Blog Post

Consult this horse, but cut out the middle man

I really don’t know where to start with regard to this report on a booming industry on horse vibes.

As I understand it—various individuals, often business people, with “issues,” come to ride a rented horse and see how said horse picks up on the way the human being is manifesting whatever.  The coaches mediate this encounter of a paid kind, enabling a “break-through,” “lesson” moment in which somehow and someway horse signs via some body language that something has clicked.

I have no ethical problem with this at all—beats other forms of animal exploitation like fox-hunting, steeple-chasing, etc (sorry for all those I have just offended).  And there is something wonderful about the fact that horses descended from dinosaurs (or so I have been told), and after the great dinosaur scene in “Tree of Life” I want to think that this horse-consulting thing is all part of a very slow process of bringing all creatures back into touch.

Problem of course is, well, it’s so one-way.  Mixer gets a sugar cube and pat on the nose.  Wouldn’t you just love to know what the horse is thinking?  “Wow, this will be a tough one to crack.  Just feel how hard the guy is clenching with his thighs, making lame jokes all the time.”   Horse also looks over and sees his client’s wife is flirting with another one of the horses.  Possibilities are endless. Then the horse returns to his own stable and his horsemates gather around to compare notes and diagnose the human race altogether.

What I am most fascinated not whether or not other animals will be proffered as even more empathetic to us pathetic humans (why not dolphins? What’s a horse got on a dolphin, man?), but how soon the race to be the wisest creature capable to curing humans will take off.  That’s a horse race I wouldn’t want to miss.

But you know, the title says it all—maybe we are all just the same in a way we don’t recognize: we are all workers.  Solidarity, sisters and brothers.

David Palumbo-Liu's picture
David Palumbo-Liu is professor of comparative literature at Stanford.  His most recent publications include a volume on world-systems analysis co-edited with Bruce Robbins and Nirvana Tanoukhi entitled Immanuel Wallerstein and the Problem of the World" System, Scale, Culture (Duke University Press, 2011), and The Deliverance of Others: Reading Literature in a Global Age (also from Duke).  He is the founding editor of Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, which is housed here on Arcade.