If People Were Horses: A Thought Experiment

What if people interacted with other people the way that we interact with horses?


This past weekend my friend and I were riding a very busy trail with lots of foot traffic on our two green mules. It was a great training opportunity because we came across lots of scary objects (people, dogs, and bikes: ooh, the horror!).

While most seasoned horses and mules wouldn’t even bat an eye, my mule, who is new to the whole socializing thing, handled it surprisingly well with just a couple of shying-away or deer-frozen-in-the-highlights moments.

During a rest stop, we tied them up forĀ  bit, and a group of hiking ladies came over and asked if they could pet the mules. Of course you can!

One lady went up to my mule and basically high-fived his face. So, his natural reaction was to spook. She apologized and said she was raised around horses and should have known better. Her next approach was less hand-slap-in-the-eyes and more gentle-rub-on-the-forehead.

This got me thinking: what if people interacted with other people the way we do with horses?

  • “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Maria, what’s your name?” (reaches out and strokes nose)
  • “Terry really likes it when he’s watching TV to have his gums massaged. He melts like butter.”
  • “If Sally sits too close to you in class, I always give her a poke in her side. She catches on real quick.”
  • “Get in the car, Jimmy, or I’m going to get out the butt rope! If you make a scene one more time, you’ll regret it….”
  • “What’s wrong with your drink? Why aren’t you drinking? Maybe if I add some Koolaid to your champagne…”
  • “Bob, I hear you’re having a hard time peeing. Mind if I put my hand up there and see what’s going on?”
  • “Cheryl, you’ve had way too much coffee today. I think you need a couple laps in the round pen to get the edge off before your next meeting.”
  • (doctor walks into the room) “Sorry to inform you, Robert, but it looks like you’ve twisted a gut. You’ve got three options: surgery, euthanasia, or bullet to the head. I see you have no insurance, so maybe option two or three would be more in your budget.”
  • (applies Tabasco to the fingers of nail biters)
  • “Jerry, I know your feet are sore when you are barefoot, but shoes just mask the pain. You really need to invest in a good pair of toenail clippers and change your diet. No more donuts for you.”
  • “My truck is going way too fast, I think I need bigger brakes…”
  • “Bobbie, if you don’t eat your broccoli, I’m going to smother it in maple syrup and shove it down your throat!!”
  • (applies muzzle over mouth of those trying to quit smoking)

Go riding.

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