“A horse is a village,” says Jim Grasky. “You earn its trust and cooperation with consideration — which is not necessarily kindness — and consistency, firmness and fairness.”
The principles of leadership, he tells his students, are also those of horsemanship. Most of his pupils could easily be his grandchildren or even great-grandchildren, but he can still outride them. Likely he could still outfight and outshoot them. He likens such skills to counter-insurgency operations because that's something many of his students from USASOC (like Army SF “Green Berets”) can identify with.
Several RECOIL and RECOIL OFFGRID contributors spent a few days with Grasky in the Dragoon Mountains recently (see Saddle Up With Jim Grasky) at a Breach-Bang-Clear organized event called Trails Found. Horses being the original all terrain vehicle, and still relevant in many ways, we looked forward to this training opportunity more eagerly than most. Although focusing primarily on equitation, we also touched on survival skills (as applicable to the Arizona backcountry or any other environment) and tracking. You never know what you don't know, the saying goes, and although many of us already had a tracking background, it was equally apropos here.
In addition to offering a chance to learn new skills, the trip provided us a great opportunity to try out a wide variety of equipment under rather different circumstances. It's not always you get the chance to see how body armor or a particular brand of jeans wears in the saddle in rough country for hours, but that's what we did, riding great distances clad in Crye Precision's brand new (unreleased) Low Visibility System Armor and the Tactical Distributors SYG (Stand Your Ground) jeans. We took all manner of Sig Electro Optics into the field with us, using it to play the “Range Game” and to run observation drills in Bisbee, and at least one person there learned that while Salomon boots are superbly made, they're not particularly well suited to use in stirrups.
In the coming weeks we'll be running some lesson-learned articles and equipment reviews. We'll also post op-eds on how the things we learned from A Horse is a Village in the desert and in Cochise's Stronghold can be just as valuable to someone walking in downtown Chicago or riding the D.C. Metro.
You can find Grasky's school online at TrailsFound.com.