The other day Miss Charlie and I were chatting together on the way home from school, as we do on most occasions. She asks me the “why” questions and I stumble and trip all over myself trying to answer them both accurately and truthfully. It’s always a balance between making sure to answer the questions properly and to satisfy her inquisition, without dumbing it down or ruining the childlike innocence present in her assumptions. Talk about walking a fine line!
On this particular occasion, she wanted to know about cars. And horses.
Based on the direction of this conversation, I presume they must have been learning about cars and other motor vehicles at school that day. I’m presuming this, but to be honest it could have been a totally unrelated-pulled-out-of-thin-air question, because hey, she does that.
“Why are horses different to cars? Why do we have cars now and not horses?
Wouldn’t it be better to ride horses, then we’d get some exercise too instead of just sitting in a car.
Horses can go pretty fast, you know.
So why were cars invented?”
Not exactly my area of expertise Miss Charlie, but challenge accepted.
As I waded through some pretty vague explanations, frantically searching my brain in the vain hope that I may have subconsciously retained any car related info that the BF had sprouted off before realising that it was going over my head, I realised a few very obvious factors.
Horses can’t cover you from the wet weather like cars can. Horses can’t go on and on for days without a rest like cars can. Cheeky little ponies dig their heels in and refuse to move whereas cars will go as soon as you hit the pedal. Hoses need food and water and cars just need petrol. (OK maybe they need oil and water too, but I always forget to check those things. Oops). Yes horses can gallop really fast, but cars are still faster. Although there may be some connection there, given that we talk about cars in terms of ‘horse-power’… Hey, I told you this wasn’t my area of expertise!
Also, if cars break down or get a flat tire, we just take it to the mechanic, whereas if a horse is injured; well it’s a different outcome altogether.
I could see Charlie working this all out in her head, letting the ice cream drip down her fingers as she thought about what I was saying. Suddenly, there were alarm bells emanating from her temples as if speech bubbles. This could be good, or it could be bad. What did I just say that she needed to question?
“But why is it a different outcome for horses?
If they break their leg or hurt themselves really badly, you just take them to the vet!”
Well it’s not that easy sometimes. Horses are very big animals, we can’t just pick them up and put them in the car like we do with our cats and dogs. And there aren’t special horse vets on every corner like there are small animal vets. They have to be trucked off to large animal hospitals, and that can be very expensive and stressful on the horse.
“But still, why can’t they be fixed?”
Well, they can be fixed. But sometimes it’s too difficult to fix. Sometimes the horse is in too much pain and it’s nicer to put them to sleep. It’s very sad, but sometimes the best option.
“You mean you kill them??”
(I) don’t kill them, but the vet will sometimes have to make a very hard decision. My mummy is a special horse vet, and she hates having to put horses to sleep. She’s always very sad afterwards, but she understands that it’s for the best.
“But she’s a vet! She’s supposed to help animals, not hurt them!
She does help them, she looks after lots of horses everyday. But on very sad days, days when a horse is in too much pain and has hurt themselves really badly, she has to help them by letting them go to sleep. Because it’s not very nice to keep an animal in pain, just because you want them to stay with you. In a way, mummy is protecting them from even more badness.
“Yeah. OK. It’s still sad. But I understand.
Man, I’m so glad we can just put Beansie (dog) and Crooksy (cat) in the car and take them to the vet!
That’s why I want to be an animal rescue person, to help them and protect them from the hunters and the badness.”
…Phew, that was a dicey conversation. I didn’t think it was possible to stumble over my feet so much, and I don’t even have four hooves getting in the way!