The Love of Foals

Sleeping Foal
“This stuff is interesting…”
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.

Galloping Foal
Image by Markus Hiltbrunner from Pixabay
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.

“Mind the foals.”       Image by Simon Steinberger from Pixabay

2019

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.

EQUUS Film Festival

EQUUS Film Festival I spoke on a panel last month at the EQUUS Film Festival in NYC, with a welcoming group of dedicated and talented horse people. I wish to thank organizer, Lisa Diersen, and the positive and engaged folks putting on and attending the event. The EQUUS Film Festival is a new showcase for artists, and the event continues to grow and find ever greater success.

I wanted to talk about the historical connection we have in honoring positive awareness of horses and the creative energy they represent … but my talk didn’t fit. I’d rather not dwell on it. My fellow panel-presenters were lively and topical, and I’m glad to have met them and heard about their work.

The books ran the field, from nonfiction to fiction, self-help to thrillers to biography to romance–a very interesting mix. I’ll share their work for others to check out…

I sat beside Cate Folsom, whose book Smoke the Donkey told of a Marine mascot who won the hearts of his troop and the public. The second, underlying story of the presentation was how Smoke won the author’s heart too, and gave her new appreciation for our equine partners.

Susan Cain, EdD, LCSW presented her book, Horse Sense for Leaders: Building Trust-Based Relationships. Horsemanship is a time-proven training ground for leadership … it is valuable to have a scientifically endorsed assessment. Excellent ideas to look into.

Connie Johnson Hambley presented her latest book, The Troubles a work of suspense based on her own childhood experience. The book is the second in a trilogy that began with “The Charity.” The author blends the book’s mystery and intrigue into a background of steeplechase action.

Robin Hutton spoke about her book that tells of a historical horse war-hero, Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse. The dedicated service of our 4-legged force members is honored in this true-life story of a faithful little horse who kept up duties under fire. The book itself does a valuable service in rescuing Sgt. Reckless from forgotten memory.

Carly Kade gave a personable introduction to her fiction book In the Reins, the winning title for Best Western Fiction. Jeremy Enlow presented his pictorial work of living history, “Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch” … this photograph-filled book was especially interesting as it details one of the ‘big spreads’ I grew up hearing about in Texas.

We had one missing panelist, Artemis Greenleaf, author of (Team Smash: Five Amazing Girls, One Amazing Horse) The book is about the life and love of a ‘special needs’ police horse. The eclectic author has written on a variety of subjects, with interesting and unique themes in her work.

Thanks to my fellow panel speakers, organizer Lisa Diersen and co-host Diana DeRosa … and of course to the inspiration of our mutual equine friends.