There are horse trainers, horse traders and horse whisperers. There are show men, show boaters and show offs. There are fast talkers and would be magicians.
But then there are true Horsemen and Horsewomen, and these are harder to find and sometimes even harder to recognize because they are often tucked away in quiet hidden places, working slowly and silently without national recognition or appreciation.
Often times, the true horseman or woman does not have the most horses in training or those horses that are exceptionally bred or high priced. Often times, the true Horsemen and Women do not have access to big money owners or run through dozens and dozens of prospects in order to find the few that can take the pressure of aged event prize money or high profile exhibition. Many times, the true horsemen and women are slow and steady, methodical and patient, training on an individual horse's timeline and not to a rigid show schedule set by the seasons or show management.
These people recognize a horse's physical and mental capabilities and showcase their assets without sacrificing their bodies or minds. Horsemen and women take their time developing their horses' skills and confidence through a traditional steps, one before the next, placing just as much credence in their teaching relationship and equine partnership as they do in show pen results. Horsemen and women are humble because their reward comes from within; from knowing that they have taught through kindness, patience, fortitude, and logic. Their rewards coming from creating a confident horse that works with them and not for them, horses that are not scared or intimidated, horses with solid foundations that last season after season and that carry a gamut of riders from the experienced non pro to the Amateur to the Green Reiner. Always Dedicated. Always Patient. Always Consistent. Whether it be riding young horses, resurrecting older horses, or maintaining the Steady Eddy, a True Horseman is one of the first ones to throw a leg over in the morning and one of the last ones to pull their boots off in the evening.
Horsemen and women are a pleasure to watch in the arena or on the ranch as they diligently and patiently impart their knowledge and logic to both horses and students.
In an era where the horse industry is so economically driven and success is measured primarily in prize money and accolades, the tradition of the true horseman and the process of training horses seems to be changing; giving way to an assembly line mentality where immediate success and financial compensation take precedence over handcrafted quality and longevity. Dedicated to their craft, loyal to their students, ambitious, hardworking and a role model for anyone interested in making their way in an industry dominated by pressure to build great animals in less and less time, old fashioned horsemen are women are now Artisans, assets to our heritage and traditions and harder and harder to find.
A thoughtful teacher, a thorough instructor, a gentle hand, a firm guide, a rational yet fearless showman, the greatest compliment that I think could ever be given to someone who works with horses, is to be thought of as a Horseman.