You stroll out for the evening chores. The last streaks of fuchsia still decorate the sky, and the cool Delta breeze brushes past your face. You smile as you glance toward the peaceful chicken coop, surveying the surrounding greenery and … a pretty paint mare gazing peacefully toward you, while she calmly munches her ill gotten gain.
One of my earliest memories of going to the movies was waiting in line to see Dr. Dolittle (1967). I remember feeling excited to see the film, clutching a little Dr. Dolittle wallet to put my ticket stub in. Even as a small child, I was captivated by the idea of being able to talk to animals. The film became a favorite that I revisited throughout my childhood. However, as I look around at the world today, and engage in conversations about horse and dog training, I realize the signature song got it wrong. We should not strive to “talk to” the animals – we should be striving to listen to them!
If you stay around the horse world for any length of time you will probably hear generalizations about other areas of the horse world. “All Dressage riders have hard hands.” “Western pleasure riders can’t sit anything past a jog.” “Event riders all hate Dressage.” The phrases you’ve heard may differ, but it’s likely that you can remember hearing such generalizations – maybe even had one aimed at you. I’ve spent significant parts of my life in and around many different equestrian pursuits, and each has their own generalizations about the other equestrian pursuits. It’s human nature – we all look out at other groups from within our own and see the other as strange. Without inside knowledge, we make our judgements based upon the aspects we can see. However, as I retrain our two former Western Pleasure horses, I’m reminded regularly of the folly in such generalizations.
The job has consumed my life. Too many evenings and weekends sacrificed over the last couple of years. The few that were not were used for catching up – either on chores or rest. Couple that with the longest, wettest rainy season in many, many years, and I find myself once again going into summer far behind where I’d hoped I would be with the horses. Four years into this journey, and I’m still not riding. In the quiet moments the frustration at this state of affairs can be overwhelming – but in the moments I have stolen to be with the horses, I find the frustration gives way to a completely different emotion.
It was a perfectly fine Sunday. I hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of days, sure that I had contracted a virus – but it never fully materialized, and I was feeling marginally better. Things had finally dried up enough for the farrier to come out and give everyone a trim and reshoe, for those who wear them. There had been a slight overnight rain, but not enough to change our plans. Horses had been getting out for a few days, so everyone was in a reasonable humor – except, of course, for Mr. Noble. Little did we know the consequences his mood would bring with it.
A recent exchange with young liberals over a New York Times article (inspiration for my last post) got me contemplating influence, and the one sure killer of influence – aggression.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a reasonable person in this modern era. If you are not shouting from an extreme position, you are somehow not to be heard. If you are not on my side, then I must shout you down. Whether social media is driving this, or just our society’s evolution, the world is becoming increasingly deaf to the reasonable voices.