Friday, February 14, 2014

Should Horses Work?


NY is on fire with controversy over whether it is cruel to ask horses to pull carriages or not. Most of you know better, but there are a lot of people down in the city, who are not even smart enough to wear boots when it snows. They don't know as much as they think they do about animals either.

There have been a number of well-written articles on the topic, from people who DO know about horses, from all walks of life, from actors to actual horsemen and women. 

Horses don't mind work. Many of them love it. When I worked at the flat track my boss claimed an old chestnut gelding. You should have seen him when he heard the call to the post. Even way back in the stable where I was walking him, his ears pricked up, his eyes lit, and he danced a little in place. He knew it wasn't his call, but he wanted it to be.

Dogs don't mind work. Try standing between a border collie and some sheep...... 

Most people don't mind work either if they choose the right job. Just look at all the crazy dairy farmers running around in the snow.

I thought I would share a little story from way back when as an example of the horsey aspect of this. 

For the first couple decades of my life, I wanted a horse so bad I could taste it. I shoveled manure for rides, worked at the harness track for free just to be around horses, and spent my last dime on riding lessons many, many times. Finally I bought Magnum as a two-year-old from our blacksmith and his wife, very good friends, who owned both his sire and dam.

He and I sort of grew up together. Neither of us knew a lot....but we muddled along, and had a crazy lot of fun. And yes, he was having fun too. I always galloped him to the top of the hill on Grey Road before they paved it. When we got to the bottom, he just started hopping up in down in place and setting back on his haunches, want to go-go-go... And go-go-go we did until he stopped at the top of his own accord. 

He was always kinda lazy in general though, which suited me fine, because I was always kinda chicken. Thus I tended to have a little stick in my back pocket...didn't need to use it, but he did need to know it was there....and sometimes I had to walk him down to catch him if he thought I had been overdoing it and wanted a vacay.

However, when I bought another horse and decided to ride her instead of riding him, he threw a hissy fit. 

Every time I took her out. Stomping and banging and thumping in his stall. Then when I next took him out letting me know in no uncertain terms that he might not want me to make him work too hard, but it darned well better be him I was working. Once he even dumped me right over his head. He'd been pouting ever since I got on him after riding the filly. When I asked him to stop, he stopped all right, all four feet, dead in his track and I went flying. After that, having gotten his own back, he behaved perfectly.

It's pretty funny in retrospect, although I wasn't thrilled at the time. Horses came and went over the years but he was with me from two to thirty-two. We got along pretty darned well, and I repeat, riding was fun for me, and it was fun for him too. And work is not cruel to those horses in the city. If they didn't like it you couldn't make them do it, any more than you can make a kid stay on the farm if they don't want to.

4 comments:

Brandi Miller said...

Those people who think its cruel to work horses, are probably the same people who think its cruel for small farms to raise Chicken for meat, when in fact back yard chickens have a far better life than factory chickens...anyways, I loved your story about your horse, he sounded quite lively and fun!!!

Brandi Miller said...

Those people who think its cruel to work horses, are probably the same people who think its cruel for small farms to raise Chicken for meat, when in fact back yard chickens have a far better life than factory chickens...anyways, I loved your story about your horse, he sounded quite lively and fun!!!

Cathy said...

Awwww . . . bittersweet on so many levels.
Funny too: " . . .look at all the crazy dairy farmers running around in the snow."
Don't you wish you had videos of your wind-in-your-hair, young-bodied verve and grace?

threecollie said...

Brandi, thank you. He was. We did so many things for so many years...

Cathy, OMG, no, a thousand times no! If anyone ever videos me I am coming after them. lol