I guess I will begin where we began. To visit these horses and see their free performance of their winter training, you visit the 400 acre ranch. The ranch is in Myakka City, which feels as if it is in the middle of nowhere. It's one of those you drive and drive and wonder if this is right locations. I drove past it before I realized we were there. Once you are there, they welcome you in and help you park. You park on what appears to be their lawn and then sit in the stadium area.
Both times we have visited, it has been a full crowd. While they perform, they do a great job of explaining the history of the family and the horses. The horses are the rarest breed in the world. The family has a history linked to this breed dating back to assisting General Patton's mission to save the horses when they were captured during World War II.
The show is full of demonstrations of the different ways the horses were used in battle. From their website:All Airs Above the Ground, originally outlined by Xenophon the Greek, derive from defensive horsemanship created for war and predated-dated the birth of Christ by some 400 years. These spectacular leaps and plunges were originally meant for use by mounted riders to inspire terror in the hearts of foot soldiers.
That this nearly lost art remains alive, is due in very large part, to the commitment of Colonel Herrmann, scion of the Herrmann family, and historically among the world's greatest trainers of this rare breed. In a lively and informative narrative throughout the presentation of his remarkable stallions, the history, evolution and contemporary application of this most sophisticated horse and rider training is recounted. It is repeatedly noted that extreme patience and, most particularly, love are the requisites to such highly schooled animals. Herrmann epitomized the master of classical European equitation.
As incredible as all of this is, while I was sitting there, I found myself wanting to spend hours upon hours just capturing the beauty of the horses. I took so many shots of them, I think I'm going to sneak them into the next few week's blog posts just to share them all.