Zanderous: \zan’-d(ə-)rəs\; existing exclusively and mightily as a horse may; perfect.
Every so often the little boy in me – the one that just knew the magician had really sawn a woman in half – comes alive. There are no magicians in the equestrian world - only hard working women and men whose passions, at some point in their lives, found them poised somewhere between exuberance and obsession for these beasts upon whose backs great empires have been won or lost, who, for a time, taunted the industrial age with mighty feats of strength and speed, and who have been forever linked to the settling of the vastness which remains the American West; passion for these proud and wondrous creatures we call horses.
My first recollection of thunderous hooves pounding and divoting the terra firma echoes as plainly in my memory as the first time I rode my bicycle without training wheels, both invoking an inexorable spirit of freedom. No more noble a cause exists than to find that which rights us on our feet and sends us forth with purpose. For horse people, there is no clearer path – it is their destiny to see that spirit which lies within each four-legged compatriot soar beyond expectation into the realm of wonder.
For horses, I imagine, the exhilaration of feeling the wind dappling its fingers through long, flowing manes, the sweetly- awakening sting of crisp air tickling the nose and pinching ears, the firm grip of a well-shoed hoof against the packed soil beneath and the motion-blurred sight of all but that upon which their gaze is fixed could be enough placation to tolerate the reins and bits, harnesses and saddles (never-minding the fortified meals, spa-treatment rub downs and massages). Equilibrium deftly perches between the two: advocating master and enthusiastic beast. Yin knows no better Yan.
Add to that the overwhelming roar of an approving, awestruck crowd and the scale bows strongly to that horse which loves to perform.
I doubt anyone “accidentally” becomes involved in this reverence that is horse showing; there is no shortage of back-breaking work to shun away the weak of character, and Saddlebred people are characters, indeed, reflecting the vivacious personalities found in their four-legged counterparts. Zander Fan Camelot Ster has such a charisma. His features black as to make pitch feel pale, his shoulders bulbously muscular and firm, Zander stands apparent with great certainty and vigor. Every move and glance has intent; he is intensely conscious of his environment and its constituents. His singularity is a testament to that notion of “once in a blue moon” and to that firmament upon which the very essence of free spirits alight.
Then, there are his “people”, without whom there may have been no such iconic Knight of the Friesians.
Success seems attracted to Scenic View Farm’s Victoria Gillenwater, his owner, as a hummingbird to nectar, each sweetly lured and passionately driven to their cause. Engraved on her ring are familiar words, “It is not what lies behind us, or what lies before us, it is what lies within us”. Originally written by Henry Stanley Haskins, the inspirational words were later attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson for the purpose of adding clout and impact. They are again underscored by association with Victoria and her lovely Zander – the bright foal-turned-champion, bred in the land of Lindsey Pinkstaff Brownlee’s, Camelot Farms and disciplined by the deft and fair hands of his trainer, Jacques Van Niekerk.
There have been pivotal moments in my life when, with figurative eyes closed, I timidly envisioned my expectations and they appeared as plainly as the moon against a black sky. Upon visiting Monet’s garden I understood the “why” of all his creations and could grasp his art not as isolated pieces, each often beheld unto itself, but as a reflection of all that surrounded him having become an extension of his charged soul and thusly he became the true measure of what an artist is. Now I, having felt his breath upon my hands, seen the charisma and charm within his stare and having been witness to his grace and character it dawns on me that, in meeting Zander, I now understand how regal a horse may be. There should be no wonder as to why medieval knights felt so emboldened while these magnificent creatures carried them into battle, for it was upon the shoulders of Friesian Royalty that they galloped. Zander, it would seem, is then a King among Kings and I stand in awe.