Saturday, June 03, 2006

Equine addictions


There's nothing like a horse to create constitutional chaos in most people. Maybe it's genetic memory sliding down the generational time warp (though I'd have to really reach to imagine any of my forebears on horseback), but the sight of a horse sends a tingle up from some special place to that weak spot in the brain where resides a love of Jujubes and the inability to turn off the TV until the last credits roll on Survivor.

Given the almost universal appeal of the animals, it's amazing that not everyone owns one. Statistics that are already several years old suggest that there are millions of horse owners out there, millions more working with horses, and still more savvy folks slapping horse pictures on products so they can sell them at trade shows for twice what they're worth. Horse people will buy anything horsy. Anything. I have a hand-held vacuum cleaner with horse heads on the bag. I never use it, but I had to have it.

The horses are no better. They are attracted to humans like moths to flame. There's no logic to it. They're prey; we're preditors. I guess they have their own genetic memory that causes a little icon to appear in their heads. It's a human hand holding a cookie. Next to the icon is a snot wad, indicating a positive reaction. Humans get one snot wad. Kittens get two. Feed buckets get seven.

Anyway, I bought the farm in 1997, about thirty years after my first horse-love experience. It took that long to decide to give up all vestiges of cleanliness and sanity and allow dust, dirt, sweat and slime to become my natural state. Gallant Hope Farm is what I call my 30 acres of blissful craziness in Sussex County, New Jersey, and the horses and other animals who live here with me seem as delighted as I am with the whole arrangement.

I started writing about horses by accident, but continued on purpose. The more time I spend with the beasts, the more I learn about what it means to be human. I'd like to spout earthy platitudes about the Spirit of Horse and how attuned I am, but there's enough of that going around. Instead I'll spout platitudes (and the occasional epithet) about Spirit of Me and what being around horses does to it.

Horses in the Yard (and Other Equestrian Dilemmas) is the working title of my second book, which is currently resting on a desk at BowTie Press awaiting "positioning". My first book, a POD effort I called It's a Horses Life! (Advice and Observations for the Humans Who Choose to Share It) came out in 2003 and is still available (until November, when my contract thankfully expires) from me, from iUniverse.com, and through Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Both books are collections of essays. Horses Life is comprised mostly of the guest-columnist articles I wrote for the Boston Herald/CNC News local papers back at the turn of the millenium. The new book is full of new stuff. No one has asked me to guest-column since 2001, so I didn't have anything left to compile. I had to actually write things.

Without further ado, I will turn this blog over to the horses. They have a lot more to say than I do, and they're standing in the rain outside my window waiting to have a word or two.

Thanks for stopping by.

JMF

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