It’s the movie National Velvet-and a 12 yr. old Elizabeth Taylor lied. The Man from Snowy River came a bit closer, but still fell short. Don’t even start with me about The Horse Whisperer. These are beloved horse movies, watched by horse-crazy girls and boys of all ages. By definition, movies require a suspension of belief from the audience.
My point is that when the rider, Velvet (or whoever) leans forward and whispers into the horse’s ear, The Pi (or whoever)- that part isn’t real. Whispering into a horse’s ear isn’t actually what wins the Grand National. Months of daily training are abbreviated into an ear whisper to move the story along. Even when riders know it’s consistency and commitment that move a horse along, most of us harbor a National Velvet fantasy well past midlife.
I love horse movies- as I rewind and replay, I get inspired. In real life, the race is never won in a few moments. Horses require riders to be so conscious physically and authentic emotionally that there can be no ego or deception. It takes work, the dream isn’t free.
Sometimes Hollywood gets it right. My pick for best real life horse movie is Seabiscuit. It isn’t romantic-parts are gritty and ugly. Jockey Red Pollard says,” You know, everybody thinks we found this broken-down horse and fixed him. But we didn’t. He fixed us; every one of us. And I guess in a way, we kinda fixed each other too.” Still saccharine for sure, but I think that’s how it works.
For professional riders or amateurs, in handicap riding programs or elite equestrian facilities, (and especially this week at our little farm) the experience is the same. Riders are mired deep in challenge and uncertainty, and sometimes out of their comfort zone- but pushing on. There are no miracle cures and no matter where we start, riders each seek their personal, Grand National version of oneness. Horses inspire that in riders and artists and just about everyone else.
It wasn’t true when Walt Disney said that a prince on a white horse would ride up and rescue us either. But some of us went out and got white horses (or brown ones or orange ones), and rescued ourselves. Princes can take forever to get here, but horses can start today. A horse is an affirmation we can strive to be worthy of; working with them makes us better people. We might even inspire princely behavior in others and gasp- they might make a movie…
Anna Blake, AnnaBlakeTraining.com