I have been around horses for most of my life on a daily basis. My wife Zee spends most of every day working with our herd of horses. She trains the young ones, exercises others, and plays nurse to any that might need some TLC. With two lifetimes of experience observing these very social animals we’re going to now act as interpreters for a conversation we overheard between two of our senior citizens by the names of Hot Shot, age 25, and Pozie, age 20.
Hot Shot, this day, was in a philosophical mood and was pondering whether the horse was better off after casting its lot with we humans some 5,000 years ago. Pozie thought for awhile and then with her horse sense she came to the logical conclusion that her ancestors had plenty of chances to cut and run because the planet was not very crowded back then. In fact, it’s only been in the last 1,000 years or so that we really started losing elbow room.
Well, Pozie came to the conclusion that as badly as we’ve been treated by our human master over the millennia there must have been more pluses than minuses.
Hot Shot appreciated her view on the subject and responded with his own bit of logic. “Pozie,” he said, “You know we can’t change the past but what about you and I coming up with the pluses and minuses that we like and dislike about today’s world. Pozie you go first.”
“Well luck has certainly been with all of us that have been able to live out our lives here on the V6 Ranch. I don’t know of a nicer part of California than right here in Parkfield.”
“But some of my flat land relatives might argue that point saying that you guys spend most of your time either going up or down a mountain. And frankly, that looks like a lot of hard work.”
Pozie’s reply to the issue of hard work was that if you’re in good physical shape the mountains are a piece of cake. Hot Shot chimed in saying that too many of our city brethren are looking a little large around the girth and maybe some mountain climbing might be in order.
“Hot Shot it’s your turn now. What good and bad things can you think of?”
“Well I’ll start with the new training methods that are being practiced today. It’s a much kinder and gentler way that most trainers use today. The modern horseman acknowledges that we in the horse world have a brain and that most of us want to please our owners. We will tell you with graphic signs of our content or discontent.”
Pozie says, “I like that! Why don’t you tell our readers some of the body language that we use to let you know how we’re feeling at the moment?”
“Okay I’m going to start with my eyes, they reveal a lot about my personality from fearful to fearless, somber to hysterics. My eyes are a window to my inner feelings. Next are my ears. If my ears are pinned back I’m saying, you there, yea you on my back. That horse behind me keeps pestering and threatening me and I know he is back there because of my eyes being placed on each side of my skull that allow me to see clear back to my tail. So please see if you can’t fix the problem. Now if my ears are more or less straight up I feel relaxed and am enjoying life and looking forward to tomorrow. My ears pricked forward means there’s something going on that I need to know more about. Like: do I run like hell or is it much ado about nothing? And when you approach me in the corral and my ears are forward looking and I start licking my lips I’m saying I’d like to be your friend. Pozie why don’t you tackle ‘tell tale signs’ a cliché from the horse and buggy days?”
“Ok, if my tail is hanging straight down everything is cool. Now if I start swinging it back and forth slowly at first I’m slightly peeved. As my tail moves faster I’m getting more and more upset and when I start to ring it in a circle I’m pissed and I may even pee a little. I want you to stop what you’re doing like constantly poking me with your spurs. I don’t mean you have to take your spurs off because they are a valuable tool if used correctly. Your turn Hot Shot.”
“There’s one that really bugs me: horses that become weavers or cribbers from being confined with no exercise. But Pozie, I think it’s time to look at the positive side with our owners. I think that we are much better fed than my brethren of the past century when we were simply beasts of burden that had no feelings. I like the way our strengths have been cultivated so that we who like working cattle can work cattle. Others who like to run can run around a race track or around a barrel. Pacers and single footers can rack on and you work horses think that pulling a freight wagon is fun.
Well Poz I hope that most of our kind don’t want to go back 5,000 years, but choose to live this day and look forward to tomorrow.”
Pozie and Hot Shot