HORSE SENSE

by Professor Revilo P. Oliver

October 1986

Our racial history begins when Aryan warriors, astride their steeds, rode out of the misty dark of an unrecoverable past. And the destiny of our race was indissolubly dependent on horses in both war and peace until cavalry was relegated to an auxiliary function in the First World War and the horse was completely superseded in all his services by the total mechanization that accompanied the Suicide of the West.

It is no wonder that the early Aryans attributed to their horses a quasi-magical power that had in it something of divinity. That is apparent in our religion, from the "asvamedha" rite in India, the Great Sacrifice which could be performed only by a "cakravartin," a universal emperor whose authority it solemnized and sanctified, to the horses sacred to Odin and Freyr among the Norse, and the sacrifices in which the magic of the "vingull" clearly reflected a belief that underlay the Indian rite.

It is also no wonder that we Aryans characteristically are fond of our horses and that no zoologist can convince us that our favorite horse is not fond of us. We feel a particular indignation at cruelty to horses and it would be for us a profanation to eat the meat of so noble an animal. We are unashamedly sentimental about horses. A ballad of the early West celebrates a cowboy who, caught afield in a blizzard, almost reached home, but was found "with his hands frozen to the reins" because "he could not leave old Dan."

And years ago, when an actor who had attained some celebrity as a cowboy in the cinema sneered at people who became sentimental about horses, which are only dumb brutes and should be used like inanimate things without compunction, as he had used his, I was not greatly astonished when the late Jack Moffitt, who knew everything about Hollywood, informed me that the actor belonged to the race which, as is obvious from the tales in the Jew-book, instinctively dislikes horses and prefers asses.

It is not a coincidence that, among the peoples of the Semitic race, we feel the greatest affinity to the true Arabs of the desert, who loved their horses and had a code of "chivalry" not greatly unlike ours. Horses naturally play a large part in Arabian tradition, as in ours, and one Arabian tale of heroism has been enshrined in the luminous prose of Lafcadio Hearn's "Rabyah's Last Ride." Rabyah, a renowned fighting man, alone held a pass against his enemies to protect the flight of his women to safety. He received his death wound, but died on his horse, knowing that the marauders would fear to approach him too closely.

Over the black desert of the sky slowly moved the long white caravan of the stars; and the night waned. But dead Rabyah still sat upon his mare; and the beautiful mare stood as a graven image standeth, for the love of him.

The Arabs developed one of the finest breeds of horses, and Arabians have always been prized highly. It is to the honor of our race that although the horse is no longer pragmatically useful, we have retained, most of all in England but also in this country, our inveterate liking for the animal who was our companion and faithful servant throughout all our rise to greatness. Even when I was a boy, fine Arabians were bred for their own sake, and in recent years the breeding of Arabians has, unfortunately, also become a lucrative business for the rich.

The March-April 1986 issue of the handsome "Aramco World Magazine" was entirely devoted to "The Arabian Horse," and includes an article on the breeding of such horses in Europe and the United States. There is one significant report of the effect of environment on animals whose excellent qualities are, of course, genetically determined (as are the qualities of human beings, although the Christian-"Liberal" superstition blindly denies that obvious fact).

Experts are coming to the conclusion that "the very success of the Arabian in market terms" is having a deleterious effect on the horses: "when wealthy owners lavish food and comfort on them – to protect their investment – the horses that once lived on the spartan food of the desert will lose the very qualities that distinguished them." There is also a likelihood that since owners who "focus on their investment" do not spend time with their horses and do not ride their mares at all, "the Arabians, which have traditionally enjoyed and needed human companionship, will begin to lose their famous gentle dispositions" – and, of course, their loyalty to their masters.

One needs only horse sense to see the analogy to, and lesson for, our species of mammals.