As the Fourth of July approaches and you here all the falderal about the land of the free and the home of the brave, it makes me ponder how this affects the horse population in general. I am a 38 year old ranch horse and I have seen many instances of confinement and freedom. For some reason, there are people out there that think horses are only happy if they are wild and roaming free on the prairies. That really sounds good in books and movies, but looking at it realistically, it is not such a great deal.
Horses started out in ancient history as a food source for cavemen. Looking at that, we have come up in priority quite a bit. That is a good thing, but just because were no longer a food source for man, doesn’t mean that we were taken off the menu for other predators. The weakest of the herds that were sick or injured were eaten. That is the way of the world. Looking at that, I would have been someone’s lunch a long time ago because I have lost sight in one eye and can’t see things approaching from that side. I seriously doubt that a predator would announce its presence and make it a fair fight. I also don’t move quite as fast as I used to when running.
Running wild, does sound like fun when you are just thinking in your head, but there is never a guarantee of food. Just because a pasture is green, does not mean there is enough protein there to sustain a full grown horse or a herd of horses. Since horse are herd animals, it would take a constant supply of green protein rich grass to sustain a herd. There are plenty of horses even at this time that are in pastures all around that are close to starving because even though there are green plants in the field, there is not enough protein to sustain them. It is really sad, because many of these owners think they are doing something wonderful for their horses, by letting them live in a close to free environment.
On the flip side, there are horses living out there with no freedom at all. They are trapped in stalls all day long without ever being let out. These poor horses are suffering from a complete lack of freedom. It is really sad, because that is not the way horses are geared to live. Shutting them up in a stall away from their herd mates can eventually drive a horse insane or stall crazy. I understand that these owners think they are protecting these horses, but they are also affecting their mental health. Then there are the owners that keep them locked up because they don’t want them to get dirty.
Times have changed and the planet is really much more populated now. There is not a whole lot of room left for running free. Even as we speak, there are factions out there that are trying to take the land from the wild mustangs. Even humans have restricted freedoms, so I guess I can’t complain. During the daylight hours when it is hot I get to hang out in a large paddock with a shade tree. It also has a run-in shed that sports a fan that runs 24/7. My buddy horses are nice in close in their own paddocks where I can see them. In the evening, I get to go out and roam in a nice fenced pasture with all of my herd mates. None of us have to worry about lack of food or predators.
Even though horses started out as wild animals we have been domesticated for millions of years. Admittedly, some of us have it better than others, but we are all domesticated. Life as we know it has evolved the same as humans. I heard a song playing in the barn one day that said, “Freedom is just another name for nothing left to lose.” If that is the case, then I don’t think it is all that great. I like my structured and protected freedom. I rather like the fact that I have shelter and food without having to scrounge for it. In my thirty eight years I have run into some hard times, had I been living in the wild, I would not be here today to write this post. I also like the fact that we are protected from predators and illness.
The way I see it, I have plenty of freedom with my paddock and the pasture. I really like the fact that I can roam and not worry about being eaten or attacked by rivals or predators. It is also nice to have food and protection from illnesses. Those that think horses are better off running wild and free, need to re-evaluate the problems that go with that particular lifestyle. Along with humans, our lifestyles have improved for the better. That is what I will be celebrating this Fourth of July. Happy Trails
~ Pie, as recorded by Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo