Monday, May 07, 2007


In response to my Barbaro post from yesterday, Anthony asked an interesting question or two in the comments. You can find the comments with the post, but the general gist of the statement was do we assign attributes like beauty, gracefullness, determination and free spirited/free minded thinking, to horses, or do they understand it on their own. Its a good question and a question that also begs us to ask why we a human beings get so upset when we see animals injured.
I do not think that they understand beauty or being graceful. Or at least horses don't understand it in the same way that people understand it. Its an abstract thought and also a thought that is in the eye of the beholder. Look at modern art. I can't stand it, I think the abstract paintings of black squares on a green backboard is stupid and not worth the canvas it is printed on. Yet, their are others of us who would pay big bucks for a original Roald Dahl painting. So, your beauty may not be my beauty. Now, I can't say that if you showed a stallion a picture of NoBiz Like Showbiz or Go For Wand, that the horse would pick one over the other based on attractiveness, but Afleet Alex don't know beauty.
Determination is a whole different ball of wax. Horses have determination bred into them, at least race horses do. They know from the bell they are supposed to run. They know they are supposed to win. Plus, all horses have different running styles, some like being out front, others like being just over off the lead, and still others love to charge up from way behind. So, I firmly believe a horse knows how to win and will do whatever it takes to try and win. So, while it may not be determination as we see it, it is a form of determination, the need to win. Their are many stories of horses that could not run races anymore because after they were beat, their psyche could not handle it. Their are also many stories about underdog horses digging deep to beat a more qualified stronger horse, just because the will was their to do it. Hence, determination.
Now, free spiritedness is just something that we as people attach to horses, especially if we also link them in our minds with the wild horses of the old west. A horse, like every animal, has some sort of personality. So, they maybe acting free spirited, its just their personality, it has nothing to do with them thinking they are free. Of course, we all know the old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

Now, on a totally different side note, your favorite typing Duck did very well on the ponies over the weekend. Picking horses is something I have been doing for the past few years, and I have been watching the triple crown races since I was 16. So, I know a little something, and while I will not tell you how much I won exactly. I can tell you that I could pick up a Playstation 3 and still have some cash left over, if I was so inclined. Don't worry, I am not inclined that way, but it made for a fun Saturday night. Yes, it didnt take much to think that Street Sense was going to win, but it did take something to know who else would win.


Anthony said...

Well, speaking as someone who has prints of Diebenkorn, Rothko and Pollock hanging in his living room, and a 16-year old cat sitting there as well, I feel that I can speak as both a lover of modern art and animals. :)

There are those alpha types who love to be out front, and that's what makes great races. I suppose they do know something about what they are doing, but just like us, their level varies with their skill.
Even though I am just as competitive as Carl Lewis, he would kick my ass in a race. So, we cannot take pure ability out of the equation.

All of that is difficult to know without being able to communicate with the horse, which is where handicapping comes in.

My problem comes in when animals are "used" for our entertainment, with little regard for them as living breathing beings. I think they deserve more respect than that. I'm never sure if the fate that awaited Barbaro (and so many others that we never hear about) was worth the effort.
Horse racing is an exciting event, and I know I would enjoy it more if I wasn't so worried about the safety of the animals involved.

It's also why I'm not that big a fan of boxing, either.

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

"Look at modern art. I can't stand it"
... but Sparks...i thought...i thought... you loved my work? (Gihugant crocidile tears rolling down my cheeks.)