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Of Horse Whisperers And Men

April 17, 2015

A few years ago, I published a novella titled, The Horse Whisperers from Anaconda. In the book, I traced the lives of horse whisperer brothers Lee and Edd Allen in an attempt to define what has made America so great. In the end, I came up with these four pillars on which rest the unique greatness of our country.

Grit – Grit is the gumption and will to do what needs doing. Some would call it guts or ambition but it is stronger and more intense than both of these. Grit is that stone-like hardened force that propels pioneers forward and each of us to our final destination. The Allens have never shunned getting their hands dirty or tackling a job that seemed too big to go after. Whether it was picking up and heading west or heading off to war, they had the grit to get the job done. Grit is the determined spirit that one takes to the task at hand. Grit had always been displayed as the main theme in Edd’s famous etchings; men working hard with their hands to build a new prosperous America. It was also the cornerstone of everything Lee ever did, from building high mountain roads to taking his horses into the wilderness to fish. Grit is what has made America a great nation; without it, we might still be a far away colony of England with only our lack of ambition and follow through to blame.

Perseverance – Once the grit has been applied to a task, perseverance is needed to see the job through to a successful conclusion. It sounds simple enough but often times in life the grit is there but the perseverance is lacking to see something through successfully to the end. In many cases it isn’t easy but perseverance must be called to the front of our lives every day to keep going. I have never found one instance where the Allen brothers did not complete a task that either started. They learned their persistence from a frontier family that did not know the meaning of the phrase can’t do it. Their lessons were reinforced by the Blackfoot of Montana to forge a perseverance that served them to the end of their days. In fact, both were often critical of those who didn’t or couldn’t see things through. Perseverance is what can make all things whole in the end. It is what kept America going from east to west without complaint. It is what has given us the ability to look from one ocean to the other over a single country. Perseverance is the backbone of our nation and is as bold and strong as the stripes in our flag.

Intelligence – In order to complete a task, intelligence has to be applied correctly. We’re not talking about university stuff here but rather the native intelligence that gets things done. It can also be described as simple problem solving or street smarts. After grit has been applied with enough perseverance, it is intelligence that moves the process forward toward a successful conclusion. One has to employ intelligence in generous amounts to solve the problem or complete the job. The Allen brothers applied intelligence learned on the farm and in the corrals to everyday tasks with amazing results. Lee made all of his own tools and most of his horse bridles as well as many of his own clothes. Edd applied his intelligence to the subtleties of his artistic expression to convey how America was built. They were both problem solvers who applied the grit and perseverance to what they knew to fix what needed fixing, do what needed doing and create what needed creating. They applied this same intelligence to their horse training techniques as well to become young horse whisperers from Anaconda. It is this very same intelligence that makes us all uniquely American.

Ability – Ability is the capacity to do most anything when called upon, from building a fence to writing an intelligent letter. It is versatility in action and is what has been called the Renaissance man approach to living. If it needs doing, one must have the ability to do it and do it well. After the grit has been applied with adequate perseverance and full intelligence, it is the ability in the end that makes the job a success or failure. Both Allen brothers were immensely versatile, that is to say they were not one trick ponies. Both could rise to most any occasion and deliver successful results with abilities drawn from every facet of life. If a tent needed pitching in a rain storm, Lee got it done. Ability was applied to the brush strokes of Edd’s paintings and they were sure and accurate and understood by others. Both also had the natural ability to be humble; they got things done without bragging and without undue attention. It is this same power to see things through that has been the engine of the American spirit for over three centuries. Ability is within all of us.

I admire Lee and Edd Allen for utilizing these foundations so very well. They both lived the American West in vast and accurate proportions and left behind legacies that I am proud to have inherited. I was never destined to be an accomplished horseman or indeed a pioneer. My life has been very comfortable in comparison to theirs. Even though I never became one of the horse whisperers that they were, I have applied these four foundations as the corner posts for daily living and to most of what I’ve done in my life. I have tried to do so in that same spirit that gently broke that first horse over a hundred years ago. These foundations are not rare things; they are common sense pillars of existence that I learned from those horse whisperers of Anaconda. I choose to keep them close to me, along with the old photographs and stories until the end of my days. I choose to carry on the traditions and memories of the horse whisperers from Anaconda.

If you would like to learn the whole story, give the book a read. I am confident you will enjoy it!

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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  1. Reblogged this on allenrizzi and commented:

    Hope you read this book soon!


  2. Very well stated!

    Liked by 1 person

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