Thursday, July 4, 2024

Su Zi's Essay/Interview with Chester Weber

Chester Weber

There are endeavors which transcend culture, which transcend time, which have centuries of esoteric skills, and which ever lie under threat of extinction.  Sometimes, those practices have been memorialized in museums, visited in a hush; sometimes, those practices have modern play -- a common enough notion when considering theater. That which is lost we rue. Unfortunately, modern culture encourages an agoraphobia that has progressed to a bomb shelter mindset; children meet cartoon creatures and rarely pet a real rabbit. Eventually, some of us sense this loss of felt fur and become seekers: we begin to look to our most ancient lore, our most revered traditions and lost arts. Eventually, there will be a habit we can add to our lives that brings us that ancient comfort, be it birdwatching or the herbal garden; however, we cannot be true to history without eventually remembering the horses.

When one practices a skilled endeavor, there is craft involved, there is history. We walk where our ancestors once did. So too did horses. Our history is built with their strength: our roads and vehicles based upon the width of a hitched pair of horses and is thus the measure of what we build to house those vehicles since. Horses are our heritage; yet, they have been forgotten too often, and what they have to teach us is being lost.

Horses require land, and it is the land itself being taxed and stressed these days—a veritable tumult in atmosphere. With the human sprawl thoughtlessly ejaculating concrete into agricultural lands, those of us in areas of human density might feel only the need for food without care of where it comes from: the core of disposability. Yet it is the land which tells the air here is glowing green life, or here is a smelter of poison. Yet, we still revere that ancient lost green. Our language includes a horse pasture as an homage to natural beauty; our iconography includes horses in a variety of ways—yet some cities resent even a two-mile loop for a leisurely carriage ride welcoming visitors. This amputation of horses from human life parallels the untethering of human concern from the very planet upon which we live.

Perhaps it’s a matter of if we see ourselves as transient, or rooted, mused Chester Weber, in a recent (20 February 2024) interview. Weber was born in the community in which he resides, is raising his children there as well, and says that “My family has been here in the horse business since the roads were dirt. We were raised with the values of stewardship of the land.” He thinks that people feel when “it really is your home” that they are “rooted there, are people who care about the community and land.” Weber himself is a competing equestrian, having had “some luck in the sport of carriage driving”. While the history of carriage driving extends to before that of written language, Weber says that “there’s a lot of tradition in horse sport by its own nature. It became a joy, a hobby, a sport. Horse sport grows in popularity because of these magical creatures, the horses and this energy that is very open and pure”.  

It might seem impossible to remember when the arts and the sciences, the loftiest doings of humanity were all seen as that of craft. It does us well to remember the musical arts, a revered history that involves collaboration. So too does it happen that a dance with a horse becomes its own ballet. “Driving horses is a lot about harmony. The art of it is the ability to connect. I am proud when I train, and I make the most beautiful music. Horses have taught me about life and people. Horses communicate in nonverbal ways; they communicate in energy. Horses are these magical creatures. That ability to create harmony has to do with creating synergy.” It is this energy, this joy of feeling, that draws us to the arts, all and any of them. We seek to remember what we don’t know we have forgotten.

As we stride forward, seeking solace, it is our most ancient wisdoms which resonant with us. We search beyond the sterile for that which frees us. We are required to halt and squarely consider our position. Let us remember and honor more ancient practices, as we can; but we must always honor in the now as the then, our debt to the horse.

Su Zi is a writer, poet and essayist who produces a handmade chapbook series called Red Mare. She has been a contributor to GAS from back when it was called Gypsy Art Show, more than a decade ago.


Check out her author page on Amazon.