I have a question for everybody. It stems from something I thought about several years ago and was re-ignited by a recent round table discussion at a Harry Whitney clinic in Tennessee that I audited.
The question is: What would horsemanship around the world be like if horses evolved the capacity to commit suicide when life turned bad for them?
I realize it is a silly question and even a terribly depressing one and the thought of it is enough to create a dark cloud over a person’s joy of their horses. But I think it is a question worthy of some consideration.
For one, I imagine there would be no horse racing and perhaps no competition because there may not be enough horses to make holding such events worthwhile. Or perhaps judges would give the higher points to horses that were emotionally relaxed and comfortable, instead of giving priority to flashy movement.
What would it mean for people who love horses as to how seriously they took the quality of their relationship with their animals? How would their priorities change with regard to their horse goals? Would we see a huge migration of people out of the horse industry or perhaps an even bigger influx of new people who have been turned away by some of the more common, but less attractive practices of horse training? Would we criminally prosecute people whose horses killed themselves under animal cruelty laws?
But of course, maybe things we stay exactly the same except we would make it hard for horses to kill themselves. Paddocks would not have dams or ponds deep enough to drown in. Trail riders would avoid riding by roads where a horse could dash out in front of speeding traffic.
What do you think it would mean for the horse industry if horses had the capacity to commit suicide?