Quemacho is a Lusitano stallion that is a true master among equine teachers. The article below perhaps best explains just how phenomenal Quemacho really is.
Brooklyn, NY – The Lusitano stallion Quemacho went where no horse has gone before showing just how talented and adaptable he really is. Sporting a pink ribbon in his forelock in memory of his late owner, Ingred Lin, who died from cancer, Quemacho made history at a popular New York City arts studio.
The former FEI competitor, now owned by Lin’s son Adam Pollack, has been in training with dressage rider Bettina Drummond at her home base in Connecticut. Drummond, whose riding is clearly aimed at creating art rather than for sport, was honored May 10 by the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics when she was named the 2012 Action Maverick Award recipient.
STREB is famous worldwide for its artistic endeavors focused on the motion and power of the human body. And Drummond was nominated for this year’s award by STREB board members who had seen her ride and were impressed by the beauty created when the power and motion of horse and rider united as one. Drummond decided that if STREB patrons were willing to honor her art, they should get a personal taste of one of her performances. But the question became, which of the many horses in her barn had the talent and the character to perform to music in a tiny dance studio in the heart of Brooklyn with elegantly-clad dinner guests only inches away? Quemacho stepped up to the plate and after the duo danced their way around the dinner tables that night, they were greeted with applause – and awe.
“I couldn’t believe it actually. We were all speechless. Nobody spoke afterward. No one spoke to each other after watching that. We were all silent,” said New York City artists and filmmaker Julia Warr. “It was very weird, but very beautiful, seeing the gentle beauty of the stallion moving among such a formally-dressed crowd.”
The STREB studio is a mere 50 feet wide and 100 feet long. Riding to the music of Grace Jones’ Hurricane, Drummond and Quemacho passed within inches of dinner guests executing such movements as passage, piaffe and even canter pirouettes.
“We never, ever dreamt that she would bring the horse here, that it would be possible to create like an intricate corral in this relatively small space and feel comfortable performing here. But that is Bettina. Her willingness to figure out all of the machinations towards having this space have the capacity to hold that kind of power and that kind of finesse and that kind of imagination, is amazing,” said Elizabeth Streb, founder of STREB. “I still can’t believe she did this. It seems like the horse can’t turn at such an acute angle but he did.”
Streb, who has herself been honored around the world for her unique choreography focused on making the most of human motion, said there were no words to describe the feeling of seeing Drummond and Quemacho move through the small STREB studio so focused on one another and in such perfect harmony. “The type of excitement that happens when you see that large amount of unbelievable precision and force coupled is indescribable,” she said. “It was a mysterious and profound experience.”
As an artistic venue focused on motion, STREB highlights the physical power of the human – and now the horse – and for dancer Felix Hess, Drummond and Quemacho did not disappoint. “I was sitting right in front right at the center and as the horse passed I could see every muscle in his body and feel his power. It was really amazing to sense the presence of the animal. It was beautiful and the use of this space was brilliant.”
Streb said that members of her board had spoken of Drummond’s artistic talent for many years and last year she traveled to Drummond’s home base in Washington, Connecticut to see for herself what all the talk was about. “I watched her perform her dressage and I immediately wanted her to be the 2012 Action Maverick,” Streb said. “I’m an extreme action inventor. I really believe in collecting actions of a certain sort – actions that any person can watch and be moved and changed by their own experience and their own association by movement in the world. Bettina Drummond is, for me, a quintessential action maverick, a quintessential action specialist. She has done with a horse what no human has ever done with an animal. And even when you separate the two – the horse by itself and Bettina by herself, they have accomplished physical feats that we have not imagined before.”
In addition to receiving the 2012 Action Maverick Award, New York City Councilman Stephen Levin was also on hand to present Drummond with an official proclamation from the City of New York for “Outstanding Service and Contributions to Artistic Expression.” Drummond expressed tremendous appreciation to both STREB and the city for “honoring my art” but was clearly most moved by the acknowledgement of trust Quemacho showed her throughout their performance together. Despite the strange venue, the stallion never flinched nor lost his focus during the performance.
In order to make the performance possible, Harold LaDue, a friend of Drummond’s, went hunting for material that could be set over the plywood floor of the STREB studio to create a pathway for horse and rider. “I had to find a material that had enough give to it so that it would cushion the blow of the foot to avoid overstressing the joints of the horse, but that would also dissipate the force of the horse’s footfalls in order to protect the plywood floor of the studio. I settled on a type of Homasote poster board, which had the added benefit of giving the horse a bit of traction,” LaDue said.
In her acceptance speech, Drummond spoke of the spiritual connection between horses and humans and of the beauty the two create together when in harmony. She gave credit to her instructor, the late equestrian master Nuno Oliveira saying that “I had the good grace to work with and for a great man who taught me that the connection to the horse has to do with the motion of horses. And within that motion you will find a rightness of spirit that can lead to extraordinary motion. And I think this is what he sought to share.”