Cornbread Thinks: Essence

Cornbread loves people, which is good cuz there are a lot in the world, a very tiny percent of whom have the mutant gene of cutting in them. To the unaware, it appears to be from crossing a country boy farmer/rancher/cowboy with a country girl farmer/rancher/barrel racer. Closer examination will show these traits to be markers, not causes.

There are plenty of cutters from nowhere near such stuff, some of them are even Yankees. I am convinced this mutant gene of cutting is a random, standalone franchise. I believe that all 7.125 billion people have the cowboy gene. It may be a latent gene, waiting to go active, but it’s there. Deep in the soul, there is always a cowperson. Seems like just as soon as they achieve cowperson status, the next goal is “cutter.” This is good.

There is a knot in the rope, though. Cutting is harder than Chinese arithmetic. There are good knots and there are bad ones. Bowlines are good knots – easy to tie and untie, and will hold. They’re perfect for horses. Then you’ve got your boiler room knot – easy to tie, can’t untie it and won’t hold nothing.

The first part, the part where it’s all fresh-foal gangly and high energy and exciting and fun, is over too soon. Then your traineress, try as she might to artfully arrange thoughts and situations and words to teach these knots quickly, just can’t. If it were driving directions, it would be, “Three miles south to the tree that hawk used to sit in. Turn back south for 4 miles. Stop before the creek and look in the mirror for the gate.” This is the easy part…the mechanical part. The hard part is learning the “essence,” the ways of being a cutter. Essence is dictionary defined as the basic, real and invariable nature of a thing, or its significant individual feature or features.

Big pieces of what makes a cutter can’t be taught, but they can be learned. The more you learn, the less you will know. Some cutters have been blessed to grow up in cutting. They come from a long line of cutters. Cutting royalty. They were cutter-brained from go. They learned very little they later had to unlearn. The rest of us get to have our brains stuck in the spin cycle for a long time. We want everything all lined up, neat and in Dewey Decimal System order. They haven’t made that many decimal points. There are 21 rules for judging a run. That’s all your fingers, toes and your nose. Most of them are about the herd anyway. Although, when you start taking them apart, it requires all the fingers, toes and noses of those 7.125 billion people. And they are tied with boiler room knots.

Learning to walk, from one step to 10 in a row without crashing, took a month. Scientists have spent decades making machines to duplicate those 10 steps, and they’re not there yet. People don’t look at a piece of rough ground and start making a plan. They don’t think at all; they just go head on.

Cutting is like that. It would take a week for a person who has never sat a horse to learn how to get to the time line! A cutter brain will compute and move muscles thousands

of times without a conscious thought, completely bypassing the “aware” level. There is no time for that. Ideally, it isn’t necessary. Brains need space to plan ahead, check off on the contingencies. Functions are happening on their own while it lines up the possibles. It is a busy thing.

All people, all day, do millions of things automatically. Horse people in general, and cutters specifically, have a commonality in our ways. We just naturally don’t make sudden moves or stand in the kill zone. We do just naturally make them aware we are there, put a hand on them and look them over. Often, we don’t see what’s right, but wrong is sirens, flashing lights and waving arms. Regular people just see a horse standing there. They walk in a barn and it stinks; we breathe deep and relax. We are comfortable everywhere in our world. The most comfortable place I ever am is on a horse. Truly relaxed. My mind becomes uncluttered and in order. The world is more alive. Perspective comes into sharp and clear focus. This is the essence of cutting.

Cornbread Thinks: On a horse, you can get “right.”