I don't like horses. They're beautiful and fast and powerful and all that, I see that, but so is an elk or an antelope or damn near any other large prey species. So I don't dislike horses. They just don't impress me much.
I was raised on a ranch (cue the fade out and flashback music)... or, technically more of a farm. Or a survivalist compound. And I did ranchwork when I was old enough to work. Horses were tools. But, unless you were doing competitive rodeo, they were extremely expensive, high maintenance tools. Not only could a pickup carry more, but over the years it was cheaper to run. The places a pick-up couldn't go? In rough country I was faster and more endurant than a horse. I'm sure the horse could have gone faster, but in that country no rider would let it for fear of the animal breaking a leg.
I had actually thought the horse was kind of a compromise- if you didn't have a teen-aged boy who liked broken country running and a pickup, a horse was probably your best option.
Then one day, my boss and I and a friend had to go way up in the hills to mend some fence. The friend brought mules. I had always been a little iffy on the difference between mules, donkeys and burros. These mules were big animals. And strong. They carried almost twice as much as a horse the same size. They weren't afraid to run on rough country. And they were smart enough that they responded to voice commands. (Some horses can be trained to voice also, indicating that an extraordinary horse is almost as smart as an average mule.) Better than a horse in every way that mattered to me. 14 year old girls, and the men who want to be them, feel differently, of course. ;)
So Kevin's ribbing me a little on the horse thing, especially with regards to Chiron the centaur. That's his name at the top of this page. Horses are funny. This is serious.
I don't remember when it hit. I know it was before Roger's thing. I was teaching a close quarters course for my tactical team at the old agency and realized that I wasn't teaching martial artists. These guys weren't hobbyists. And I wasn't teaching self-defense. I wasn't teaching people how to protect and defend their loved ones.
These were men and who would risk their lives, did risk their lives almost every day for people they didn't even know. They would go hand to hand against odds to save someone they didn't even like. If it came down to it and it wasn't just a stupid gesture but might actually work, they would give their lives. They walked into this of their own accord. Every morning they strapped on a gun and kissed the wife or husband good-bye, hugged the kids and went out to make sure bad stuff didn't happen.
I was training people who put it all on the line- and they didn't do it for their best interests or in a way that directly protected the people they love or even people they knew. They just did it. Because it was the right thing to do. The motto of Spetznaz Team Alpha: "If not me, then who?"
There's no other word. I was training heroes. In all of history and myth, Chiron is the one who resonates most with that.