I was recently contacted by a 5th grader asking my perspective on horse abuse so I figured this was the perfect time to finally write this. Recently there was a case of horse abuse right here in the county and I continue to have many recurring thoughts about it. Obviously, there are many different types of abuse, but I will speak specifically to the one that took place locally. Many people saw the video and were ready to crucify the owners, but I think there is a lot more to the story than one moment in the unfolding of an entire lifetime.
Let me recap the story quick. Two horse people who were well known for riding their horses into town to visit the local establishments became a kind of iconic representation of the old-time mountain town. For years they have owned horses and for years they had nothing other than great experiences with their horses. I did not personally know them, but I often saw them and their horses around town. The horses looked healthy and happy, while the owners were having the time of their life. The riders loved to show off their horses to the locals and out of towners, it was an all-around benefit to the town. The horses were a great representation of what mountain town life can be like and they were great spokespeople to the out of towners who really thought they were in the wild west. A great attraction for the town on top of everything else this area has to offer.
None the less, one unfortunate event took place that buried them forever. They attained a new horse and that new horse was not a good fit for them. The horse wouldn’t leave the barn and primal human nature took over. They haltered the horse and hitched it to the back of their dually truck to drag it across hard-packed snow. The most unfortunate event for them was the wife filmed it while using excessive vulgarity through its entirety and then was talked into posting it thinking it was a great representation of “horsemanship.” The husband was in the truck dragging the horse behind it at I would say 10 mph or so, for about 100 yards. That is where the video ended. The video went viral and they were fortunate to get a mere slap on the wrist from the authorities for what happened.
Just to follow up on what I know of the rest, the wife was fired from her job, the horse was taken to a rescue, and the rest is unknown to me. They received extreme threats of any and all kinds for the video. I am not sure if they even live in the area anymore. I remember seeing the video while thinking they better delete all their social media accounts, change their name, change their phone number, and move out of the country in hopes to survive this.
Needless to say, based on 1 minute out of their entire life there whole future has been taken away from them. Now the question, is that really a true representation of the entire situation? Here are my thoughts on what led to this unfortunate event for all parties involved.
From this point forward I am mixing a little bit of fact with a lot of assumptions as to how things may have been behind the moment. In other words, I am merely portraying a thought experiment for people to consider before they may judge another negatively. The point of this is to make people think a little deeper before they jump to conclusions. I am not saying its right or wrong, simply outlying a normal life in which any of us could become a victim too on both sides of the spectrum. We need to be more careful to not be overcome by our primal urges to react at the expense of others because of our own personal shortcomings. We need to clearly think through the moment and everything leading up to it, otherwise, we should all step back to gather better information before we act.
The first problem that took place was the illusion that all horses were going to be great horses like the horses they’ve been previously exposed to. These horses had filled in for them by forgiving them for their ineptness. The horses they had were glorified dude horses that were kind of numb to the world.
Coincidently they were in the market for a new horse so they could retire one of their aging horses. The wife also wanted to purchase a new horse for her husband’s birthday as a surprise. She had reached out to me prior to the accident and was wondering what we had for sale here. I told her the price and of course, it was too much. I was sure to warn her when a horse is cheap or free it may not be a good fit for what they do and their experience level. Sadly, they didn’t heed my advice. They received some free horse from a “friend” and the rest is history.
Lesson one put the money forth for a horse that is right for what you do. It isn’t about color, height, or any other factor, it’s all about is that horse going to fit your needs and take care of you and others. Is it going to fit into the living situation you can currently provide for them? Do they have a good foundation? When it comes to finding a horse for the average hobbyist rider, these are the questions that should be running through the individual’s mind. If you can’t afford a horse that is going to be this for you, don’t own a horse until you have a better ability to do it correctly. Some other options may be taking lessons on foundationally sound horses or leasing a horse that is right for you.
Think of all the time and money you would have if you weren’t having to care for and ride a horse! Apply that time and money to your daily life in a matter in which you are refining yourself so that you can have a better quality of life in the future without always suffering to stay afloat. Sacrifice now so that you can have a better quality future. This will help ensure that you can buy the correct horse, care for it properly without worrying about expenses to survive, and most importantly be able to spend quality time without any pressures to delude the experience. Don’t add more to your plate so you have no ability to shape a better future.
The second problem was getting a horse that was beyond their level of proficiency and not getting the correct help once the problem was perceived. Now they have received this free horse from someone they would consider a friend, a whole other issue in and of itself, and they have expectations to ride the new horse into town just like any other day with their usual horses.
Thus leading us to the third and final problem that led to horse abuse, expectations. I imagine they had it in their minds that it was going to be a great moment in which they were going to get to show off their new horse in town and get to tell the reason for getting the new horse. A birthday gift from his wife, I mean how great was that moment going to be for them? There is also a piece of ego and need for attention behind this that also led to the issue, which is more of a dissection of the individual then the specific case of horse abuse. I don’t know enough about them to dare to go into that.
To me one question arises, was this even a conscious case in which they knew what was happening that led to the actions taken at the moment and after? While I hands down agree that this was a totally inappropriate way of handling the situation in any case, I do still feel this was a very human moment. A moment in which any of us given the same circumstance would have been highly susceptible to making a terrible mistake. Given their state at that time and their level of knowledge/experience, they were doomed from the very moment they received that horse.
Follow me here, living in a mountain town demands a lot out of most people. They work their whole lives to support their family or survive to witness another birthday underneath their own roof. That means slaving their life away just to make ends meet. Working at least one full-time job to afford the mountain life which is highly expensive. Now add trying to have a hobby and pay for that. Not to mention almost any mountain hobby is no minor investment to partake in. Let alone the hobby of riding horses!
So here are two individuals trying to stay afloat by working all the time and still trying to have a life outside of that chaos, by riding their horses into town to feel like their true selves. That is who they were at heart, just an average person who wishes their real job was riding for a living, but we all need to come to terms with reality and what is possible given our circumstances. Two honest people who want to keep a piece of their true self, but don’t have the time or money to invest to become the real horsemen they want to be. So they find a way and stretch themselves even thinner to fill this void. Stretching themselves in a way in which they will have to work till the day they die just to be able to experience a little piece of freedom within their realities they are being consumed by.
Now take all of that and throw in the necessity for them to get a new horse for no money at all because they can’t afford anything else. On top of that, imagine being exhausted and looking for that one hour in which they get to ride their horses and show off who they really wish they were all the time. Now add in a spoiled rotten horse created by another human being that is holding them back from that one piece of freedom. Who would you be in a moment like this? How would you react if you have struggled your whole life for this one moment and that was taken from you? To me, this is a true test of any human being.
Who are you when things don’t go as expected and the deck is stacked against you? Who are you when there is no money, no time, and no capacity of yourself left to handle the most difficult moment of your life? Is this really their fault?
Yes and No! Yes because we all need to take ownership and come to terms with our current reality in order to create and strategically work towards our desired future. No in the sense these people didn’t have any of the tools necessary to handle a situation like this. No person has the tools to handle a situation like this unless someone has shown them how to intentionally prepare for a moment like this and how to act at that moment by practicing for it in our daily lives. These moments are indeed inevitable so we need to be preparing ourselves to recognize and to respond as intentionally as we can at the moment.
So you tell me, is this abuse or is this just a reflection of how they have been treated their whole life? One could even argue that they had been conditioned by all of us to take it out on others. Is it their fault or is it ours? I feel as if it is mostly our fault for not being able to positively influence more individuals.
We can all do more to try and reach these people before it’s beyond the point of help. I have to do more to better prepare myself and others to succeed in moments when our life is in the balance and all the odds are against us. If not you or I, who then are we leaving this up to? I know I could be doing more, but even than I can’t be the only person trying to do so. This has to be a choice in which all of us decide for ourselves but to even have a choice this must be brought to our attention.
Had anyone given them the chance to decide? We all need help to become more aware, we all need help to try to understand the person across from us, and we all need help to become better. So before you try to crucify the person across from you, I would hope you would find out the whole story behind the one moment you witnessed. It shouldn’t be through the social media filters meant to amplify every individual’s most primal tendencies. The moment should be scrutinized by humanizing the situation in which you could find a scenario in which you yourself could have acted in a similar manner.
If you honestly or ignorantly believe that could never be you, well then you are definitely living in your own false reality in which you have no right to comment on anyone else’s situation. You are the type of person who becomes a guard in a concentration camp or the gulag. For you do not think for yourself nor do you even consider yourself a real human, you let others tell you how to think and what to do without ever questioning it. You honestly believe that you are better than others so you should have privileges others do not. Little by little, you are talked into becoming evil by preying on those less fortunate and that is a very human trait in which we are all perceptible too.
Do you really understand who they were and all the odds against them prior to their demise? Who would you be if you lived their life and were given the same odds? These questions terrify me on a daily basis, for the only moment, you know the answer to these questions is in the hind site of the choices you make at the moment. There is no going back for any of us. We need to better understand the other’s perspective before we pretend we are better humans than those that were never given a chance.
That all being said, if a person is given the opportunities to redeem their insufficiencies and repeatedly choose to respond incorrectly than they must be reprimanded. For if a person doesn’t want to help themself they are truly lost. There is nothing anyone can do for that individual, but continue to lead by example waiting for them to become aware that they are the only ones in control of their future.