Monday, July 07, 2014

What the horse saw

You might know the name from The Tipping Point and  Click!  If you haven't had the good fortune to come across Malcolm Gladwell's Atlantic columns, then you don't know "What the Dog Saw".  And if you don't know "What the Dog Saw", your education is sorely lacking.  So go get a copy and read it.  At least watch the linked video that offers a summary and review of the compilation, What the Dog Saw.  

I won't wait for you to read the whole book.  I'm going to pick on one of the concepts that Gladwell, Economist Superb, highlights in the first paragraph of the first essay in the book:  the Other Minds Problem.


There is a commonality among humans (maybe the only one) that we assume with deep conviction that all minds are like our own.  The example Gladwell uses is the toddler who force-feeds Goldfish crackers to his  parent, the assumption being that if he loves Goldfish, then everyone loves Goldfish.  So he puts on a great show of generosity by stuffing crackers into Mom, Dad, the dog, even the goldfish and feels pure delight at sharing his bonanza of awesomeness.

Thing is, I, for one, am not a huge Goldfish fan.

So it stands to reason that many of our efforts to be generous and share our "finds" with others of all species are often doomed to failure, and our frustration and disappointment are strong and painful.  Picture the spouse who had no interest in watching, say, football for an entire afternoon while the opposing spouse thinks creating a Big Thing out of game time is just the ticket to joy and contentment all around.  This isn't gender-based; it's universally human, and it's a pain in the butt.

My ex-hub and I had a sailboat.  And a dog.  We loved both.  So it stood to reason that there would be a time when we would take the dog on the boat.  Dog...water...sunshine...outdoors...what's not to love?  The dog begged to differ, and did so with great enthusiasm.  She flattened herself on the floor of the cockpit so her four feet were touching the sides, and there she lay.  Eventually the "she's going to love sailing" morphed into "she's going to love going for a swim".  No.  Not for an instant.  Yes, she loved playing in the water at the edge of the lake.  No, she did not love being in water over her head.  She swam hard toward DH and ran--literally ran--up his chest and back into the boat.  Lesser of two evils and what have you.

How could she not love it?  How could my current SO not spend every sunny moment on the horse I bought for him?  He loves fussing over the beast, and they have formed a serious bond over a handful of the hens' scratch grains in the AM, but riding isn't at the top of his list of Things To Swoon Over.  I can't wait to get on a horse.  He can't wait to stand in the shade and pet his horse.

We're not like-minded.  Our brains are different.
You can't tell from this photo that
this idyllic scene is set on only a half-acre.
The fields in the background are my
version of trick photography. 

So it goes in the equestrian world.  A recent convo with a contact on LinkedIn could not have made it clearer.  He, an Oklahoma rancher, is completely caught up in the BLM wild horse issue. In particular, he's upset that the BLM has lowered the stipend they give ranchers for feeding the horses.

We don't have the BLM in New Jersey.  We don't have ten thousand acres of land on which, for a price, we can graze our horses.  We are the endgame for all those cheap horses being bred "Out West" and shipped here and resold at ten times the purchase price.  We're the ones trying to keep 20 horses on 5 acres and make it look like a plan.  Our rant (at least in this instant) isn't "The damn GUV'MINT!", it's "The damn BREEDERS!"

There's a chasm between minds there that's hard to bridge.

The same applies to training methods, shoeing regimens, feed, turnout, general management...pretty much any facet of anything ever conceived.

This isn't a post where I'm offering a cure or some steps to rectifying the problem.  This is just a notification that a problem exists. The best we can do is be aware of it.  So now you know.  Pretend to care, and we'll have at least made one step forward.  We'll never all be of like mind on anything, but we can try not to kill each other over our differences.

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