Gus Meets the Parents

My parents, Polly and Thaddeus Seymour, are not what you would call horse people. They tend to think of horses as large and dangerous (ask about our family trail ride in Colorado in 1965 and they’ll say my sister nearly died)—but they are consummate parents. They always take an interest in what their children care about. Since I’m crazy about James and Kate Cooler and natural horsemanship, my parents are big fans too.

My mother meets my horse, Mystic, in 2011

My mother meets my horse, Mystic, in 2011

To show their support of Cooler Horsemanship, my parents decided to help sponsor James’ Wild Card colt, Gus. James and Gus will compete in the Wild Card competition of Road to the Horse 2015. If they win, James will take part in a world-class colt-starting competition with three-time Road to the Horse winner Chris Cox and last year’s winner, Jim Anderson. Let’s rephrase that: When James and Gus win.

James and Gus

James and Gus

A couple of weeks ago my parents came to Greensboro for a family visit. The agenda included time with children, grandchildren, and  great-grandchildren—and  meeting their equine protege, Gus. On a sunny Friday afternoon my parents and I headed out to Flintrock Farm to watch James and Gus strut their stuff. They showed perfect partnership, trotting, loping, and jumping as easily as if they’d been doing it together for a dozen years. James rode Gus without a bridle or halter, moving around the arena with elegant grace. My parents clapped and commented on how confident and easy the two looked together.

Gus meets his sponsors, October 2014

Gus meets his sponsors, October 2014

Afterward Gus visited with my parents, nuzzling them as if to say, “Hey, thanks for making all this happen.” I saw my father bond with Gus—two rangy, gray-haired males standing Roman nose to Roman nose—and caught true delight in his expression. The man who never thought twice about horses was clearly smitten with this one.



Now when my parents call, one of their first questions is, “How’s Gus?” It’s as if he’s a member of the family—a cool cousin we’re all in awe of, with a shot at becoming a superstar. We talk about his power and promise, and how exciting it will be when he steps into the arena at the Kentucky Horse Park on March 26, 2015.

Whatever else unfolds that day, one thing is for certain: an 80-something couple from Florida will be cheering for Gus and James with all their hearts.


A Note from Thaddeus Seymour

What fun it has been to learn about natural horsemanship, especially by watching James and Kate work their magic at Flintrock Farm.

We have not been horse people, I confess. It’s a long way down from the back of a horse, and the prospect of falling always seemed as risky as sky-diving or mountain-climbing. I even felt apprehension patting a horse’s forehead, sure that my hand could disappear with one good snap. Horses are BIG!

But then — getting to know Mystic, watching James and Kate at work, following “The Road to the Horse” — all these experiences have been pure revelation. Polly and I watched every minute of the 2013 competition and felt deprived when it was not live streamed in 2014.

We all know the phrase “poetry in motion.” Now I have seen it, felt it, and I have been inspired by its sheer wonder and beauty.

Polly and I have been so happy to be able to help James work with Gus. We have watched Gus with admiration, indeed amazement. He and James are such talented, smart, responsive partners, with a perfect and mutual understanding of both motion and poetry.

To watch James and Gus together is an affirmation of the natural bond between all living creatures, which is what “natural horsemanship” is all about.

The kiss

The kiss




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