In my early college years I took a Shakespeare class. I don’t remember much about any of the plays we studied. I was more interested in a couple of cute girls in the class. The one thing that has stuck in my mind over the years was a button our instructor wore on her lapel every day. It had the image of Shakespeare and the words “Will Power”. She was passionate about her subject.
For the past several years there has been a lot of press about the many unwanted horses in our country. Those of us who are highly involved in the horse industry are rightly worried about this problem. We wonder about the security of our livelihood. We wonder if the species for which we have so much passion is in serious jeopardy.
This is not a new phenomenon. In the early part of the 20th century there may have been more horses in the country than at any other time in history. Horses are what made things tick and move. We relied upon horses for nearly all we did. With the advent of the internal combustion engine, there were many who thought the horse was done for good. He would no longer be useful, wanted or needed. “Good-bye to the hay burner and hello to the gas burner” they said. Fortunately they were wrong.
Ironically, those who built the engines we rely upon so much today coined a phrase using the very species they thought they would make extinct, “Horse Power”. Every year when the newest and greatest vehicles roll off the assembly line one of the most important specifications is how much horse power they have. More horse power helps us go faster and do more work easier. The more the better!
I would like to suggest another way we can use the term “Horse Power”, borrowing the idea from my old instructor’s button. Those of us who promote “Horse Power” are passionate about the species, just as my instructor was about William Shakespeare. Horses are a very important part of our culture. I was talking to a friend not long ago who asked me, “what ever possessed you to ride broncs?” He supposed anyone who would consciously ride a bucking horse was somewhat crazy. I thought about his question and answered that it probably had something to do with the culture in which I was raised, the horse and rodeo culture of southern Idaho. Riding broncs well was something the people in the community admired. I was even given a scholarship to do it. Some of us may just have an inner sense of being drawn to the species, an unexplainable affinity for horses, like a magnet. We may hanker for some of the old ways or the by gone days. We love the smell of their breath, the softness of their muzzle, the kindness of their eye, their willingness to give us a ride. We love horses. And, no matter what way we love them, we promote “Horse Power”.
So here’s to all of you who get up every day and spread the hay and scoop the poop. Here’s to those who raise babies. Here’s to those who take care of their feet. Here’s to those who help kids or handicapped people or people with mental disabilities or those who need hippotherapy (physical therapy) with horses. Here’s to those who have equine rescue programs or try to find good homes for horses that need a career change. Here’s to those who patiently train the youngsters to overcome their fears and learn how to be contributing members of society. Here’s to those who grow food for horses and bale the hay and mill the feed. Here’s to the pharmaceutical and other companies who think enough about the horse to commit a portion of their resources to research, development and production of equine products. Here’s to my colleagues who devote their careers to the conception, birth, health, well being and soundness of the horse. Here’s to those who ride and drive and train and show and compete and enjoy horses every day of their lives, or every other day or even once in a while. Here’s to more “Horse Power”, the more the better!
We are here to help if you have questions!
Dr. Jed McKinlay
Jed McKinlay, DVM
Bob Peters, DVM
Misty Rhett, DVM
509-238-4959 • 208-457-8813
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