Part 1 was me whining about explaining how horses are home-wrecking, financial black holes. This one is about horses as tools: dangerous, unpredictable, archaic tools.
Up until about 1925 in the United States, horses were ubiquitous as the primary motive and traction power available to “regular people.” Steam engines existed, but a rolling open fire with 150psi of steam pressure and open belts and gearing is not really safer than a horse. Cars and tractors were coming on strongly, but nothing changes overnight. Millions of horses died in 1918 as part of the flu epidemic, adding to the misery and accelerating their replacement, as you can run a factory faster, while it takes 3 years to get a minimally usable horse.
It is my firm belief that having to use horses daily is one of the things that made our forefathers so tough, mean, alcoholic and racist. Constant dental pain, surgery consisting of a saw and snips certainly didn’t help, half your kids dying before 5, taking your wife with one of them is a special level of suck, but having to make your living by literally beating the work out of an equine had to do very bad things to your psyche. You think your orphans are slackers? Mules (a horse/donkey hybrid) are even worse and required guys that specialized in torment beyond what horses needed, literally called muleskinners, a name that has a bad odor even today.
Horses do not do what you want because you are their friend and they want your approval, or because they want food, or because they think you are the leader. Horses do what you want because you make them do it and leave them no better options. If they have the option of hurting you to avoid something, they will and it doesn’t even occur to them not to. It is 99% stimulus/response, avoiding pain and predation. Left to their own devices they will do nothing with humans at all since our quick and unpredictable movements trigger their predator response.
“Child safe” horse is an oxymoron, such horses and ponies are literally old and decrepit, usually in continuous hoof pain; making quick or abrupt movements hurts them more than bucking off moronic spawn. The trusty cowboy steed? A work of post-hoc B.S. cooked up by soft-handed writers for an urbanizing country. Real cowboys recognized their horse as a necessary evil; every day was a struggle against the land, the elements, the predators, the bossman, and their horse. Soldier’s stories of their trusty warhorse? B.S. cooked up or believed by officers that only had to do the fun stuff on the pointy end. No enlisted scrub having to deal with them the other 99% of the time ever had anything good to say.
To train or drive or ride a horse and not just be along for the ride, you must be meaner and smarter than the horse, and they are f*****g mean and jaw-droppingly stupid. They need to be more worried that you are going to hurt them than anything else out there, and they are convinced that everything from a train down to individual air molecules is a horse-eating monster.
Riding and driving gear is literally sadist: whips, crops, bats, leather, chains, spurs, blindfolds, bits and bridles (think ball gags, but with metal parts that dig into your tongue, palate and gums) all to get the horse to focus on you and to amplify your ability to hurt them. Even if you know what you are doing, can anticipate what is going to freak out a horse and can deliver timely and focused “correction”, they are going to win sometimes: broken bones, kicks to soft tissue, accelerated falls, blows to your face requiring stitches.
You know who isn’t mean enough to dominate a horse, take a beating and keep on going? Suburban white girls. Sure, there are exceptions and dominatrix types that love delivering a beating, but getting repeatedly injured and continuously having to dominate even when hurt is low class in a way that is totally foreign to their experience and capability. A few get it, and they are capable and scary broads, but most of them don’t and they recoil from actually learning and internalizing it. This means they are dominated by their horse. The horse does what it wants and is dangerous to ride and be around. You can see this in action at any and every horse show. Some even sport a red flag on their tail, but it is redundant, they all have red flags.
There is no solution to this. Horses are not evolutionarily malleable enough to be made smarter or steadier or friendlier and the economics have been against them for nearly 100 years. Society is getting further and further away from understanding nature, red in tooth and claw. Know yourself. Are you a mean s.o.b., meaner than 1000 lbs of muscle wired to a 220v line? Are you always looking 1000’ ahead and are never, ever taken by surprise? Can you beat a misbehaving dog or child and not just feel that it was deserved, but that you are a virtuous person for bestowing on them the kindness of correction?
If yes, you can probably handle a horse, but probably shouldn’t, since we have gasoline and clutches and gears that require zero cruelty to operate safely. If not, congratulations, you are a person well-adjusted to this modern age and should leave the horses where they belong, out on the range and in the past.