What does my Shetland Pony have in Common with Secretariat?

Well, nothing really.  But, maybe… I’ve been thinking about this…

Have you seen the trailer for the new Disney movie, SECRETARIAT?  If not, here is the link.  Anyway, I watched the trailer this morning and I was bawling by the end of it.  That motivated me to go to Wikipedia for the Cliff Notes and often inaccurate summaries of the history of Secretariat.  The movie trailer had indicated hardship and struggle, belief when no one else would and David slaying Goliath kind of epic stuff.  Wikipedia didn’t go into any of that but did give me his race history and life/death stuff.  I was compelled.  The emotion I felt for this horse and the people around him made me swoon.  It made me even stronger in my conviction to make a difference in the horse world.

Now, how can I make a difference?  Well, I have lots of post-it notes with famous and inspiring quotes stuck around everywhere that tell me I can do it.  Unfortunately, they don’t tell me how.  So far, I’ve only come up with HORSE AND MAN the TV series which is on hiatus…  And, this blog.  So, here I sit, feeling the need to elevate the human awareness of the value of the horse but not sure how to go about it.   How am I going to do this?  I can write about horses every day… which I am doing… but maybe it has something to do with the way I write about the horse that might make a difference.  Dunno.

You see, the human perception is different for famous horses.  Secretariat was a stellar individual with a trunkload of talent.  He was in the right place at the right time and he tipped.  It all came together for him.  And there have been other famous horses who had the same fortune when effort met with opportunity.  Those kinds of stories are easy for the human to oooh and aaaah and feel misty-eyed over.  An athlete horse or a show horse or a trick horse … those horses stand before us and we take note.  But what about your average horse?  How do I elevate the thinking around the horse in general?  I mean, not all dogs are Rin Tin Tin, but we humans are coming around to elevating our regard for the dog in general.  How about the horse?  They aren’t all Secretariats, but they are all something special in and of themselves.

So how will I go about this?  I have no idea, yet.  But, eventually, hopefully, my efforts will meet an opportunity, too.  In the meantime, I’ve been inspired by the Secretariat trailer to talk about the stellar qualities in the everyman horses.  They haven’t done anything newsworthy or record breaking.  However, they all have talent of one kind or another. I’m not sure if there are any special awards or noteworthy contests for lock picking, door opening, stealth grain stealing, fence rail breaking, trough bathing, extreme rolling, Houdini Fly Mask removal, blanket stomping, pocket searching, accurate cow kicking, bloating, buckin’ horse imitations and many other varied and sordid achievements, but all horses do have special talents.  Just like we all have special talents.  So, my effort today to elevate the human awareness of the horse is to talk about my everyman Shetland pony, Slick.

What does my Shetland Pony have in common with Secretariat…  Well, a few things, actually.  Slick is the fastest pony I’ve ever seen, he is loved by a female human and he is for sure the most proud pony I have ever met although I think pride is a pony trait.  But probably the most similar characteristic is his ability to steadfastly go after what he wants.  However, comparing my average joe pony to Secretariat isn’t really the point.   I think I need to compare him to no one.  I think I just need to talk about how special he is as an individual.  He hasn’t set any world records, but he is a champion in my book… Here’s why:

Slick was born a rank and surly high plains drifter trapped inside the body of an adorable pie-bald Shetland pony.  For that, he deserves accolades.  The poor boy does his very best to prove to all who will listen that he is the Dirty Harry of his breed, a Big Horse to be reckoned with or left alone on a grassy plain.  He’s Clint Eastwood yet he looks like Pee Wee Herman.  Imagine the difficulty in that!   When Slick sees me approaching his paddock, this pint-sized toughguy snakes his neck and grates his teeth along the pipe gate just to let me know NOT to mess with him today.  And all it makes me do is giggle.  The indignity!  Yet, he survives… He never gives up.  He never gives in.  He has the temerity of a worker ant and is relentless at getting his point across.  “I want OUT now!  Now!  Now! Now!”

Slick will remove all the tools from the farrier’s pockets without him knowing.  And, he can steal a treat or topple a grain barrel lickety split!  He is a quick draw with an angelic face.  Maybe Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday is a better comparison.  No one took Doc Holliday seriously until they saw him draw his gun.  That’s my Slick.  No one knows how fierce he can be until he swipes your wallet and slinks off silently without anyone knowing.

And for all his bravado, I know his soft spot.  He will gently let my tiny step-daughter groom him until his skin is raw.  He never bites or gives her attitude, he just gently moves away when he’s done.  Just like any gentleman gunslinger with a golden heart and a boyish grin — he captures your heart.  That’s my boy.  Adorably bad to the bone.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

7 comments have been posted...

  1. Dr J

    The best way that I have observed to “elevate” horses, is to “elevate” the people who love them.

    Seriously. How many people affected by the plight of horses, were not downtrodden themselves at one time? Take a careful look around, near you. I have so far identified more than a few dozen “horse-crazy” women in my own practice, and every single one of them was either severely neglected or abused – generally for something as insipid as not looking like a perfect, re-built (via cosmetic surgery) Hollywood movie star. Coincidence? I doubt it. The impossible standards that this culture places on both women and horses are nothing short of CRUEL and DESTRUCTIVE! Especially, in the long-run, for that very society that imposes them!

    Good article. I enjoyed it.

    (and, Thanks! – for the use of soap-box. ;-) )

  2. JFriedman

    Excellent! You did a fine job of making the connection between the stars and the horses with all four feet firmly planted in someone’s backyard. I have a close-up photo of Barbaro’s eye hanging in my bathroom. It’s not there just because it’s Barbaro. It’s there because I’ve seen that look in the eye of almost every horse I’ve owned. Special is in there, just not always so obvious….

  3. cocarrot

    I have been enjoying your blog for a while now, at the recommendation of one of my supporters. Today, I’m commenting because this blog, with the next day’s about United Pegasus Foundation, seem to strike a real chord in me. My rescue is about those everyday guys – who work hard all their lives for someone, and end up thrown out like garbage. Like Slick, they all have their personalities and character. I have a few individuals who achieved a lot in their day – and ended up in the same place. I don’t begrudge the OTTBs their supporters – have several here as well – but sometimes I’m depressed at how forgotten the regular joes are … how little support they get, how unromantic they seem to be. Thank you for pointing out that they are ALL important, and wonderful! I will be mentioning your blog in my next newsletter – its good reading! Casey

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