Equines, Humans, and Oxymorons

I got an email recently with a definition of the word ‘oxymoron’ that made me laugh.  The standard definition, of course, is “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.”  The email suggested that ‘being sensible about horses’ was an alternate definition of the word.  The statement rang so true as to be humorous. 

The following lines from Mary Lascelles poem “No Such Day as Sunday” come to mind:

“There’s no such day as Sunday to laze around the fire.
There’s no holiday at Christmas with Shetland or a Shire.
At Easter we’re so busy with the sizes in between,
And everyday there’s feeding or keeping stables clean.
To lie-in in the morning is something just unheard.
And as for holidays abroad, that’s something just absurd.
We could jet our way around the world if we didn’t have the horses.
‘You horsey people are quite mad,’ I hear from many sources.” (1)

 A recent article in Horse Illustrated magazine provides lots of evidence that involvement with horses is far from sensible.  “State of the Equine Union:  A Look at the Latest Trends in the Horse Industry” by Cynthia McFarland is based on a survey conducted by American Horse Publications in 2009-2010.  For me, the most notable findings were:

  • “the majority  of participants owned the same number of horses as they did in 2007, before the recession hit.” (2)
  • “Almost three-quarters of surveyed horse owners said they were spending more money per horse than in 2007…” (3)
  • “… more than 70 percent of horse owners surveyed said they would cut spending in other areas in order to make up for the extra cost of keeping their horses.” (4)

In conversations about the small business that my husband and I jointly own, he will occasionally accuse me of being ‘an engineer.’  Usually it’s when I make a very logical argument about a business situation, often based on financial information, while at the same time he sees non-financial reasons for coming to a different conclusion.  It is true that I am an engineer by training, and I did learn to think about problems in very organized ways.  And I have found, when it comes to my ponies, all that training means very little.

Logic says that if expenses increase, then reducing the number of horses to moderate expenses would be a sensible strategy.  Obviously, logic isn’t involved in horse ownership, since the survey found that people have the same number of horses and are paying more to keep them, reducing expenses in other places in order to maintain their horse herd.  The same is definitely true for me.

The article also included the following statement that of course explains it all:  ‘Horse ownership is a lifestyle, not a fad.” (5)  We have horses in our lives for reasons other than logic or some passing whimsy.  The nice thing about the Horse Illustrated article is that now we know that as horse owners we’re not alone being the epitome of an oxymoron!

(c) Jenifer Morrissey, 2011

  1. Lascelles, Mary.  “No Such Day as Sunday,” Ponies and Dreams, Creek Pony Collection, England, undated, p. 3.
  2. McFarland, Cynthia.  “State of the Equine Union:  A Look at the Latest Trends in the Horse Industry,” Horse Illustrated, September 2011, p. 30.
  3. McFarland, p. 31
  4. McFarland, p. 31
  5. McFarland, p. 35
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About workponies

Breeder of Fell Ponies, teamster of work ponies, and author of Feather Notes, Fell Pony News, and A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies. Distributor of Dynamite Specialty Products for the health of our planet and the beings I share it with.
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