Songs that lend a voice to the equestrian world in a way only music can.
In Spring 2012, British quartet Rudimental released their single “Feel The Love,” featuring John Newman. It became a number one single in the UK, and a dance song of the summer in the United States. When it was time to create a music video for the track, director Bob Harlow approached the artist with the idea of Rick Ross on horseback. The band went for it full force, as did the viewing public. This music video received over 20 million views on YouTube and the director picked up first place in the Music Video category of the of the LA Shorts Fest.
The video was filmed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and features young riders from the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club. The riding club is part of a more than century-old tradition of black urban cowboys in Philadelphia. The horses that populate the program are largely bought at the New Holland Auction and are ridden throughout the streets of Philadelphia and the neighborhood parks. They are cared for by area youths that build a bond with a horse rather than the rough world just outside the stable door, and the Fletcher Street club horses receive additional care from neighborhood veterinarians and any donations they can garner.
While millions saw this video as an uplifting tale of inner city youth making a positive bond, a significant percentage of the horse-people population saw this video as possible equine abuse. Forum topics were started on Chronicle of the Horse and similar sites, debating whether this video was uplifting or outrageous for horse lovers. Where were the riders’ helmets?! Where was the properly fitting gear?! Where was the proper feel of the horses mouth in the riding technique?!
It’s time for Counter-Canter Culture to weigh in on this topic. It just so happens that I was born, raised and learned how to ride in Pennsyltucky (look it up if you don’t know it), so I know a good deal about this horse community – enough to know that no steed hopes to end up at the New Holland Auction. And any horse that does better than the glue factory or Alpo is lucky indeed.
Knowing this, it’s hard for me to pass judgment on anyone who goes to an auction like that with the intention of giving a horse a second chance at life. And in this case, I see no need for judgment anyway. When I look into the eyes of the horses in this video, I see that they are having fun with their riders and are happy for it. Perhaps it’s the most fun they have ever known. I see same look in the eyes of the riders. And, in my humble opinion, that’s what riding should be about – a connection between human and horse for the betterment of them both. Such an experience is just as likely on city streets as it is at a five star facility.
So I salute this video, and its attempt to show the positive effects of loving horses. “You know I said it’s true. I can feel the love. Can you feel it too?”