So, Holly arrived yesterday. She’s a six year old Clydesdale cross and has already seen a lot of things, I suspect. She was originally used by the Mennonites and thankfully was essentially rescued by a young woman from a farm near Shelburne.
Holly made me think of an article I read once about ”learned helplessness” in animals. The short version is that the animal has suffered in ways that seem inescapable and so resigns itself to its fate. The fight, so to speak, has gone out of them.
I remember years ago the great, late Walter Zettl recounting a story of a stallion that had been harshly and unfairly trained. The stallion had tried fighting, had tried defiance, disobedience etc. but eventually, after many months he finally gave up. With the rider still astride, the stallion simply lay down in the middle of the arena.
It is heartbreaking to think of these things. Horses are perhaps the kindest animals and certainly up there with the most generous. It seems morally reprehensible to mistreat them, especially when their primary purpose for us nowadays is recreational.
Anyway, just thoughts I had last night as I looked at Holly. She seemed almost unreasonably calm in her new surroundings and vaguely disinterested…just enough to make me think that she was more resigned to her fate than actually happy to be here.
I hope we can change that for her and that she will soon come to believe her life could be more than just different degrees of misery.
It seems to me that she deserves that.
They all do.