Pensar la tradición

A man rides a horse through the flames during the «Luminarias» annual religious celebration on the eve of Saint Anthony’s day, Picture taken January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Susana Vera TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX22PSH

Repetir y repetir

«No estamos condenados a los mismos errores y a las mismas rutinas. El tiempo no se repite. El tiempo es una aventura de la libertad».
Eduardo Galeano

Soy amante de lo tradicional, la manera en que se entretejen las culturas en la trama del tiempo. Si el arte tradicional exige el precio de una vida de esclavitud innecesaria (hoy día), ahí topa la ética con la estética de lo tradicional y lo costumbrista. Y ahí no tengo dudas. La ética es lo primero. Entiendo que el hombre siempre ha querido preservar sus tradiciones y bellas costumbres ya que estas forman también parte de la identidad colectiva e individual. África u oriente y otros lugares conservan tradiciones importantes y maravillosas, pero hay tradiciones y tradiciones. La ablación femenina, tradicional en muchos países*, es una práctica cultural que debe ser enterrada y condenada al olvido por más que provenga del patrimonio cultural de algunos pueblos. Lo mismo se puede decir de la tortura de animales en festividades tradicionales de occidente y américa, que provienen de un pasado ininteligible a la luz de nuestra comprensión de los animales actual.
*Según la Organización Mundial de la Salud, más de 200 millones de personas han sufrido mutilación genital femenina, y aproximadamente 3 millones de niñas corren el riesgo de sufrir la espeluznante costumbre cada año.

Repeat and repeat

«We are not doomed to the same mistakes and the same routines. Time does not repeat itself. Time is an adventure of freedom.»
Eduardo Galeano

I am a lover of the traditional, the way in which cultures are interwoven in the plot of time. If traditional art demands the price of a life of unnecessary slavery (nowaday),then they collide ethics with aesthetics of the traditional and the traditions. And there I have no doubts. Ethics comes first. I understand that men has always wanted to preserve their traditions and beautiful customs, since these are also part of the collective and individual identity. Africa or the East and other places retain important and wonderful traditions, but there are traditions and traditions. Female ablation, traditional in many countries*, is a cultural practice that must be buried and condemned to oblivion even if it comes from the cultural heritage of some peoples. The same can be said of the torture of animals in traditional festivities of the West and America, which come from an unintelligible past in the light of our current understanding of animals.

David @elsilenciodeloscaballos

*according to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million people have undergone female genital mutilation, and roughly 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing the grisly custom each year.

Horse respect

Real respect from the horse to her human companion, is far from being that way of imposition of our arbitrariness – usually called «respect» in animal training’s common language . Respect comes from horse’s understanding and her desire to be with us, from experience love and acceptance that we lavish towards her nature and individuality at every moment. Respect the horse is to love her essence and not desire change her. «No horse owes us nothing, nor is obliged to obey us».

El Silencio de los Caballos, 2015

The first encounter

What must be understood is that the base of the relationship and since the beginning of our interaction – because from the first encounter we should be acting from the greatest respect and consideration- we should know with certainty that the horse feels, knows, and recognizes her self freedom.

Although it sounds strange to someones, freedom comes first and then respect and dialogue. The horse’s body is yours, not us, and her spirit is our teacher. The horse is always right and we just must follow him on the way to our heart.

with Mapu




«Most people think that communication is talking, saying something. True communication is to listen, because if nobody hears the talk it is useless «

There may be a dialogue based on body language, spoken language, or written language. Dialoging is something different than reacting, even different than communicating because the complexity and richness of the dialogue exceeds them. There is a dialogue when there is more than words or messages, when there is more than body language. I can say something and the other can hear it, but there may be no dialogue.
We learn how horses communicate or how to communicate things to them, but dialogue, or what I would call dialogue, implies a different interaction that is produced by the active participation of both and agreement (or disagreement). It is not necessarily a matter of learning ethology, or telepathy, but rather respect for the freedom of the other and of considering the horse as an equal. For me, there must be the encounter of two worlds, of two realities, of two interpretations that try to reflect one another to understand one another. In this way we will build with the other a language to communicate, to share and to know each other.

David Castro

translated by Stormy May

Assumptions vs Recognition

The assumption that there is a technique, a method or an instrument to achieve the relationship we dream of with a horse is a fantasy current in today’s equestrian New Age. I find myself again and again being in the situation of having to explain this to many people, even some who would never dare to think in this way in other aspects of their lives. Thus people try new horsemanship techniques one after another, methods of taming and putting in their bag dozens of tricks; horses that rear, horses that are mounted without reins, who lie down or perform prodigious jumps and other «feats», that give the appearance of an intimate and special bond and communication with horses.
All this illusion collapses with a little psychological or physiological knowledge. The «beauty» of equestrian sport withers with the overwhelming evidence of the suffering of horses exposed to neurocranial shock and the punishment of so called «aids.» The fantasy of the intimate bond that the «soft» taming generates fades into understanding the effects of learned helplessness and operant conditioning.
This experience provides the knowledge that techniques are secondary aspects, and that the essence of the relationship and the capacity for dialogue between humans and horses is the desire to please one another. Referring to the results that are usually seen (in demonstrations or at equestrian shows), which are the most well known, I think everyone knows that you can teach all the tricks or even all the elements of the classic Haute Ecole, and not even touch the experience of a spontaneous relationship guided by respect, dialogue, or interest, free from pressure or bribery. The tricks themselves do not transform us inside or produce dialogues between horse and person. They only do so insofar as they aid the induction or production of a common language and a healthy bond. One can study techniques for years and become a master in them, but ultimately one will be the same as twenty years ago, with greater skills in trick training, clicker training or natural taming. The interest in the horse as someone with whom we want to bond, before leading us to any trick, must be such that only when that relationship happens, it satisfies and helps us realize ourselves. That is where real change is operating, and it is operating in the horse people. “The point is that the main secret of a special relationship with the horse, which gives a human the amazing skills of communicating with him is” the understanding of the horse’s true nature and love and recognition of his right to freedom.

About Horses & Riders

Throughout my life with horses I have found many people who say they do not like horseback riding, or simply cannot do it.
Have you ever wondered what it means to ride?
Historically and in 99.9 percent of cases riding a horse means one body over another, one mind over another, a heart on the other, a will on another, … and in all cases in an imposed way. This is the scheme of domination. I’ve noticed that for many people it is hard to impose on others, they do not like it, or they prefer equality relations. What I once associated slightly with weakness today seems so understandable …Even admirable.

«A horse without a rider is still a horse. A rider without a horse is just a man » Stanislaw Jerzy Lec.

Words are wonderful, but sometimes their relationship with the reality they are intended to represent or describe is, in a way, complicated. It would be appropriate to wonder in this case, about the meaning of rider, and its implications in the horse’s life. I speak of the role that man strives to fulfill. It would be like wondering about the word jailer and his implication in the lives of others, … or executioner.
Perhaps the relationship horse-rider is a «game»of roles in which, of course, there is no possibility of changing roles – can the horse ever become a rider? In principle one controls and another is controlled. Interestingly, in that sentence, when we mention horse and rider we are talking about roles. When I say man and horse …no.

A horse without a rider is not still a horse*. At the moment the rider leaves the role to be a man, the horse* is free to be a horse.

Of course, whenever a man approaches a horse as a Man, the horse will always be a Horse.

The Silence of Horses,  chapter I .  El silencio de los Caballos,  David Castro  2015

Note: *The word horse is here synonymous of mount and describes the role that I assign to the animal. Horse means here : nag, mount, charger, hack, palfrey, bronco, hunter, packhorse, plug. It’s like saying husband.