Just Being Horses
Fine horses. Great judges of character.
I am thinking about the amazing ride of Aime Tschiffely. In the early 1920s he took two horses from Buenos Aires to New York. The journey was over 10,000 miles. They went over steep Andes mountains, through thick jungles and crossed the desert known as the horse killer, “Mata Caballo”.
It is considered the most famous long ride ever, even though it took place nearly 100 years ago. Many who have set off on long rides after Tschiffely's have done so inspired by his adventure. But, it is the knowledge of Tschiffely's success that has given them the courage to go.
Aime cherished his Criollo horses, Mancha and Gato. He credited a lot of his success to them. They were brave and smart. They jumped crevasses on steep mountain trails, waited without panic for him to rescue them when in danger, crossed a long and wavering swing bridge, forded deep and rapid rivers, avoided quick sand, came back to him when stolen and hung around his camp with out having to be tied.
It is true, that his horses were amazing. They were hardy and had good instincts for survival. They were descendants of wild horses from the plans of Argentina and had grown up on the land. They had experience with quicksand and knew other things to avoid. They were savvy. Built rugged and had good feet. They were not big. Their mileage was good. A lot of walking was done on a little low-quality forage.
Yes Mancha and Gato were extraordinary. Maybe even the best horses for such an undertaking. But they were followers. A horse will not follow far, a man that will not lead. If Tschiffely had not had faith in the success of his voyage, it would have barely begun.
When he left, he was not a good rider. Mancha was barely trained. He bucked almost every rider off. But fear was not to be sniffed in Aime's personality. Confidence was there in droves and the horses took to this. The farther away they got from what they knew the more they stuck to Tschiffely for security and survival.
Tschiffely believed in his horses and in the ultimate success of his voyage. As they approached obstacles along the way, he must have asked himself a thousand times, “How can we over come this?” I bet he never asked, “Can we over come this?”
For this reason, the horses were there for him every step of the 10,000 mile ride. They were there, just being horses and following closely the man who dared to lead them. A man not paralyzed by fear. A man without doubt. A horse will willingly follow such a person. They have many times, across continents, and beyond.
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