If horses had friends and food at their disposal, why would they want to have anything to do with us? This is a question I see frequently posed; or, more frequently, something asserted in the positive. I find it an odd question. Perhaps it is because I have never heard it posed in relation to dogs. What is it that makes a horse more likely to shun us than a dog? Neither is of our species and, so the argument goes, would prefer the company of their own in a life human-free. Perhaps my hesitation in accepting the premise also comes from the relationships I have had with horses throughout my life.
Charles de Kunffy
Since late September, life has passed by in a blur. Several trips for work have taken time away from my non-work life – the horses in particular. Ailments and injuries have further limited equine-based activities. Head buried in work most of the time, I feel as though I looked down on October 1st, and when I looked up, it was already Halloween! Yet, somehow, somewhere in that blur, I was able to complete one barn related project.
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.
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.
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.