, but I'll see if I can add it to my next order. The books are piling up and my wife will get upset if they keep arriving faster than I can read them!
Today's mail included Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters
by Elizabeth Brown Pryor. Skimmed a little of it. There was a Pulitzer Prize winning 4-volume biography of Lee written in the 30s by a guy who saluted a statue of Lee every time he passed it in the public square - no bias there!
For 50 years, it was THE STANDARD biography of Lee, until some historians began to ask questions. The Marble Man
, written in 1978, began to challenge the image. I finished it last month.
Skimming thru it, "Reading the Man" is based largely on letters Lee & his family wrote. That is important. I'm not sure a single autobiography from the Civil War was written honestly. And almost every biography written in the decades after the Civil War had a political motive behind it. That is true on both sides!
There is a page I would like to transcribe and post sometime. It dealt with his experience managing Arlington - his wife's estate - and how he treated the slaves on the estate. The chapter ends pointing out that if someone is totally under your control, they may smile and be polite on the outside while despising or hating you on the inside. Now...horses are not humans. If my horses could live on endless prairie with no predators, endless springtime and endless grass, they'd leave me in a heartbeat. But if the choice is between my corral and the Sonoran Desert, I'm 100% certain they would choose my corral.
Still, the passage reminded me that a horse can offer obedience because he has no realistic choice, or because he trusts your ideas to be fair and even pleasing. Outwardly, it may look the same. Close to the same, at least. But vastly different!
It is like passing a potentially scary object. If a horse isn't afraid, passing it with slack reins is a piece of cake. To the extent I need to tighten the reins, sit firmer and be more directive, my horse is submitting. If the point of the exercise is to finish saying, "See, you silly fellow, there was no danger at all", then it is fine. A learning experience. But tension comes when and to the extent trust leaves!
Maybe it is my personality, or being a military brat, or having spent 25 years in the military, but I find it instinctive to take control. I'm glad I wasn't born to wealth in the South of the 1840s. I don't think I would like the person I would have become. Horses challenge me to become someone else. To seek their willing cooperation, and not be satisfied if I can just gain their submission. That may be their greatest gift to me. Maybe. But they have helped me with anger management and a few other issues as well....