Monday, May 16, 2011

Now doesn't that...

Look better?
Sunny's 95% winter-coat free -
it's amazing what a change grass and
and a few days of sunshine makes.

No riding this weekend. I had the house to myself and good intentions, but between the rain on Saturday, HS graduation parties and housework, I snagged an hour or so to do some brushing, but not much more. But change is coming... hopefully soon I'll have the ponies at mercy 7 days a week again (if still not quite at my doorstep). I can't wait!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Moral Lives of Animals

Book reviews used to be a regular Friday feature here - I've sort of gotten out of the habit lately, but when Blue Dot Literary offered me the opportunity to read and review a new book, I thought sure, why not? Although not necessarily in my usual genre, I found myself reading closely and... well, rather than rambling on, here's my review from LibraryThing:

The Moral Lives of Animals by Dale Peterson, New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2011. (9781596914247)

As much or more about the morality of humans and our nature as it is about the creatures we share the earth with, Peterson's book covers some interesting territory. Drawing on classic literature (Moby Dick appears frequently) and philosophy, and citing research and theory from well-known scientists, psychologists and anthropologists, Peterson argues convincingly that animals are not just mindful beings. Some are far more, exhibiting characteristics and taking action in ways that show higher intelligence, communication and empathy. If occasionally pedantic, it's also stuffed with personal vignettes and accounts of animal actions drawn from multiple case studies and observations by animal behaviorists. It's obvious Peterson has done a lot of research - the footnotes are a dead giveaway, if nothing else - but the book has a friendly tone. (I didn't find myself getting bogged down in academia, which given that it's a hefty 350+ pages, wouldn't have been a shock.)

While Peterson makes no claim to offering the final word on whether animals actually do lead moral lives, his book is certainly thought-provoking and very readable - do animals make moral choices? Read, observe, and draw your own conclusions.

It's chatty, friendly and presents some intriguing information. Peterson focuses mainly on whales, primates and elephants, but a few other mammals make appearances, as well - although sadly, equines fail to make the list. I'm still processing, and I want to re-read a few sections, but honestly? I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Down to the wire

Wow, did we have wind this weekend. The sun was lovely, but stepping outside meant eating dirt, sand-blasting and being pummeled by branch bits. The horses tucked their tails and hunkered in behind the tree grove.

They'd really rather be out on grass, but it's been so cool that nothing's growing like it should in spite of all the moisture we've had. Since we still have lots of hay, they're going to stay confined to the lot until the green stuff is taller, like it or not.

The grass is extremely tempting, however, and unfortunately Sunny isn't inclined to wait. Sunday afternoon I counted: 1 black - 2 black - 3 tri-color bay... No fat chestnut drowsing in the sun. Sunny, drat him, was over the fence in the tree grove contentedly munching away. Not sure how he managed that, and he wasn't inclined to demonstrate once I finally had him back on the right side - we ran electric to keep him from stepping across via a snow bridge this winter, and there weren't any hoofprints in the blocked off section - grrrr!

I'd love to open the grove for all of them, but a) there isn't a gate into it, and more importantly b) the tree grove has all sorts of nasty junked metal things and rats' nests of wire tangled in among the trees. That's why there's no gate.

It's definitely NOT safe for ponies.

Sunny caught a hoof in the roll pictured above as I led him back. He dragged it along behind him for about 10 feet before I heard the wire-slidey noise over the wind howl and realized he was snagged. I stopped, he stopped. Should I back him up, or just try to get him undone where he was - visions of him deciding to panic and flailing about as soon as I stepped away from his head flashing through my mind....

In the brief seconds I debated, Sunny looked around, eased the tangled foot up, stretched it back and out like he was doing yoga and - zi-in-g!! Off came the wire. Down went the leg. And down went his head just in case he could snag another mouthful of grass while we were paused. Twit.

No gate, so the only way to get him back IN the fence was go over it. Once I had it squashed down as far as I could in the lowest section, I walked him up, stepped over and asked him to follow. And he did, one careful, high step at a time.

So I spent an hour or so inspecting the fence for pushed down spots, securing anything that looked weak, and wishing the portable fencer wasn't in Kansas with T.

Other people's fantasies may involve warm sandy beaches.
Mine involve Sunny-proof fences.