Choosing my profession

On this page I am presenting the odd circumstances that led me to choosing my professions as a breeder and rider of horses.

 

Choosing my profession

 

Choosing my profession was actually very odd and unusual, but there were many choices in my life that would hardly be considered as ordinary. I vaguely remember the movie that gave me the notion to seek a profession in working with horses.

 In my 12th year I used to read books by Karl May, a German writer, who wrote western fictions that were very unrealistic, which of course I did not know at that time. As you will see, and realize, what children see in movies or television, or what they read or hear, has a great influence on making their choices in life, just like in my case.

The books of Karl May gave me some dream world of the Wild West and the Indians, and of course those people rode horses, which took me to this wild world of my imagination, but it was only just that, imagination, and nothing real about it, at least I thought so at that time. Then I have managed to see couple of old westerns at my cousin's basement, that by the way were illegal in those days Czechoslovakia, just like the books by Karl May. Hence the mere fact that things of this sort were illegal, and that one could watch them in secrecy only, drew me to this cowboy and horse thing even more, but still it was not real, as I was clearly aware of that at the time.

However, there came out this movie named "Death in the Saddle" (1958 CZ film "Smrt V Sedle"), which sounds like a western, but it was not. It was a Czech movie about some folks making a western motion picture in Czechoslovakia, hence the actors were dressed as cowboys. In that movie, some folks dressed like those actors, and then robbed some people that carried some payroll somewhere. I simply cannot remember the movie, but I remember that it had an immense impact on choosing my profession. And so as you can see, it could not get more odd and silly as that.

Until then I had no clue that people still rode horses, nor did I even see anyone riding a horse in real life, except in the movies. And so it came to me that it could be a nice profession to ride horses for living, and so I've made some inquiries into the matter, and to my pleasant surprise I have discovered that there was actually a school for that. And so I was so happy and excited to announce the news to my parents, who of course were very much disappointed, and did their best to talk me out of it, not to mention that to my brother I was obviously not OK in my head.

That summer, after graduating the eighth grade, my dad made me, and my brother, work for one month on some dairy farm, during the harvest. It was supposed to be some attempt by my dad to introduce me to the hard work on the farm, hoping that it would help to change my mind. The reason why he sent my older brother was, because of my brother's frequent "arguments" with my dad. Whenever there was some manual work to be done, my brother would say things like that he was not born to work but to think, which of course always infuriated my dad.

And so I went for education, or better said, for deterrence, while my brother went as punishment for his contempt for manual labor. I was not yet 14, and "worked" 8 hours per day at the farm, while commuting out of the city for one hour there and back, if memory serves me well.

When the attempt of my parents to bring me back to reason failed, I was put back into the school system into the ninth grade, which was designed exactly for such purpose, for kids that did not yet decided what profession they will choose. The high school those days in Czechoslovakia was exclusively as a preparation for the college, while the professions, that did not require a college degree, had the vocational schools varying in years from two to four.

Of course nothing has changed in that year either, since in reality I had no dreams about being anything or someone, let alone about what I would like to do for living, until I saw that movie, which sort of open a window for me out of the darkness, if you will. My parents, rather my mother, not my dad so much, were trying to talk me into going into becoming an actor, which would not be difficult for me, since I did some child acting in the school programs, and in the school competitions, before a full size theater audience. Also I would not have it too difficult to find work, should I become just some mediocre actor, because my dad still had a decent political pull and influence at that time.

In any case, becoming an actor just seemed so silly, and I could not care less, and stubbornly insisted that I wanted to work with horses. I did not know, nor did I listen to my parents telling me, that my profession was the lowest paid profession at that time. This was because the socialists, and the communists, saw the riding of horses as some remnant from the foregone capitalist era, and the hobby of the bourgeois.

Though they did eradicated many of the breeding farms and horses, they kept those farms that made money, like the Kladruby stud farm in Kladruby nad Labem, that also became a national historical treasure, and where also the school was located. Besides the famous carriage horses, the Kladruby stud at that time was breeding riding horses as well, that were usually sold to the western countries for the royal courts like in the Netherlands.

There was also a requirement for the acceptance into the school, which had to do with the financing of my education. In that socialist system, at that time, it was required from me to find a job first, and the farm that was willing to hire me, then paid for the school in exchange for five-year contract. Before the farm would make its decision, it requested from me to work there for two months during my summer vacation, and before getting into the school. Of course since I never been close to the horses to actually touch one, I was fairly concerned, especially when they took me on the tour of the farm and some  horse there let out this horrific "scream" that stopped my blood .
And so this was my choice in education, and that summer at the farm is a story on its own, as I am sure you could imagine.

I've realized in my later years, especially after seeing things around horses here in America, how very fortunate I was, that I received a good start among the professional horsemen, not women, and no silly amateur nonsense reached my ears for the next 10 years, thank God.

The Pecínov farm and place of my first job, as it is today.
Today it became a recreational facility with hotel, which they made out of the old grain storage facility (building), which is the building at the front with those little windows. The building on the sides used to be the stables.
I feel like some fossil when I look at those pictures.

Click here for the advertisement and more pictures as it is today.

Written by Ludvik K. Stanek  March 14, 2001

 

 

 

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Personal website of Ludvik K. Stanek. A horseman by God's grace.