How Great the Disconnect?

It’s not every day that one post covers my passions for words, sustainability, and horses. That is not necessarily a good thing, of course. Many in our high tech society fail to realize how much knowledge about animal power has been lost. This disconnect between the world of nature concerns me greatly since I expect animal power to be far more important to future generations than they would like it to be.

Most Americans have grown sedentary, all too comfortable clicking remote controls. Perhaps some, maybe even many, will once again become comfortable again yelling “Gee!” or “Get Over!” but I suspect that for most this is something that will rank higher on the shock list than digging a vegetable garden by hand. Poverty will prevent most from owning draft animals. Distaste or lack of talent will hamper others.

I hope I’m wrong. Cuba revived its use of draft animals quite quickly, but then they were never as disconnected from their use as America has become. To me, the misuse of one word proves my point.

To explain, here is a cross-post from my horses and horsemanship blog Swift Horse:

Loss of terminology can tell one much about a society. All the college instructors I know complain about not being able to make historical or literary or even religious references that most students will get. This applies to horseman’s terms too, but a number of my compatriots are unaware of their lack in this regard.

How far have most of us come from the days when even non-horsemen at least knew common horseman’s terms? A long way. Lately, I’ve noticed an increase in the use of the odd phrase “reign in” where the author was looking for another way to say “restrain.”

Today I opened my email titled “Edge 319: Emanuel Derman: Breaking the Cycle; Dawkins, Church, Taleb et al on Venter” and found this in the introduction to the Derman interview:

Watching that interrogation of the bankers at the Senate hearings, I had the feeling that this is the way karma works in the universe. Everybody is going to do something not quite right as they act out their destiny mechanically, doing what they unthinkingly believe they have to do. The Wall Street people are going to reflexively overshoot and be too greedy. The Senate people are going to reflexively grandstand and be too uninformed and try to reign them in. There isn’t going to be an elegant solution to any of this.

Edge aka is one of the most intellectually sophisticated sites around, so this small gaffe surprised me. Gaps appear in everyone’s knowledge, but this area is one that widens by the day.

During the last week of the semester, I said something about horses to a fellow instructor, who, in response, asked if horses were solitary animals or liked company.

Gee! Knowledge does not have a free rein these days. It’s curbed and checked and almost hamstrung. Haw!!

Cassandra aka Houyhnhnm


2 Responses to “How Great the Disconnect?”

  1. babz Says:

    Well, “Cassandra,” at least the United States still has the Forest Service, our last line of National defense, right? (Yikes) They’re requiring even a lowly office person like me to take “Defensive Horsemanship” (sort of like defensive driving) on Thursday next week. I couldn’t get the pictures to load, but ironically last week before your post, I tried to send you pics of some of the FS beasts at work. One big job they did last summer was ride up ( where a motorized vehicle either wasn’t allowed, or couldn’t get to) and collect mule packs full of pine cones. This is for the seeds- for the tree farm here in the valley- I think they are trying to restore whatever a white bark pine is. I’m assuming they are endagered or some such. Just as horsemanship itself generally is. I know, I know, it’s Montana. But I wonder how many horses and mules are employed by our federal government? It’s probably top secret. My little office sure has a bunch.

  2. uncommonscolds Says:


    Interestingly enough–to me, at least–the fellow who does the barefoot trims on my horses put in his twenty years or whatever with the Forest Service. He was on horseback all the time. And he’s a true horseman, a theorist as well as a practitioner. Not many people like that around now. Or ever for that matter.

    I hope I live long enough to see what happens with the use of horses and mules and oxen. To be sure, there are still pockets of uses right now, but most of the “cowboys” around here ride ATVs to herd cattle. More worrisome, the horse trend is still heavy with those whose idea of horsemanship means being on the show circuit or on some New Age spiritual trip. I consider working with horses a challenge and a spiritual journey, but too many of the show and New Agey types annoy me because the horse is generally an accessory, not the focus. Consequently, horses are often abused because of show ring pressures or because of ignorance. If horses become working animals again, I’m not at all sure that’ll make me happy either. Too many of them will be abused, overworked, and outright tortured. That’s the history of the horse as a work animal.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: