As a child, my life’s destiny seemed apparent. Prolific and gifted from the start, I saw the world around me differently. During the springtime of my life the circus made her indelible impression. I knew what I wanted to do. At sixteen I played the drums in the circus band, painted images on the trucks and dreamt of performing.
The years went by. I began to learn circus horsemanship from the old-timers. I started with ponies. I absorbed the discipline of liberty training while my six-pony act developed. I performed with my wonderful group of six palominos and that became my primary livelihood. That and sign painting became the perfect small business for me. Incidentally, the ponies were really what made me such a good painter, because when we weren’t working, they kept right on eating. Sign painting was the perfect trade to use anyplace, during my time off.
Next, I began to learn the tricks of the Ménage on my first horse, a quarter horse. He would kneel, bow, lay-down, sit-up and march as part of his repertoire. Sign painting and circus horsemanship continued.
Later, I was introduced to another training specialty known as Haute E’cole, or a horse schooled to the highest level. This was commonly referred to as a high school horsemanship.
My choice of mounts became the American Saddlebred. During the eighties, I performed with an elegant mare named Class n Sass who danced her way into hearts during circus performances from California to New England. One highlight, the result of a special invitation to Dallas, was to perform for the society of Saddlebred aficionados at the Big D Saddle Horse Show.
My next horse, a 16.2 Saddlebred gelding “Souveran” as an eight-year-old, won first place at the Sarasota Int’l Circus Festival and Talent Competition. He was also featured in the American Saddlebred Association Versatility Issue of 1992. My passion continued. I still aspired to shine.
With the advent of the computer, the onetime exclusive realm of the artisan was invaded. I was fortunate to find a niche for hand-painted work on motorhomes. Also affected were jobs with the circus, not so much by the computer but by a combination of foreign talent competition, the influence of animal activists and the decline in attendance by the children of today who are satisfied with electronic diversions.
In the middle of my life, I had the opportunity to meet and work with a very special and influential woman Dorita Konyot. I actually felt Dorita’s influence long before I ever met her. The hands of her family had influenced horsemanship all across this land including the riding instructors I had worked with.
When I first arrived at her farm, the result of being referred by John Herriott, I asked her to watch me ride. I saddled up my gelding and demonstrated his many movements. I showed her his high steps, the bow and the stretch I had taught him. Soon thereafter Dorita Konyot accepted me as her student. For several years she provided private lessons between my tours. The result became our close connection.
Although her eyesight grew dim and lengthy sessions taxed her, she still had plenty to teach. As Dorita and I became close, she revealed something startling to an enthusiastic yet conceited horseman. She gave me a review of our history.
Her comments that first day, although designed to be helpful and kind promoted an arrogant resistance as evidenced by my response. She later confided that she almost threw me off her farm that day. But for one reason or another she took me under her wing.
As the years went by, she recognized an opportunity to introduce me to myself. She now added a lesson on how the ego will trip us up. She went on to explain the function of the ego. The ego scans our surroundings, experiences, statements, concepts, beliefs and even thoughts with a single motive – to find out that is it is right.
That means the ego driven person is not open to new information. It is only through humility that we allow new information in. That means the arrogant student will not benefit from teachings taking place. Only when a mind is empty will benefit be realized. Dorita carefully handled this subject and made me realize how gifted she was as a teacher, philosopher and a good friend.