The Love of Foals
Spring is here, the annual rebirth. Along with red-breasted robins and roadside daffodils, foals are sure signs of the new season: their tufted forms bouncing around their grazing mothers or laying flat in the grass in deep, unhorse-like slumber.
I love foals. They make me laugh; cars don’t. The love of foals is apart–or rather, in addition–to a love for horses: foals are only tangentially related to the mighty equine race. They are aliens recently landed, not yet quite here. Their parts are missized. They glow with innocence and promise, at sea in a tangle of legs.
Foals usually have a curious, quizzical look. Prone to mania but easily overpowered by their own machinery, they fling into sudden contortions and startle themselves … and hide behind their mothers. Their cartoon tails jerk in spasms as they nurse, until they pass out on the grass like a spent balloon.
Foals are an old love, one that excited thousands of generations of mankind before this one. It was a love we had in common. For many, those ancient rhythms are just a rerouted echo now mimicked by new car models (foals), which make sure to arrive as faithfully as the foals every year.
Not all have forgotten.
Perhaps it is inevitable, for our kind, that such an old love would be taken for granted. Perhaps the gift remains granted: foals still bounce, grass still grows, the Spring still comes. The annual dance of new foals shows the motor’s roar hasn’t quite drowned out the soft nickers.
Maybe that’s another sign of Spring.
I didn’t write much online the past year. I got too involved in trying to save Suffolk Downs from needless closing and being another lost opportunity for equestrian activities in Boston. Right on the subway line it was.
The problem for me wasn’t in knowing that the track’s ad dollars were cut so the owner could plead public disinterest in horse racing and get unencumbered title to a prime piece of real estate. Maybe it was fraud done in bad faith, but I understood it.
The dispiriting blow didn’t come from an unplugged public mired in apathy, either. I’m a numb stooge a lot of the time myself. The issue for me was the active apathy coming from the staff and patrons who continued to support their deep-pocket owner even to their own economic demise–and that of the horses.
I had one then-recently unemployed Suffolk Downs worker furious at me for suggesting other equestrian activities might share the track space to increase revenue. He had already gotten his severance of 2 weeks pay, and his anger and confusion was oddly channeled against solutions involving progress and cooperation.
And that means … well, you never know what will get to you.
I hope it doesn’t mean humanity can’t save itself, or that the only bright side is we might not be worth saving anyway. That can’t be right.
I’ve realized that resistance-to-change thinking does NOT have to change. There is no need. For that thinking to change would be an anomaly.
Recent success in new quarters of the horse world highlights one of the strange truths of history. A corrupt system doesn’t reform itself–it ossifies and the world moves on. New growth finds a way out of the locked grip. Already new paths to the future are forming for horses. Solutions can come to racing, just not from the same old thinking. And so … it goes.
With change and new growth, the Great Horse books may have more ahead too.
It’s an exciting time of change in horses–and people too. Please be careful.
Spring 2018 Update
It’s been many seasons since posting. Not so long by some measures, but in social media terms it has been ages. Sometimes you need to resource your motivation and find the right stability for achieving goals. Regeneration is a hopeful project.
I came to see horses differently after doing research for the books. There is so much evidence that humans benefit from experience with horses, even if we don’t know this anymore. You can see the belief in our history: the art, the literature, the language and myths and political forms all recognize and respect equestrian influence. But not anymore. It seems a huge change to ignore.
Most have lost the horse connection–rip! it’s gone–and the ramifications are unknown. Another era is upon us. Horses are mute actors, large canaries in the coal mines of human coalescence. This seems true in all times and places. Horsemanship reflects consequence of action; our troubles are theirs.
I have even come to believe horses are important for our future. We seem to need the remembrance they represent, to feel the history that still lives with them. Horsemanship was a herald of human civilization. Both dawned together, and maybe that matters. I now think it might.
People may actually need the connection to nature that horses provide. In one sense the horse never left the prairie, we just built around them; horses are still wild inside, still afraid of lions.
It would be funny if it turned out that human primates need the horse’s original ancient lessons of strategic leadership and internal control in order to sustain society.
Maybe the flaw of machines is you don’t need to care. Maybe we need to care.
The brutality of the corporate vision offers vital despair as it approaches the horizon, but there are other paths. Paths once hallowed. We may have dismounted in haste, but the horse is still with us. Not in the guise of the betrayed plow horses or those we bred for carriages or drays, but within the intimate bonds of equestrian sport, recreational riding and therapy. The deepest partnership we have with animals has continued to advance and unfold. That itself seems a guide.
The exciting–thrilling–spark of our new day is something that wasn’t knowable before, and people may not think of even now. The love of horses is still alive. Horses are proving to be a curious antidote to the commercial world and will surely become more valuable over time, not less. Many still feel the ancient bond, proving love is indeed as perennial as the grass.