What makes us "us"?
Since Covid, I've spent countless hours studying the culture of the indigenous people of America, the Indians, as my great-grandfather referred to them. Over the years, I also studied the Irish culture, especially a delicate little dance referred to as the jig and, of course, a certain powerful pale drink that stops one's heart briefly before soothing a hacking cough from years of chronic bronchitis. What do the two have in common?
Art by Quinton Maldonado and Barry Maguire.
The horse, of course. Many Irish fled an emerald island with a history that echoed from the Druids and came here as virtual slaves during the potato famine. An entire continent of red men derived their sustenance from the rich resources of the America's until colonists from Europe set out to take those resources for themselves. Despite what both groups suffered as a people, there's a common strand that links their hearts to mine. Their horses.
Horse people know it. The feeling of being drawn to horses is innate, alive within us from our first breath. There's no rhyme nor reason to who becomes a "horse person" although the ability to own horses sometimes abounds in families of abundance, It also beats in the heart of the poorest child who merely dreams of riding, the young boy who mounts his broomstick and canters on urban streets, the toddler who extends her fingers to the velvet nose of a police horse standing on the curb of a crowded downtown corner.
There would be no warriors riding into battle without horses, no chariots pounding the dusty floor of the coliseum. There would be no swirling skirts and tinkling bells around a blazing fire beneath the stars, no stirring images of vast herds of buffalo, painted men riding amongst them armed with nothing more than a handmade lance or bow. There would be no vaqueros with their big horned saddles and whirling ropes and no cowboys without the horse. What a boring world it would be. Around the world, horses, like music and sports, unite us and make "horse people" who we are.