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Riding and liberty

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Zara Phillips won the individual gold on her horse Toytown
at the World Equestrian Games, and recently was voted the
BBC's prestigious Sports Personality of the Year by the public.

Image: British Monarchy

Zara Phillips worked 14 hours a day exercising her horses, training, mucking out stables, cleaning tack, feeding and watering her horses, and competing. She knows the physical and mental challenge of riding, and the exhilaration. She succeeded in a highly competitive field.

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We have the possibly quirky idea that the experience of riding spurred the Brits' love of liberty, and gave them the confidence, mobility, and power to challenge their kings and sheriffs. There is something about riding an animal weighing half a ton, daring to ride fast, feeling at one with the earth and part of the wind that opens us to possibility. Riding usually involves falling off, too, so it is a humbling experience, and good for instilling fearlessness, as one always gets back on.

You might think that lots of people rode everywhere in the world, but that does not appear to be true. Britain was especially good country for raising and riding horses. Many Brits, men and women, rode. They respected and loved horses and depended on them. Especially they depended on them when they had to topple a king.

It's a theory, and unprovable, but I think there might be something to the idea that riding is deeply connected with the creation and defence of freedom. I'm not surprised that Brits voted for Zara Phillips. I think they were voting for her horse, too.

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