When I was a child, I wanted a pony or a horse so bad I could taste it. I was obnoxious. I read “The Black Stallion,” “Misty of Chincoteague,” and that dreadful sentimental tearjearker whose name I forget, about the carriage horse that gradually sank to pulling a coal cart (this was in England) and was rescued by an early member of the Humane Society. Was that “Black Beauty”?
I collected glass figurines of horses and then some kind of high-class plastic ones which cost way too much money for what they were. When I fractured a vertebra in my back (a story for another day) at 10 years old and was in the hospital for a week, my cousin Marvel baked a chocolate cake the day I came home, and topped it with a glass Palomino with a saddle and bridle. That’s how far gone I was, and how public it was in my family.
What is it about girls and horses? Putting aside the obvious sexual imagery (and please, I beg you to do that), I think it’s all about control of emotion and empathy for a larger, more dangerous other. And it’s also that horses have big eyes, lots of emotion and not much in the brains department. Kinda like men 🙂
I went to see “War Horse” last week. It was both a beautiful, sweeping story of a boy and his horse, and a powerful antiwar message. I highly recommend it. You need to see this movie on a big screen–you cannot get the sweep and majesty of it on a DVD.
Why do horses move us so? They have been noble creatures from their earliest days, painted in caves in France. There’s a whole nomenclature in heroic statuary in which the horse’s pose indicates the rider’s accomplishments or nobility. Yes, in an equestrian statue, there is a message if all four feet are on the ground, or one front foot is raised, or the horse is rearing on its hind feet.
This from Wikipedia (accuracy to be confirmed): Hoof-position symbolism
A popular belief in the United States is that if the horse is rampant (both front legs in the air), the rider died in battle; one front leg up means the rider was wounded in battle or died of battle wounds; and if all four hooves are on the ground, the rider died outside battle. However, there is little evidence to support this belief.
But how strange and rich that we impose those beliefs! Horses carry a lot of freight, and a lot of weight.