The Horse Stands Above All

The horse stands alone in the world of domesticated animals, with its utility and appeal across cultures and genders. It is the ultimate domesticated animal.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Okay, listen. We just can't, we cannot mention horses without turning to cowboy poet and philosopher, Baxter Black.

Mr. BAXTER BLACK (Cowboy Poet and Philosopher): Why the horse? It's like asking why the sun. Why the heart? Why the color purple? If there were a monarchy, the horse would be king.

And no matter how you stack up other domesticated animals, none has quite the stature of the horse. Perhaps it is because of the inherent wildness that is always lurking behind their eyes. It is a quality that is shared with cats.

Horses have always possessed a potential for heroism. Thunderous poetry like The Man From Snowy River, and East is East and West is West, elevates the horse to mythical proportions. Oh, I grant, there are many examples of dogs saving the day, but dogs have become too domesticated, too subservient. I mean, Indians have dogs for millennia, and never invented the wheel. Coronado gave them the horse, and they became warriors.

Without the horse, the cowboy becomes a herder. Napoleon is infantry, and taxation without representation becomes the sport of kings. The horse is both masculine and feminine. What other animal can be said to prance? Strength and beauty. Beauty and the Beast. Hard as horses' hooves. Soft as a filly's nose. That mare can buck. That stud's a beauty.

Artists strive to portray their power, grace, and dexterity. They try to capture their spirit. Dead run, stop-action photo - 1,200 pounds balanced on one toe, fetlock extended, nostrils flaring, neck reaching, ears back, mane flying, tail flowing, eyes locked on target and a human attached to the withers like a space shuttle on a rocket. It's no wonder they take our breath away.

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INSKEEP: Happy trails! The comments of cowboy, poet, philosopher, and former large animal veterinarian, Baxter Black.

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