Seeds of Inspiration, by Al Dunning
Excerpt taken from Al Dunning The Ultimate Level of Horsemanship
Inspiration (in-spi-ra-tion): Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
Part of inspiration is dreaming. Dreaming of greatness, of perhaps doing something you saw someone else do and were awed by, or even dreaming of doing something no one has ever done. The horse inspires such dreams in many people.
What is it about the horse that so inspires people? Undoubtedly, it has to do with the idea that the horse is a large, powerful animal with wild instincts, and yet with the right knowledge, man is able to direct this creature and persuade him to do what he desires. Riding on the back of a horse, with all his power and energy, is similar to having a dream that you can fly. He can run faster and stop quicker than you can, and you have all this power underneath you that you feel connected with.
Tapping into that speed and power are part of the allure. So why not just get a fast car? Because there is something deeply thrilling about the interaction with another living creature. You don’t have to use your brain to outsmart a car. Barring some mechanical defect, it will do whatever you ask it to do, but our brainpower is the only edge we have when dealing with horses. Their physical strength could overpower us at any time. All we can hope for is to outthink them, or if we’re highly skilled, to think like them.
We don’t even mind that things don’t always go our way when working with a horse. We humans like a little adversity, and in fact, adversity can inspire us. Part of the thrill of horsemanship is that each day with a horse, something new can happen, be it a challenge or a new triumph. That keeps horsemanship ever exciting.
But what really inspires great horsemen is love. There are different kinds of love for the horse. Some may love the horse for its beauty and are content to feed and handle it as they would a pet. But the horse trainer’s love for the creature is of a different nature. The best way I can describe it is that it’s a love for the way a horse, with the right guidance, can become a great athlete. It’s the thrill of knowing that you can mold and train it in the direction for which it was predestined before it was born.
When the horse is willing-when it has heart- that creates euphoria for a horseman he can’t get from any other source. And to say a cowboy can feel euphoria over anything is really saying something! I am really talking about several types of love combined: Love for the horse, love for the work, the love of being a cowboy, and love for the Western lifestyle.
It isn’t every creature that can inspire that kind of love in a cowboy. There’s something about the horse itself that drives a horseman’s continual quest to find the next champion. Once they get the bug, they can’t shake it.
And last, I think inspiration comes from an element in horsemanship that allows us to get nearer to the natural world- something very instinctive and very ancient that brings us closer to the core elements of who we are. Humans need that ancient connection, especially in today’s urbanized world. In fact, the appeal of the Western lifestyle to many is its association with freedom, nature, and our deepest sources of satisfaction. And at the center of the Western lifestyle is the horse.
About the Author: Arizona horseman, Al Dunning, has owned and operated his “Almosta Ranch” since 1970. The Quarter Horse training facility is in Scottsdale, Arizona. Born in Chicago in 1950, Al’s family moved to Arizona when he was 8 years old. He began riding horses with his sisters and went on to further his talents with mentors such as Jim Paul, John Hoyt and Don Dodge. Over the years, Al developed his multi-faceted business with a focus on the development of champion horses and riders. Al married his wife Becky in 1971. Becky is a well-known horse show announcer, and co-founded America’s Horse Cares, a division of the AQHA foundation which focuses on therapeutic riding charities. The Dunnings have two children, Grady and McKenzie Parkinson. Al has been a professional trainer since 1970. His expertise in all facets of western events have elevated him to great success in the AQHA, NRHA, NRCHA, and NCHA. Al has developed a winning tradition with quarter horses that is well documented. He trains, conducts clinics, and consults for ranch development and equestrian planning. Learn more about Al and his programs at www.teamadinternational.com – a membership website featuring the training methods and best practices of World Champion Al Dunning.
[Excerpt from Al Dunning’s book: “The Ultimate Level of Horsemanship”.]
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