Sunday, May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dancing with Horses

What a horse does under constraint, he does without understanding and with no more grace than a dancer would show if he were whipped or goaded. Under such treatment man and horse alike will produce much more that is ugly than graceful.

-Xenophon 430-354 BC

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Valhalla Express

What sort of dream is that, Odin? I dreamed I rose up before dawn to clear up Val-hall for slain people. I aroused the Einheriar, bade them get up to strew the benches, clean the beer-cups, the valkyries to serve wine for the arrival of a prince.

Eiriksmal, 10th c. Author unknown

Ghost Town

Imagine a dispute.
Two opposing sides.
You know, courtroom drama.

There are two sides to every story, right?
One side claims one thing, the other side claims the opposite thing.
Most people would say that the “truth” is somewhere in the middle, maybe around halfway between the two opposing claims.

And they'd be wrong.

If one party is telling the truth and the other party is lying, then any "compromise" will always be to the disadvantage of the person telling the truth and to the advantage of the person who lies.

Let's illustrate with math:
Suppose A claims that 2 + 2 = 4.
But B claims that 2 + 2 = 8.
If you assume the truth is somewhere in the middle, you might conclude that 2 + 2 = 6. Or maybe 5, or possibly 7.
No matter which compromise you make, it's away from the truth and toward the lie.

There are two sides to every story, all right.
Sometimes those two sides are Right and Wrong.

I’m thinking about this today partly because I went to court to try to recover some losses that resulted when a certain party breached an agreement.
And the party in question lied under oath about everything except her name.

Further, she brought in all kinds of other things that were irrelevant and that were also lies, which she attempted to sneak past the judge without offering any evidence in support thereof – because there isn’t any.

I don’t know the judge.
I don’t know how this is going to turn out.

But that's the little picture.

There's a big picture, too.


We're actually having pro-and-con discussions about torture.

Hard as it is to believe, some people advocate it, claiming that it "works."
Well, yes. It "works."
That is, torture gets the torturer what he wants -- a confession from the tortured.
The confession isn't necessarily true --- unless you happen to believe that all those folks (almost all of them women) who confessed and were hanged or burned in Europe during the Witch-craze actually were witches!

Well, rape "works," too.
The rapist gets what he wants.
Let's go with that.
No more flowers and candy.
No more dinner and a show.
No more sweet words.
Just brute strength.
Take what you want because you can.
Stop the world; I want to get off....

All this brings me to reflect upon how stupid it is to be honest, when the world clearly belongs to liars, cheats and thieves (and torturers). From the top on down, nobody keeps their word about anything, nobody tells the truth about anything, nobody accepts the responsibility for anything. From world renown professional liars like Bush and Obama, right down to simpering, manipulative liars like today’s defendant, it’s all one slimy mass of lies.

The liars often get away with lying because they get someone to “like” them.
Obama, telegenic and well-spoken – especially in contrast to his predecessor --- gets by on his “charm.” Apparently we value charm more than we value truth. And when you breathe a little critical thinking on his supporters’ arguments, they blow away like so much dust and what’s left is that they support him because they “like” him.

That’s the story with the young woman in court today, too. She gets away with being a liar because she’s “cute.” Young, pretty. She MUST be right.
Under her façade she’s the ugliest liar I’ve ever personally met, completely without conscience. She lies to everyone so much about everything, I wonder if she, herself, knows what the truth is, anymore.
Hell, she might as well be in politics.

Given the reality of the situation, why would anyone EVER tell the truth, keep his word, and so on?

I don’t know.

Maybe it’s a matter of ego.
Maybe I wouldn’t be able to stand myself if I was like everyone else.
Maybe it’s a habit I just can’t break.
Maybe I need a 12-step program.

I can’t explain why the truth is important to me, why keeping my word is important to me, at least, I can't explain it in a way that makes any mathematical, game-theory sense.

It just is.

If you believe in truth and honor, too, I feel sorry for you.

You’re in a very lonely place.

Very lonely, indeed.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just Friends

Jimmy and I are friends.
Not partners or close comrades, but more than just casual acquaintances.
His piebald face is smudged with black just under his nose, placing him high in any Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest. He’s a strong, stout pony. Probably over-worked in his past. Some giddy teen-aged girl who said she loved him, when what she really meant was that she loved what he did for her.
He’s paddock-mate to my partner, Kelsey, flea-bitten grey Arab. Kelsey with ears ever perked, eyes ever bright, as if amused by some private joke. The Errol Flynn of horses.
Errol Flynn and Charlie Chaplin.
I'm out-classed.

Decided to groom Jimmy the other day, but he wasn’t interested in being haltered.
The following day, he need spring vaccinations, and refused my halter then, too.
The barn boss finally managed to get him into a halter using a combination of grain and guile.
But that’s no way for a pony to be...

When I finished working with Kelsey today I turned him over to M for a long, leisurely grooming – good therapy for both of them. I went out to visit Jimmy.
He was still stand-offish.
I moved around him, flanking him, looking for an approach, but he was wary and I don’t much believe in playing “chase the horsie.”
So I yielded away from him a few yards and took a knee, studying the ground with sudden interest.
He looked me with his head cocked like the RCA Victor dog.
I peeked up, kissed to him, then went back to memorizing dirt.
When he looked at me with only one eye, I’d kiss to him again until he gave me both eyes, then went back to the dirt.
Did this a while. Don’t know how many times.
After a time he crossed about half way over to me.
I turned my back to him, sat down, looked the other way, gazing over at the palamino mares grooming each other.
Don’t know how long it was…
I became aware of his breathing not far from my ear.
I peered suspiciously back at him, and asked what he wanted.
He didn’t specify.
I offered him a sniff of my hand; he accepted and bumped it with his nose.

Slowly, I got to my knees, moving away from him, and he moved in to keep the distance.
I gave him my hand.
Standing now, I turned away from him again and took a step.
He followed and nudged my hand.
I moved away another step.
He followed and I gave him my hand.
We did this a while.
I let him chase me around the paddock one step at a time.
At some point, instead of moving off, I lingered, lightly finger-grooming his nose, chin, cheek.
He sighed and worked his mouth a little, lowered his head slightly.
We stood in that spot and I spent the next half hour or so grooming him with my bare hands, finding little spots he particularly liked: just in front of his ears, the hollows above his eyes, down his neck and chest. Inside his ears, too, where bugs had bitten. He stretched his neck, rolled his head – just about purred, I worked over all of him, mane to tail, and he just stood, apparently enjoying it.
So did I.

When time started up again and I had to go on to do chores, he followed right after me. I paused once more to give him some neck strokes, went out and brought him back some carrot pieces.
Then I went about my business and so did he.

I don’t know what he’d have to say about it.
But personally, it made me feel good whole the rest of the day.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Working on a project right now that might be of interest to you horse-people in the audience.
It's a two-day training course called: Equine Emergencies for First Responders. The idea is to give fire/rescue volunteers the knowledge and skill they need to handle situations like barn fires or MVA's involving horse trailers. Meadowgate Equine Rescue Facility in Newfield, NY is hosting it. And we're bringing these guys in to conduct the training -- check them out.

It'll go something like this:

BARN FIRE TACTICS AND STRATEGIES: (8-hour classroom session)
-History of barn fires
-Pre-fire planning
-Barn construction and design
-Enroute to the fire
-Water supply
-Arrival on scene
-Incident command for barn fires
-Barn fire tactics and strategies
-Horses and barn fires
-Protecting the showground
-Firefighter horse-handling
-Tabletop scenarios

FIRE-FIGHTER HORSE-HANDLING: (8-hour hands-on session)
-Hay and horse bedding fires
-Behavior issues with horses/live fire
-Horse/equine first aid
-Safety zones around horses
-Emergency halter/lead ropes
-Approach and equipment for restraint and confinement
-Restraint of downed horse
-Horse-handling techniques/one-,man, two-man, multiple horses
-Proper horse release techniques
-Barn smoke drills/rescuing the horse from a barn fire
-Blind-folding the horse

Looks great, right?

Trouble is, with fire department budgets cut to the bone, this can't be a high priority training for most companies -- even though there is a lot of interest. So I'm hoping to get some support from the "horse industry," whether bigger businesses or smaller horse farms.

We need about $5k to make it happen.
Not a lot of money, really.
Not really.

If you've got any funding ideas. I'd be real interested in hearing them.
And, of course, if you've got any spare cash you'd like to chip in....