This last post in the series will cover what I like to refer to as the third of those three ‘F’s’ –freedom. I hope to introduce the idea that these three needs are actually hard to isolate individually, and could instead be looked at as one very important, intertwined need of the horse.
There’s a great phrase, “anthropomorphism by omission”, that describes what happens when we fail to consider that other animals (don’t forget, we too are animals) have a different perception of the world than we. Without even realizing it, we can attribute human traits, needs, or ways of perceiving to other species simply by failing to realize that how they perceive the world is probably completely different than how we perceive the world. As it applies to this blog, what we think the horse wants or needs might not be what he wants or needs. I believe that most horse owners want their horses to be happy. In the first part of this blog series, The Horse’s Manifesto, we talked about the horse’s inherent need for Friends. Here in part two we are going to cover his need for Forage.
There’s a great phrase, “anthropomorphism by omission”, that describes what happens when we fail to consider that other animals (don’t forget, we too are animals) have a different perception of the world than we. Without even realizing it, we can attribute human traits, needs, or ways of perceiving to other species simply by failing to realize that how they perceive the world is probably completely different than how we perceive the world. As it applies to this blog, what we think the horse wants or needs might not be what he wants or needs. I believe that most horse owners want their horses to be happy. So in the interest of keeping our horses happy, this three part blog will examine his top three demands, starting with friends.
Humans and horses, in wildly varying states of cooperation and mutual respect, have worked together for almost 10,000 years. Capitalizing on both their willingness to coexist peacefully and their receptiveness to training, humans have borrowed the horse’s power, endurance and strength for such things as transportation, crop production, and to gain an advantage over opponents in battle. Over the millennia, horse folk have struggled to find a balance between harnessing the horse’s innate sensitivity and responsiveness while tempering his instinct for rapid flight and reaction, or desensitizing him to common stimuli while not creating unresponsive “dull” horses.
Do you prefer your horse clean shaven, and tackle every stray hair with scissors, pulling comb, or clippers? Or are you in the “wild and wooly” camp, whose members sport shaggy beards, hairy fetlocks and whiskery chins? Whichever grooming club you belong to, you may want to reconsider trimming a certain part of your horse’s body the next time the urge to tidy things up overcomes you.
It’s summer, and the podcast will be winding down for a couple of months. In the meantime, I want to highlight some of the outstanding archive material we have made available on Continue reading | Comments and Reactions
An astonishing fact: My horse Lukas receives over 100 e-mails a day! How can that be you might ask, what could anyone possibly write to a horse about? Let me give you a few examples - “Thank you, Karen and Lukas, for changing people’s perception of horses - I own a horse rescue and I have been getting more calls than ever from prospective adopters. Lukas is helping to bring greater understanding and vast improvement into the lives of horses world-wide”. “Lukas makes my autistic son smile, thank you from the bottom of my heart.” “Lukas is like a beacon to the world - showing how truly remarkable and wonderful our equine friends are. I always knew they had intelligence and emotions, now I can prove it to the skeptics I know.” And one of my favorites, “I just had to tell you how much I love Lukas - since losing my horse 2 years ago, I’ve been so depressed I haven’t wanted to ride. I saw Lukas’ videos on you-tube and realized how much I miss being around horses after seeing the bond that you two share. Now, I’m going to half lease a friend’s mare. I’m so excited, thank you, Lukas!”
As glowing as all this sounds, it wasn’t always this way. Lukas (race name Just Ask Mike) left the track as a two year old with two bowed tendons after three unmemorable race finishes, changed hands several times and ended up emaciated and neglected in a back yard. He was rescued by a neighbor, who took pity on the then 8 year old chestnut gelding - “You could see every rib and his tail was a solid bat of dried mud.” The neighbor, Sue Smith, a local trainer had hoped to eventually include him in her amateur jumping program. After two years though, he still wasn’t fitting in, according to Smith, and I purchased him from her after seeing his picture ad in the local Horsetrader.