I found it uncomfortable and a bit like a first date with someone you fancy, I wasn’t entirely sure how to proceed. And so I didn’t. And neither did my wary steed.
But, in so saying, I like horses very much. It soothes me to see horses in a meadow and I like when they see one and wander over to the fence go chat. I chat with them. I don’t necessarily whisper but do ask how their day is going.
So, in that I understand the absolute outrage of the Brits when they found their lasagna and other dishes contained a good quantity of gee-gee. That wasn’t right.
Fine for the French, puffed the residents of Blighty, but don’t be imposing dishes comprising Black Beauty on us. The French, as the English know, will eat anything questionable like snails and slugs and frogs, so why not horses?
We are pretty much like the English in that regard. Our relationship with the horse is different than it is with other animals. From the days of knights of old, the valiant horse has stood by us. We have a ‘relationship’ with horses, much as we do with dogs. We don’t eat dogs either. We’re emotionally selective in what we stuff in our greedy maws.
On Rarotonga one finds vast numbers of feral dogs. We were riding a little local bus and one of the tourist passengers asked the driver, a charming Maori named Dennis, why so many dogs. He explained that the Cook Islanders used to eat dog. And then when the missionaries arrived in the 1820s they put a stop to a practice that those men of God, mostly English, found disgraceful.
“Good thing they didn’t arrive when we were still indulging our earlier eating practices,” said Dennis, with a knowing wink. Seems their erstwhile nosh was something known in the South Pacific as ‘long pig’.
Anyway, the dogs were set free and they were left to roam untethered and unowned and seemingly perfectly happy, all of which seem quite agreeable in disposition.
And horses we regard in the same way. Horses are the aforementioned Black Beauty, and Trigger, and Silver, and Champion the Wonder Horse, Mr. Ed, of course, as well as Man-o-War, and all the horses that delivered our milk and veggies in olden times, and the sad horses we sent off into battle, with nearly as many dying on the Western Front in World War One as did men. Sad about them. I mean, sad about the men, too, but horses didn’t start the war or ask to be engaged in it.
And yes, I am selective in my biases, I know. But somehow horses are different. I’ll say I truly like cows and they make me feel peaceful, and a gamboling lamb is a sight to enchant, and pigs are smarter than a lot of politicians of recent years.
Yet I eat bits of all of the above. I might become vegetarian if I could make an exception for bacon. Yet pigs equal bacon.
Some cultures have no problem with prime rib of cheval. I do. It’s all about culture, however, rather than moral outrage.