Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Horses and Humans: Perfect together?

Why I'm Never Getting My Daughter a Pony - Horse Collaborative

The article linked above isn't a warm fuzzy thing, and it's been around for a while.  So if you're in the mood for "Oooo...!  Pony!" just move on.

We humans love animals of other species.  It's known as Biophilia. We're attracted to other living things, plants and animals and things we don't even know about yet.  It's a universal draw to all living things as we show in research situations that we prefer the living over the inanimate.  And our attraction isn't confined to watching from afar.  We need to touch, feel, mess with, and fuss over them.  We are seeking oneness with all life, and we're bullies about it.

GUY in CHINO'S and a BALL CAP:  "I'm gonna hug this goddamn alligator whether he likes it or not 'cause I am goddamn one with Nature!"



There's always an undercurrent in the horse world questioning where the next generation of horse owners will be spawned.  We Boomers filled the countryside with horses and other equids, and the next gen is smaller and less affluent.  So who is going to fill the void?  Should we all be forcing our grandkids into the horse life just to keep it alive?

Budding horse whisperer and the best kind of pony for him to own.

This is a much bigger dilemma than it appears on the surface to be.  We have created a huge surplus of animals, some of which never existed in nature but were created by our genetic meddling, and there aren't enough humans to support continuing.  What will become of the overflow?

Turning them loose to run wild hasn't proved to be much of a plan.  The BLM is at constant odds with cattle ranchers over the population of wild horses they are trying to support.  The horses have to be rounded up and re-homed to make room for the cattle.  There's a huge pro-Mustang faction that has yet to address the fact that horses are not native to The Americas at all.  None.  They came here from Spain with the Columbian Expansion post-1493. [Read the timeline and review, then order the three books, 'cause you should.]

Before the anti-Mustang/pro-cattle folks get puffed up, be aware that there were no cattle here, either.  They came in from Africa (yeah, brought by the folks from Africa who knew how to manage them and were indentured, not enslaved, to do just that).  So we have created a war that didn't need to happen (what a surprise!), and we did it through our self-serving desire to have it all and have it our way (ditto!).

Now we're faced with a dilemma, and I have little to add to the subject.  As hard as I've thought about it, I keep coming back to two points:

1)  Some horses are going to suffer and die before we are able to roll this back.

2)  We need to stop breeding horses just because we want something bigger/better/tougher/cuter/horsier.

So, short and to the point, I putting out there that the linked article is an excellent treatise on why we need to stop indulging our whims and start thinking about the minds and hearts of the animals we so callously contact for our own human conceits.  It's time.  Even Climate Change is against the continuation of this insanity.  Ranges are growing smaller and will continue to do so no matter how hard some folks stomp their feet and deny that it's happening.  Hay shortages, pasture shortages, the continued spread of humanity across the face of the planet are all conspiring to make this a non-viable situation.

If you're faced with the choice between buying a horse or not, not is probably the better bet unless you are dead sure that you will be able to accommodate that animal's needs forever, till death do you part (and maybe after that if the death is yours).  That means education comes before check-writing.  I'd like to see more of that.  More summer horse camps where not only petting, grooming and riding are taught, but also the financial and physical end of being in the horse world.  No kid should be allowed at camp until his parents have finished a course or passed a test proving that, should Junior fall in love with those gorgeous pony eyes, Mommy and Daddy Dearest are completely aware and willing to foot the bill into eternity. And that they know what that means.

We need to opt out of owning and get into sharing and simply enjoying.

We've taken the easy route to making money in the horse life.  We open barns and let people bring their horses to live with us, and we take their money in exchange.  We open stables and teach people to ride and take their money in exchange until the lesson horses age out and are shipped off "to auction".  We breed horses and sell them to those same people without a thought for the future plans for the animals we're creating.

We need to take the high road and start thinking with our brains instead of letting our emotions rule the day.  There will still be horses aplenty, but perhaps not in the situations where we often find them.  Better for us, better for them, better all around.

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