It Was Raven Black…

It Was Raven Black…

(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

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To Become a Great Rider, You Must First Become the Horse

To Become a Great Rider, You Must First Become the Horse

(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.”

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I Know You By the Horse You Ride: In Search of the Golden Bridle

I Know You By the Horse You Ride: In Search of the Golden Bridle

Image: Detail from “Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma,” 1603, by Peter Paul Rubens: © 2020 Kip Mistral

[I was asked to contribute a guest post over at StreamHorseTV, which is just about to have a re-launch by new owners Tom and JoAnne Pierce. I wish them great success with their upcoming new platform! I chose to do a rare autobiographical piece so have a laugh on me ]

What an odd title for an article…how could I possibly know you by the horse you ride?

First, let’s contemplate the horse and rider presented to us. From a practical perspective, I might know something about you if the horse you have chosen—or seems to have chosen you—has or doesn’t have the conformation, athletic ability, temperament, and level of training that are compatible and well-matched with your level of experience and expectations. I might know something about you if you must have a horse of a certain color or gender. I might know something about you if you vastly prefer one riding discipline over another.

To read more please go to: https://streamhorse.tv/blog/f/i-know-you-by-the-horse-you-ride-in-search-of-the-golden-bridle

Un Cheval de Phidias

Un Cheval de Phidias

(Excerpt from Un Cheval de Phidias, by Victor Cherbuliez, Michel Lévy Frères, Libraires Editeurs, Paris, 1864. Translated by A. Forbes Sievering, 1905.)

“Look at this horseman wearing his Arcadian pilos, draped in his closely-folded mantle, the fringe overhanging his leg. See how their poses, their attitudes go together; how the head of the rider leaning forward and gently bowed over his breast responds to the undulating movement of the horse’s crest; and how all these lines compose that delicious melody of forms, which modern sculpture has not been able to reproduce. And then observe that this unison of lines and movements is only the emblem of the concert of souls and thoughts. In both man and horse the same ease, the same surrender–no effort–a vigour self-assured, and revelling in free play. Incontestably the rider commands, but it is hardly noticeable–he acts upon the horse by imperceptible aids, united to it, like the human bust to the quadruped in the Centaur: the education which the horseman has received is transmitted to the horse. Both have the same family likeness, the same grace, the same strength, the same gentleness, the same pride–exhaling the dignity of a free heart mastered only by reason. Riders and horsemen have all been educated between the soft Attic sky, amid the olives of the Academy and the laurels of Cephisius, within sight of sacred Hymettus, in the lifetime of Pericles, Aspasia, and Socrates. Riders and horses all received in heritage that beauty of the soul which Athenian education cultivated. Riders and horses have all learned that music which produces, in the language of Plato, the harmony of souls and the immutable order of the Universe.”

NOTE: Phidias is generally acknowledged to have been the greatest ancient Greek sculptor and instigator of the classical style of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. He is thought to have directed and supervised the construction of the Parthenon including its sculptural decoration.

I Call Myself Stradivarius

I Call Myself Stradivarius

Image “Cream Colored Stallion” by Johann Georg Hamilton. (© 2020 Kip Mistral.)

I am a real horse, but I’ve changed my name here to protect the innocent…and not-so-innocent.

I call myself Stradivarius because I was created to be an instrument of the highest quality, for a human of the highest quality, one who would learn to understand and value the brilliance and complexity of my nature. The original string instruments of the master Antonio Stradivari were made in the late 17th and early 18th centuries and they were, as they are still, considered the finest in the world. The rare few remaining today, whether in museums or still being played, lie almost beyond price. Because of their age, their wood is in a slow state of decomposition and detachment in their fibers from centuries of vibrations from being played, and microscopic shrinkage from evaporation. Yet is it ironic that many of the top violinists feel the old instruments have, just because of these factors, an even richer and more expressive sound today than they did when they were born? No, I don’t think so.

Because in the same way, my family and those similar to us were created across the sea. For centuries we were nurtured and protected within traditions that had very specific goals for us. We were selected to be straight forward and workmanlike, and extremely strong to be able to perform great feats of athleticism even into old age. We were made to be very intelligent so as to be able to grasp the highest demands of training, so we are not simple. In fact, we are specialists. And we were given high expectation of respectful treatment, since we have been honored and cherished as jewels in the crowns of our native cultures for hundreds of years.

For our families, this expectation, I am sad to say, is disappointed often today. We can be passed from person to person, as I have been, persons who unfortunately wrongly assume that they could be a match for specialists such as we are. Such a person can break a whip on our body, as has been done to mine, but that will not give us the trust that will inspire us to be a stalwart partner and give our best, and our love. But with respect, fairness, patience, and compassion…we will become yours and keep getting richer, like a Stradivarius, with time.

I am still waiting patiently for that human of the highest quality, who I hope is on their way to me and may be right around the corner. I am waiting in the green field.