Monday, January 21, 2013

Judges, Kings and Horses

Freedom through the hands of Chuck
Remembering Judges, Kings, and the Sovereign Individual
Bailey, ER, the Tejon retinto, and the Tom Threepersons horse
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

As I escorted Kathy from our daughter, Stephanie’s, wedding, he was in the back in Concordia smiling and waving. With his hat on his lap, a silver slide was snugged up against his fire engine red wild rag. There sat a genuine Californio … a real vaquero.
            I can’t remember who introduced me to Chuck Hitchcock, but to whom it was I offer belated thanks. Chuck will be one of the great friendships of life.
            I do remember a first image of him. He was in his round pen ponying a horse. He called for little Roxie to come in to get on the horse. Roxie was just a kid then … 14 if she fudged. Beautiful child, she didn’t weigh anything. She came through the gate and waited as Chuck snubbed the colt closer to that big palomino he used at that stage of his process.
            Roxie came to the horse when Chuck nodded and mounted him with quiet, outward confidence. Chuck let the horse balance himself and then left in a trot.
Roxie’s mom must have lived through a thousand deaths. There was this gorgeous little girl whose mama wanted nothing more than for her to be a lady, and she’d constantly sneak off to be with Chuck and ride those horses. She got good, but Chuck’s mentorship made her better.
            Every person needs a Chuck Hitchcock in their life.
            Old Testament Lessons
            I have stated that I am drawn to Old Testament lessons. Somehow my limited understanding of things is more open for impression and interpretation. Such is the case of Judges and Kings.
            I believe those books provide a good portion of the foundation of our Constitution. Both books have boiled down to simple conclusions for me.
 “God, we gotta’ have judges down here to make sure things are fair!” Man said. “There are too many of us on the short end of the stick.”
            “No, my children, you don’t have to have judges to make things fair, but, if you absolutely insist,” God conceded, “go ahead.”
            Of course, there was ultimate disappointment and the people clamored for more fairness.
            “Hey, God … we’re not getting our share of the goods!” Man complained. “These judges are corrupt and play favorites … we need an ultimate decision maker!”
            God had to be disappointed. He had warned of the fallout of judges. He knew what the outcome would be. Mostly, though, he must have been disappointed at the suggestion most dismissive to his existence. These humans wanted a King!
            “No, my children, you don’t have to have an earthly king …” He said. “But, go ahead and seek such a being.”
            That, of course, ended in disappointment, too.  The King system expanded the same litany of disappointments. Corruption, favoritism, self aggrandizement, and distance from the most basic of worldly sovereignty prevailed. Nothing changed. Chances are good a modern assessment would reveal the only thing conclusive was freedoms were eroded dramatically.
            So, 200 generations or so later, a group of men gathered in Philadelphia and mapped another model. In their mind, expanded by Biblical study and debate, they conceptualized what was new and yet foundational from the start of time. They created the idea that the individual, the sovereign individual, was the cornerstone of the only system that was truly sustainable.
            In retrospect, it is likely that only four or five of those men actually grasp the true appreciation and comprehension of what they set in motion. How many exist today is similarly sparse … certainly the minority.
What is clearly revealed is that at least 50% of the electorate is nothing more than contemporary counterparts of the mobs who cried for Judges and the Kings. Their emphasis of existence is what they perceive they don’t have, have been convinced they don’t have, or, more correctly represented, covet.
It is long past time to call this spade a spade. This mob is sucking our freedom away, it always has, and it might be a critical, fundamental dilemma to our existence.
The honesty of horses
Those of us who are fortunate to live in a world with little firewall against failure sometimes have the honor of being with the horses on which Hitchcock and others have placed their hands. This near spiritual relationship is often difficult to express.
I don’t profess to have ridden enough horses, but I do profess to have ridden only a few truly good ones. The rest were like me … attempting earnestly to seek adequacy.
I am going to include a mare we have as one of the good ones. Bailey stands about 60’ away from me as I type, and, if I went outside, she would likely nicker at me negotiating a feed deal. She is a better cowboy than I am. She is extremely athletic and beyond that she is courageous. She doesn’t get along with everybody, and, interestingly, that includes our oldest granddaughter who is reaching a point she rides most horses better than anybody. Neither of them likes the other.
Two other horses in my life earn worthiness of mention. The first was a government horse. He was nothing to look at and weighed maybe 875 pounds, but he had the biggest motor I ever witnessed. His left ear was split and he had a monstrous, ugly ER branded on his left hip which gave him his name … Her with a silent H.
We never worked cattle on him but I would suspect he was or could have been a superb cow horse. We packed him and rode him. We kept shoes on him just because, but he could have been left barefoot. Your hands would ache after trimming him.
He tolerated fools lightly.
Once, we turned the pack string loose ahead of us coming down Little Creek. ER left taking everything with him. We cussed him as we followed in a high trot. Where the new trail left to merge (unbeknownst to us) with the old Ring Canyon Trail the string followed him without hesitation. By then we were trying to head him and he only backed his ears and shifted gears. When he topped out we began seeing old blazes as the remnants of the old trail started becoming apparent. From there, we just let him go. Never had we covered that country any faster or easier. He knew a whole lot more than we did, and, by the time we got to Gila Center, we never questioned that horse again.
I didn’t know the Tejon retinto at all. I read about the horse in the Rojas book and I heard my little cadre of vaquero friends talk about his legend. It was Chief himself who wrote in third person about the idiot that the little black roan horse dumped on the side of a Tehachapi slope, and, then, proceeded to finish the gather himself. When the vaqueros arrived to help hold the cattle, the Tejon retinto was making weltes around the herd with his ears laid back holding rodear himself.
When the kid finally arrived, it was Don Jesus who asked him what had happened.
The kid didn’t answer, but asked who had ridden the horse.
 Don Jesus revealed it was Adolfo Encinas.
“A de ver sido muy buen vaquero,” was what Rojas represented he’d said.
Indeed, it had to have been a very good vaquero to have partnered with such a horse to allow the horse to become as good as he was.
It was the same thing the day I had the honor to ride the Tom Threepersons horse. With no wing to help, we put a load of weaned calves into a pen in the middle of a flat by ourselves. Kermit Davis shut the gate behind us. He only nodded to me, but I knew full well what his gesture implied.
After we started the calves, I never touched the horse’s mouth. I rode him with my heals. It was inspiring. The horse alone offered me that most important lesson.
What a horse he was! He gave back to me in a few minutes what Tom Threepersons had given him … freedom.
The Lesson
Freedom to act and to interact … what a powerful and important lesson!
The mob could use lessons from good horses. The problem is they would have to do it by themselves. Therein lays the problem. They don’t know what sovereignty is because they can’t venture there alone.
Chuck could have helped. He demonstrated that with horses and people. He protected both until they willingly emerged to protect themselves. He offered freedom.
Most people have no concept of that. As a result, we are in big trouble.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “An ambassador from what old California once was … Chuck Hitchcock was a true gentleman.”

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