I was going to write a whole thing about equal marriage. The cross people are out again, banging the ‘traditional marriage’ drum, shying away like spooked horses if anyone should accuse them of meanness or prejudice. No, no, they are simply upholding family values or listening to the voices of their constituents or being the foghorn of common sense.
I started writing. I was in a state of outrage. Then my fingers slowed and I rather ran out of steam.
I can do all the arguments. I have intellectual heft and the human heart on my side. The arguments for equal marriage are so good: fairness, humanity, equality, love. The arguments against are so poor: selective reading of holy books, misplaced tradition, exclusivity, fear of change.
Love is love, my darlings, and that’s all there is to it. I can get cross and feel the red mist of rage descend and mutter under my breath about prejudice and discrimination. I can rehash all the arguments. I can talk of King Solomon with his SEVEN HUNDRED WIVES (and three hundred concubines); I can do the whole Henry VIII schtick. But it all comes back to love. Love is love. That’s all.
Last week, I spent every day with a bunch of horses and a bunch of veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of the reasons that horses are so good with people in this condition is that they don’t judge the extraneous. They know no labels. They take a person exactly as she or he is, in that moment. They respond to the deep human spirit.
If you are good and true and honest with your horse, if you are gentle and clear and patient, it will follow you to the ends of the earth. It does not care how much money you have or what clothes you wear or whether you are gay or straight. It cares if you make it feel good and safe. It cares if you are kind.
Horses are famously sensitive and telepathic. Actual scientific studies have been done to prove that a horse’s heart-rate will go up in exact tandem with its rider’s. In other words, if you are tense and nervous, the equine will be tense and nervous. I also think that horses have an astonishing sense of the bogus and the phoney. They can sense dishonest intent from twenty paces.
I go out to my mare. We work in time, step to step, her hooves matching my human feet. I hardly have to tell her anything any more; she responds generously to my slightest movement. This is because I’ve worked with her for a year, day in day out, in a slow and consistent way. Along with kindness, I think consistency is perhaps the things horses most value. They need to know that you will always be the same with them. That’s when they drop their heads and give you their trust. Kindness, love, care, reliability; those are their big words.
I think it is faintly ironic that my mare has more wisdom about what’s important that all those cross, shouty voices on the Today Programme.
She does not speak English, although I have learnt to interpret a lot of her horsey language. I can trace her moods and figure out most of her needs. But if she did have spoken language, I bet you any money she too would say: LOVE IS LOVE. And she is right about pretty much everything.
Sorry I got a bit whimsical at the end there, but this subject seems to have an odd effect on my brain. In the meantime, here are some pictures of HorseBack and home:
This one is a bit out of focus. But it was such a tender moment between Scott and Niño that I felt it was illustrative of my thesis:
The Best Beloved, who really knows what matters:
Stanley the Dog also does not give a damn whom you love, but he will give you THIS LOOK if he suspects you may be withholding biscuits: