Monday, December 12, 2011
This Is How You End Horse Slaughter
A few weekends ago Mikhail had his first lengthy canter (that was on purpose, there was an involuntary lengthy canter a few months ago but that does not count). Saturday he was in his first parade. He is young, 6 or 7, I think, athletic and loves fun.
He also represents a very important part of the answer to the problem of "unwanted horses." Of course, we do not have a surplus of horses in America. We have an extreme shortage of riders. The only hope for the horses is to attract more riders. That means reaching out to novices and teaching them to ride. The best way to do that is for them to learn much more than to simply be relatively safe passengers in the saddle. The more that they understand about natural horsemanship the more likely it is that horse ownership will be part of their future.
One of the major reasons that horses go to slaughter houses is because boys are afraid to ride them. Even worse, they are part of a society that encourages and supports that fear. After all, why should a boy risk injury, pain, or even a saddle sore, when he can quietly entertain himself with a violent video game?
I do not have a lot of helpful suggestions in this regard. I have lost my ability to inspire boys. I hate to admit the fact, but denying it would not change the situation. Little girls are easy to inspire. Even with all the advances of the past fifty years we still live in a world in which little girls are constantly taught that they are fragile, incompetent, and not capable of demonstrating real courage. From the moment of our first conversation I make it clear to little girls that if they break, they will mend and that if a thing is worth doing they can do it. I give them tasks that I doubt that their parents think that they are capable of and they do it. As they get older I delegate a great deal of authority to those that earn it. Again, often to the surprise of their parents. (Lydia's mother looked a bit surprised when I told her that the reason that we chose a particular BLM mare was because Lydia had looked them over quite closely and felt that she was a good choice.)
Little girls respond to encouragement, trust, and high expectations. Too many little boys do not. Given the opportunity little girls exceed the incredibly low expectations that society has for them. Were I trapped in a burning building Emily Wilda would find enough strength in her seventy some pound body to drag me out while the firemen were still putting on their gear.
Mikhail will be different but not because of anything that I instill in him. In a few years I will be able to tell him to get in a round pen with a bad horse and gentle the meanness out of her. He will be another Jacob. He will be able to ride as hard as Christian. I will be able to depend on him and so will his horse.
In short, he will be just as good as the girls.
Posted by Steve Edwards