What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was The Life Of General Walter Bedell Smith, who was Eisenhower’s chief of staff, and I’m currently reading a book called The Storm Of War by Andrew Roberts, who writes very well about military history.
The last fun book I read was Fire And Rain about the Beatles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and some of the other super groups—how they formed, what experiences they went through. It was a very interesting sociological study.
What makes you laugh?
Anything. I have to keep a grip on my sense of humor, because it’s over-developed. Not everyone has a sense of humor, and some people are offended by things that I find funny, so I try to keep a lid on it.
When you’re teaching a clinic, what’s your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is people entering the wrong level and not having an accurate view of where they are. I don’t mind someone being a novice at all. There’s no pressure on me with novices, because anything I say is beneficial to them because they’ve never heard it before. You know you’re going to improve that novice’s riding.
But I hate to have people who think it’s beneath them to go novice, so they get in the training group and hold things up. I don’t encounter many behavioral problems these days. My reputation precedes me that I don’t have any problem airmailing people out of groups they’re not ready for, so very rarely do I have to do that. Maybe once a year.
What’s your drink of choice?
Warm tea in the morning instead of coffee and iced tea during the day. After dark, scotch on the rocks.
You’re an avid fisherman and have traveled to far-ranging fishing destinations. Which has been your favorite and why?
There have been so many. I used to come to my wife, Gail, with an idea for a trip and say, “It’s the trip of a lifetime!” Finally, she shook her head and said, “Honey, you only get one trip of a lifetime per year.”
I’ve floated through the wilds of Alaska, and Alaska really is wild when you get off the coast and get in there. I went with three close friends, and we were alone in wilderness for a week, just fishing, camping, pitching tents and cooking our own food. No cell phones, no electronics. That was a pretty good trip.
Name one fact people wouldn’t know about you.
I’ve mostly lived my life in the public gaze, but people may not know that I’m badly off to one side of the political spectrum. We’ll just leave it at that. You can deduce from my writings which side I’m towards.
What’s your favorite thing about being a grandfather to your four grandsons?
It gives me an excuse to go fishing and shooting. We get to go do guy adventures. They’re a little backed off by me, because I’m not a very kind, paternal grandfather; I’m a little bit gruff. They call me Big Jim, and when they’re doing something that their mother told them not to do, I’ll say, “Don’t forget that Big Jim still spanks!” They know the threat is real, so I’ve never actually done it.
But they’re funny. They run in a herd, just like watching a flock of wild birds out on the back lawn. They all change directions together.
What do you envision for yourself in the next 10 years?
To continue doing what I’m doing. I can’t imagine not teaching and training horses. I never turn down an opportunity. If I can make the date, I will accept the contract.
Describe yourself in three words.
Born a horseman.