A little more research found this rare film showing Romanian cavalry. This is the kind of unit that my former neighbour belonged to. It's a pleasure to look at the riding and to appreciate the horsemanship. I'd like to be so agile that I could run alongside a horse on the lunge and simply spring aboard.
Occasionally I did come across that kind of lively spirit around horses, most often amongst young peasant men. Romania is not a country that I would associate with horsemanship. That is not to say that the farm horses were neglected - far from it - however for the most part they were equine tractors. I didn't come across many horse lovers, just a lot of men who could work a horse competently on a farm or in the forest.
I'd like to think that a couple of my staff were almost naturals with horses. They rode fluently despite little formal instruction. Theirs was a confidence that the horses seemed to recognise and respect. I loved going out riding in the mountains with Cornel. Most often he could be trusted. Provided that no drinking den detrained him, he would get to the other end in good order, his horse too. How I miss those rides.
Now in the busy technological West I struggle to find that old fluency. I'm nearest to it when hitching a trailer, loading my horse and going out to ride. Yes, cavalrymen made good mechanised soldiers through their dash and initiative. Having become a skilled trail rider did much the same for me, teaching me to treat life as a matter of finding a dynamic equilibrium across rough ground. Yet I feel as if I'm getting towards the end of those lessons, as if their range has been exhausted. Now the ground is too strange, not exactly rough but simply confusing. Sometimes pointless too. Well, I guess that most probably I've learned how to learn. That's the next trick to pull from my bag.
Here's a picture of a German cavalryman in Africa before the First World War. There's more good simple equipment, though that rifle must have got in the way. Like my neightbour, nice equipment, pity about the cause.