Horses are art in motion. When still they are the calm and peace of the world. When they run, it’s with invisible wings. When they trot, it’s as if each step springs them into heaven. Few things in nature compare to the beauty of the horse.
How many a child has felt the call of the wild horse who responds only to them? How many feel they could win any kind of battle when astride a horse? How many dream of the moment that they and the horse become one with the same zeal as many dream of a championship?
Many, I know. They inspire and empower us. And most of all they instruct us: listen, watch, become one with them and their gentle calm or their wild nature or their joyous run.
From the shy autistic child to the recovering drug addict to the soldier with post traumatic stress, the horse has stepped up time and again to aid in their healing. Their beauty alone is a balm to our hearts. To brush one soothes us. To befriend one is to have a stalwart companion through the worst of times. And to ride one is to gain a glimpse of heaven.
Those who cast aside the horse as a mere ‘animal’, an object to dispose of as they will without regard for it’s nature are diminishing humanity as well as the horse. We need them now. We always have. We need the reminder that to tame all of nature means to lose some of it’s beauty. To cast aside a companion who has stood by someone through all is to toss away a piece of one’s existence that was as important to them as a limb.
We need the horse. We need the horse even more than the horse needs us. For the things you would trade it for: wealth, land, money or power, don’t last forever. But friendship, hope, faith and courage do. They must.
In this last video, the situation between those who under rate horses is largely summed up with : :The heart of the problem is there is no value put on wildness.” Or, I would add, on beauty. Or anything that truly matters. Far too many would sell it out, destroy it for money. But the inspiration that is the horse is worth far more.
I’ll admit, I don’t know too many veterans. My Grandfather was one, a WWII vet, but he didn’t really talk about it. We only realized from a letter from one of his friends to my grandfather after his death that he had been a real hero.
My world has always been all about horses. I live in a country were I can live free and hang out with horses and my gender and religion doesn’t affect that a bit. You can’t say that of everywhere. You can say though, that our veterans, for better or worse, are ambassadors to the world. Sometimes I imagine all they rest of the world knows us by is Hollywood and that is a scary thought!
But so many of these people come home scarred, and our nation does far too little to support them on return. Physical after effects are one thing. But the psychological ones are worse.
“I said, ‘I have heard people talk about war as if it was a very fine thing.’ [Black Beauty]
Ah!’ said [Captain], ‘I should think they never saw it. No doubt it is very fine when there is no enemy, when it is just exercise and parade, and sham-fight. Yes, it is very fine then; but when thousands of good brave men and horses are killed, or crippled for life, it has a very different look.’ Do you know what they fought about?’ said I. No,’ he said, ‘that is more than a horse can understand, but the enemy must have been awfully wicked people, if it was right to go all that way over the sea on purpose to kill them.” ― Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
And I know for sure, if there is one thing horses excel at, it’s therapy. It doesn’t have to be a program with ‘therapy’ in the name. Just being around a horse is therapy. It’s difficult to keep your mind on your own problems when you have a soft friend to brush, who never judges what you say to them, who lets you take a ride and exercise but still needs care and watching less they ignorantly plant a hoof on your foot.
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” ~Winston Churchill
Or, I would add, a woman.
Here is a sample list I found of LOTS of place involving horses and the military (as of 5/24/2014):
It just makes sense really, that horses should be there for the aftermath of mankinds traumatic battles. For many centuries they were there through them. From General Sheridan’s Winchester to Sgt. Reckless, horses, for better or worse has shared humanities battles. It only makes sense they would also share in the healing.
“This one isn’t just any old horse. There’s a nobility in his eye, a regal serenity about him. Does he not personify all that men try to be and never can be? I tell you, my friend, there’s divinity in a horse, and specially in a horse like this. God got it right the day he created them. And to find a horse like this in the middle of this filthy abomination of a war, is for me like finding a butterfly on a dung heap. We don’t belong in the same universe as a creature like this.” ― Michael Morpurgo, War Horse
May you, your family and all the veterans have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.
This is one of those cases where I have to ask: “What would Black Beauty say?”
I believe he would say that what makes a job good or bad is largely up to the human and whether they are cruel, kind or indifferent. Horse and human are in this together, sharing the environment, the reward and the punishment.
From the horses view, (allowing for modernization) no doubt the streets are even harder. The temperatures may be more extreme, due to the tall buildings affect on the weather. And then the cars add in a new element, complete with greater speeds, reckless drivers and car horns.
From the drivers point of view, the driver has to worry about steering, traffic and weather too. The driver may also have family to think about.
What they have in common is that this is their livelihood: the food, shelter and all rely on this job.
Here are the laws as of now:
Horses can’t work in 18 degrees or below weather.
In winter, they must wear blankets
They can’t be driven faster than a trot,
For every 2 hours working they must rest at least 15 minutes.
During rest, they must have fresh water available.
They must have enough food and water at reasonable intervals.
Horses can’t work when lame, ill, injured or in poor condition.
No working in adverse slippery weather.
Must obey traffic laws
not allowed in tunnels
may not be abused and driver may not fail to provide food/water as required.
What is lacking:
Factoring in wind and humidity in weather and temperature conditions.
Recently, the NYPD was put in charge of this and seem to feel it a burden. I fail to see how checking if the horses are blanketed (should be obvious) or lame (again, should be obvious) is difficult. And a big enough stall, clean, with sufficient food and water are again, easy to check. Of course, the issue might be they don’t have enough man power (which is hardly a carriage horse only issue.)
How many of those demanding the carriages be made illegal actually know anything about horses? Have those protesting met the horses and drivers, ridden in carriages or been to the stables? Or is it just a wave of well meaning but false information? Or for that matter, does someone profit? Like, for instance, whoever would provide the electric antique cars they suggest should replace them? Or the politicians who may or may not care about animals, but probably would not hesitate to use them to earn votes and points for their political agendas.
In the midst of this apparent compassion, where is the consideration for what comes after? Yes, they claim the retired horses would go to rescues. But even if you believe that, doesn’t that just bump aside horses that would otherwise be rescued from a worst fate? And what about the humans? No one is volunteering to ‘give’ them the electric cars. They apparently are not offering to replace their livelihood.
I love horses. I love riding them and would love to try a carriage. I do believe a city is not the ideal place to live, at least for a horse. A horse should have room to relax and stroll during their time off. But then again, horses are not the only ones who should have it. How many kids have nowhere to play but asphalt? In the city, those horses may be the closest thing the country some kids will ever see.
I would never wish harm or a cruel handler on any horse. But few people live in ideal circumstances either. People end up homeless and their pets do too. And not all of them are given a choice either: ask anyone with a physical or mental disability. Will these horses handlers also be consigned to the unemployed or homeless? Is that fair, if they were good and kind handlers who cared for their horses as they cared for themselves?
Banning the carriages seems like taking the easy way out at the expense of the innocent. It’s like swatting a fly with hammer. Not all of the drivers can be breaking the rules, or they wouldn’t have their licenses to be renewed. We are a people who have a million gadgets to measure how far we run or walk, how fast our heart beats. We can measure our health on the go. There is even a teddy bear designed to monitor a child’s health. And we are supposed to believe there is no way they could find a way to measure a horses health on the go while pulling a carriage? No way to measure if it’s getting enough rest, water or food? Because I can’t for a moment believe that. What I can think, is that horse, human and family will be without work and tourists, too, will miss out on a piece of history, just because the mayor want to take the easy way out.
Well, here it is. The summation of much of the world’s woes, as once again, revealed through the horse world. The fox guarding the chickens. The corrupt judge sitting over his son’s trial. The blind man driving the automobile (no offense to the blind intended, the way technology is headed, it’s only a matter of time).
The first is that the BLM went back on it’s word and went ahead with a mustang roundup they’d promised and sworn was cancelled. Color me shocked. A branch of the government, lie to it’s citizens? Of course they would. What bothers me is that no other branch of the government seems interested in holding them accountable. You have perjury and animal cruelty in one fell swoop, yet no one ever arrests them. What does it say about our government, that it is no longer being held accountable to it’s citizens for such misuse of funds and power?
The second is this bit of news of the confusion over slaughterhouses. Now the Native nations – and for the moment, I won’t try and sort out which ones – are apparently divided, with some in favor of it. Some still believe the horse is sacred and are firmly opposed. But the others claim ‘overpopulation’ and ‘overgrazing’ and insist that slaughter would solve their problems.
I can’t help note that if so, they should be trying to get the slaughter plant, with its associated environmental hazards on their own reservation land. Apparently they don’t mind foisting it off on someone else. They don’t seem to be vying for the jobs associated, they just want the horses gone.
I don’t claim to know what the ratio of horses to other livestock is on the Native reservations is, or whether they have a problem. I do know slaughter isn’t the answer. But it’s a sad thing to think that people some of whom have been called ‘people of the horse’, and for some of them, still think it sacred, would consider this an acceptable solution. What is it about today’s society that people are so ignorant and determined to remain so in the name of greed and convenience?
Third, is the trial of the Tennessee Walking Horse trainer. Now what makes me shake my head at this is on the Ethics committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer’s Association. Ethics. Oh, really, ethics. The man thought nothing of soring and intentionally injuring these animals for a ribbon, prize money, or trophy. I can’t imagine why anyone would reward anyone for cruelty. But the idea of the man being on an ethics committee!! It’s incomprehensible. Talk about the blind leading the blind!
Horses were high on the list of what the earlier settlers needed. They were needed to pull the plow, take the family to church on Sunday or go to market. They were also the means of entertainment, giving rise to the challenge of which horse was best at his job. Which horse is fastest? Which pulls the buggy or runs under saddle fastest? Which does the fastest and best job pulling the plow.
Which breeds began first in America?
The Morgan was one of the first. He hailed from Vermont and the prolific little stallion became known as ‘Justin Morgan’ after his owner. He was also called Figure. He was described as a tough little all around horse, able to pull the plow during the week and participate in races on the weekend. These were both in saddle and in harness. These days he’s still a strong show horse, and many other American breeds show traces of him in their ancestry. During the Civil War, they were used as calvary mounts.
The Quarter Horse is one of the most popular breeds in the world. This horse is often synonymous with western events. But did you know his ancestry starts in Virginia? His ancestors include the thoroughbred and the morgan. The most famous thoroughbred sire for the breed was Janus. Eventually, he moved west and met up with the mustang, which contributed to his lineage. The breed was standardized out west.
Plantation Walker AKA Tennessee Walker
Originally born for the southern plantation owner to ride his land in smooth gaited comfort. This horse went on to become a prized show horse. He is also a wonderfully smooth trail and pleasure horse. His show career however is tarnished by the horrors of a practice called the big lick. That high stepping walk comes naturally, but some trainers use boots, chains and chemicals to make them step higher. It’s a shameful thing, because this is truly a lovely breed, sturdy but refined. The breed is most famous for it’s association with Tennessee, where the breed standard was finalized.
Claims to Fame: Of Morgans: One of them was General Sheridan’s Rienzi, AKA Winchester. Another one was named Ethan Allen. Rex was a silent film star.
Of Quarter Horses:
Buttermilk (from the Roy Rogers show: added note for those watching the horse slaughter debate. This beloved horse was taken off the slaughter truck!)
Justin AKA Doc’s Keepin Time (Black Beauty, The Horse Whisperer)
Trigger Jr. (One of Roy Roger’s horses) and Champion (One of Gene Autry’s) were Tennessee Walkers. Note that there was more than one ‘Champion’ and more than one ‘Trigger’, they were not all walkers.
Champion (Gene Autry’s original) was half morgan and half quarter horse.
Obviously, these are only a few of America’s horse breeds. More on the others later.
There was a time when I believed the argument that it was better for the horse to be put down at slaughter then suffer neglect or abuse. Many still believe this.
But then facts struck me in the face. It’s evidence, not emotion, that rules on these issues, contrary to what the pro horse slaughter lobby claims. This is not just a bunch of bleeding heart horse lovers.
The reasons why American’s should ban horse slaughter are not just about caring about horses, it’s also in our own, best interest as well as the best interest of our neighbors.
Three prime reasons why American horse slaughter is dangerous to our welfare:
Our health: – between the hormones and the medicines equine athletes are given, American horse meat is unsafe for human consumption.
Our environment: – reports of communities near these plants include such horrible affects range from blood backing up the sewers to the smells of the plant cast offs contaminating the entire area.
Our ethics: – ‘humane’ means compassionate. And the word comes from human.
By denying the horse – or any other animal – a compassionate means to an end comes back and bites back by adding stress hormones to the meat, as well as possible virus and bacterial infections due to a stress weakened immune system.
By allowing the slaughter plant into the neighborhood, we are risking the safety of that neighborhood. Far from creating jobs, it will send quality jobs away because no-one wants their business in sight or smell of a slaughter plant.
Our economy: – In order to prevent cruel stress causing treatment during shipment and slaughter, we would have to fund inspections. We would have to enforce and prosecute those who use cruel transport and slaughter techniques to save a quick buck. We would have to be willing to pay for the clean up and enforce the environmental protection as well.
It may seem complicated or contradictory, but it does begin with ethics. Ethics about both our own food safety and our neighbors. Ethics about the right way to treat any living thing, even one destined for slaughter.
Why are horses NOT food animals: Due to their anatomy and high spirited nature, horses are not killed as easily as cows.Here is the process:
The Sale: Maybe it’s a retired racehorse or outgrown pony. But it’s not always in poor health to begin with. The buyers want meat, not skin and bones. Also it has to be in good health, at the very least not obviously sick. Slaughter plants don’t want obviously sick animals. However, they can’t tell at auction if the animal has been given medication.
The Feed Lot: The owner cares little for the animals health and the reports of treatment in these places is appalling.
The Transport: The horse is crammed into a truck with multiple other horses, if it resists it may be forcibly subdued and injured. Reports include mention of intentional maiming and use of electric cattle prods. They then face a horrible, pain filled journey to the plant.
Here is a big red flag.Due to European union guidelines, the slaughter plant isn’t going to just take obviously sick animals or those with no meat value. Some are actually TURNED BACK or TURNED LOOSE. To die on their own at the slaughter plant. This means the whole ‘overabundance of neglected, sick horses’ is moot. These are exactly the horses they don’t want.
At the slaughter plant: The stun bolt used on cows doesn’t work, often neither does the gun. In Mexico, sometimes they use a knife which only paralyzes, but does not render the horse unconscious.Meanwhile all the horses in line behind hear and smell the panic of the horses before them. This means that when killed you get the meat of a panicked, stressed out animal.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEOS
Horses and Stress: Obviously all these facts add up to one load of meat filled with stress hormones. Stress also weakens the immune system, and makes it more susceptible to disease and infection.
Horses and Drugs
Horses are not considered food animals. Look in the medicine cabinet or trunk of you average horse barn and you’ll find proof. They are treated as athletes or companion animals.
The labels of bute and other medicines do warn against use in food animals. Bute is proven to cause liver failure and other issues when combined with standard house hold drugs in humans. This is only one medicine but I focus on this because it’s as common as aspirin.
In order to be assured the horse doesn’t have drugs in it’s system, you’d have to have a complete record of the horse’s life. You’d have to have drug testing done.
The Economy and Environment: Locally speaking, horse slaughter plants have been disastrous for the local economies. They leave a swath of environmental contamination behind them. No-one wants their town associated with a slaughter plant. It ruins the local tourist industry. Far from giving jobs to locals, they usually hire illegal immigrants and criminals. There are reports of the blood leaking into the sewage! Would you want this in your neighborhood? Let alone house?
And where exactly does horse meat go?
Americans in general do not eat horse meat. In some European countries it may be a delicacy. But even they don’t want our hormone and drug tainted horse meat. In fact, they are already embroiled in scandal as horse meat has found to have been illegally sold in place of beef in multiple countries and leading to recalls in such big companies as Nestle and Burger King. Everything from school lunches to prepackaged TV dinners has been affected.
Now considering the health risks, do we really want this in America? Why should we pay our tax money on USDA inspections for foreign investors and a few fat cats to slaughter horses and sell the drug laden meat to foreign criminals to pass off as beef?
It won’t stop animal neglect or cruelty. That involves the human heart. And it won’t get rid of the already sick or neglected. Even if it did, selling sick animals for meat is unconscionable.
We can’t afford it financially. We can’t afford it morally. You want less horses? Stop over breeding. But we are not going to find the solution in a slaughter plant.
It’s no secret to horse lover’s that horses make excellent therapists.
They have some of the essential skills built right in. To name a few:
They are excellent listeners.
They speak only with body language, which encourages awareness.
The movement of the horse helps the rider, particularly those who have physical difficulties. It stimulates the movement of the rider’s muscles.
These natural traits make a horse an ideal creature for helping the disabled, or those wounded physically or emotionally wounded. Learning to guide and ride the horse gives confidence. The rider has muscles that may otherwise not be stimulated working, and helps overcome atrophy, and or improve balance. They influence posture, for heads up and heels down isn’t just an old proverb. A horse isn’t truly or primarily controlled by reins, but by body shifts and leg pressure. So the posture matters.
Then there are the psychological benefits. Autistic children, people with various social challenges, and the just abused find that the gentle communication of the horse may be just what they need. The horse is totally nonjudgmental. Those who find trouble talking and sharing difficulties with a councilor may find talking to a horse a lot easier. Even the autistic have been known to respond to horse therapy, perhaps because in a way, the horse and they speak a similar ‘body language’. That is, for instance, people with autism may be very shy and have trouble staring people in the eye and be wary of new people. This is similar to horses behavior as ‘prey’ animals.
Some horses – miniature horses – are even being trained as seeing eye horses. Yes, that’s right, seeing eye horses. The virtue of horses aside from dogs is that, for one thing, someone may be allergic to dogs.
Riding a horse requires ‘in the moment’ awareness. This is an automatic relief from those burdened with worries, cares or fears. The ride of the horse itself requires there attention. And there is something in the brisk rhythm of the walk or the power of the canter that seems to clear the body and mind of stress and obstacles, leaving a clean tired feeling and giving room for the energy to face the challenges of life.
Not just any horse can be a therapy horse. It’s temperament that matters the most. They may be any shape and size, from that miniature ‘seeing eye’ horse to the big draft horse that carries that big rider with PTSD. They may be no special breed at all. But they are special: they heal hearts and lives.
Welcome to the first blog post on horses and what they meant to society. Yes, I said FIRST.
This is inspired by recent arguments regarding the question of horses and slaughter for food.
I’ve seen a fair number of people ask “What’s the difference between horses as meat and other animals?” I hope this series will help.
First up: Transportation
Long ago, somewhere so far back no-one can recall, someone discovered a horse was more than meat. They could carry or pull loads, or even people. A tribe, a clan or group of people living in harsh conditions and struggling to survive could do better than eating horses: they could use them to carry them to someplace better. Someplace where there was ample food and supplies for everyone.
Thanks to the horse, the ocean and highest mountains are the only limit. As long as you feed and water the horse, he will take you to where you can feed yourself. He can let you range further afield from your home and get back in a day with the results of your quest for food. He can take one further to trade for food or other supplies. He can carry messages to neighbors and kin who are further away.
Now we take it for granted. Most of us are used to having cars, buses, bikes, trains and planes to travel. We have phones and faxes and internet for messages. But it all began with the horse.
Of course, sometimes people still bumped into each other and challenged each other over who got the food. But the horse in war is another post. Stay tuned.
It’s an odd thing about culture that comparing someone to an animal is considered an insult to the human. I for one, would think it would be the other way round. They would likely be insulted to be compared to once. Politics is a prime example. For the donkey became associated with Democrats in part via Andrew Jackson being called a jackass. As for the elephant, combined with the aforementioned donkey incident, he joined a cartoon by Hurst where the elephant represented a terrified group of Republican voters. Neither animal was attached as a compliment to the party.
So the two main political parties are associated with an animal. The donkey with the Democrats, the elephant with the Republicans. Neither animal, for their part, should likely appreciate the association. Neither party (in general, for there are always exceptions) has put their mascot’s needs anywhere on there ‘things to do’ list.
Republicans (in general) tend to be associated with sport hunting and the like. I’ve seen numerous signs for this lately. Now when I think of killing an animal for sport, images of buffalo herds wiped out spring to mind. I don’t think disagree with killing animals for food, but I do have doubts about killing for sport. It seems dangerous – for ‘sport’ implies fun and killing should not be fun. Democrats (in general) don’t have any such obvious associations. However since their own mascot is the donkey, you’d think they would notice the cruelty inflicted by their own government on them. But no, nary a word is said..
How does this relate, you may wonder? Well, it’s not directly sport but sheer greed that kills animals, a desire to put human wants above nature’s needs. Ivory from their tusks gets them slaughtered and habitat reduction (big animal needs big habitat) reduces their numbers even more. The latter is, at least, understandable as a byproduct of sharing space with humans. As for the donkey, the wild version roams in several places. One of those is our National Parks. The response of the park service is to label these lovable creatures, such an undervalued and important bit of our history, vermin. In reality, they wipe them out to make room for the animals sport hunters prefer in order to lure them to the park. Also Republicans are associated with big cattle and mining lobbies. Is it a coincidence these are the ones who want the wild horses and burro (AKA donkey) off the Federal range land for their own cattle? Or that mining and alternative energies are also on this land and accessing them will affect the wild creatures – including wild born horse and burros – water supply.
Nor have either side (in general) remarked on the fact that the Wild Burro (AKA donkey) is also a protected species on Federal lands, and yet the very agency designed to protect them is rounding them up to extinction even faster than the wild mustangs. Have they done anything? Not a comment from the President or the party so far as I can tell.
Obviously neither party is asking the animals what they think. In fact, they don’t even ask most Americans. They just pretend it isn’t happening and keep doing the magicians trick: keep the public attention focused somewhere else. Don’t ask about the corruption and bias, then we’d have to deal with it and go against these large groups funding our campaigns.
Animals and Perspective
Finally, while I love the eagle as mascot, it’s also associated with the Roman empire and it’s fall, as well as pride and arrogance. Whenever I see the politicians up there making over bloated promises that they can’t keep – for they promise individual action on what takes a whole congress to decide, usually – I wonder how it translates into other languages. I know it’s hyperbole and it still turns me off. No wonder other nations think us arrogant, if this is their example. We set out to elect a leader, but our choices are usually limited to someone whose parroting the party line or their supporters. Is their an individual in there? With conviction and courage? Do they believe what they say and have a plan, whether I agree or not? Or are they just a puppet for a party?
I’ll finish by pointing out I’m not a ‘party’ person. I tend to vote the individual, which is increasingly difficult. Nor do I disagree with hunting. There is a danger at anything that encourages enjoyment of killing for fun, especially when there are so many other ‘shooting’ sports that exist without the need to kill. What I am is an animal lover. I believe animals bring out the best in us. They inspire us in their wild state. They comfort us when domestic. They heal the sick or injured in therapy programs. And yes, they even put food on the table.
Why does a politicians view of animals matter?
Animals reflect the best and the worst of us and this is why I look at a groups stance on the animal issues. Don’t care whether horses are slaughtered for consumption? Well, whatever your opinion of the horses place – livestock or companion – a politician should care that his citizens are exposed to meat full of medicines that cause Aplastic Anemia in people. Local politicians, at least, have let the people trying to promote it that they don’t want the environmental fall out in their town.
The same is true of the Bureau of Land Management and the wild horse and burro issues. You don’t have to care about wild horses or bureaus. You don’t even have to care about the range. What everyone – and certain every politician, who is supposed to support his citizens – should care about is the tremendous amount of wasted tax payer money, the suspicious lack of oversight and scientific evidence to support their claims. In a time when jobs are short and the economy a wreck, how can they afford to just ignore this?
The Animals View
Ultimately, I think it should be the animals who are insulted. We are supposed to be the dominant species, the wise, intelligent ones, with empathy and an ability and imagination to see things as others see them. Yet in these areas animals have been known to put us the shame. From the elephant who gets stuck and the whole herd who gathers around to help to the wild stallion who defends his mares and challenges the helicopter, they never put greed above the lives of their own. They aren’t perfect: they kill each other, fight, and there are rogues even among the animal world. But then, we are supposed to be the smart ones, the ones better than that. The shame of it is, we don’t act like it.
These are not set in stone, they change with the times, place and religion.
Pride is often shown as violet. Maybe it’s because it’s also related to purple which is a royal and regal color or something and when we are proud we think we are the center of the universe, king or queen of all. And we don’t like to concede we aren’t or that we need help. Everyone does, at one time or another. Purple was harder to find for pigment making so it makes sense it was used more rarely.
Pride doesn’t want us to admit we need help or accept it, even though everyone needs help at one time or another. What’s more it encourages us to assume those who do have done something wrong, or are lazy or deserve their problems. This isn’t necessarily true. People don’t choose disabilities or mental illness that may sideline them from working. It’s a ridiculous point of view. Most of us will have money troubles and even so, in the USA even the poorer among us are richer than in other countries. But we all need help. No one truly survives on their own.
It’s also the sin associated with horses. I guess that’s why Jesus rode a donkey instead of a horse into Jerusalem according to the Bible. He wanted to appear humble. Horses are magnificent animals although they can also be timid, shy and have their own families and pecking order. But as a species, yes they do look proud. Just watch a stallion prancing freely around, mane and tail held high and yes, proud and regal are the words.
Color and Creatures of Virtue
Humility is often brown. Earth is brown too. Perhaps it symbolizes a willingness to work with your hands. Sometimes red is used too. This surprises me a bit, since I think of red as blood and wrath and pain. (Anyone else find too much gives them a headache?) But apparently the blood is that of the martyrs and maybe the wrath is for those who hurt them. The humble are, I imagine, those who put themselves into other people’s shoes. They realize that they too, might easily be the ones who need help. Yesterday it might have been them, or tomorrow. So they give, sometimes quietly. Christmas 2011 saw people paying off other people’s layaway toys so children could have a Christmas. Others contribute to funds to help those having trouble with bills. Okay, only some donkeys are brown. I don’t know what other creature would be associated with humility. Long eared and gentle enough to carry a pregnant mother a long way. Perhaps a lamb or sheep would be humble.
But there is another virtue here:
It’s hard to pin a color on courage. Some say orange or red. I guess that makes sense, it takes some energy to be brave and those are energetic colors. It takes courage to say yes, I need help. But it’s important because rarely do our actions or inactions hurt only us. If one can’t find courage to say ‘yes, I need help’ for oneself, what about ‘yes, I need help because my family will suffer if I don’t at least ask? It takes courage to offer help to, because people who are proud may be offended.
You also need courage to offer help. When you give help, it’s either a loan or a gift. Offer a gift of help to a stranger, homeless perhaps, and you have to wonder if they will spend it on food, lodging or a bottle of alcohol or drugs. You can’t know. But you’ll know – and your reason for giving it is at least as important as who receives it and how they use it.
I don’t know that I’d associate any species of animal as courageous. It’s too individual a thing. Any individual of many a species can be courageous if it faces a fear for any reason. But in spite of the association with pride, horses are a decent example. The term War Horse is out there due to the movie. A horse that has confidence in it’s rider charges into situations in spite of it’s fears. Whereas the ‘average’ horse may run in fear at the sight of an oddly shaped pile of hay!