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Monday, August 10, 2009 

The loss of horse sense


Nosey
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

This past week was Old Spanish Days (Fiesta) Week here in Santa Bar-B-Que. During the parade there were a couple of accidents involving spooked horses and there is some clamouring about the dangerousness of the horses in the parade and how the handlers/riders are at fault. But, I think the questioning should be as to why we no longer are aware of how to act around horses and how we can regain "horse sense" again.

Perhaps the most obvious point is that we are no longer an agricultural society as a whole. We have no grasp on "the natural" because we are not around nature anymore. Our point of reference to animals is mainly through zoos, movies, tv and as stuffed playtoys. Most of us do not have interaction with animals such as horses on a daily basis. Our perception of animals has been "disneyfied"...cute, cuddly, possessing of human traits, habits and desires. This simply is not the reality. Animals do not see the world through human eyes. They see the world much differently, because, well, they have different visual ability. Apparently this basic scientific fact is lost on so many.

Other basic facts that seem to have been lacking with the parade crowd from what I saw:
  1. Loud noises can spook horses. When you are around horses don't yell, scream, set off noise makers.
  2. Unknown and/or strange movements can spook horses. Don't go throwing things at horses, don't take off shirts and whirl them around over your head whooping it up. Don't zig zag down the street on a skateboard. Don't start blaring your boombox. Don't run across the street right in front of an oncoming horse. Don't make sudden, quick motions toward horses.
  3. Horses, like humans, have a natural fear of fire and when they smell smoke...it raises a red flag. So...duh...don't smoke around horses.
  4. Horses have a different visual of their surroundings than we humans do. They can't see a portion right in front of them and a portion right in back of them. If you make sudden sounds or movements that come from a part of their "blind spot", you just might spook them.
  5. Horses can "talk" but with body language. They will let you know if they are jittery, calm, angry, curious...etc. You just have to know how to read their language. Don't expect to walk up to a horse and pet them when they have their ears pinned to the back of their head. Ask the rider or handler if you can "pet" them, preferably not on the face.
  6. Crowds can be stressful for both horses and humans and their actions may be ampliefied due to stress.
It really is all about respecting and honoring a fellow sentient being on this big blue marble of ours. Perhaps when we learn how to treat horses we can take transfer those lessons and treat our fellow human beings better, too.

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Thank you for your astute observation.

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