Playing God

Not long ago I had lunch with a friend and colleague.  He is someone who has never had animals in his life, save for a brief stint with a dog who ended up being passed on to another family member.  He is interested in bringing another dog into their household, so we spent a fair amount of time talking dogs during our lunch.

I generally avoid animal talk with my friends who do not share their lives with animals.  Life with animals changes your perspective in many ways, and there are aspects about that life that can seem foreign to those unfamiliar with animals.  I have experienced strange looks or puzzled responses in such conversations of the past, which is at the root of my general rule.   But I have never had such a striking reminder of these differences in perspective as I did during this lunch.

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Romanticized cruelty

A recent posting of a photo similar to the one at right raised the usual reactions of disgust, with one person asking simply, “How is this allowed to continue?”  Of course the usual theories of money and corruption were raised.  I won’t deny there may be some validity to those claims, in some cases.  However, I have pondered another root that runs much deeper and older.

I would argue that the history of the horse in art and entertainment has set up a faulty perception that causes many people to ignore the actual agony that is demonstrated in such an image.

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Artists and Architects

It takes structure, blueprints, and a clear plan to create something like Fallingwater, designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1934

When I was in college, I enrolled in an Architecture studio class.  I’d fallen in love with the buildings and structures we’d studied in my many Art History classes, and I thought that perhaps architecture would be for me.  I struggled with the structure of the class, but did enjoy the final project – design a church for a seaside setting.  I created an imaginative building that would fit right into a natural setting, with the roofline echoing the waves below.  The professor appreciated the character of the building, but had a key question – how could you build a structure like that?  I learned then and there that being a architect was as much about engineering as art, and I decided that I was more of an artist.

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When horses try to help

If you do not keep horses at home, you might never have experienced your horses trying to “help” with repairs and chores.  Curious by nature, horses are likely to insert themselves into any activity in their vicinity.  I’ve had heads over my shoulder as I secured a loose board with my trusty drill driver.  We’ve had horses lift and push wheelbarrows, move rakes around (not very efficiently), and remove hoses from water buckets.  This weekend I received just such “assistance” as I was working on hotwire across the fence from Noble.

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The herd falls ill

There are two things that should tug at any feeling heart string – a sick child and a sick animal.  Not only are they suffering from the discomfort of the ailment, but both share a somewhat confused aspect, as if unsure why they are being punished in this way.  Depending upon the age, you can try to explain to the child – but there is no ability to explain to an animal.

As parent or caretaker, you share some of the discomfort as well as the bewilderment at why this had to happen to your loved one.  But mostly, you feel rather helpless.  This is something you cannot make right, yet you know it will not be ending in an hour or a day … or longer.  Then there is always the worry that it might get worse.  All of that is hard enough with one child or animal – imagine it with four.  I couldn’t … until now.

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Embracing challenges

What is your tolerance for challenge?  I’m not talking about that oxer you haven’t tried, or that test you haven’t ridden.  I’m talking about challenges to your ideas, decisions, or pre-conceived notions.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately; though, truth be told, it has been a notion I’ve pondered most of my life.  I work for someone who sees every challenge to an idea or decision as a “clash”.

My mother recently joined a Facebook group, where a simple question led to pleas for civility – in spite of the fact that all answers were very civil, but not necessarily in agreement.  The very universities that I grew up loving are struggling with issues of free speech, in the very institution where the name of the game is (or should be) “challenge”.  It feels as though we have reached a period where challenges of ideas or pre-conceived notions are not acceptable – and nowhere does that seem more pervasive than in the horse world.

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The before and after, showing the affect of changing to a leverage bit

Never underestimate the power of leverage on a horse’s head.  A recent Facebook post, by a trainer recognized by many as upholding classical standards, showed the power leverage can have.  The post was regarding a young mare and her transformation over a few short lessons.  The mare traveled in an inverted fashion under her somewhat green rider.  A change from her snaffle to a straight pelham led to a total transformation in her carriage.  The rider had not changed, but the horse had.  Such is the power of applying leverage to a horse’s head.  I am of mixed feelings about this particular case, but with my own Roxie I am dealing with the fallout of relying upon such leverage without building a proper foundation.

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