I also notice who else was here on the grounds this morning by 8AM….some amazing horsemen, some doing a light ride, some hand walking a horse, some actually cleaning tack, some in the office doing entries. Most of these were the ‘old timers’ from a generation or two ago…where were our young trainers or young assistants. YES, there were some here but the glaring observation was NOT MANY!
I fear the horsemen commitment of long ago is fading fast in the sport and being replace by the love to win, especially after a very hot day at a horse show. A horsemen does not mean only winning, it means taking responsibility for the comfort and life and care of the horses with a passion and a heart throbbing love far bigger than what happens in the ring. It means they want to know everything about each horse. It means they still consider themselves privileged to be a part of this.
I watched one of the long-time trainers this morning walking into every stall in their barn. He would stop at every stall, feed a carrot and pet the horse for a moment and then on to the next one, there was nothing hurried about it. The reality is he was checking each horse in each stall and loving every minute of the personal touch of each one! Another trainer was sitting on a berm olding a lead rope and watching a horse graze. Another was washing water buckets to give her grooms a break. Another was having a cup of coffee under a tree with two interns getting ready for their week while they watched a horse from yesterdays Grand Prix hand walk in the ring just to make sure it was OK today.
Some new arrivals here at HITS COACHELLA (one from back east) were marking stall signs with emergency information and helping the grooms with the set up…also an older generation.
My point to this is simple….to become a craftsman in anything, especially horses, requires “us” to be committed to insuring a dedicated skill and passion be passed on to the ‘next’ generation. And I am afraid in many instances we have missed and possibly failed them completely by settling for, and accepting, less.
BUT in reality, it only becomes a part of the people who strive to be the next generation of a craftsman’s life if the heart and soul of that individual is deeply committed to the horse first. Someone else cannot pass on the love and fascination of the work, they either have it or they don’t …..it’s a natural part of a horseman’s DNA that is as important to them as the air they breathe. Those of us out here can help educate and instruct the work, BUT the ‘in your blood’ part cannot be taught.
I call it a blood disease with no cure … it becomes a part of every waking moment for us.
Our sport needs more than winners, we already have a lot of those!!
It needs the next generation to have the ‘DNA blood disease’ I speak of and be as deeply committed to the welfare and care of the horses as the ones I see at the show EARLY on these show mornings, especially Mondays after a horrifically hot weekend of competing. OF COURSE you can say “I had a hard week/day, it was hot and I hired people to do that!”….and yes you may have. But if you don’t personally know your horses, especially after a hot-stressful day, you are missing a great deal of the love and dedication so evident in the trainers of years gone by.
Maybe that is one of the biggest missing spokes of our ‘wheel’!