Essays of an Equestrian

As you know I have just become a published author. In celebration of this event I write the following as a tribute to those I must credit. Were it not for them being there for me, I probably would not have taken on such an endeavor.

Mentor is a small, big word. Only six letters long its size conceals the life altering effect having a mentor can have on someone’s life, whether it is within or outside of the horse world.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had three mentors. Two of those were teachers and the third rather like a second mother to me. All three contributed equally to the forming of who I was to become, both in and outside the horse world.

The first, a high school teacher, probably has no idea that I consider him a mentor. He was the first to appreciate my quirky creativity and who told me I had a talent for writing. He believed in me and encouraged me as no one else had previously done and because of his encouragement I began to feel like I had an actual talent for something other than horses.

He would often tell me I was brilliant in my creativity and to be honest, I kind of liked that! Plus that kind of unbridled freedom I felt because of his unabashed endorsements really empowered me to become even more creative. No matter the writing assignment he would offer I’d find a way to swing the topic to have some sort of equine relevance.

There is one equine related story which has stayed fresh in my mind even after all these years.

He had given me an assignment and although I don’t remember specifically what the topic was to be, I do remember he wanted a lot of descriptive words to be used. He wanted us to form pictures with our words.

I remember thinking “I can do that”.

So I wrote a story about my relationship with my horse and in one section it went something like this:

“In quiet times, when it was just my horse and I sharing life silently with one another, I’d often find myself just gazing  into his large, bright mahogany brown eyes. I’d relax with my face so close to his that his warm, sweet breath would gently caress the sensitive skin on my neck. I’d stare into those eyes for hours as he looked into the distance, and I wondered if he was seeing those things that were present now or perhaps remembering some distant time. Perhaps it was a memory of running with his mother and the other colts through lush fields of sweeping, fertile grass. Grass which colored so deeply green that in the amber hues of the setting sun would slowly fade to a deep and lavish blue. It was during one of these silent bonding moments that I spoke to him in velvet whisper, telling him of my love and admiration for him.

Then, he sneezed. Arrows of green snot shot at me as if suddenly released from a cannon, scattering like buckshot upon my white shirt. In an instant a lime green design boasted thinner in some spots, more robust in others.”

Suffice it to say he absolutely loved the piece. Loved it to the point as I had to stand up and read it to the whole class. As I read, I watched them get captured in the lofty moments of sunshine and teddy bears before I hit them with my arrows of green snot. Then, as the arrows struck their mark , I got to watch them become bewildered for a moment before the comprehension set in. Then of course I enjoyed the reaction with all it’s “ewwws” and “gross!” moans.

I was hooked. Look at the power I had to manipulate their little minds just with a flowery arrangement of some silly words. Yes, Mr. Ira Shatzman taught me that.

Not too long ago I googled his name and actually found him. We’ve spoken and I’ve told him how much he’s meant to me. It was his words which gave me the balls to start this. I also know he’s reading this now. How cool is that?

So, if I write anything stupid, you can just blame it on Mr. Shatzman…..

My next mentor was the mother of one of my equestrian friends. She too always supported me and in the horse world she had my back and would go to bat for me when I wanted to get involved in different areas in the horse world, whether it be showing or being active in equestrian or civic groups.

She taught me about people and their behaviors and how to fight long and hard for those things you believe in and she led by her own example. She would routinely fight stupidity with intelligence and her motives proved pure and noble.

She always spoke highly of me, both to me and to others. She actually believed I was a person worth knowing and she would scream it from the rooftops on my behalf were it needed.

Unfortunately she passed way too soon and way too young. I knew at the time of her passing that she meant the world to me but it wasn’t until afterward that I realized how truly significant her presence in my life had been. It wasn’t until real world struggles were made easier by the skills I’d acquired with her in the horse world that I fully realized the huge impact she’d made on my life.

See, that’s the thing with mentors; Often you don’t realize they are your mentor until they are gone.

My third mentor is solidly entrenched in the horse world as an internationally recognized dressage Master and if you’ve read my many blogs regarding him you know of whom I am speaking. A reading of those blogs makes it apparent why I would choose him. Besides, who better than to be a mentor than Walter A. Zettl. I can think of no better person.

I can only hope that each of you reading has your own mentor and that they are deserving of your trust and adoration.

Choose wisely.

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The good will of the horse is like the scent of a rose. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.