When the broader connections of people’s lives were determined by the top daily speed of a horse which, depending upon factors, averaged 24 – 30 miles per day civilization itself revolved around its capabilities ensuring a relationship with an animal that would last well over 6,000 years.
The importance of the horse to mankind is enshrined in its cultural and historical importance and its inevitable use in war. The atrocities we are prepared to visit upon each other appear to be magnified where animals are concerned.
Our relationship with non-human animals is complicated. It revolves around the practical understanding that they possess skills we do not and muscles we cannot. We still measure the power of an engine in terms of horsepower, for instance, and use crows and bees to talk about distance.
Because they are so practically integrated in our lives providing means to overcome our own physical limitations they have a constant backdrop against which we can exercise our ingenuity and work out our psychoses. As a result we project upon them not just our hopes and longings but also our beliefs and flaws. That last part often becomes key to unlocking some of our deepest layers of humanity within us.
To be fair, when we are not caught up in our own selfish needs that are dictated by our sometimes singular focus on circumstantial practicalities, we dream of being able to talk the language of animals and understand them better. Through that activity we hope they, in turn, will understand us better.
It’s a truly complicated relationship that has many undercurrents. Maybe, at some point, we seek forgiveness for the many atrocities regarding animals we historically cannot undo. Maybe we seek to elevate them practically because we have found it impossible to consistently do so socially. Maybe, even, we see them as the natural pathway towards us becoming better versions of who we are.
The animal connection allows us to feel connected with something way bigger than ourselves. It also enables us to exercise our intuition. And while it’s true that not everybody is into it the same way it is an undeniable fact that we’re all on a journey to somewhere uncertain and travelling it with just our species as a companion may not be the best possible journey we can undertake.