In our last thrilling episode, we considered our ancestors and their mutually beneficial relationship with the horse, an animal you could easily ride or hitch to a wagon, carriage, or plow. People worked together with horses to make a happy, peaceful society based on a relationship of mutual trust and admiration.
Except when they didn’t.
Cartoonists do a WHOLE lot better when they are complaining about something than when they praise it. So the cranky, ornery side of the horse made it onto postcards with regularity. See, horses did things besides run or pull. For one thing, they kicked.
And sometimes they sat down and declined to go to work today. The horse knew what it meant when that harness went on, and occasionally just said “Nay.” (Please note that I went all through the last column without a single horse pun and don’t nag me with your tale of whoa.)
Alternately, some horses went entirely the other way and decided to run and run without stopping, or, in fact, paying any attention to any other suggestions the rider made.
As anyone who knows their western folk songs knows, the horse that didn’t want to take you anywhere had other options besides just sitting down. A horse could perform amazing gymnastic moves in trying to buck a rider.
And frequently succeeded
The cartoonists, like any good rider, was willing to admitted that being thrown was not always entirely the horse’s fault. Sometimes the rider was simply not much good at it.
Or was simply unlucky.
The cartoonists were also willing to show that not all the grievances were on the human side of the relationship. Horses are one of the few animals regularly shown as worn out, exhausted, or even physically impaired by the work their humans put them through.
Horses are also more likely than any other animal to be shown getting old. Being retired, or “put out to pasture”, was not necessarily the lot of every working horse.
Of course, if there was one thing horses did that the cartoonists covered most…but we discussed that in a previous blog, and there’s no need to cover that whole territory again (though this human has to.)