Good day to all.
I’ve made a small number of changes to this website, designed to increase my e-peen. I made a Facebook page, which I invite you to like. At the time of writing, I only have two ‘likes’. Now, loathe as I am to ask people to ‘like’ things that they would not necessarily ‘like’ of their own volition, two is not enough. Two looks absurd. So, with the exception of Jim and Luca, the only people with initiative, I invite all of you to do it naow!
To business: England is infested with horses.
Sometimes, when navigating one of England’s many winding country lanes, you encounter a procession of them. When this situation arises, you are expected to adhere to a certain overtaking protocol, designed to minimise alarm caused to the animal. You must slow your vehicle to a crawl. You must turn down whatever obnoxious metal music you have playing, and refrain from sounding the horn or screaming obscenities or any of that sort of thing.
If you do all of this, the woman (and it always is a woman) at the head of the procession will acknowledge you with a hand wave. This gesture basically means:
“Thank you for taking steps to minimise the potential alarm caused to this animal, and for recognising that my vehicle, unlike yours, might at any time go berserk and bolt through the nearest hedge, with me trailing behind, my legs hopelessly entangled with the stirrup, my arms flailing wildly and my head streaming blood having impacted the tarmac in a manner most displeasing. This is an eventuality that I am keen to avoid.”
If there was any remote chance of my car doing that, I’d like to think it would fail its MOT. I doubt anyone would get behind the wheel of a car in which the ECU had become self-aware, like Skynet, and become liable to lose its shit if someone overtakes too quickly. Likewise, if my car was prone deposit a giant pile of stinking waste onto the tarmac. And yet horses do this all the time. Am I alone in batting an eyelid?
Horses baffle me. Their popularity baffles me. The people who ride them baffle me, too. The demographics have shifted, somewhat; historically, your average horse rider was always a burly man. Henry V, Jesse James, Gandalf the White. Those guys all rode horses. Those guys made horse riding look good.
Well, those days are gone. A hobby that was once a staple of rugged manliness is now infused with oestrogen. I’m sure the reason for this could stretch over many essays; but, put simply, it’s because the men have all lost interest and found distraction in other things, like motor-racing and cheese-rolling. A more modern version of ‘The Two Towers’ would see Shadowfax find his way into a frozen lasagne, leaving Gandalf to lead the charge at Helm’s Deep on the back of a Harley Davidson.
Really, the horse is now just a pet. But it was never intended as such. That isn’t what it was bred for. It was bred to be a piece of fucking agricultural equipment, or a biological weapon, or both. It’s an enormous walking shit-factory whose metabolism will convert tons of hay into tons of faeces in a matter of hours, which it will then deposit in the middle of a public highway.
Oh, Horsey. You revolutionised warfare, agriculture and haulage. You made feeding people a great deal easier. You made killing people a great deal easier, too. Think back to when mounted conquistadors wandered down the passes through the Andes, commencing their invasion of Peru. The native Incas had never seen a horse, let alone a horse with a steel-clad white guy sitting on it. So imagine their reaction:
“My feet are killing me. I hate these mountains.”
“They certainly suck.”
“Oh, look over there. It’s a nine-foot, four-legged, armoured demigod.”
“Oh. So it is.”
“I’m thinking let’s surrender.”
That’s just one example.
But that was a long time ago, horsey-lovers. As a military tool, the horse has fallen into quiet obsolescence, just as it has in a great many other areas. You could justify the feeding of an animal that size when it’s pulling the plough that’s feeding your village or trampling all over the lands of your enemies. But not now. Now you don’t need a horse to do any of those things. Should I need eight tons of maize taken to Gloucester before the next full moon, I will call a courier; and should they turn up with a horse and cart, I will call a different courier.
Now all that remains is the animal itself, and the whole apparatus that surrounds it, which I like to call the Horsey Industrial Complex, devoted to the continuation of this deeply weird, improbably profitable fetish. The Horsey Industrial Complex controls everything. It has a complete stranglehold on the media, which it uses to perpetuate demand for horses and horsey-related products. It probably constitutes half the nation’s GDP, judging by the amount of manure I have to drive around on the way to work.
But I don’t blame the horse for this. I don’t even consider the horse to be a particularly offensive creature. I’m simply questioning why so many people want to keep them as pets, especially considering how monumentally fucking impractical they are. Relative to popular household pets, like cats and dogs, horses are extremely high-maintenance. They require accommodation in a separate fucking building. You can’t simply stick them in the garage and forget it. Neither can you leave it a giant pile of hay in the morning and forget it, since, given the opportunity, this animal will eat itself to death. You have to feed them constantly, or employ someone to do so on your behalf. Dispensing such a quantity of food requires physical effort. This is a rare instance where feeding a pet will add inches to your triceps. Feeding my cat doesn’t do that.
So, horsey people have to pay a stable to house and feed their monstrosity. I suppose that all of these difficulties add to the animal’s appeal as a sort of weird status symbol. It’s as though owning a horse is a demonstration of wealth or power. Like a Bond-villain might have a tank filled with ravenous sharks in his living room, just to show off the fact that he can.
Now, it’s important to distinguish between people that love horses and people that love the culture surrounding horses. There is undoubtedly a great deal of overlap between the two. The former I can’t claim to understand, but they don’t bother me so much. It’s the latter that completely baffle me. They claim very loudly to love horses, and yet devote a great deal of their energy toward thinking of ways to kill them. They race them around, force them to jump over obstacles and make them do absurd tricks. Why equestrian was made an Olympic sport, I will never understand. It’s like Crufts but with a slightly bigger quadruped. Would you give a gold medal to someone whose dog can catch a fucking Frisbee? The same fucking award you give to Usain Bolt?
But at least the equestrian, while bizarre, is not lethal in the way that something like the Grand National is. I don’t understand how any who claims to love horses can lend their support for this event, or any other event of the sort. If you love something, why in the fuck would you enter it into a potentially lethal competition and then invite people to bet on the outcome? Considering the eagerness with which practices like bullfighting and dogfighting are condemned, the support inspired by this equine death-race is beyond my comprehension. Luckily the aptly titled www.horsedeathwatch.com is there to keep track of the casualties.
We’re not even allowed to take the sting off this tragedy by eating these dead horses. Killing them is fine, but making good use of the corpse is abhorrent. People shit a brick at the prospect of a burger potentially containing horse meat. I blame this hypocrisy on the Horsey Industrial Complex. The French wouldn’t put up with that shit. They’d happily tuck into that carcass, and then sing ‘Non, Je ne Regrette Rein’. We could learn a thing or two from them.
À la semaine prochaine!