(a segment of a story)
Read Between The Lines
George Bernard Shaw wrote, “When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.” As you know, He draws quite funny cartoons. Sometime you may search for the hidden truth. At some occasions, when he come in the barn to see me, he does have his computer under his arm. In other instances, he comes with a pen and a piece of paper and draws a cartoon. I like to watch the process. He always commences with the horse’s expression and sometime I can figure the whole cartoon just by this beginning. Most of the time, he is just amused by a situation, or an experience that he had in the previous days. Other times, he is inspired by political events. He thinks that politicians are a perpetual source of funny cartoons. I have also seen cartoons that were for him a therapy, a way to put frustration or anger or pain out of his system. He does not publish those cartoons. I remember the one that he drew one day. It was indeed several drawing like a story. He was making fun of the so called “attitude adjusters,” these would be trainers who resolve behavior problems through physical or mental abuse. In each drawing, you can only see the horse head and shoulders. The horse has an expression very placid with a small and curious smile on his face. The attitude adjuster is doing horrible things to the horse. He twists the left ear; he kicks the horse’s stomach with his feet. He is behind the horse stimulating forward movement with a bow whip. Whatever the attitude adjuster is doing, the horse’s facial expression never changes. In fact, the horse never moves. At the end, the attitude adjuster is exhausted and totally depressed by the horse’s lack of reaction. As the attitude adjuster leaves the scene totally defeated, there is a voice which said, “OK, you can move the dummy; the attitude adjuster is adjusted.” The last drawing is the horse in full. It is a dummy that they are rolling backward.
The thought was funny but the drawings were too realistic. He was drawing on the table outside as I was grazing around him. I looked over his shoulders as he finished the drawing of the guy twisting the horse’s left ear. I was very uncomfortable with the drawing. They did that to me. Watching the cartoon, I almost felt the pain again. I look at him and he looked at me thinking, I know that they did that to you. I remember the time that we have to spend together when I tried to pass the bridle above your ears. It took fifty five minutes the first day and I had to dismantle the bridle completely. The second day it took five seconds. You had figured that it was not about misplaced ego and insane submission.
Manchester tried to watch the drawing from behind the fence of his turn out. He could not see the details from where he was and asked to describe the drawing. The attitude adjuster was now kicking the horse’s stomach with his feet. Manchester felt uncomfortable too saying, They did that to me. They did not kick my stomach as shown on the cartoon, although, a few times, the trainer was so angry against me that he smacked my stomach quite strongly with his hand. They regularly hit my stomach with their legs or their spurs because I resisted forward movement. I had severe pains in my left stifle and I resisted forward movement trying to ease my pain but they did not contemplate the thought that it could be a physical issue. I was supposed to move forward and they interpreted my resistance as a behavior problem. “He is lazy” as they said, “he is stubborn; he does not want to move forward.” You should have heard the theories that they came up with. The only thing they never figured is that my so called behavior issues were my only way to express my physical pain. Watching him cantering, jumping, bucking like a kid in the field it was difficult to believe that all these memories were true. I said to Manchester, but I was there when you arrived. You were dead lame. You could barely move. I saw it firsthand. They even separated us in turn out because I wanted to play with you but you did not have the physical capacity to deal with my enthusiasm.
Caesar joined the “party” asking what was going on. He was now drawing the scene where the attitude adjuster is whipping quite aggressively the horse to create forward movement. Caesar reacted like we did. This is too real. They did that to me. It was not a bow whip; it was a lunge whip, they pushed me quite hard because I was resisting forward movement. Since they could not find anything wrong with my front legs from X-rays and ultrasonography, they deducted that I had an attitude problem. They became quite forceful. By luck, I have a strong body and I can be quite impressive. However it could have been the end of my story. If he had not adopted me on the Friday, I was scheduled for a lethal injection on the following Monday.
We all agreed that the cartoon was his therapy from some event that he witnessed and did not like. He repetitively states during the lessons, “Behavior problems do not exist. They are reactions directed by physical pain, muscular imbalance or morphological flaw. Protective reflex contractions are self-preservation instinct. They are a cry for help. The horse does not have other solutions than letting us know about pain or difficulties. Our task as a rider is to analyze the horse’s reaction and identify the root cause.”
Quietly Arpege, which is Chazot’s mother, walked toward the corner of her turn out joining the party. We were interested in her opinion but she told us, they raced me only a few times. After that I carried babies after babies. I don’t even remember how a rider feels. But, she added steering on Chazot, I do remember what it was like to create a monster like you. I knew during the conception that I was creating an unusual athlete, too tall, too powerful, too spirited. When I watch you having a temper in your stall, rolling furiously in the shaving and kicking the wall, I remembered you moving in my womb and kicking my abdominal wall. I don’t know how I was able to bring you to term and then I had to nurse you for six more months. I on one hand, was proud to see you growing so fast, so athletic, so powerful. On the other, I was concerned by your intensity. Through my short experiences with training techniques I knew that they would misinterpret your passion. A beautiful quote said, “If you want to love deeply you have to be prepared to grieve deeply…to not chance it is to live a sterile life.” I do not remember the author but I often think about this sentence watching you. Deep under you have a great heart, but you express everything with so much passion that even I, your mother was at times afraid of you. I knew that you would fight punishment and I often wondered who is going to understand this special horse?
TO BE CONTINUED!