A week or two ago, in the same week two people asked to learn more about my life and equestrian journey. I had to admit that I don’t usually talk about my personal life (other than animal stories), but my point of view does come through the subjects that I’ve written about over the past 20 plus years. These kind peoples’ questions started me thinking, though…how did it come to pass that I became an equestrian journalist, author of a training manual best-selling in its Amazon category for nearly 10 years, blogger and publisher? Looking back, my experiences all unfolded and just took on a life of their own. I was looking for something better, something I couldn’t describe other than I did find that over time, I knew it when I saw it.
[copyright Kip Mistral 2023. “Dame de la Brigade des Abeses” by Jean Berain, Illustrator, 1685.]
I spent the pandemic in 18th century France.
For month after month I sift through faded, handwritten registers of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, and a 2,000 page historical almanac of the time. The purpose is to research the lives of several of the King of France’s royal ecuyers, about whom little is really known. (But that will be changing soon.)
(© Kip Mistral 2022. Image “Time Escapes Me” by Betsy C. Knapp used with permission of the artist.)
At the beginning of this New Year 2022, many of us are busy making New Year’s resolutions and other forms of road maps for our goals and what we otherwise want to accomplish during the coming year.
Note I said busy. Because being busy is the opposite of taking time.
When I look around it seems that the majority of people are engaged in busyness, activities that include a horse, or their horse, and they have a more or less proscriptive approach to the inter-relationship. The popular model is that the horse must always be submissive no matter what.
What I really like to see is people just simply spending companionable time with their horse, to deepen the bond between them.
Text extracted from “Reflections on the Art of Horsemanship” by H. J. Heyer © 1968 J. A. Allen & Company Ltd, London. “H. J. Heyer has, in his time, ridden a wide variety of horses both in Europe and in other parts of the world. He regards riding as a very personal affair between horse and rider.” Cover art by Miss Catherine Edkins.
This book is not supposed to be another riding manual–they are a dozen to the dime, nor is it a work on the finer arts of riding. Any attempt to improve on Xenophon, de la Guérinière or Seunig would only, at its best, produce a pointless parallel.
I am, on these pages, simply trying to express a few thoughts of my own on the subject of horsemanship.
(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.”