Saturday, 3 December 2011

Obama reviews Black Beauty

Obama reviews Black Beauty

 I feel it's time I had my say. Simon has been rabitting on about what I feel, what I like and what I think for nearly three years now, and it's my turn.

I am following in distinguished hoof prints, Black Beauty's work, translated by Anna Sewell is well up in the all time best seller lists, but after nearly a century and a half, it's time for another of us to make a few waves.

Simon has been doing what he does best, upsetting people, with his comments on whips and Tesco's. I can't comment much about Tesco's, they won't let me in, but I can comment on whips, and Simon is right. I hate them. Just out of interest, who, among the people, horse or human, that they are USED on, likes them?

But backtracking a bit, I apppear to be a pony, and I appear to be writing stuff on a computer. I can see where the confusion comes, but you are forgetting the magic of Broadband. Now I know it is an article of faith with you humans that you created Broadband. We all have our creation myths, but it is obvious to me that humans don't understand it, or know how to use it. Just ask the next human you see how Broadband works. Listen to their answer and then try saying sincerely, “well if that's how it works, it must have been invented and built by humans.”

When I first realised I could sense Broadband, it opened up a whole new, and very weird world. But just recently I have discovered I can put stuff, words in particular, up on Broadband. The main problem is getting access to an account. Without an address, you can put stuff up, but nobody human can see it. So I am using Simon's account.

Simon is odd. The intelligent ones among you will have sussed this out already. He likes writing, and reading, but won't read what he has written. Which explains a lot of typos. But it means I can put stuff up in his name and he will never notice, or if he does, will just assume he has gone mental.

Black Beauty was lucky, Anna Sewell was incredibly sensitive, for a human, and allowed Black Beauty to get his story up pretty accurately. With Broadband, and a weirdo like Simon, I can achieve something, nothing to rival Black Beauty's story, but a review of the impact Black Beauty should have had, and hasn't. A story of journeys, physical and spiritual, of pain and some pleasure.

Yes, it's a savage journey to the heart of the equestrian dream.

And we'll get into the whips soo enough. You all know I'm going to, Simon's written enough about me and whips. I think most people know Simon's opinion. And he's pretty accurate. Maybe his language is too restrained, maybe he doesn't focus enough attention on the subject, but on the whole he's right. They bloody hurt.

Extension of my arm, yes, and when a horse kicks you with some lump of metal that you have had nailed to his foot, do you just say it's an extension of his foot, and he's just tapping you, it's just a signal. No you bloody don't. You proabably lay in with the bloody whip to teach him a lesson. A whip's a weapon.

Black Beauty didn't like them, but then who does. Black Beauty didn't like lots of things, but you humans have forgotten. You remember the fire scene, and the bearing reins, and maybe the trains in Black Beauty's first field. You forget the whips. Go back and read Beauty's book. Where does he say, “Thank God, a man with a whip, at last I will get a clear signal.” Where does he say, "and the man brought out an extension to his arm because I couldn't see his proper arm?"

Whips, bits, blinkers, cruppers, shoes, stables, hunting........ Black Beauty didn't like any of them. The bearing rein was horrible, sorry is horrible. At Anna Sewell's funeral, the horses were in bearing reins until her mother complained. Go to a miniature horse driving event today and they will use bearing reins on pnies so small they would fit in your pocket. Maybe they are right. A bigger animal might kick their teeth in. These miniatures would struggle to kick much higher than the ankle.

Side reins, bearing reins, chiffneys, gags, martingales, there are more bloody devices to hold our heads in the position YOU want them in than ever before. But try asking whose head is it? You fill our mouths with lumps of metal. Read Toni Morrison's “Beloved” and when you get to the relevant bit, (oh what an exquisite pun, and created by a mere pony) go out to your pony, or horse, and stick a bit in its mouth.

This isn't a catalogue of the bits of Black Beauty's book that have been ignored, though it's quite an achievement for the most popular horse book in history by such a massive margin, to be so comprehensively ignored. But humans pretend Black Beauty as a children's book, like Animal Farm, and Gulliver's Travels and Uncle Tom's Cabin. Few remember that in the USA Beauty's book was sold as “The Uncle Tom's Cabin for horses.”

None of these books are children's books. Beauty's story, like Eliza's in Uncle Tom's Cabin, is one of betrayal. Betrayal by those we are taught are worthy of respect. They are tales of class war, and gross inequality, where the light of humanity shines brighter, the lower you go. They are great books, and should be read by everyone, not stuffed in the children's shelves to be ignored by those with the power to improve things.

Look who wants the whips, is it the poor and the downtrodden who teach ten year old children to be comfortable holding a whip in either hand, and then test them on this ability before they allow them to progress further in horsemanship. Maybe where slavery is the norm, rich children are tested on their handling of the whip, before they can join the ranks of the great and the good..

Simon dug out a lovely bit on horsemanship from an old book on coal mining.

"Half a dozen laden waggons" says Sir George Head "are dragged along the railroad to the particular drop then at work, by a stout cob, which is then ridden carelessly back again, barebacked by a small boy, at a shambling trot; notwithstanding that the interstices between the planks below admit, here and there, full two inches of daylight. However the pony proceeeds, clattering on unconcernedly, otherwise than by holding his snout close to the floor, the better and more cautiously to observe where to place his feet at every step.
.............The beast when I witnessed his performance, had only a halter on his head, without winkers, or any harness except collar and light rope traces. As soon as the boy had fastened the lock of the trace to the foremost waggon, the pony invariably turned round his head, as if to enquire whether all was ready,and then, exactly at the proper moment, commenced his march, the load, meanwhile, rumbling after him: arrived at the drop, the carriages being detached, he here stood jammed close to the wall; shewing perfect cognizance as the carriages passed him, of the degree of attention due to the various noises and manoevres going forward, and not only being aware when it was proper to step out of the way, but how long precisely it was safe to stand still."
I could work with that boy. 
I will be back with more when Simon isn't concentrating, or maybe when he is. It is hard sometimes to tell the difference.

1 comment:

Jan Alexander said...

Obama, you are such a clear and fun communicator. Loved the story from the quote at the end too.

Be patient. Humans are only so very slow because they have an idea about themselves that they are at the top of some sort of imaginary 'Important Species' list. You and I both know that no such list exists. So it's because of this that the humans are unable to get what it is that the horse is communicating. It would mean that they would have to step off the position they hold in their minds of being at the top of the ladder in order to get level with the horse, and in doing that they would run the risk of having a breakthrough. Too scarey. So be patient, my equine friend. Finn (Shetland living in Ireland)