guy. Why is that? Why is Pegasus white and why is the Unicorn white? Why is the horse the King rides so often white? Well, white is the color identified with the qualities of purity and nobility, and also it just so happens that real white horses are extremely rare…literally, the pearl of great price.
(“Orestes Pursued by the Furies” by John Singer Sargent. The Furies in Greek Mythology were creatures from the Other World who avenged wrong doing and were enforcers of the proper order of things. I have reproduced here a thoughtful discussion that some friends and I had on my Facebook page recently, as I think it is an important subject.)
Kip: This short piece by Jane Savoie (see the link at the end of this article) has been revived by Dressage Today from their archives, and such a revival could be done every day in my opinion. Twelve years ago, a British “classical riding” instructor spent a week doing a clinic at the equestrian facility where Val and I both lived for a time. As typical with western arenas, the footing was deep sand and very tiring for ridden horses. Val and I worked with her for 1/2 hour and he was flagging badly. He was exhausted and over-faced by the work she was giving us. She demanded to let her get on.
(© 2019 Kip Mistral. Short film by Michel Kaplan, Beau Geste S.O.A.R. & On Tape Productions, 1994. With permission by the Kaplan family and Catherine Durand Henriquet. Photograph by Frédéric Chéhu.)
One day in France, long ago, a little film was made in a big hurry. Plans had been made to do the shooting for the film at the gardens of the nearby Château de Maisons-Lafitte, between Versailles and Paris, but before that could be scheduled, one of the two equine stars of the show (the Lusitano stallions Spartacus and Orphée) was being called away. Since Orphée had regained his status of 2nd French Dressage Horse and Free Style Champion, his breeders were claiming him to return to Portugal to do his job as a sire.
In your Horsemanship… Are you an Artist or Artisan? (Thanks to Merriam-Webster Dictionary for the definitions.)
1) Artist: a: one who professes and practices an imaginative art, b: a person skilled in one of the fine arts, c: a skilled performer
2) Artisan: a worker who practices a trade or handicraft
All comments and discussion welcome!
(© Kip Mistral 2018. “Water Sprite” by Theodor Kittelsen)
Almost all of us riders met the horse first in our childhood imaginations. We took our seats on the gleaming black stallions, or the feisty red mares, or even the luminous winged white horse, and they carried us to…wherever we wanted to go. And we flew together with them in a gallop so fast that we conquered space and time.
Some of us children were so lucky to find our way to the horse in the real flesh. We learned to love that wonderful smell of their coats and their sweet hay-scented breath. We groomed them until they shone. We sat on their patient backs for hours while we talked to our friends in the barn aisle. We rode freely out in the country, perhaps, with no rules except to be home by dark. We were unconscious of anything except the moment, the freedom and its joy. We—and I am one of these fortunate ones—know now how extremely lucky we were to have this gift of innocent time with the horse. We could be Wild Things together.