Monday, April 15, 2013

Horse Magic, a Camera & Ray Hunt

Living in Grant County and on a ranch gives me plenty of photo opportunities from wire fences, old sheds, farm equipment in unique twists of metal, wooden posts, sagebrush and juniper hillsides, even weeds can take on a form of artistry under the camera lens.  Then, there is wildlife; to name a few - there are deer, antelope, hawks, turkeys, an occasional eagle, even domesticated rabbits gone wild.   Elk frequent Grant County in higher elevations, much to both the photographer and hunters delight.    

Then, there is the horse!  Not exactly wildlife as you can tell by the picture below.  Sugar is actually the name of the mare that was nuzzling inside Jim's jacket.  He is a cowboy who has always cared about horses and enjoys raising quality quarter horses in the foundation bloodline.  He passed this appreciation down to our daughters and now, a grandson.   "Sugar in my Pocket"  was one of my  first photos taken with a brand new invention, called a digital camera and I've been hooked ever since.
"Sugar in my Pocket"
Volumes could be written about the horse but I leave that to the experts.  In my simplicity, here are some tidbits of information regarding horses.
-  Throughout the centuries and countries of the world,  a horse has been used in peace and in war, was instrumental in exploration and migration and were vital in transport, whether it was to haul people or supplies.  
-  They were effective as the first mail delivery system known as the pony express and pulled covered wagons in the days of the frontier.   These are just a few of the many roles that a horse has played 
-  Because a horse is an intuitive type of animal, a more recent role is to help children with emotional and physical disorders in equine therapy.  
-  There are different breeds of horses and according to their particular  strengths, can be trained in the specialized interest of their owner.  This could be in the realm of ranch work, rodeo, recreation, show events from cutting horse to dressage and jumping, horse matador and racehorse; all of these and more, which expresses the magic of performance and connection between horse and rider.

For some horse owners, it is almost offensive to call the horse an "animal" since a horse can cross the bridge into the human heart in a deep bond with their owner and they become best pals.  Horses and horse lovers are a breed unto themselves.  They experience a communication with each other that I appreciate from afar.   I say afar since I am much more comfortable with my cat and my camera!   And you know, a horse knows that!!  Since we have come to this understanding (the horse and me), we get along just fine.  I love to photograph these noble animals but I leave the riding to those who enjoy the topside of a saddle, whereas I'd be getting a view from underneath!   It would be wonderful to experience that sense of freedom which horse and rider have as they trail ride together or work cows on the range and in corrals, or gallop across fields in sheer delight of speed and power, or experience competition according to chosen event.
"Heading Home"

The above photo is a group shot of our horses, which were moving down off the hills towards the bottomland.   I call it  'Heading Home' because of their focus and intent in a unison stride to reach greener fields in pastures below.  Horses are herd animals and find their own grouping of friends just as we do in social situations. A horse has been known to intuitively "read" a person because of their instinct in detecting and also sympathizing in problematic areas of the human soul.   This is one of the reasons why they are so successful in therapy for the young (and old) who are disabled in mind and body.

The photo below is one taken of the neighbor's pig who had wandered into the pasture and found himself surrounded by yearling colts.  The colts had not seen such a sight before and were very curious about this strange looking critter that entered their domain.  I captioned the picture 'Alone in a Crowd', as I'm sure that is how the pig was feeling even as we humans can feel in social situations at times.  There is much to be learned from animals just from observation.
"Alone in a Crowd"
Ray Hunt
There was a master horseman and an original horse whisperer, Ray Hunt,  who would give training clinics across the country and was renowned for his expertise in horsemanship.  He developed a technique called "Harmony with Horses".  Some of you may be familiar about him through his clinics and his books.   He has since deceased but his legacy lives on and other trainers have picked up on his methodology and continued on with his style of training. I had the privilege of attending several of his clinics and watched his method of  'becoming one with the horse'.   He would take an unbroken horse and employ a practice in groundwork called flagging, which is the beginning step in conditioning the horse in acceptance.  Ray would know exactly when that horse would begin to trust and yield to him.  The horse, at a certain point in the session, would quit running or walking away from him and stop, look at Ray and walk to him in submission.  Ray would call it as it happened and he predicted correctly each time.  He instinctively knew when that horse would give up and give in to him in trust.  This was the first step of  his process to the actual ride of the horse.  Ray Hunt credited his gain of knowledge from his mentor, Tom Dorrance, who introduced the concept of  'True Unity' with the horse.  I can't help but draw a parallel spiritually... God knows, as our Divine Master, just when we will quit running from Him and give in to trust and yield to His Hand.  And this is what is called  'becoming one with God'  to experience harmony and true unity with the Almighty.

As I stated before, I am not an equestrian but through the lens of a camera, I can study this magnificent animal and gather some sort of knowledge without a direct hands on.  Photographers, generally speaking, look for heart in any given situation to convey a deeper understanding to the viewer The photo below is one such image, which I call 'Hear My Heart'.

"Hear My Heart"
The following are several horse quotes that I share with you:
-  There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.  ~Winston Churchill

-  Look back at our struggle for freedom... Trace our present day's strength to it's source; And you'll find that man's pathway to glory... Is strewn with the bones of the horse. ~Author Unknown

-  Horses lend us the wings we lack.  ~Author Unknown

-  True unity and willing communication between the horse and me is not something that can be handed to someone, it has be learned, it has to come from the inside of a person and inside of the horse. ~ Tom Dorrance

-  A horse doesn't care how much you know, until he knows how much you care..... Pat Parelli

-  Horses make a landscape look beautiful. ~ Alice Walker

-  Give a horse what he needs and he will give you his heart in return. ~ Author Unknown

-  The horse knows...  He knows if you know...  He also   knows if you don't know...  Ray Hunt    

 I hope you have enjoyed this posting as much as I have in putting it together.  For all you horse lovers, you truly understand and live this concept of Horse & Rider; for the rest of us, we can only admire and be a little bit envious of your experience.  HAPPY TRAILS until next Monday at The Turn-Up Patch.


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