Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Rodney’s Mommy?

Is a bay mare in in Tennessee. I am not. I prefer boss. As in: Yes, Boss. Right away, Boss. Is this high enough, Boss? I utterly reject and despise referring to human women as horse mommies. Not crazy about “pet parents” either.

My aversion to this usage dates back to my first leased horse as a teenager. My mother came to the barn. Another boarder referred to me as X’s mommy or to themselves as Y’s mommy. My mother went ballistic. History does not record her exact reasoning, but the intent of the lecture cometed through the atmosphere and and made a permanent crater in my psyche. This is bad. Taboo. Verboten. Not to be done. Ever.

It is possible that my mother was reacting to unrelated family issues. Nevertheless, the lesson stuck. Still, one can only blame one’s parents up to a point. Eventually, you have to admit that your childhood ideas have become your own adult convictions. Without my mother’s reaction, I might not be so rabid in my dislike of this practice but I would never condone it. Imposing a mother-child bond on a human-horse relationship is not in keeping with a workable philosophy of horses. Over-sentimentality causes terrible horsemanship.

My horse took down a pole, knocked over a barrel, ran away on purpose to make me look stupid.
No, he was just being a horse. The stupid part was all you.

It’s it precious how my Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel nuzzles me for carrots and sits in my lap?.
No, it’s not. Trust me, your barn manager, vet, and blacksmith don’t think so either.

Treating a horse as a human shortchanges both horse and human. Hoofed herbivores asked to live under primate/carnivore rules function in a world that doesn’t make sense to them. They live in confusion. Since horses are not good at being primate/carnivores, people judge them as stupid. In a multi-species study, each animal was let into a room with 3 covered bins, one of which contained a treat. At first the food was always in the same bucket. Everybody aced that one. Then the food was always in the bucket to the left of the previous, or always to the right. Other species performed with varying degrees of success, as defined by the test-makers. The horses did not. They *always* went first to the bucket that the food had been the time before. This was seen as proving a lack of mental acuity. Yes, if problem-solving is important to you. OTOH, if you range over acres of grassland, it’s pretty smart to remember that the last time you were near this particular tree there was a nice patch of yummy just over there.

We would all be better off if we valued horses (dogs, cats, ferrets, goldfish) for themselves, not as ersatz people.

See Mom, I listened. Part of the time. Happy Mother’s Day.

Comments on: "Rodney’s Mommy?" (8)

  1. Thank you for this! Sharing it to Twitter and FB… might even re-blog it too.

    It is always with tongue in cheek (and a bit of disdain in my voice) that I refer to someone as a ‘good horse mommy’.

    Having worked at a tack shop, raised and sold horses, trained horses for other people and attemtped to teach them decent horsemanship – it is amazing the damage people do to themselves thinking they are so-and-so’s mommy and that he ‘wuvs’ them. Sometime the damage is physical, sometimes psychological, often they just set themselves up for failure with that throught process.

    I’ll keep from going into full-fledged rant. Thanks again for this!

  2. debandtoby said:

    good thought. my horses are missed as much for themselves as for riding. they were – and are – puzzles to me quite often but to learn as a horse learns, well, that’s a whole different kettle of grain. Horses have far more intelligence than people give them credit for. But it’s intelligence from a different angle. i may have called them ‘baby’ at times, but i have used the same sobriquet on various times on human males. my arabian responded better to the term, which is why i guess i gave up human males, lol!
    even if was being a little silly with them some times, it was made clear from the start that i was the boss, and they could stick their muzzles in my parka pockets till i said no. and, with a few bumps along the way,we became partners. and that was closer than any fuzzy wuzzy wuvs his mama type of stuff.
    i will refrain here from ranting about the way the kids at the boarding stable treated their fuzzy wuzzies, and just hope in retrospect that i did not display such behavior

  3. Anonymous said:

    Correction: You always listened to me. You may not have agreed with me but you always listened. Then you did what you thought best. I’m a proud Mommie today because I raised an independent, thoughtful and caring daughter. You took in information, thought about it and decided what you were going to do about it. HMD!

  4. H.I. Holly said:

    Ah, I must respectfully disagree! I feel very much like my horse’s “mom.” Not to say that I treat him like a human. Heck, I’m so unsentimental I don’t even feed him treats! Maybe because he’s a “baby” (4yo), and I have to teach him everything from scratch (standing still for bridling, every single thing under saddle, etc) that he feels more child-like than other horses… and it could be the bond… he’s the most important thing in my world besides my family, and I don’t have or particularly want human children… I love taking care of my horse, somewhat how a good mom enjoys mothering her kid… so, yeah, that’s why I’m not offended to be called a “horse mom” 🙂

  5. debandtoby said:

    doesn’t really offend me to have been called my horses’s mom. i’ve been called a lot worse. 🙂

  6. Could not agree more wholeheartedly! So many people need a bit of your insight. Thanks for a great read!

  7. […] if we are past the point where we consider the horse a reflection of ourselves, or God help us our children of sorts.  Even if we manage to find our zen and know that the horse is a sentient critter with […]

  8. Excellent post! Attachment parenting is weird enough when it’s human to human, but when you start getting in to the human to horse arena, it’s weird squared.

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