For the Love of Horses
By Susan Wagner, DVM, MS, DACVIM
I can’t believe it’s been a year since my father’s passing. As I think of him, I’m reminded of what we shared that was just ours – the love of horses. We received such pleasure from watching them run through the fields, and especially enjoyed the arrival of new foals, so bandy-legged, yet graceful. He and I marveled at how these amazing animals could exquisitely glide through the air on their toes and fingers. For those of you who don’t know horse anatomy, if you equated them with us, they are literally running on the tips of one toe and one finger. Now that’s a miracle of nature.
We also just passed that time of year all thoroughbred lovers wait for – the Triple Crown. This was the first year I couldn’t get dad’s input on which horse was going to win. I couldn’t call him after the race to go over the details. His big chair was empty. I know he would have loved this series, and as was usually the case, he would have picked the winners. I hope his spirit was visiting an owner’s box, the place I’d always wished we would sit someday — my dad looking dapper as ever, and me with my hat and mint julep.
But horse racing isn’t all hats and fancy drinks. My father and I both understood the darker side of racing. Horses are trained and raced when they are too young, and given substances to make them race harder. Some horses never see grass. They live in small stalls at the racetracks. And of course there’s the money aspect, and the greed that can pollute the best of intentions. I personally witnessed this as a young naive veterinary student. I took care of a horse that many believed should have been humanely euthanized long before she was. It was delayed because all parties involved would have lost too much money. No future foal, no money. And racing is getting darker. Those who can afford to spend millions are having horses bred just for those big races – the big payoffs.
Animals are a reflection of our society – the duality of life. Instinctive grace and a natural love for running can be played out as two broken forelegs at the end of a race. There are those who want the sport to be cleaned up, yet they energetically enhance this drama. They hate the abusers and hate the sport. Hatred and judgment bring on more of the problem.
Perhaps we can learn the lesson of balance from horse racing. Can we, as a species, choose to honor these gifted athletes, do all in our power to keep them safe and happy, send them to a wonderful retirement home instead of slaughter houses, and keep a handle on our greed? Can we harness the energy of their grace and beauty to move forward in this sport, and in all aspects of our lives?
What can we learn from racing? What young human athletes are being exploited in the name of money and glory, then discarded once they no longer can perform? How many of our elders have lived productive lives, yet are being abused in care facilities?
It’s easy to judge when life is so out of balance, and it’s hard to believe that judging and hatred keep the drama alive. Yet we know that life is energy, and similar energies create the same vibration. If we hate and judge, we create more situations that require hatred and judgment. It seems too simple to make a choice – to decide as a species that abuse of all kind stops now. It seems far too simple to be true.
But as a veterinary neurologist, I know that all action starts with a choice – an intention. When an animal (or you and I) move from one place to the next, the journey starts with the decision – the intention – to move. Next comes the firing of neurons in our voluntary motor cortex, sending signals to other areas of our brains, that send signals down our spinal cords, into our nerves and muscle, and we move. It all happens in the blink of an eye – and it all starts with an intention.
Perhaps a collective, powerful, intention of no more abuse will start those impulses flowing for humanity. Once they flow, we can watch one of the miracles of human nature – ingenuity. A shift in energy occurs, hearts open up, creative new ideas spring forth, and life changes. All creatures find themselves in a better place.
No more abuse. That’s where it starts. And they’re off…..
Dr. Susan Wagner is a board certified veterinary neurologist whose pioneering work acknowledges the bioenergetic interaction between people and animals. She is an advocate for change in the area of interpersonal violence and animal cruelty, and works toward a greater understanding surrounding the health implications of the human-animal bond.
Residing in Worthington OH, she is an active public speaker in the areas of energy theory and healing, spirituality, and the human-animal bond. She especially enjoys teaching about the spiritual nature of animals. Dr. Wagner is published in several peer-reviewed journals. She is also co-author of Through A Dog’s Ear: Using Sound to Improve the Health and Behavior of Your Canine Companion, and was research director for the Through A Dog’s Ear CD series. Dr. Wagner is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University Veterinary College, and a Level IV Healing Touch for Animals practitioner.