Monday, May 12, 2008

They shoot horses don't they (in Kentucky)?

I suppose Kentucky is like every other state: it isn't really one state, but several. Many people think of Kentucky primarily in terms of the Appalachian region, but then there is the Kentucky Derby, an event that casts a short of genteel glow over the state's reputation. In fact, it is hard to describe the horse culture that one sees on prominent display at the Derby to those who don't know the state.

I have lived close to Lexington and worked there, and sometimes the horse culture doesn't seem so prominent. But if you look out of your window as you take off from Bluegrass Field you all of a sudden broad expanse of horse farms that surround the city for miles and miles. It is times like these that you see just how significant it is. But you don't have to be airborne to appreciate the horse culture. It is a fabulous relic of the past that still survives, and you can still get a taste of it if you go the right places at the right time of year (the Derby Breakfast, Brereton Jones picnic in late summer).

Sometimes these two cultures--the Bluegrass horse culture and the mountain culture--don't see things eye to eye, as can be seen in Larry Webster's recent column in the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington is the hub of the state's horse culture.

Webster too is a relic, and fabulous in his own way. He is a mountain attorney, and a regular writer for the Lexington paper. Webster has been called a humorist, but he is really a wit. Wit, said Chesterton, "is a sword; it is meant to make people feel the point as well as see it." If you watched the Derby, you saw the horsey set. Read Webster's piece and see another Kentucky.

In two recent horse events, the Rolex 3-Day Event and the Kentucky Derby, horses had to be euthenized because of disabling injuries. Here is Webster's view of things in "Killing horses is illegal for poor, sport for rich".

He makes a good point. And, to expand on it, if it is bad to sell horses for horsemeat (at least feeding people serves a useful purpose), then why is it okay to sacrifice them at the altar of public entertainment?

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