As I have mentioned, I have been working with a young horse. She has been an absolute superstar and has, without complaint, done everything I have asked of her. I, in turn, have done everything I thought necessary to keep her comfortable. And yet, I am back wrestling with the same issues I was a few months ago!
I have had her saddle fitted by a professional and have taken things really slow. I have done everything in my knowledge base to keep her happy and sound. But when her winter coat grew in a few weeks ago, along with it, grew the fine white sprinkle of telltale hairs – a clear indication that there has been so much pressure on her back that the hair follicles have died. I am angry. Not mildly annoyed; I am pissed as hell!
I am angry that humans exploit animals, but I am even angrier at the fact that animals allow it! I am angry that once again, my horse has been suffering and yet again, I have had no indication that she has been in pain. It’s insane – if I had had any earlier indication, I could have had the saddle refitted, I could have done something – anything! It just, once again, makes me wonder how many of our horses are suffering day in and day out, and just because they “say” nothing about it, just because they are true to their natures and being stoic, they continue to be hurt!
And while I’m on the rant about animal exploitation – here is another thing that just irks me: Why should “humane” (a ridiculous term – as humans are certainly the cruelest of animals on the planet – but the best I have right now) treatment only be afforded to all the animals that land on our dinner tables when we can “afford” to pay more? What rubbish is this? Why should thousands of animals still suffer to produce “cheap” eggs, meat and dairy because everyone can’t afford free-range? Is our thinking really that backward? Why should you have to be well-off to care about where your food comes from and that it was at least treated with some form of respect? I don’t know the answers, but I do know that someone has to start thinking about it or we will never be fit guardians for this planet.
There has to be a better way of doing things? There has to be a way that I can fulfill my dietary needs without cringing every time I walk into the grocery store? (Believe me, I have tried being vegetarian, and my body just would not have it.) There has to be a way where humans can keep cows for milk without taking away the calves? There has to be a way to keep healthy chickens that do not need to be beak-clipped and pumped full of antibiotics? There has to be a way where humans can live in harmony with nature again.
Nature is not all peaceful. I live in Africa, I know. Predators hunt, and prey are hunted – and eaten. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s about life and death. It’s about balance. We are all animals, but it would seem that Descartes and his ilk had it all wrong; humans are in fact the emotionless automatons. Our efficiency has been our downfall. We are out of kilter. We have upset the balance.
Riding is about balance, about give and take. It’s about giving instruction, but more so, about paying attention to the feedback we get. Therein lies the problem; we learn to give instruction, but many of us never learn to stop and take in the feedback from our horses. Numerous times I have tried, twice in a row now, I have failed! I will have to try harder, but there has to be a better way…