Reflecting on mastery
I find it ironic that in “The Quest for Mastery” (Conformation Insights, EQUUS 479), Deb Bennett, PhD, lauds mounted bullfighter Angel Peralta Pineda as “probably the greatest rider of our time,” then says about him, “Great empathy for animals of all species is another universal characteristic of master horsemen.” Apparently the empathy in this case did not extend to the bulls.
This acceptance of bullfighting is also ironic given that Bennett is so critical of the horse show world. I’ve had the good fortune to grow up with horses under the tutelage of my horseman father. Even so, I also learned a lot from taking part in local saddle club and 4-H shows---the very type of event that Bennett pokes fun at as the “Flatbottom Horse and Pony Show.” While participants at such shows are not perfect, I’ve seen few kids or adults who couldn’t get their horses to pick up leads, move on and off the rail, and negotiate trail class obstacles, among other skills. In my case I used these shows as springboards to bigger and
more sophisticated competition.
For 40 years my husband and I bred, trained and showed our Morgans very successfully, and I continue to be a practitioner of classical dressage, not for competition but for the training benefits. While I have witnessed some greedy trainers and owners doing regrettable things to win ribbons, these people are in the minority.
One of Bennett’s points I do agree with is that if you wish to achieve mastery, you can’t “dabble.” You have to be willing to take the long journey of work and learning. Barbara S. Holstein Belmont, Ohio
I just read your magazine from cover to cover, as usual, and felt compelled to write to thank Deb Bennett, PhD, for her absolutely wonderful article about mastery as it relates to horsemanship. It resonated with me on so many levels. I wish I had had access to such horse masters as she had the opportunity to meet and work with over the years.
Then I read “Proof Positive,” the True Tale in the same issue, and was moved to tears at times reading the author’s description of the bond she formed with her mare, Cheyenne. We can all only hope to one day be able to share such an experience with our own horse partners. Shirley Tkachuk Edmonton, Alberta