A Horse of a Different Colour

One of my very favourite scenes in the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, is when the merry group led by Dorothy and Toto finally reach the Emerald Kingdom.  They are greeted at the door by a horse-and-carriage…and every time the camera lands on the horse, he is a different colour–sometimes, black, sometimes orange, but each time, different.  It was a charming literalization of the old English saying:  “…well now, that’s a horse of a different colour”…in the same way, you’d say “…now that’s a different kettle of fish”…when the topic of conversation goes off-topic.  And, when it comes to championing horses or animals generally, going off-topic happens quite often.

I’ve been taking some flack since I joined Facebook last month, and some praise, too, but mostly I’ve encountered the same range of animal and horse advocates that have always been out there in real life.  I know I’m not the first person to say this but it’s obvious that on the so-called “social” media, people feel they have a certain licence to write things they would probably never have the guts to say to your face.  There is nothing “sociable” about profanity.  Overall, it doesn’t advance the conversation, and it certainly does nothing to save horses.  I can swear like a truckdriver, too, but if that impresses you, you should stop reading now.

But foul-mouthed advocates are really not important enough to worry about.  The ones who concern me are those who claim that nobody’s doing anything; people are afraid to do anything; and, in utter exasperation, scream:  “Why doesn’t somebody do something?”  These are the sleeping beauties out there who’ve just woken up to find that horses are abused, slaughtered and eaten.  If not sleeping, perhaps they’ve been living under a rock.  Where do you think the expression:  “…there’s no use beating a dead  horse…”  came from?  The guy who helped found the first RSPCA way back in the 18oo’s led the way to that little axiom as he watched a cabdriver beat his carriage horse even though the horse was already and clearly dead.  There are, in fact, hundreds of organizations world-wide working to, if not stop, then reduce the horrors inflicted on animals, and in our case, horses. Many have been at it for decades; in the case of the SPCA, centuries.  To return to my description of the self-styled advocates who say “people are afraid”–where the hell have you been?  What have you done besides spit in the face of a system that all of us, every generation, has created?  Guilt may be a wasted and wasteful emotion, but let’s go there anyway:  we are all culpable.

So to those same people who scream:  “Why doesn’t somebody do something?”…my reply is:  “aren’t you somebody?”  It’s akin to blaming “they-them” for everything:  “they” kill horses; “they” eat horses; “if it weren’t for “them”; “they” say horsemeat is just like any other meat.  We are all them.  Them is us.  Horse slaughter is legal in this country (our country).  It is not against the law to eat horsemeat in this country (our country). Disgusting? Yes.  Morally reprehensible?  Yes.  That’s your position.  Now where’s your argument.  And where do you bring your argument, armed with facts and statistics and evidence?  Or do you just continue to bewail the status quo, enraged that things are not changing, that people are horrible, that the laws and government are invincible, unalterable, and will never change or improve.  And while your facebooking your rage, organizations like the CHDC, Refuge RR, Refuge Galahad, Cheval a Vie at Diabolo, NH trainers and practitioners, demonstrators, advocates who attend kill-auctions, and dozens more advocates in Quebec alone have been quietly, constantly, devotedly…saving horses.  Now, that, what they do, their action…now that is a horse of a different colour.  Think about it.  As Scarlett said in Gone With the Wind, “tomorrow is another day.”  (And tomorrow, we can talk about why horses?  What about other animals?  That’s another kettle of fish.)


  1. Roxanne
    Mar 5, 2012

    That is so well said and so true. People please think about how many potential supporters you could be losing when you run others down without knowing anything about them or having walked a mile in their shoes.

    • Cynthia
      Mar 5, 2012

      Thanks! It’s a complex issue, no question about it.

Submit a Comment