So I’m out early this morning taking pictures and I pull up to this horse that seems to be deep in thought. I talk to him to try to get him to face the camera but he ignores me, so I took one of him thinking about whatever it is he’s thinking about.
Then he turns to me and says: “You,” he said, “are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world, and that, I believe, is why you are in so much pain.”
This is one of the stars of Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides in Bird-In-Hand Pennsylvania. He pulls tourists around at a blistering speed of 5 miles per hour several times a day, day after day, month after month, and year after year.
It’s not a bad job compared to the work other horses do on farms but he hates every second of it. He feels that he’s wasting his life, that he could be doing something better, more important. At times he considerers faking a leg injury but worries he might end up as glue.
Eventually they will throw him a retirement party and give him a gold shoe for his years of faithful service, and let him live out the rest of his life doing whatever old horses do. He’ll stand in the middle of a field and stare into space, wondering what to do now, and what it all meant.
And he might realize that his job wasn’t so bad after all. He was good at it and he was needed, he had friends that liked him although he bitched and moaned all the time. He might realize that he could have made the best of it and even enjoyed it.
Alan W. Watts once said: “This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” Even if you do the same thing for the same people in the same place over and over again.
When I was a kid I had a lemonade stand, but here in Lancaster County the Amish kids set up a stand selling horseshoes. I see them occasionally on the back roads but most of the time the shoes are just painted or rusty.
This entrepreneur goes a few steps further to attract the tourist crowd. He offers horseshoes with a picture for $3.50, with a flower for $2.00, plain for $1.50 or rusty for a buck. This one has a picture, it’s painted and has flowers so its a bargain at any price.
The pictures are mostly of horses but some have scenes like covered bridges or life on the farm. I can’t imagine where they get the images because they don’t have cameras, cell phones, computers or printers. I guess they cut them out of a secret magazine that only the Amish subscribe to.
These horseshoes may or may not be lucky for you, but with the thousands of tourists that crave unique souvenirs these kids can afford to buy a brand new scooter or whatever Amish kids spend their money on. I think the horses should get a cut but maybe they’re happy just to get a new pair of shoes.
Back in 1966 Mister Ed went to college to become a veterinarian so he could help his friends beat the high cost of medical care. 50 years later here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania most horses are home schooled, which is more convenient and much less expensive.
Although not all horses are taught to read at a college level, the ones that pull the buggies are encouraged to develop basic skills including the ability to read signs. This is almost a necessity these days with all the confusing traffic rules like turning right on red.
You can lead a horse to water but if he finds it himself he has a sense of accomplishment and self-reliance. Note: we don’t know if horses are color blind but for the ones reading this I felt it was better in black and white.
According to Ernest Becker in The Denial of Death, unlike the average person standing in a foggy field, horses think about nothing all day long. For example he writes this about the lower animals:
“They merely act and move reflexively as they are driven by their instincts. If they pause at all, it is only a physical pause; inside they are anonymous, and even their faces have no name. They live in a world without time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb being.”
Tom Dorrance, who has been referred to as the horse’s lawyer wrote a book called True Unity: Willing Communication Between Horse & Human. In it he says: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse or cow being stupid; I figure it’s a sure sign that the animal has somehow outfoxed them.”
So you have to ask yourself one question, and its not do I feel lucky. How much does a lawyer charge a horse or a cow, and if they go to trial together can they get a group rate? From my experience with horses and cows, that’s gonna be one messy courtroom.
Where I live it’s not unusual to see horses in the Walmart parking lot, but they’re always tied to a hitching post. I went there to look for some Cogswell cogs this morning and saw two beautiful horses grazing in the tall grass all alone, freer than a jailer, or so I thought.
It seemed odd and I figured maybe they escaped from a local farm or just lived on their own, until I saw the ankle straps. All I could think of was that for some reason they were under house arrest, but what could they have possibly done to deserve this?
Once came up to me to say hello and let me pet him, contrary to myth they don’t all bite your fingers off. They he looked at me with those big brown eyes as if to ask why? I had no idea until a woman walking her dog came up and said that the straps prevent them from running away, and they were taking a break from a long ride in the trailer.
It just goes to show that things that seem crazy at first might be completely normal. The girl at Walmart actually thought I was crazy when I told her if they were out of Cogswell cogs I’d be happy with Spacely sprockets. They didn’t have either; maybe Target has some in stock.
The Amish don’t care about Instagram but a lot of people do. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get on there but I don’t have a smart phone believe it or not, and I looked into the workarounds.
Most are complicated and involve either setting up a Dropbox account or using an app to mimic a mobile device. But I found a Firefox add-on called User Agent Switcher which impersonates a mobile device, takes seconds to install and works perfectly.
After installing the free add-on you’ll see an icon on the toolbar with a dropdown menu to choose your preferences, choose Android / Crome 40 before signing in and you can upload, crop and caption. Use hashtags with abandon but the maximum allowed is thirty per post.
Instagram used to insist on a square format but now lets you upload landscape and portrait-oriented photos, although not with this method. So either crop to square in editing or change the aspect ratio on your camera to 1:1. Photos should be 1080 x 1080 pixels but can be less if necessary.
If you’re already on Instagram this can save you a lot of time, but if you’re thinking of starting ask yourself why. I met a guy named Steven Maerz who owns thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment, posts absolutely stunning shots of bald eagles among other things, and has 464 followers while Love Food has 6.9 million followers.
So if you’re the competitive type consider posting a lot of photos of your lunch, because not surprisingly, a grilled cheese sandwich is much easier to compose square than an Amish man mowing his lawn.
Check out the User Agent Switcher Add-on for Firefox here. You may want to check out Love Food for inspiration but not if you’re on a diet, there’s a lot of cake.
I stopped at the annual Lancaster County Carriage and Antique Auction in Bird-In-Hand this afternoon. This is a big deal here for the English (non Amish) and the Amish with a separate area for horse and buggy parking.
The auction was in full swing and everyone seemed excited to be there, except for the horses of course. Fortunately it was cloudy and breezy so they weren’t roasting in the sun. They knew it was going to be a long wait as auctions tend to drag on, and most made the best of it.
Some sulked and hung their heads waiting patiently, and some were literally chomping at their bit to get the hell out of there. But others, the more outgoing ones, told each other stories and discussed the parable of the Chinese farmer. Maybe yes, maybe no.