To understand my comments, you need to understand how I, Obama, a pony, am blogging. Here are three paragraphs from the introduction to my book.
This isn’t an autobiography, it’s an essay on literature, on the rage that inspires great literature, on the rage that results from great literature being ignored, re-categorised as “children’s” literature, all with a bit of my story on the side. It’s all thanks to Wireless Broadband. I haven’t got an Anna Sewell, whose intelligence and empathy were unbelievably high for one of her species, I’ve got Simon Mulholland, in his own words, a serious fruitcake, and Wireless Broadband.
Wireless Broadband is magic, pure and simple. The air around you is full of knowledge, and you can pull out the bits you want, they can be pictures, words, ideas. I say it’s magic but humans apparently put it there, yet they can’t read it, or see it or hear it. Their computers can, and they can ask the computers how Wireless Broadband works, and the computers tell them humans made it work. And the humans believe them and are happy..
But I can hear it and see it without a computer. At first I was scared, especially as I was the only one in the field who could hear it. Then I started to read Black Beauty’s story, and I realised I had to write the bits Beauty had missed. But for this I need Simon. I need an account I can use to write. Searching is easy, reading what is up there is easy, but to get stuff up on that magic web, you need an account; you try opening one as a pony by thought transference.
Black Beauty opens his story,
The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master’s house, which stood by the roadside; at the top of the meadow was a grove of fir trees, and at the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank.
Beautiful. With a prison cell like that you might never want to leave, but that doesn’t change the facts. It’s a prison cell and the “master” has the key. I’ve been looking at all the stuff on how to train horses on the internet and there’s loads of stuff about “natural” and “friendship” and “partnership” and “bonding” and “liberty” but nobody’s leaving the bloody gate open.
Simon is marginally honest about training me. He wants me to do things, because if I don’t, I am useless to him. He has learned that hitting me doesn’t work, that waving sticks near me isn’t just counter productive, it can be bloody dangerous, for the person waving the stick. Just lately he has been playing around with a bow and arrows, which still look pretty stick like to me. I am glad to see he has noticed that I go a lot faster with some pillock waving a stick behind me, but I do accept that he seems to use the bow to go twang, or to scratch me. I can handle the scratching.
It’s a trade off. If I want out of the field, I have to do what Simon wants. But then he is reasonable about letting me eat what I want, rather than what’s in the field. You humans look at a field and say “It’s grass!” OK, I look at a crowd of humans and say, “It’s people!” but you all think you are different. Well the plants in a field are a lot more different than you lot. But we don’t want the plants in a field. We like variety.
The current training buzz word is ethogram. Everyone’s suddenly an expert on our “natural” behaviour. Waking up every morning to a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water may be nice, but it isn’t natural. In the wild, we woke up every morning to something different because we are nomadic, we move a round. And we wouldn’t sleep near the waterhole. Too many predators, too much action, too bloody dangerous. Fences, gates, wire, stables, tethers. If you are using any of these, you can forget natural, and if you start talking about liberty when I am fenced in a field, I will suggest you learn your own bloody language before you pretend you can talk pony.
Partnership, friend, buddy, pair bond. Which of these words do prison warders use to describe convicts? Hey guys, lets get them into the exercise yard and do some “liberty” work. I’ve really built a bond with guy in cell 3. He doesn’t try to kick me any more when I lock him in.
Get real. Ponies are prisoners. You choose where we live, who we socialise with, what we eat, when we drink, just don’t give us any crap about liberty or choice. Simon is beginning to see things from my point of view, and he isn’t enjoying the process much. He rationalises, and he does it pretty well. Rationalising is a very human trait. Ponies and horses tend to accept the world as it is.
I know Simon won’t let me out unless it suits him. At least he doesn’t pretend it is my free choice. Sometimes I wind him up, trotting round the field just out of reach, but he’s a persistent sod, and he always has an apple or something, and I get to go out and see new places, and eat the things I want to eat so it isn’t all bad. But although I may “choose” to be caught. I can only “choose” when Simon wants to catch me.
If you humans want to work honestly with horses and ponies, look at the fences and try saying “That’s liberty!”