Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit

I can almost see the eyebrows raising across the fruited plain of Facebook, “Oh no. Charley’s about to give us a lesson in Latin.” Not hardly. However, the Lonesome Dove fans out there might have an inkling where I am headed.

As my dear wife can attest, being a cowboy, I have watched that old mini-series starring Robert Duval and Tommy Lee Jones so many times that she has lost count. (I have a patient, loving wife.)

Well, this Latin phrase, Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit, is a running theme with Duvall’s character, Gus McCrae, and it can be expressed several ways (ready to be impressed with my skill in Latin?)

A grape changes color [ripens] when it sees [another] grape. A grape is changed by living with other grapes. The changing vine becomes the living vine.

Well, when you boil it all down, the expression essentially means that our lives are changed by the lives of those around us.

As it takes clusters of grapes to make fine wine, we are influenced by the company we keep— either for good or bad. Take Gus’s remarks, “You ride with an outlaw, you die with an outlaw.” and “It ain’t dyin’ I am talkin’ about…it’s livin!”

As human beings, we grow through the depth of relationships we have with others.

Ever been around a bachelor who is just an old cuss? Solitary all his life. Set in his ways. Never fully matured. Prefers it that way. A cranky old son-of-a-gun.

Sure. Without the winepress of relationship, especially the relationship with Jesus Christ, the One True Vine, we can end up like a puny sun baked cull raisin.

So what does Latin, grapes and Lonesome Dove have to do with horses? Among horseman, there is a saying that I have found to be fairly evident: “Horse and human; one is a mirror of the other.”

Said another way, your horse reflects you. And vice versa.

Your attitudes, skill level, emotions, inner peace or turmoil, whatever you carry, directly influences your horse’s emotional and physical well being. Some humans bring out the best in horses. Some horses bring out the worst in humans. A horse that is in control or taking over around the human is not happy or at peace within himself.

Most horses can become confident, gentle, peaceful, respectful and well educated when consistently handled within that environment.

Because of a lifetime working with horses and growing as a person in relationship with others and Jesus Christ, my horses are a fair reflection of that.

How about you?

How is your horse reflecting you?

How well does your horse “ripen” or ” live” with you?

How confident and at peace is he in his education with you, his human teacher?

In what ways are you reflecting your horse’s behavior?

Which behavioral problems are not going away?

Here are a couple of small things that can serve as checkpoints. If you are anxious maybe even fearful, riding on a tight rein your horse will mirror that by fretting and or rooting on the bit. If you can deal with your anxiety and put some slack in the reins, your horse will cease to fret. If you can groom and saddle your horse without him being tied and he will quietly stand and politely move anyone of his corners as you ask; he is most likely reflecting your inner confidence, peace and discipline.

As riders, we should strive to bring out the better in our horses and ourselves. Often times, just one small change for the better results in numerous benefits we did not think of beforehand.

Remember, working with our horse is not to be a fight for our life like we are killing a man-eating snake. So maybe it might not hurt to take some time to just sit in the shade, drink a little whiskey, kick the pig and let it go take care of the snakes.

Blessings and Happy Trails, Charley

P.S. Friends, I just heard about a good friend that has been hurt seriously while working with a horse. Thankfully, the injuries are not life threatening. However, given what has happened, it is more than sobering.

In this light, may I encourage you, when it comes to your horses, to search out skilled help and good instruction from those who have experience? It will be much less expensive than medical bills.

Contact me anytime



  1. Donna Shockley on May 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Beautiful Charley! I think there are a lot of parallels with dogs and even people too. Maybe my mind just works funny, but I kind of saw that as I was reading. Great post!

  2. Paula Lawrence on May 13, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Nice Charley, Thank you!!!!

  3. Kathryn Godsiff on May 14, 2015 at 2:21 am

    Charley, you fill the hay bag of our minds with sweet grass hay. Always something filling to chew on . Thank you

  4. Gordo Sanders on October 6, 2023 at 11:52 am

    I use Gus’s Latin when I conduct Flight Instructor Certifications.
    I’ve added you version (excellent)

    Thank you sir
    Gordo Sanders
    Jasper, Al.

  5. Dorothy Smith on March 3, 2024 at 12:45 pm

    Beautiful. I don’t own a horse. Had a dog once and always thought that she mirrored the personality of our loving family. Growing relationships is essential. Especially our connection to Christ. I appreciate that you included that. Being out in the world we show our tenderness and compassion for others when we have worked on our relationships. I live the “Uva Uvam “ phrase. My life has blossomed in a garden of amazing people. I am grateful for “I once was lost but now am found.”Peace and gratitude to you Charley.

  6. Renee Antillon Kinner on June 30, 2024 at 7:59 pm

    I was very impressed with your meaning of “Uva Unam”. Says much about you. I am a “Lonesome Dove” fan and have seen it many times. I am also a fan of “Seven Days in Utopia” and “Tender Mercies” and it is no coincidence that these are all Robert Duvall films. The messages are super clear…
    I am not a horse person. Only rode one once many years ago and enjoyed it. Just was too expensive, unfortunately. I appreciate your words, very uplifting. I watch the aforementioned films for the same reason…

    • Charley Snell on June 30, 2024 at 8:50 pm

      Thank you for your response Renee. Yes, horses are expensive. 🙂

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