Is Your Horse A Dog Or A Sailboat?

On My Mind, Miscellaneous Thoughts

Is your horse a companion animal or a piece of athletic equipment? Or a mix of both?

Yes, some dogs still work. They herd, sniff for drugs, search for cadavers. These days, most dogs are employed as companion animals. (Most? I have no data, I’m guessing. Certainly in this country. Anyone care to weigh in? A?) They sleep on our couches. We feed them. We post Internet photos of them, Boop my Nose.

Ditto horses. According to the Brooke, two million horses, donkeys, and mules still work around the world. In the US, horses work with the police, in the tourist industry, and transporting the Amish. However, the average (?) US horse is as much a companion animal as the average US dog. We make their beds. We feed them carrots. We dress them up for Halloween.

Our horses moved into our backyard in 1992. Since then, we have had the good fortune of providing forever homes, regardless of utility. Caesar and Mathilda are both out back, in the corner of the pasture under the trees. In the fullness of time, I expect Rodney and Milton to join them. I wouldn’t mind being tossed out there myself, although this might upset some folks.

Rodney and Milton amuse us endlessly. After a meal, whoever fed comes back in to share stories about the horses galloping up madly for their meal, or sauntering in quietly. We often have Team Meetings wherein the two horses hang out while the two humans brush, pick feet, comb manes, and generally convince the horses not to be feral.

If you want to have horses in the backyard, you have to enjoy simply looking at them. It’s too much work otherwise.

Sail power used to be humanity’s main form of aquatic transportation, Then, sailboats were replaced with boats powered by internal combustion. Now, sailboats are a recreational activity and a sport. Good sailing is a blend of technique & art. It takes a lifetime to master the intricate interaction of wave & wind & sail. When you think you know it all, your boat will prove that you don’t. (As with dogs, I’m guessing here, extrapolating from sailing at summer camp and sport in general. I bet I’m right. Sailors?)

Ditto horses. Transportation. Internal combustion. Sport. Lifetime to learn.

I have made no secret of my competitive aspirations: Jumping. Hunters. Eventing. Driving. Obstacle Challenge. Bring it on. As much as I like my horses, I also like winning.

I have had an instructor tell me to think of the horse as a tool to becoming a better rider. While I can’t bring myself to go quite that far, I do see the point in terms of self-improvement. Maybe if they hadn’t used the specific word “tool.” A horse will never behave as a mechanical device and should never be treated as one. But I digress.

I feel that there has been a lot of sailboat on the blog lately.

One of my favorite things to do is take a stool and a book to the barn or out into the field and sit with the horses. However, ‘today I listened to the horses chew’ does not make for riveting narrative. At least, I can’t make it into riveting narrative. So I talk about lessons and shows and ribbons … ribbons … My Precious … lovely, fluffy ribbons … um, where was I?

The stated goal of the blog is to amuse myself. Within that, I chose topics that are likely to amuse you. Which means I end up taking about exciting moments, interesting events, and novel activities, i.e. lessons and shows and ribbons.

I strive to be honest on the blog, mostly because I lack the subtlety do otherwise. Even writing every day, I can’t cover every moment. I have to pick and chose. Selection bias occurs. The result is a record that is accurate, but not always representative of the whole.

In Sum
Horses IRL are more dog than sailboat. Horses on the blog are more sailboat than dog.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

3 thoughts on “Is Your Horse A Dog Or A Sailboat?

  1. Eowyn is a working dog, a service dog. Not an emotional support dog (although of course any dog or other animal can be that). Eowyn is a service dog because she has been specially trained to perform tasks to assist me. Although since her multiple strokes last year her performance away from the house isn’t what it used to be.
    Chief ended up being more a pet than a horse to ride, due to the continuing worsening of the state of my spine. He was at a boarding stable, but I was out there a lot. Just being with him. He had a wonderful personality for being just a dog. Pet and feed (just treats) and groom and just sit under the tree in his pasture while he grazed. He always stayed close to me. If I were healthy and had the money, I would love to have a horse in my backyard even if I couldn’t ride him.
    It would have been nice to have had Cindy (collie) and Priney and Chief (horses) in a corner of my forever home.

  2. You are correct. While there are many dogs working in many different arenas, more than most people would realize, the vast majority of the close to 90 million dogs in the US are pets.

    And I’m with you. Though I compete all of the time and we have fun doing it, they are first and foremost my family and companions and our competition hours don’t add up our day in and day out lives.

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