The question of where and when something new begins is thus not always an easy one to answer. Think, for example, of Michelangelo's first brush stroke onto the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Where previously the ceiling had been painted simply blue with golden stars, there ... now was the beginning of what was to be something extraordinary, something priceless, magnificent.
And so, we ask, at what point do we recognize the beginning of something, and say, “Ah, that was when it all began”? How far back do you have to go to find the true origin of something great?
To begin a masterpiece like that of Michelangelo, there was of necessity that first stroke of the brush. Yet you could argue that the beginning was even before that. Perhaps, someone might contend, the beginning was with the initial construction of the scaffolding, although it, itself, had to be redone. Or, another might say that the beginning was even before that, when the idea of a magnificent painting, on the ceiling of the chapel, first occurred to the mind of Pope Julius II.
The question of the nature of earliest origins can be an important one. It can be asked, for example, how a child becomes first engaged with horses and learning to ride, how they are best introduced. Often, there is much that happens before that first moment of sitting on a horse. A little boy or girl, for example, might see horses grazing peacefully through a car window while on a family trip and develop a longing. Or perhaps this happens on a school trip to an agricultural Fair. There needs to be an opportunity for falling in love with the whole idea of horses and riding, if that love is to take root and develop.
And then we might ask, when does a great friendship with a particular horse begin? Perhaps you fall in love when you first see the horse in full flight, its mane caught by the breeze produced by its own speed. Or maybe a bonding happens when you first enter a barn on a spring day and this particular, beautiful, horse immediately neighs at you upon seeing you.
The beginning of the riding of a horse is well before you put your left foot into the stirrup. The riding depends on the relationship and that relationship begins with a moment of first greeting. The rider obtains a first impression of the horse, and the horse has a first impression of the rider. This is often, but not always, when the first touch happens, when, in the words of Monty Roberts, you “[rub] with the flat of your hand (no patting) the horse’s forehead.” A hand reaching out to touch the forehead of a horse, and the horse’s allowing it, is the beginning of something special.
We want to explore this idea of beginning a little further by welcoming Jeffrey Beausoleil who not too long ago made a start in his riding career.
[Conversation with Jeffrey Beausoleil]
Sometimes we have to make a start to begin something when we don’t have everything we need. If we wait for things to be perfect, we might never actually begin. Sometimes we never get everything we need.
To begin something new is an act of faith in oneself, and in the future. It is, in its own way, an affirmation of life itself.
To begin something new implies a courageousness. Beginning something new also implies the need for the determination and endurance in order to complete it. Not sure of its outcome, having had much more experience with sculpture than with paint, that first brush stroke was, indeed, an act by Michelangelo of courage, faith, determination and beauty.
In Jeffery’s case, to get onto a one-thousand-pound animal, whose natural defense mechanism is to bolt and flee, or buck to get rid of an unwanted rider, also took courage.
We need beginnings. We need the courage to start something new, and to do so even in the face of not having everything we need. We need them in order to grow into who we are capable of becoming. In a way, we are ourselves made new by our very efforts to make something else new. We are made new by our very efforts to begin.
As a rider at 60 years old, I believe that all can benefit from the secret of riding. I myself, raised with a British background, take inspiration from the Queen who continues to ride at 94 years old. I believe that the same can be true for today’s youth. Riding can give them hope that they can overcome the challenges that they face and give them the confidence to become all that they can.
I was moved by the calls I received after my interview with Libby Znaimer from women and men who told me their stories of their love of horses and riding. They told me how riding set them up to overcome their circumstances. Some came out of the Depression, some out of World War II... these riders did not let these experiences dampen their efforts to achieve a full and happy life and make a contribution to their respective communities. All mentioned that riding helped immeasurably in this. They believe that riding gave them the confidence in themselves and in their ability to do something ... to go after what they wanted their lives to be.
If you are interested in sharing your experiences of horses, whether of riding or not, in the past, or more recently, on my show on Zoomer Radio, please contact me at ByTheLoveOfHorses@redscarfequestrian.ca Susan Jamieson
By The Love Of Horses is written by Doug Allen, a student of history at the University of Toronto, who believes in the need to be versed in country things. Doug’s father travelled extensively by horse on the Canadian prairies and his uncle as a small boy wept at the passing of a family horse. He is writing a novel set in Winnipeg, Canada exploring the nature of indigenous and non-indigenous relations and what it means to come home.
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Listen to the Podcasts of previous shows: https://www.zoomerradio.ca/podcasts/by-the-love-of-horses/